Recently I have been corresponding with Mario A. NÃºÃ±ez Molina, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, MayagÃ¼ez Campus, who has been also working on integrating a WPMu blogging solution (RUM Edublogs) for the College of Arts and Sciences. He is also blogging the process, so it looks like I have yet another person to share with and learn from. He is trying to get BDP RSS to play nice with his WPMu install (which is the same version as the ELS Blogs and was the spark that initiated our relationship), and as usual I have offered him little in the way of technical support – lo siento, Mario. I am much better at moral support, but I will continue to search for some answers as to why the plugin is borking for that install while working fine for ours -very strange. In the mean time, as is often the case these days, he has turned me on to a really interesting plugin call divShare uploader that may very well change the game for uploading and managing uploaded files for WPMu, or any WordPress installation for that matter. many thanks to Mario for giving far more than he has received!
So what is divShare? Well, it’s not really a plugin per se, rather a free online file uploading and storage service that integrates directly into the upload field of a WordPress blog’s backend (see figure 1 below). It works seamlessly with WPMu as well, and the way to integrate it is relatively simple. Sign up for a free account at divShare ; download the WP plugin and install & activate it; finally, get your divShare Uploader Key from your divShare account settings and enter it where appropriate -you’re then ready to roll.
According to their site you can upload up to 200 MB of files at any given time, and I have seen no discussion of limits for how much space you can use up. It appears that divShare is offering unlimited storage and access to the files you upload to their service, but I am not 100% certain on this point. Here is their website copy:
DivShare is a new type of web host. We’re all about freedom and simplicity. Upload your videos, photos and other files, and we’ll host them forever, for free. You can embed your files anywhere, and co-brand your download pages. How? We’re ad-supported, but fear not, we’ll never invade you with obnoxious or offensive ads. Signing up takes about 15 seconds.
So while the verdict is still out whether or not they can host everything you upload for ever (how can anyone ever prove this true or not?), the interface and integration with WordPress is extremely impressive and has me quite excited for using such a program to enable students and professors alike to manage their web-based materials online in an simple, organized, and distributed manner. I particularly like that divShare offers an alternative to the WP uploading system, for while a fanboy, we were just discussing at DTLT last week with Steve Greenlaw just how
unintuitive and poorly configured the WP uploading logic can be for someone who is not intimately familiar with the backend. For example, why can’t users upload files using the “Uploads” tab in the manage section of the backend? Seems logical, right? Certainly a space for potential confusion.
But I digress. What I like most about divShare is that it is simple, allows users to organize their uploads with the option for password protected folders, while also allowing for easy insertion of text files, images (creating multiple sizes for easy insertion into blog posts), and video (providing conversion to FLV on upload, a built in player, as well as a static URL and embed code much like YouTube -wow- how ’bout them apples Andy?). It is a dead simple interface that delivers everything the open source Coppermine media gallery promised last year when we were experimenting with that app. The only difference is we don’t have to host it, it is free as in beer, and a million times easier to work with!
In short ;), here is an excellent solution for a university hosted WPMu installation that gives the faculty and students the power to control and integrate their own text files, multimedia, images, etc. that we don’t have to worry about managing, i.e. losing, their files nor be over concerned with file size and storage space. This service offers much the same in the way of hosting videos on YouTube or images on Flickr, though I don’t dare to pretend it replaces the power of either of these sites by a long shot. What it does provide, however, is a centralized services for uploading and inserting videos, images, and miscellaneous files into a WordPress blog, while at the same time offering more sophisticated file management. I certainly wouldn’t want all the videos and images I have on this blog to be a part of my Flickr or YouTube accounts -for these space are increasingly becoming an extended part of my approach to presenting my work online. The images in this post, for example, would simply clutter my flickr account which I am imagining as a space for sharing learning resources not collecting random, decontextualized screen shots.
Looks like the Content Management features of WordPress are strongly rooted in the small pieces loosely joined philosophy of the plugins community -this feature is not part of the WP system, but integrated cleanly enough so that you don’t notice the difference. What’s more you can use this service across several WP installations, and you can really liberate yourself from the idea of getting information out of WPMu, it is never uploaded directly to WPMu so we don’t ever have to concern ourselves with transferring their data from one blog to another -it is always already in their possession and under their management.
An quick example of a video embed from divShare is below, you can see examples of the images above -just click on one for a bigger image and a little google ads action: