When I write a blog post I make heavy use of the tabs in my browser so that I can switch back and forth between the blog compose screen and other screens where I do my research. I usually have my trusty image editor running as well so I can crop an edit any images that I use in my posts.
For the past few weeks I’ve been playing around with a new WordPress plug-in (Yahoo Shortcuts) that will cut back on the copy-paste, rightclick-save, and other context switching by bringing content and references directly into the WordPress compose area. With this plug-in running, it scans your post for potential annotations that can turn a drab bit of hypertexed links into a gloriously illustrated work of art.
For example, if I wanted to do a story about my hotel in where I recently stayed, all I need to do is include the address (3000 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109) and Shortcuts will look for suitable information such as the map you see on this post and add it complete with text wrapping. All it took was a single click. Not only will Shortcuts search across shopping for product information, it can also pull in stock charts for companies, and Creative Commons images from flickr. The embeded graphics are beautiful so the temptation is to go overboard and embed the Shortcut “badges” willy-nilly. An alternative is to chose the “link” option which is a great way to add context to your post while keeping your viewers on your site.
Some other examples where Shortcuts does the right thing. Hover over the link to view the contextual badge:
- A chart for Dow Jones or (AAPL).
- Shopping preview for the Nintendo Wii
- A search preview for Barak Obama
Once you’re done with your post, click the Review this Post button and you get a preview window where you can choose which links you want to embed, which you want to just enable with a popup, and which ones you want to ignore. This is key. Other products that automatically provide contextual links are an all or nothing affair. It’s vital to retain editorial control so you can choose which words or phrases you want to recognize. Yahoo Shortcuts does this. To get a sense of the how the plug-in works, check out the screencast.
No more tabbing over to another window or fiddling around with HTML or CSS code, Yahoo Shortcuts just brings it all in so you can work with it right there and then, all on one page.
Yahoo! Shortcuts plug-in for WordPress