Introducing PlacePress

In late 2018, we at the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities completed an NEH-funded grant project called Curating Kisumu. The project – a collaboration between Cleveland State University and Maseno University – was designed to facilitate sustainable public history production in the city of Kisumu, Kenya. The WordPress platform was a central part of the plan because of its global ubiquity, extensible architecture, and ease of use. We created a custom project website focused on serving Kenya’s low-bandwidth, mobile-first environment, developing a plugin centered on location-based storytelling that took inspiration from our mobile app framework, Curatescape. You can read more about the grant’s goals and outcomes at csudigitalhumanities.org, but suffice to say that completing a WordPress-based project in late 2018 complicated our plans. In December 2018, WordPress 5.0 introduced the block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg), a radically-different content-editing experience involving major changes for plugin development. While we are proud of the work we did for Curating Kisumu, we wanted to go back to the drawing board to design a block-based plugin with similar functionality for use in future projects. Enter PlacePress.

PlacePress is a WordPress plugin designed for public historians, urbanists, and other humanities researchers to document locations such as historic sites. The plugin adds a Location custom post type, which includes a map block for geolocating each post. The map block can be inserted anywhere in a location post. Each location post is automatically added to a global map block that can be inserted on any page, giving you a way to present all your location-based content in an easy-to-use (and easy-to-manage) interactive map. We think it’s a great way to give users a visual overview of a project’s scope and geographic coverage without breaking the bank on custom map development. Check out some example locations and an example global map to see for yourself.

PlacePress is ready for production use now, but the work is not complete. We plan to refine PlacePress and add more features going forward. In the meantime, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Initial Features

  • Location post type
    • Custom post archive support
    • Custom post archive menu item
    • Custom taxonomies
    • Recent Locations widget
  • Location Map Block
    • Configurable basemap styles
    • Configurable zoom level
    • User geolocation
    • Map captions
  • Global Map Block
    • Configurable basemap styles
    • Configurable zoom level
    • User geolocation
    • Map captions
    • Marker clustering (see plugin settings)

Planned Features

  • Tour post type
  • Tour map block
  • Directions button (external service)
  • Fullscreen map button
  • Global Map options: limit by Location Type category
  • Additional widgets
  • Custom map layers
  • Mapbox integration
  • (and more to come)

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