Some time ago while checking the content of the META description and keywords tags I noticed, that keywords contained such words as “this” and “that”... Moreover, these “keywords” were shown almost for every page! At that time I understood, that there should have been a stop words list... And, finally, such stop words list comes implemented in Meta 0.2.3.
Stop words are listed in the
config/stopwords.list file of the plugin. Feel free to modify it!
Many SEO experts recommend using dashed pretty links in URLs – they claim, that search engines give more importance to the words in such URLs. Despite this Redmine (due to Rails, I guess) uses just numeric identifiers. Not much helpful for SEO, isn’t it?.. So, Meta 0.2.3 switches news and forum topics to such pretty URLs. Thus, you can see this in the URL of this particular news!
Old-style links also work, though.
The Meta plugin uses only the original topic message (the first one) to build Meta tags. Other messages (i.e., replies) are not taken.
Meta is one of those plugins, which need to modify very core view files to provide their functionality. In particular this plugin modifies the
layouts/base view file, which is used for every HTML view of Redmine. In Redmine world, though, it’s assumed to be a bad practice to modify files like these, but, unfortunately, I had no other choice.
It’s a bad practice because view files like
layouts/base can be changed in new versions of Redmine, what can end up with plugin’s view files and core view files conflicting. This happenned to the Meta plugin and Redmine 2.3.x – the plugin was making the application inoperative. So the very main feature of Meta 0.2.2 is support for Redmine 2.3.x!
To get the content for the Meta description the plugin just truncates the textual content associated with the page. Usually this is a Wiki content (e.g., Wiki-enabled description for issues). There were no issues with this in the pure Redmine, but some third-party plugins, which extended the Wiki syntax, appeared to produce errors. Thus, the Wiki Extensions plugin used to add errors into the Meta descroption (see #2188). So version 0.2.2 also does its best to avoid having such errors in the Meta description.
To be able to generate the Meta description for news and Wiki pages the plugin adds two new hooks (a kind of function calls) to corresponding views (files). The version 0.2.2 of the plugin also makes these hooks available in the Hooks Manager, if this my other plugin is installed. This way you will be able to use these hooks for adding custom content to news and Wiki pages.
The previous version of the Meta plugin contained several bugs, the majority of which were related to the Open Graph protocol.In particular, they were:
- Open Graph Meta tags
profilewere mistakenly started with
og:prefix, what made them unrecognizable by Facebook debugger.
article:authorMeta tag contained author’s full name instead of author’s profile URL.
- Instead of the
fb:app_idMeta tag the plugin generated another
fb:adminstag with the app identifier as the value.
- Wiki page URLs were rendered incorrectly for Open Graph and Twitter Cards under Redmine 1.0.x.
All these issues were fixed in the version 0.2.1.
This news was sent to subscribers of this project (to ones, who chose “News” under the “Subscription” title on the sidebar). The same way some users got notifications about new files added to the project, the version closure, and so on. You can get such notifications too – just subscribe to the project with the “Subscription” block, which can be found on the sidebar.
Sometimes I get stuck with a plugin’s functionality and the plugin seems not going to have any new features. The Meta plugin used to be such. Other times such plugins appear to literally require more features to be really useful. And the Meta plugin appeared to be such too...
I believe, that the Meta plugin is an underestimated one, as I think, it is essential for any public Redmine installation. Otherwise Redmine will fail to provide useful structured information to social networks and search engines, what is extremely important nowadays. For this reason I review this plugin in my just published book Mastering Redmine. And because the book (with its review) was just published I hurried to carry out this release, which includes the lacking support for recent Redmine versions and some interesting new features...
As it was mentioned before, this plugin provides “description” and “keywords” Meta tags, which were used in the past to show the short summary of the page in search engine results. Yet still these tags are widely used by social networks. In addition, to get more social-friendly data some social networks introduce their own Meta tags:
- Thus, Facebook announced support for the Open Graph protocol, which allows to provide more data about web pages for social networks.
- Twitter, providing more specific social functionality, developed its own Meta tags named Twitter Cards, which are, actually, based on Open Graph.
Looks like Twitter Cards must be enabled for your domain by Twitter. To send the appropriate approval request to Twitter use this link (certainly, do this after you have installed the plugin).
Both these technologies are now supported by the Meta plugin!
So, let’s see how do they work?..
This is this particular news added to Facebook:
While, generally, it looks the same, as if we were using just “description” and “keywords” Meta tags (which existed till 0.2.0), the actual difference is inside. Thus, when I add the news to Facebook, the social network suggests to use only images, which are actually in the news article. But this feature has more power, which is invisible to the end user.
The Twitter, on the other hand, suffers more visible impact (if the domain is approved – mine is not yet):
As you see, a link powered with Twitter Cards tags gets “embedded” into the tweet view with such info as the author’s Twitter username and so on.
As you might be unwilling to include Open Graph and Twitter Cards and as they can come with some specific data, which should be configured, this version of the plugin also comes with the configuration, which can be found in Administration → Plugins → Meta tags → Configure:
The configuration of the plugin also includes settings for Facebook:
- Administrators can be set to one or more Facebook user IDs (e.g., “andriy.lesyuk” or “100000066953233”), in which case the corresponding Facebook users will get access to the statistics regarding likes, and so on.
- App identifier allows the same, but should be used for the cases, when the particular Redmine installation is represented as an app in Facebook (see here).
However, a Facebook user to be able to administer the resource must first “like” this resource, even if his/her username is set as an administrator in the meta tag. So in order to use this functionality you also need the Like Button plugin.
While the name of the plugin was “Meta Tags” the main its goal was search engine and social media optimization. Currently this is done using just meta tags, but in future releases it is also planned to generate SEO-friendly links (see #1986) and so on. Therefore, I was thinking about renaming the plugin with one of future releases... But, currently, decided to drop “tags”, so the name would be just “Meta” (this way technically the plugin has not been renamed). This name, of course, has nothing to do with SEO-friendly links, but.
Due to this change, anyway, users, who use the SVN repository of the project, need to update the repository path as follows:
$ svn switch --relocate http://svn.s-andy.com/redmine-meta http://svn.s-andy.com/meta
To be sure you’ll be among of the first, who will be notified about the next felease, which is going to include some really cool features (see the issue list), subscribe to the Meta project using the “Subscription” form on the sidebar.
To buy the “Mastering Redmine” book, in which the Meta plugin is mentioned along with other interesting plugins and many other useful features and secrets of Redmine, use this link. Note, that buying this book you also donate to my plugins development (as, certainly, I get royalties from its sales) and to Redmine development (as the Redmine team will get royalties as well – see details).
Sometimes Meta description looked really awful with the Textile code in it! Of course, this depended on the text but I really wanted it to be clear and readable! It appeared that it was not easy to fix...
The remove of the Textile code led to the huge plugin code refactoring what, I believe, made the plugin better and more flexible! Thus in the new version the plugin automatically adds Meta keywords using words which appear most often in the page content.
However I’m not sure how accurate are keywords determined in this way... You should probably take this into account before upgrade! Anyway, I believe, they are better than “issue,bug,tracking”... Also determining keywords takes additional time and, again, not sure how much more. Please report any issues you experience with this new release.
For full list of changes check page: 0.1.0.
Redmine Meta tags plugin has been written to “assist” the Redmine Like button plugin. So new upcoming version of the last “pushed” this plugin to release...
Meta tags 0.0.2 adds Meta description to the start page (a.k.a. the welcome page) and to issues pages (the Like button plugin is going to add the button there). For more information check this page.
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