Edit Flow v0.3: Usergroups and enhanced notifications

Edit Flow was bumped up to v0.3 last week and saw a flurry of other updates as bugs cropped up that we managed to miss during the testing phase before release. The main focus of this release was to introduce usergroups, which will form the basis of future features and to enhance the notification functionality that was introduced in the previous version.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, download it from the Plugin Directory or directly from within WordPress.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the new features introduced in this release:


Version 0.3+ adds in what are called usergroups. On the outset, they’re similar to “Roles” built into WordPress, except that (at this stage) usergroups are simply ways to associate groups of users together. Edit Flow adds a number of sample usergroups for you to get started (as shown above) and get a sense of what sort of groupings you can create. However, the main power of usergroups comes with…

Notification Controls

Much of the feedback Edit Flow received since the email notification were introduced centered around having greater control over who receives notifications. Previously, post updates were emailed to authors, editorial commenters, and any roles that had been selected to receive notifications. Many people were drawn to the notification feature but were forced to keep it disabled since they didn’t want all their editors or administrators notified on every single post update.

With the new release, you can specify on a post level, what users and usergroups should receive notifications, so that only relevant individuals and groups of individuals receive updates.

Note: with the introduction of this feature the “Notify by Role” option was removed. In its place, a new feature was added “Always notify admin option” which includes the blog administrator in all notifications. To all overly protective, nosy admins that want to know everything: you’re welcome 🙂

This is just the beginning of notifications. Some interesting ideas that we’d like to integrate in future versions of Edit Flow include:

  • Giving users the ability to subscribe to posts themselves
  • Have specific users or usergroups automatically subscribed to posts based on categories or tags assinged to posts.
  • Make the UI a bit more efficient. The UI for this new feature is something that was unfortunately rushed. My original vision didn’t quite make it in (due to various impracticalities, changes, and lack of time), but it’s very much a high priority on my list to make it easy to select users/usergroups (especially for installs with hundreds and thousands of users).

More Useful Notifications

On the topic of notifications, the new release introduces emails that are slightly more descriptive in terms of the action taken on the post. The subject line of the email will specify whether the post was created, published, unpublished, etc. Although a small change, it should hopefully help users manage incoming emails more effectively and not get inundated with a barrage of “Post Status was changed” emails. (Interestingly, I’ve found that this new change comes in handy even on my personal blog which is a simple on-user blog. I find these notifications fairly useful especially since I make aggresive use of WordPress’ future scheduling functionality.)

Additionally, the action links in comment notifications now take the user directly to the editorial comment form (e.g. clicking on “Add editorial comment” will open the post and take to directly to the Editorial Comment form). Again, not a major feature but something that should hopefully save you some time, scrolling and future dealings with Carpal Tunnel.

I’d like to extend this feature even further and allow users to reply to comments via email and not have to go into WordPress to do so. (As you can see, there’s a bit a time-saving trend going on here.)

New widget: Posts I’m Following

Still a little crude at this stage, this new widget gives you a list of the most recently updated posts that you’re following. However, this widget will likely form the basis of the activity stream, which will provide an audit trail of activity happening within the WordPress admin.

Knight News Challenge Round II

While not really a feature introduced in 0.3+, here’s a bit of news that may be interest: we’ve submitted our 2nd round application for the Knight News Challenge. Check out it, vote, and leave us some feedback.

What’s Next?

Apart from some of the ideas already mentioned, with the next couple of Edit Flow releases, you can expect to see some great features such as:

  • Post task lists (a la Basecamp, namely a list of tasks that must be completed in order for a post to be published)
  • Better Post Management (to help you track and manage your content better, such as snapshots of how far along existing content is)
  • HTML emails (because emails should always be pretty — but always fallback to plain text for people still living in the ’90s)

Your Homework

As always, your feedback is much appreciated and vital to our development. Let us know what about Edit Flow works for you and what doesn’t and what else Edit Flow can do to improve your organization’s WordPress experience.

We’ve already had discussions with several online and print publishers and newsrooms interested in adopting Edit Flow and would love to include you in that conversation. Why not get in touch?

Student media spotlight: Web projects for winter break

Leading into this week’s Hacking the Student Newsroom session, here’s a quick preview of online projects individual student journalists and newsorgs will be conducting over the upcoming winter break:

Investigative multimedia site from McKenna Ewen

twitterpic3-150x150McKenna Ewen, a multimedia journalist at the University of Minnesota, is doing an investigative piece about a journalist’s mysterious death in Minneapolis in 1945. This winter break, he’s putting together a custom site and documentary about the story. Ewen says:

[Investigative reporter James Shiffer] approached me in August about helping build the project into a website and making a short documentary of it. I agreed and made it part of my senior thesis, which is about increasing video views on the web. We’re going to launch project independently and see how much traffic we can pull in without an advertising budget (it should be interesting).

The anticipated publish date is early in January (we’ll link you to it when it launches). Update: This post originally stated the project was part of a collaboration with the Star Tribune. It is not.

Development continues on Nando from Max Cutler, Rob Baskin, and Andrew Spittle

Yale student Max Cutler has been working on a workflow tool for the administrative side of the Courant News CMS, code named “Nando.” A few features for the tool include a pitch system, a workflow based around statuses and user roles, and a heavily customizable dashboard for all of this activity. He’s recruited CoPress’ Andrew Spittle to continue development on the project over winter break. You can hear more about what they’ll be working on specifically at today’s Hacking The News workshop.

SR2 Blog from Josh Halliday

sr2blogJosh Halliday, a journalism student at the University of Sunderland, is starting a project for community-based blogging as part of his final project. From the blog’s about page:

SR2 Blog is the new community-run neighbourhood news website, dedicated to the SR2 area of Sunderland.

We’re recruiting community reporters who either want to keep their neighbours on top of what’s going on down their street or vent on an issue that’s not being dealt with. If you live, work or know SR2 why not get involved?

SR2Blog features news broken down by neighborhood, video, liveblogs, and social media. The project is an interesting experiment in -hyperlocal, community-generated news and we’ll be interested to watch its progression.

EditFlow updates from Mo Jangda, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Bressler and Will Davis

EditFlow_Logo-Av1_280Edit Flow is a WordPress plugin being developed by Mo Jangda, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Bressler and Will Davis to help tailor the CMS’s workflow for an editorial environment. Although the first few phases of the project have already been released, the plugin is still actively in development. Here’s what they’ll will be working on this winter as part of the next phase (via the CoPress wiki):

  • More granular email notifications, including the ability to have a notification go to a predefined group of people
  • User groups with functionality to define specific groups of users within WordPress.
  • Visualization of the editorial workflow data within WordPress, let it be through a calendar view, an activity stream, or other.
  • The ability to define newsroom-specific metadata for each post.
  • Functionality to allow custom definition of a required set of actions for each piece. These could be “copy-edit,” “fact-check,” etc.

SB Statesman redesign and restructuring from Bradley Donaldson

statesmanThe SB Statesman — the student newsorg at Stony Brook University in New York — has a winter goal that every student publication can and should be pursuing this break: redesigning and resturcturing their site. From editor-in-chief, Bradley Donaldson, here are a few goals they have:

  • Create a website that has a greater focus on multimedia.
  • Make the site much more user-friendly and student-centered
  • Harness social media to both spread the word about the newspaper and have a presence in student communities

What I really like about this redesign project is that it’s not a feat accomplished by a few web editors, but the staff as a whole. Donaldson said they’re finally taking a step they’ve neglected in the past:

Fortunately we have a good number of staffers who are interested in helping out with this, and the entire newsroom on a whole is excited about the changes being made. We’ve neglected our online presence too much or been very inconsistent with it in the past, even though we had the manpower and know-how to really improve it.

Full disclosure: The Statesman plans to launch its new redesign on CoPress’ Managed Hosting plan.

If you want to hear about what’s going on specifically with Edit Flow, Nando and Courant News, or just want some feedback on what you’re working on now’s the chance: join today’s Hacking the Student Newsroom session. The session will be run through TalkShoe so just call (724) 444-7444 at 4 p.m. PST and enter the Call ID when asked (it’s 67693).

Testing Edit Flow with the Whitman Pioneer

Last year, as part of my day job, I helped relaunch the Whitman Pioneer with a new design. This year we wanted to keep innovating and decided to try an online-first workflow at the beginning of this semester. This means that we are now having reporters write all of their posts in WordPress and then copying from the CMS into the InDesign template. While some have gone the route of using spreadsheets to keep track of workflow, we decided to implement Edit Flow, an editorial plugin developed by Mo Jangda, Daniel and others. [Read more…]

Edit Flow v0.2: Now with Post Metadata, Commenting and Notifications

The Edit Flow metabox enables editorial comments and provides some additional metadata fields to track details related to each post.

After a long hiatus, CoPress finally released v0.2 of Edit Flow this past weekend. Those who have it installed should have seen a notification to update; for those who haven’t jumped on the Edit Flow bandwagon yet, grab it from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

We’ve got some cool new features in this new version, outlined below: [Read more…]

Edit Flow Project: Stage 1 beta release

This past weekend, we released the beta version of Stage 1 (Custom Post Statuses) of the Edit Flow Project, a plugin aiming to improve the WordPress Admin Interface for a multi-user newsroom’s editorial workflow.

The main goal of this stage was to “improve posts statuses by allowing custom statuses.” WordPress, by default, only allows for two statuses for posts during the editing process: “Draft” and “Pending Review”. These statuses are not very descriptive nor do they make it easy to track a story as it moves through a newsroom’s often complex, multi-level workflow.

With the release of Stage 1 of Edit Flow, WordPress users can now assign custom statuses to posts, giving them more control over the state of their content.

Adding/Editing/Managing Custom Statuses

The interface to add, edit and manage custom statuses.

Upon activation, the plugin adds five default statuses (“Assigned”, “Draft”, “Pending Review”, “Pitch”, “Waiting for Feedback”). These can all be edited or deleted (with the exception of “Draft” and “Pending Review”, which can only be deleted). Users can also add additional custom statuses. Overall, we tried to make this as flexible as possible, acknowledging the extreme diversity in workflows and requirements across different newsrooms.

[Read more…]