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TRU Collector Wordpress Theme

by Alan Levine or

If this kind of stuff has any value to you, please consider supporting me so I can do more!

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Sample Collectables Site

What is this?

This Wordpress Theme powers TRU Collector a site to allow collections of items (termed "collectables") where contributions can be made without any logins. The user never sees any sign of the innards of Wordpress but can create posts for each collectable.

The options allow you to create a simple Upload and go mode, but you can also allow (and require or not), captions, a source description (maybe more than hey, I found it on GOOGLE) or a complete rich text editor, and choose a selection of licenses to apply.

You can even enable an address that allows people to publish directly to your collection by old fashioned email.

Why TRU? I developed these initially while on a fellowship at Thompson Rivers University as one of a suite of SPLOT tools.

With Thanks

SPLOTs have no venture capital backers, no IPOs, no real funding at all. But they have been helped along by a few groups worth recognizing with an icon and a link.

The original TRU Collector was developed under a Thompson Rivers University Open Learning Fellowship and further development was supported in part by a Reclaim Hosting Fellowship, an OpenETC grant, Coventry University's Disruptive Media Learning Lab plus ongoing support by Patreon patrons.

Thompson Rivers University Reclaim Hosting OpenETC Disruptive Media Learning Lab Supporters on Patreon

See It In Action

Please please pretty please, if you make a TRU Collector site, fork this repo to edit this Readme with a link to your new site. If you have problems, feature suggestions, piles of unmarked bills to send my way, please contact me via the issues area on this repo.

Experiment Lab

TRU Collector has Custom API endpoint that is used to offer up random photos from the site. See The SPLOT Image Truck is Here! and these demo sites

TRU Collector Sightings

Installing TRU Collector

Using this theme requires a self-hosted--or institutionally hosted (lucky you)-- Wordpress site (the kind that you download from You cannot use this theme on the free "" site unless you have a business plan. Maybe check out Reclaim Hosting if you choose to set up your own hosting space.

The TRU Collector is a child theme based on the free and elegant Fukasawa theme by Anders Noren. Install this theme first from within the Wordpress Dashboard under Appearance -- Themes searching on Fukasawa.

Installing TRU Collector from Scratch

You can download a ZIP file of this theme via the green *Code" button above (use the Download Zip option).

The zip can be uploaded directly to your site via Themes in the Wordpress dashboard, then Add Theme and finally Upload Theme. If you run into size upload limits or just prefer going old school like me, unzip the package and ftp the entire folder into your wp-content/themes directory.

Updating the TRU Collector Theme (manually)

As of WordPress version 5.5, themes uploaded as .ZIP files can now be updated the same way you installed it. Just download the newest version, and update it by going to Themes in the Wordpress dashboard, then Add Theme and finally Upload Theme. You will be asked to confirm updating the theme with the newer version.

Installing TRU Collector in One Click with WP Pusher (get automatic updates!)

To have your site stay up to date automatically, I recommend trying the WP Pusher plugin which makes it easier to install themes and plugins that are published in GitHub. It takes a few steps to set up, but it's the most direct way to get updates to the theme.

To use WP-Pusher you will need to have or create an account on GitHub (free). Log in.

Next download WP Pusher plugin as a ZIP file. From the plugins area of your Wordpress dashboard, click the Upload Plugin button, select that zip file to upload, and activate the plugin.

Then click the WP Pusher option in your Wordpress Dashboard, and then click the GitHub tab. Next click the Obtain a GitHub Token button to get an authentication token. Copy the one that is generated, paste into the field for it, and finally, click Save GitHub Token.

Now you are ready to install TRU Collector!

Look under WP Pusher for Install Theme. In the form that appears, under Theme Repository, enter cogdog/tru-collector. Also check the option for Push-to-Deploy (this will automatically update your site when the theme is updated) finally, click Install Theme.

Woah Neo?

Not only does this install the theme without any messy download/uploads, each time I update the theme on GitHub, your site will be automatically updated to the newest version.

Installing From Reclaim Hosting

If you are wise enough to host your web sites at Reclaim Hosting you have the option of installing a fully functioning site with this theme (a copy of the demo site) including recommended plugins, configured settings and sample content, all done in one click. But wait there is more! With this method of installing your site, future updates to the theme are automatically added to your site (though not as frequently as the WP Pusher method).

In your cpanel, under Applications go to All Applications. This theme is available listed under Fratured Applications; just install from there.

Note that unlike other WordPress installs, this one will not preserve your username/password, so be sure to save that information. When it's done, log into your new site and start making it your own following the steps below.

Inserting Demo Content

If you want a site that is not completely empty, after setting up with WP-Pusher or from scratch, you can import all the content set up on the public demo site.

Install all content by downloading the WordPress export for that site. Running the WordPress Importer (under Tools -- Import) and upload that file when prompted.

You can also get a copy of the Widgets used on that site too. First intall/activate the Widget Importer & Exporter plugin. Download the Collector Widgets data file. Look under the Tools menu for [Widget Importer & Exporter and use the Import Widgets section to upload the data file. Boom! You got my widgets.

Setting Up a New Collector site

In this theme Wordpress Posts are renamed Collectables but have all the attributes of garden variety blog posts.

(1) Create a fresh new Wordpress site.

(2) Install the Fukasawa theme from the Wordpress Dashboard (I'll gamble that you know how to install themes, search on Fukasawa from Appearances -- Themes. It does not need to be activated, it just needs to be present.

(3) Install the TRU Collector via one of the methods described above.

(4) Activate TRU Collector as the site's theme. In this theme, Posts are renamed collectables and thus on the dashboard:

Renamed Posts Menu

(5) You might want to set up in advance some Wordpress Categories for your Collectables; in the options you will choose one as default (and for the love of all that is holy, change the name of the Uncategorized category!

Next, you should configure the options.

Setting Up The Site Via TRU Collector options

These instructions are a reference for the settings within the TRU Collector; if you are reading this, you got as far as installing and activating the theme. Below are basic instructions for all of the theme options, which, if this were designed well, you likely do not need me to explain, but #BecauseDocumentation here we go.

Access to Collector

Leave this field blank if you want any visitor to be able to access the submission form on your site (you can always make it less accessible by not having any links as menus for the form.

If you want to provide an access code (a very weak password), just enter it. Any requests to access to form will be sent to the Welcome Desk page where a visitor must enter in the code you have entered here to see the form.

Enter a decent Access Hint that will be displayed if someone does not enter the correct code.

Special Pages Setup

This theme has three pages that must be created; each is associated with a specific template that provide it's functionality. Activating the theme should create these all for you when the theme is activated, but if not, create them as described below. You can edit the content of the pages to customize the prompt seen by contributors to your site.

If the theme does not do so automatically (and it should) create these Wordpress Pages. You can modify the titles, and add whatever content you want to appear at the top as instructions. Unlike previous versions, there is no need for a specific url for the page.

  • Collect -- The page that provides the collection form, see Whatever you include in the body (not required) is added to the top of the form, maybe for extra instructions.e.g. for a site at the page can be published at When you create a Collection Form page, under Page Atributes, select the Template named Add to Collection.

  • Browse Items By License -- If you ask visitors to select a reuse license, this page provides a way to see all items that share the same license-- like When you create a Browse By License page, under Page Atributes, select the Template named Items by License.

In the theme options, make sure you have identified the Page that is designated for these purposes.

Publish Settings

The Status for New Collectable lets you set up moderation for new submissions (by choosing Set to draft) whereas Publish immediately provides instant gratification to your visitors though leaves open the problems of a site where anyone can publish (the latter option thus works for sites where you set up an Access Code as described above).

Enter any email addresses who should be notified of new submissions; you can use multiple ones if you separate them by a comma.

Sort Options

The default settings are for typical blogs where newest content is displayed first. The sort options allow you to change that across the site- the home page, category/tag archives, and search results.

Date Published is the default option, the order is Descending, or newest first, change to Ascending to have oldest items appear first.

Change the sort otder to Title to... yes... sort items alphabetically by each item's title. Use Ascending for alphabetical order (A-Z) or Descending to reverse (Z-A).

Fields and Options for Items

Set the description options to choose whether provide a field for visitors to enter a caption/description for their shared item, and whether to require that something be entered. By setting to No this will not appear on the submission form or will any descriptions be displayed..

Next is the option to enable a rich text editor in place of the default simple text area input. Use this if you want a site where people create formatted blog=post like content or plain text captions.

You can also populate the editor (other type) with default content, for example, if you wanted descriptions to have certain headings.

Enabling Display Name of Person Sharing provides the input field to the form, and enables the display of its value on a single view.

The Source field is a single line text entry where a visitor can type in the source of the image (if it includes a URL it will be automatically hyperlinked when the image page is displayed).

Enabling Show URL for media item enables the display of a link for the uploaded media on a single view.

The Rights License is a drop down menu offering a variety of Creative Commons licenses as well as All Rights Reserved (boo!), and a Usage Rights Unknown choice.

Enabling the Cut and Paste Attribution adds to the image display a field with an automatically formed attribution statement (based on the image's rights license choice) that can be copied after clicking on the text.

Check Enable Comments on Items to add a standard blog comment field at the bottom of all published items.

If you want users to choose categories, enable it on the form (setting to "no" will hide categories on the view page).

If you have not set up any categories, the Default Category for New Collectables menu just give you a choice of Uncategorized. If you want to modify this setting, first save your options, edit your Collectable Categories (standard Wordpress Categories accessed under Collectables in the Dashboard), and return here to set up the desired default category. Please, don't leave Uncategorized on your site!

If you want users to enter tags, enable it on the form (setting to "no" will hide tags on the view page).

The last option here creates field on the input form for users to send information that is not displayed.

Email Options

Activating the email form field creates a means for visitors who wish to edit their entry later to get a special edit link sent via email. This feature can be disabled; enabled as optional, or as a required entry.

If you use this option, you can also enter a specific domain (or a comma separated list) to say require email addresses to be official work or school ones.

The third setting here can activate a checkbox on the entry form that let's a visitor choose to receive comment notifications via email.

Customize the Add / Collect form

You can now customize the field labels and the descriptions of the form where people submit new items to a TRU Collector site. On your site navigate to the collect form, and activate the Wordpress Customizer from the admin bar.

There is a special section TRU Collector tab to open:

Then from this pane, open "Collect Form"

And then you will see a series of fields to edit for all form field elements. For each, you can edit the title/label of the field and the prompt that appears below. As you type in the customizer fields on the left, you will see a live preview on the right (ignore the silly pizza references in the screenshot, the author was just hungry):

A new feature is a menu item under Customize that allows you to open the customizer with the current collection form displayed.

Customize the collection

A new section for the TRU Collector Customizer Collection Info allows you to specify the name for the kinds of things in your collection as it is displayed on the sidebar below the site name.

You can also change the header and add extra instructions/prompts if you want to modify how the comments area is displayed.

Browse by Licenses

The TRU Collector provides archives of content that have the same reuse license (if the feature is activated via the TRU Collector options). Just make sure there is a Wordpress Page that uses the template Browse by license -- and the Page is selected in the theme options (see above). This page is created automatically on new sites, or simply by activating the theme again (activate the parent Fukasawa, then activate TRU Collector again).

This page (see example) provides links to view all content with the licenses available on the collect form. The url including licensed/cc-by yields all items with a Creative Commons CC By Attribution license example.

Use the page to find links to the ones you wish to use and add to your site's menus or widgets. If the links do not work, you may have to go to Settings -- Permalinks and just click save to regenerate the settings.

For extra flexibility there is a [licensed] shortcode that can be used in a widget or any page to display the same index list in a sidebar. By default, it lists only licenses used (e.g. it skips licenses with zero uses); to show all licenses, use the code [licensed show="all"].

Shortcode Adding Hyperlinks to Simple Captions

Any HTML put into the plain text editor for the caption is stripped out. But a new feature allows hyperlinks to be created using a "shortcode" format:

Links show be entered as a [link] shortcode where the link url is specified as well as the text to be used as hypertext:

[link url="" text="the coolest site on the internet"]

This will create a hyperlink like the coolest site on the internet

To present the link just as a URL, simply use

[link url=""]

which will produce the hyperlink like -- all links will open in a new window.

Optional / Suggested Add-ons

Add Public Ratings

Installing the WP-Ratings Plugin enables public star (or other scale) ratings on items from the front page, archives, and single items. Visitors can rate content using a variety of ratings (1-5 stars, thumbs up/down, etc).

See it in action on the SPLOT demo site front page or single item.

OpenGraph Tags for Social Media Sharing

If you would like Twitter Cards and Facebook shares to use the main images and provide a more complete display, install, activate, and configure a plugin like Open Graph and Twitter Card Tags. This adds the special open graph tags to your site's pages to enable better social media share previews.

Tiled Displays

Install the WP-Tiles plugin to create alternative views of your collections as a tiled gallery. The plugin provides way to create a variety of grid styles, and can be added to a Page in your site using a shortcode. This can even be set to be the FRONT page of your site using Settings -> Reading in your WordPress dashboard as was down for the #OWLTEH18 Conference Photos site:

Or see examples as internal pages from the SPLOT demo site or the Mural UDG project Accumulador site.

Learn more about using this plugin

Fix Rotated Mobile Phone Photos

If contributors to your collection will be uploading photos directly from a smart phone, install the iOS Image Fixer plugin to fix problems associated with portrait mode photos that end up uploaded as sideways images.

Not So Big Featured Images

The images as shown in a single item view are meant by the theme to fill the space. One user of the theme setting a Collector up for conference participants to post bios, asked if they could be smaller as it put off a few of their testers.

This is a job for adding some custom CSS to your own site (navigate to a single item and use the Customize link in the black admin bar). Then under "Additional CSS" try this bit of styling, it sizes them to half the width of the page and adds a bit of space (margin) at the top.

.single .featured-media img {
    width: 50%;
    margin: 5% auto 0;

You will see results instantly, and you might try different values of the width and/or adjust the first percentage for margin (that puts space at the top).

Once it seems sized appropriately, click "Publish"

Other Wordpressy Things You Might Want to Do

I like short links, so I typically use a Custom Permalink setting (under Settings -- Permalinks) of `/%post_id%/'

Simplest Permalink

The theme creates a special URL /random to provide a link that shows a random item, e.g.

Set up your own menus as needed; make sure that you click the Location tab to tell Wordpress to use the menu you create.

Menu Configuration

Get rid of the default widgets on the site, make it your own!


Go collect stuff!

Relatively New Features

  • Image Alt Displayed alternative descriptions now displayed in the SPLOT meta data box below a single entry. Also, a new theme option where it can be set as a required item. And a Customizer option to change the label and prompt for the image alt text fields.
  • Tag Suggestions Tags entry field provides autocomplete suggestions
  • Authorless Removed need for the secret WordPress account, all contributions made without dashboard access. Removed "desk" template, no longer needed. New drop zone for uploading images, plus inline image uploader added to rich text editor.
  • Customize Comments Modify the title where comments are displayed and add an extra prompt. Also added fields to change the label e.g. "4 Comments" when displayed so that can be named whatever one likes.
  • Alt Text Field Sharing form now includes a place to enter alternative text for the main image for better web accessibility.
  • Default Description Content And one more new theme option to pre-populate the description field with default content.
  • Comment Options The email entry form now has an option to require entry, as well as another one to allow content creator to choose to receive email notifications of comments.
  • Post Publishing Editing Not enabled by default, but a new theme option can add to the collection form an email field (optional) that sends a user a special link that can be used to edit an entry later. This also adds a button to single item pages that can request the edit link. Options for Special Pages No longer are pages for the Welcome Desk (where access codes are entered) and Collector form required to have a set URL; you can create any Page desired for these functions, and set them as the active ones via the theme options.

SPLOT Previews

  • Name the items New customizer panel to create the name of the item/items in the collection displayed below the site name (replacing generic "item/items")
  • Better Rich Text Editor the visual editor will now embed media WordPress supports (YouTube, twitter, soundcloud, etc)
  • Preview Option on collect form allows reviewing content in overlay preview before submitting (embedded tweets do not render in preview, just a big space).
  • By Licenses Shortcode useful for putting an indexed list of items by licenses into widget or any page.
  • New Login Code removes the need to copy the collector user's password to the theme options. The special user account is closed after their item is uploaded. Also, there are new admin notices to activate or install the two recommended plugins
  • Enabled for WP-Ratings With the Wp-Ratings Plugin installed, you can have front page and single item ratings for items
  • Customizer Editor for Upload Form All field labels and instructions can now be modified via the customizer
  • Rich Text Editor Option allow for the full Wordpress editor for composing captions
  • Shortcode for Hyperlinks in captions This one is for you Daniel!
  • Display Order Options Theme options now allows front page, archive, search results can be sorted by date published (default) or by title, and also the order can be ascending or descending
  • Options Refreshed Recoded the theme options better organized and also so documentation now links to GitHub most recent documentation (what you are looking at!)


A Wordpress Theme for a site to allow collections of images where contributions can be made without any silly logins




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