TextImage Documentation

TextImage plugin for WordPress

The TextImage plugin for WordPress displays your post text as a PNG image instead of sending it to the browser as normal HTML. You can specify the text color, background color, font, font size, and image width you want to use.Why would you want to do this? Text rendered as an image can’t be read by most robots and filters. TextImage can help ensure that your posts won’t be found by search engines and the like. If you want your posts to have the widest audience possible, TextImage probably isn’t for you. If you want to maintain a weblog for a private community and keep a low profile, TextImage might help.The idea for the TextImage plugin came to me when I read about the Great Firewall of China. This Internet censorship regime uses automated filtering to accomplish most of its dirty work. Something like TextImage might help get real information past this kind of robotic tyranny, though of course it will be useless against human censors.

Requirements

TextImage was written and tested using WordPress 2.1. I have not tested it with other versions.TextImage requires the gd module for PHP. If phpinfo() has a section for the gd module, you’re probably OK. On my CentOS 4.3 server, I used the command yum install php-gd to get the correct module installed. TextImage tries to detect whether gd is installed, and if it isn’t, TextImage won’t try to change the way WordPress displays your posts.TextImage also needs TrueType fonts. These are files with the extension .ttf. There are probably hundreds of them on your Windows machine under /windows/fonts. There are also websites that sell TrueType fonts, or let you download them for free.If your Linux server has a graphical interface installed, it probably also has some TrueType fonts. TextImage looks for them under /usr/shared/fonts. If your fonts aren’t there you will need to change the font directory on the TextImage configuration page. See Options, below.

Installation

The TextImage plugin for WordPress consists of two files. All of the WordPress-specific code is in textimage_wp.php. The creation of the actual image with word-wrapped text is done in wrapped_text_image.php. Just copy both files to the wp-content/plugins directory, then enable the TextImage plugin on the Plugins admin panel. All your posts will henceforth appear as images. Nothing is changed permanently: deactivate the plugin and they’ll reappear as normal.

Options

TextImage installs its options page under the Options tab, as you might expect. The options you can specify are:

Option Description
Image cache directory Where TextImage can save images. This directory must be writable by WordPress. Include the trailing slash.
Image cache URL The relative or absolute URL to the image cache directory.
Font directory The directory where TextImage can find TrueType fonts. TextImage will search this directory and any subdirectories for files with a ‘.ttf’ extension. This directory must be readable by the web server running WordPress. Include the trailing slash.
Image width The maximum width of the image, in pixels. 
Font height How large to make the font, in points
Text color, Background color The RGB color specified as a number – either hex (0xRRGGBB) or decimal will work
Font The ttf font file to use. TextImage generates a list of all the ttf files under /usr/shared/fonts.
Clear image cache Check this box if you want TextImage to delete all the previously-saved PNG files. Do this if you want all your posts to display using the new options.

Limitations

TextImage does not render HTML: it can’t apply multiple fonts, bolding and italics (unless everything is bold or italic), or other fancy formatting to your post. You get one font in one size and color. You can, however, force line breaks by using carriage returns.TextImage strips html tags from your post before it renders the image. It does not, however, modify the actual post. If you disable TextImage, all your HTML will work as before. TextImage renders only posts as images. Titles, comments, and all other content are still rendered as regular HTML. If there is demand I might consider changing this. Tables and other heavily formatted text won’t render correctly in TextImage.

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