Can WordPress do this?

Is there a plugin in WordPress that can do this – a tabbed blog:

How would that work?

Example #1

I could pick a few Top Categories on my blog, e.g., Science, Media, Education, Politics and Other and assign each to one of the tabs. Thus, every time I post, I would have to use one or more Top Categories as well as second-level categories if and as many as I want to add. This way a reader can check out only my content of interest (e.g., Science) and not waste time on content of lesser interest (e.g., Politics). The reader would also be able to subscribe to only the feed for one of the tabs/categories and ignore the rest. I would also be able to, for example, import only the feeds of select Tabs into other services (e.g., facebook, friendfeed, twitter).

Example #2

A conference has multiple ‘tracks’ or rooms. Each of these has its own tab for (live)blogging. The official conference bloggers would log in to a particular account or be instructed to use a particular Top Category in order to have their posts appear under the correct tab.

Example #3

A group blog in which each co-blogger has his or her own tab (or even an entire multi-blog network which just appears on surface to be a single multi-author blog). Each person would either have a separate login/password which would automatically place their posts under the correct tab, or each person would have his/her own Top Category.

Settings

Depending on the needs and uses, the placement and order of tabs should be easy to manage by the bloggers. Possible options for such settings are:

- set up manually the order of tabs which always appears the same way to the readers. For example, I could place my Science tab to be the first one, Media as second, etc., thus providing Science as the top layer of the blog at all times.

- set it to “Random” so each time each reader comes to the site, the order of tabs (and thus which one is visible as the top layer) is different.

- set it in a way that Users can pick their own Default order of tabs. That may be good for official conference blogs as users may want to pick a “track” to follow. Or I can set it that way so my readers can choose which of my categories to see up on top each time they visit.

- set it for regular rotation, e.g., be able to tell WordPress to rotate all the tabs in a particular way (e.g., move them all one position to the left, moving the first tab back to become the last one, or the other way round, or random, etc.) at a particular time interval (e.g., every X days). This may be good for group blogs or networks or news-sites in which all co-bloggers/authors/topics post with the same frequency.

- have the order of tabs determined by the recency of posts in each tab, so the tab with the most recent post is the first (“left”, “top”), etc. This would be useful for multi-author blogs or blog networks where authors greatly vary in their frequency of posting – the rare new post by the infrequent blogger will be appearing up front for a while for readers who may not often check out that blogger.

- Ideally, one could do a hybrid of the above, e.g., a preset default for the top layer (Tab #1, e.g., the news homepage), while the order of the other tabs (individual topics or authors) would be ordered either randomly, or by timed schedules, or by the recency of the last posting.

Needless to say, it would be very easy to add, delete or rename tabs, and there would be either no limit or a very high limit (12? 20? stacked up in rows of 4-5?) to the number of tabs one can have.

What would a reader see?

All the reader would need to do is remember or bookmark a single URL. Clicking on tabs would expand the experience to a broader – and more organized – range of content.

In most cases, clicking on a tab would only change the content of the column in the middle. This makes sense for an individual blog with multiple categories, or a news-site, or a conference blog.

But in cases of some big multi-author blogs or multi-blog networks, clicking on the tab can possibly change much more – banner, URL, sidebars, About page (and other pages), background, font, etc. There would be a possibility to customize quite a lot, leaving only some agreed elements common to all the tabs.

So, does such a plugin exist? If not, would it be easy to make? Any takers taking a shot at it?

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8 responses to “Can WordPress do this?

  1. John S. Wilkins

    If you go to my blog you will see that I have done a little bit of this using a format that allows tabbed pages.

  2. You can definitely do all of this with WordPress, but it would probably be via a theme rather than a plugin, and some of it might require a bit of php hacking. For example #1, you can already set menu items to be categories, so for a simple setup you just need a theme that represents the menu as tabs. There used to be quite a few of these around a few years ago and you can probably search for them on the WordPress site. I believe WordPress already provides category rss feeds, so that bit should be easy.

    Regarding multiple authors, you can do most of this now because WordPress has been merged with WordPress MU (Multiple User). I don’t know if you can set users as menu items natively, but there is a URL for each author’s posts that you should be able to use as a menu item.

    Regarding dynamically changing the order of tabs, you can essentially execute arbitrary PHP code in a template, so this should be doable with a bit of hacking. In particular, randomizing the order would be easy. It is possible that there is a paid theme out there that already does this, but I’ve never seen it in the free themes on the WordPress site. It may not cost too much to hire someone to do this. A simple (but probably dangerous) hack would be to set up a cron job to change the appropriate menu configuration data in the WordPress MySQL database at timed intervals.

  3. Yes, WordPress really shines at doing this through the thousands of available themes out there. Just pick one, configure it, and voila!

    PS: Blogger is starting to catch up to WordPress with its introduction of templates and pages several months ago, but WordPress is still way more configurable.

  4. Just pick a tabbed theme ?

  5. An example plugin to turn a widget into tabs (e.g. for use with a theme that allows widgets across the top): http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tabbed-widgets/
    An example theme with tabs built in: http://charmingwp.com/tabbed-wordpress-theme/

    They can be customized, though to what degree, I do not know. The core strength of WordPress is that it has an excellent API and is in PHP, which most open source geeks can at least hack if not program from scratch.

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  7. I can be of help if this isnt sorted yet :)

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