VCU Dates

There’s a new plugin available on VCU Blogs that lets users add date-specific content to their blogs. What does “date-specific content” mean, you ask? Well, it can be anything like due dates, deadlines, events, etc., which are bound to a date that is more important than the entry’s publication date.

The plugin lets you add a new date-specific content just like you would a normal blog post, but the archives and accompanying widget sort the entries by the date that actually matters instead of the date when you published the entry. It also generates an HTML snippet that you can use to include the date feed on your website (like you can do with your regular blog feed).

(We should say up front, of course, that this plugin is not a replacement for the VCU Calendar of Events — if your event would be of interest to the University or the greater community at large, you’ll still want to put it there. This is intended for dated content whose appeal may be limited to a smaller unit, such as a department, course, organization, etc.)

To use the plugin, you must activate it by clicking the ‘Plugins’ link in the left-hand sidebar and then the ‘Activate’ link beneath ‘VCU Dates’. Once activated, you will see a new ‘VCU Dates’ option in the sidebar immediately below ‘Posts’.

Add New VCU Date

The first three sub-options should be familiar to you, as they mirror the normal ‘Posts’ functionality. The ‘VCU Dates’ table resembles the ‘Posts’ table, but it is sortable by the significant date.

VCU Dates Entry Table

Another difference you’ll notice on the ‘Add New’ page is that there is a ‘Date’ field near the bottom; click it, and a handy date-picker with a calendar interface pops up. You should fill out the other fields, too — the body, excerpt and date type should all have values as well.

VCU Dates Pop-up Calendar

The ‘Date Type’ page is, as you may have guessed, just like the ‘Categories’ page, only these particular categories are specific to your date entries. The ‘Get Date Feed’ page is a useful tool for getting your date content to show up on your website. You can choose how many entries to include, whether to show the excerpt or not, and which date types to include in the feed (the feed will automatically filter out dates in the past and show the next date at the top). Just copy and paste the HTML snippet into the source for your website wherever you want it to appear in the flow of the page.

VCU Dates Feed

There is also a corresponding widget if you go to ‘Appearance » Widgets’ in the left-hand menu. It will generate a list of upcoming important dates that, like the date feed, omits past dates and lists the closest date first.

VCU Dates Widget
VCU Dates Widget Display

There are a couple more features to point out. If you click the linked title in one of the widget entries, you will be taken to a page that has the full description of the event, not just the excerpt. The important date is automatically prepended to the full description, so you do not have to repeat it inside the description.

VCU Dates Full Description

The VCU Dates custom post type and custom taxonomy will appear automatically for use in a custom menu. (If you’re unfamiliar with creating customized menus in WordPress, there’s a good overview at the WordPress Codex.) This will let you add a navigation link or a sidebar list of your date entries by date type. What’s more, the date-type archive will ignore the publication date and list the entries in chronological order — but since it is an archive, it does not exclude past dates.

Have any problems or recommendations? Feel free to email the blog webmaster.