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

Support me on Patreon Support me on via PayPal

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. This is done by using a generic author account that is silently activated. 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, 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, and ongoing support by Patreon patrons.

Thompson Rivers University Reclaim Hosting OpenETC 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.

TRU Collector Sightings

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.

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.

Installing TRU Writer from Scratch

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. Maybe check out Reclaim Hosting if you need 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.

Download the TRU Collector theme (use the green Clone or Download button above) as a ZIP file.

The zip can be uploaded directly to your site via Add Themes in the Wordpress dashboard. Of 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.

To get the theme working, activate the "TRU Collector" theme when it appears in your Wordpress dashboard under Appearance --> Themes.

Updating the TRU Collector Theme (manually)

Note (Dec 18, 2018) If your site's images are stacked, or it looks like there are only 1 or 2 in a collection, it's likely because of a change to the parent Fukasawa theme and or the WordPress 5.0 update that was automatically updated on your site. An update to TRU Collector version 1.5 or later will fix this issue.

If you have ftp/sftp access to your site (or this can be done in a cpanel file manager), simply upload the new theme files to the wp-content/themes directory that includes the older version theme.

For those that lack direct file upload access or maybe that idea sends shivers down the spine, upload and activate the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin -- this will allow you to upload a newer version of a theme as a ZIP archive, the same way you add a theme by uploading.

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) Create a user with login name of "collector" with Author role. No one actually uses the account, the site invisible logs in guests as this user. Make note of and save somewhere the password that Wordpress generates. Leaving it cryptic is fine, no one needs to use it.

(3) 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.

(4) Install the TRU Collector theme downloaded as part of this repo (use the green clone or download button above or download directly).

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

Renamed Posts Menu

(6) Install and activate the Remove Dashboard Access plugin. The tru-collector theme's options panel will nudge you to install it. This plugin is used to keep the logged in collector user from seeing the Wordpress dashboard. Any attempt to reach the dashboard outside of Administrators or editors results in a redirect to the front of the site. The site will work without it, but it makes your site a tad more bullet proof.

In this plugins settings, restrict access to Editors and Administrators or just Administrators depending if you will have a moderator user. The default redirect should be for the main URL of the site.

Remove Dashboard Access settings

(7) If you wish to set up a feature to let visitors send photos to your collector via email, install the Wordpress Jetpack plugin. You will also need a plugin the converts the first image of a post to a Featured Image; I like Auto Thumbailer. See below for setup instructions.

(8) 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!

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 and Publishing Controls

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 front 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.

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 on a single item display.

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.

The Source Field and rights license settings operate similarly the description fields options above as to how they are used.

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).

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.

At this time, the only way to edit the licenses displayed (e.g. if you do not want certain ones) is (pathetically on the part of the programmer) to edit functions.php in the template directory. Look for the function trucollector_get_licences and comment out the lines containing license options to hide.

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 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!

Author Account Setup

To provide access to the media uploader, this site uses a Wordpress Authoring Role account that is logged into invisibly to your site. So your site needs a user account with a name of collector and a role of Author. If this site is on a mulitsite Wordpress install, and the TRU Collector has been used on another site, the collector account already exists, so you need to add it to the site via the Author tools.

You can follow the link to create an account; for an email you can use a fictitious one on your domain. We suggest using the strong password that Wordpress suggests.

** Note: As of version 1.1 of TRU Collector you no longer need to copy the password into the options page. ** If you are using a version of the theme that has a password field in the options, maybe it's a good time to update? Otherwise, see an older version of this ReadMe for instructions.

JetPack Post by Email (no longer built in)

This feature was unreliable and the coding around it created problems to minute to make it worthwhile. One could still implement it as a way to post, your mileage will vary.

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 at the bottom to open:

Then from this pane, open "Collect Form" (eventually the theme options will live here too)

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):

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.

Browse by Licenses

As of version 0.5.5 The TRU Collector provides links that display 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 with the url / slug /licensed 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"].

Updating the Theme

If you have ftp/sftp access to your site (or this can be done in a cpanel file manager), simply upload the new theme files to the wp-content/themes directory that includes the older version theme.

For those that lack direct file upload access or maybe that idea sends shivers down the spine, upload and activate the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin -- this will allow you to upload a newer version of a theme as a ZIP archive, the same way you add a theme by uploading.

Adding Hyperlinks to Captions

Any HTML put into the 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.

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.

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.

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 three Pages for you with custom templates. You can edit their content to provide additional information prompt:

  • Desk The screen where users must enter an access code
  • Collect The page that includes the form people use to upload content
  • Random No content needed, it just performs a redirect to a random collectable. Just leave it alone

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

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!)
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