wavatars updated

Shamus announces an update to his wavatars plugin. However, as noted earlier, the pending release of WordPress 2.5 will likely break most avatar plugins due to its built-in avatar support. It think it makes more sense to wait for the post-upgrade version of wavatars for the time being; I still would like to see a way to define avatar libraries so that instead of two plugins, I could just select from a drop down of avatar styles (wavatars, monsters, etc).

WP 2.5 has built-in gravatar support

Seems that WordPress v2.5 (which will be out this month) will include support for Gravatars by default:

default avatarTheme Authors: Adding Gravatars to Your Theme

The function to add Gravatars to your theme is called: get_avatar. The function returns a complete tag of the Avatar.

The function get_avatar is setup as follows:

function get_avatar( $id_or_email, $size = '64', $default = '' )

* id_or_email: The author’s User ID (an integer or string) or an E-mail Address (a string)
* size: The size of the Avatar to display (max is 80).
* default: The absolute location of the default Avatar.

That’s the default avatar icon up there. Ugh. I am really not interested in gravatars, I am a fan of Monster ID and Wavatars. I hope Scott and Shamus can update their plugins to hook into the native 2.5 functionality as that would be a lot simpler. Adding a dropdown to the Admin panel to let you select between different icon sets is probably the best approach.

UPDATE: Ryan Boren says that any avatar service can be invoked, not just Gravatar:

Gravatar is the service used by default. get_avatar() is completely pluggable, however, so any service can be used. get_avatar() is built-in so that themes will have some fixed API on which they can rely, regardless of whatever avatar service is being used behind-the-scenes.

Lorelle pushes Gravatars

WordPress maven Lorelle has a post about creating gravatars and adding them to your blog. I left a comment in advocacy of Shamus’ and Scott’s alternatives. One thing I didn’t mention was that using a locally-generated solution like Wavatars or MonsterID also lends a kind of consistency to the avatars that show up, which in my opinion really facilitates a sense of community. To each his own, but it’s worth proselytizing the alternatives.


wavatarsShamus Young has released a new avatar plugin, called “Wavatars” (the W stands for “Whatever”). This plugin closely mirrors ScottSM’s WP_MonsterID plugin, with added optional support for Gravatars built-in (the plugin can be set to default to a Wavatar if no Gravatar is present). Whether you intend to use wavatars, monsterIDs, or the purely abstract geometric shapes really depends on the overall style and tone of your blog. I’m still using MonsterID over at Haibane.info (which has a much more relaxed, casual atmosphere) but I’ll adopt wavatars for this blog since it has a more didactic voice.

WP_MonsterID: automatic, unique avatars

Recently, the Gravatar service was bought out by the founders of WordPress. The immediate result was to move Gravatar over to their servers which resulted in a significant speed boost, and also accelerate gravatar support into the WordPress core. The major advantage of this is that it fosters a sense of community among your commenters, because the visual icon really accentuates everyone’s identity in a way that mere text can’t. I wasn’t motivated to actually sign up for a gravatar myself, however, until Shamus installed it on his blog over the weekend. However, there are two major disadvantages to the service: 1. your users have to actually sign up, and 2. it really slows down the page load.

Instead of Gravatars, I decided to go with MonsterID. This is built on Identicon technology which creates a custom hash based on the user’s email address. MonsterID takes this a step further, using that hash as an input to create a custom, unique “monster” graphic for each user.

I’ve installed the plugin here and on my geekblog, Haibane.info, and you can see it in action on this post about anime which has a healthy discussion thread. I am quite pleased with the result, especially since there is no real impact on page load since all the action is happening locally.