Turbocharge your images with Tumblr
© C Sedin - Fotolia.com
Getting photos into your ChurchInsight website is pretty straightforward, but sometimes you want a way of showing the latest goings-on as they’re happening – or pretty soon afterwards. For the odd photo here and there, resizing, uploading and inserting the image into a webpage is fine, but if you want to show more than a few images or speed is of the essence (or you just want an easier life) there's a better way to do it – and work smarter...
Basically, you set up a Tumblr.com blog, insert the RSS feed from the blog into an RSS Reader Component on your website – then you simply take and upload photos directly to your ‘Tumblelog’ with your smartphone and they automatically appear on your website.
Tumblr is what’s known as a microblogging platform. Unlike Wordpress, Blogger or even ChurchInsight’s own blog functionality, this is geared to short posts and in Tumblr’s case, particularly designed to be rich media friendly: Tumblr makes it really easy to post images, audio clips, videos and more (short text items, quotes, links, conversations) directly from your smartphone – that may be just what you need. And there are currently nearly 59 million Tumbleblogs, so you’re in good company.
On a trip to visit one of our daughters and son-in-law South Africa last year, I used a Tumblelog to publish a running photo and caption commentary of our visit so family and friends could enjoy it too – see this example page. It didn’t quite go to plan as I discovered that publicly-accessible wireless Internet access is extremely rare in Cape Town* and I didn’t want to pay extortionate international data charges, so the record sadly stopped well short of the full trip, but you can get the idea.
This kind of thing is ideal for ongoing church news, projects you’re working on, mission trips, young people's group pages, church away weekends – or maybe you just want to see/hear/view the thoughts and adventures of your pastor while he’s on the move – you name it. It's just the job anywhere where the media is the main element of the content rather than a lot of words – and you can even set your Tumblr blog to automatically post to your Facebook profile as well.
I've only worked with images in a Tumblelog, but here’s how to do that – you can experiment with other media types.
The address will be http://yourblogname.tumblr.com e.g. mine is http://deepersouth.tumblr.com. Note there's no 'www'.
2) Download the Tumblr app for your phone
Apps are available for iPhone, Android, or Blackberry. Configure the app with your Tumblr account details.
3) Start posting!
If posting images, the first part of the picture description will show up as the title and the rest show up underneath the image on your ChurchInsight page. Post a couple of pictures and captions as a test – you can always delete them later from your Tumblelog.
NB When posting via the iPhone app, it always defaults to the first Tumblelog you set up, so if you have more than one, be careful to set it each time you post so the images go to the correct blog.
4) Connect the Tumblelog with your ChurchInsight website
Grab the RSS feed of your Tumblelog – it’s in a link at the foot of the blog page, or simply take the address of your Tumblelog and add “/rss” to the end e.g. http://deepersouth.tumblr.com/rss
Insert an RSS Reader Component in an Article or the Layout where you want your Tumblr content to appear and add your Tumblelog’s RSS feed to the component. See how it all turned out on this test page (this might take a few seconds to load the first time). NB. If adding the component to a layout, make sure you echo the same External Margin settings as other components in that part of the page, otherwise your page may start to look a mess.
If you'd also like know how to auto-post content from your Tumblelog to your Facebook page, there's help here – I found this worked well during my trip.
Using Tumblr or something similar for a cool effect on your ChurchInsight site? Let us know on our Facebook page.
* Publicly accessible wireless Internet access seems rare in South Africa, unless you happen to find one of the excellent Mugg & Bean restaurant/cafes, where the first 15 mins is free and access after that is very competitively priced. Should you happen to travel to this wonderful country, make a note of this map page of Mugg & Bean restaurant locations and you'll be able to stay connected : )
Alistair Birch, 26/06/2012