All posts by Aaron Jorbin

I'm a web developer with a passion for standards, accessibility and open source software.

Open Source at AddThis

If you have followed this blog in the past, you know that AddThis has worked to lead the way with open standards like OExchange and Web Intents. What you might not know is the engineers at AddThis are also leading the way with Open Source Software.

This month we sponsored the Second Annual Open Source Software BBQ in Washington, DC.  Four local open source meetups, WordPress DC, DC PHP, jQuery DC, and DC Droids came together to celebrate open source software with some delicious pulled pork and an array of sides. In the past we have also sponsored individual open source meetups that focus on other open source projects including Cassandra and regularly host and sponsor the Big Data DC meetup which often discusses Open Source Software.

Members of the AddThis team eating BBQ and chatting about Open Source

In addition to supporting the local open source communities, the engineers at AddThis contribute to many open source projects, both the popular and the obscure.  WordPress, GNU Emacs, CLISP, and Apache Kafka are some of the best known projects that we have contributed to.

If that isn’t enough, the Stream-Lib, MetricCatcher, Phetric, and TracBoard projects all have grown from work we do at AddThis and have been made available to the larger development community.  Checkout our github account to see some of the things we are working on now.

If working on open source software and open standards interests you, checkout out our job openings.

AddThis for Shopify Now Available

If you run one of the over twenty-thousand stores powered by Shopify, getting AddThis for your store just got a lot easier. To enable AddThis for Shopify just head on over to the Shopify App Store and Select AddThis. When you’ve clicked Install App you’ll be taken to a wizard that will allow you to setup your sharing tools and start enabling your visitors to become your marketers via their favorite social networks.

Merchants on Shopify get access to over 300 social channels including Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter in addition to real-time analytics showing how socially viral their products are. This real-time data can help you increase traffic and engagement to your store resulting in increased sales.

AddThis for Shopify has even been featured 10 helpful new Shopify Apps. Let us know if we can do anything to make AddThis work even better on your Shopify store.

Phetric: Persistent Metrics for PHP applications

This is part two of three in a series on how we monitor application metrics on See part 1.

Last month we open sourced two internally developed pieces of our metrics stack. Drew Stephens wrote about the first, MetricCatcher, which enables non-java applications to utilize Coda Hale’s Metrics Package. The second piece, which we use on to monitor internal application metrics, is Phetric. attracts millions of page views each month across multiple servers on a complex site to which we are constantly adding new features and enhancements. In order to monitor our metrics during this process, we gather metrics with Phetric and MetricCatcher, sending them on to Ganglia and Graphite for recording and viewing.

Using Phetric

To initialize Phetric, first you must include Sender.php and call Phetric_Sender::init() which takes the following four arguments (the final two of which are optional):

  1. The host where we want to send our metrics
  2. The port where MetricCatcher is listening
  3. A string you want prepend to all metric names
  4. A boolean for if you want to send each metric as it comes in rather then waiting for the end. (off by default)

All metrics are sent (as JSON) using UDP, which is a non-blocking operation; sending metrics won’t ever hang your application. Phetric hooks into php’s shutdown event to send the metrics after your application code has finished. If you are debugging or running extremely long running application code, setting the auto flush boolean to true will mean you send all the metrics as they come in.

Phetric supports everything offered by Coda Hale’s metric Package except for health check. Take a look at the Phetric Readme to see how to implement each metric.

Verifying your metrics

There are two options for verifying the metrics that you are sending as you develop. The first is to point Phetric at an install of MetricCatcher and tail its logs. If you aren’t using MetricCatcher, you can trivially see the metrics that Phetric emits using Netcat. I have this function in my .bashrc to make testing easy:

    while true;
         nc -w 1 -l -u 1420;

In Conclusion

Grab Phetric on Github, it’s available under the MIT License. If you want to extend it please submit a pull request. Have ideas or questions? Open an issue on Github.

If you haven’t already, check out Drew Stephens previous post on MetricCatcher, where our Phetric metrics end up. Also, check back here soon for the final part of this series.

Live View Now Includes Facebook Comments

In the AddThis Live View, AddThis shows you which pages on your site your visitors are sharing and returning to in real-time. Now you can also see when a visitor comments on one of your pages on Facebook.

Facebook Comments in AddThis Live

The AddThis Live View helps you know when articles are going viral, which articles are generating feedback, and which services your visitors use most. With these insights you can make real-time decisions about where you should be focusing your energy – right now.

Don’t have facebook comments on your site? Facebook tells you how to integrate them. Also, make sure you use the Facebook XML Namespace on your site. Not familiar with live view? Learn more about Real Time Analytics.

Making AddThis More Accessible

Most times when we announce a new feature or improvement, we invite you to take a look. This isn’t one of those times. Instead, this feature announcement is about listening and touching AddThis. We have updated our code to work better with keyboard navigation and screen readers. Now when you visit a site that is using AddThis, you can tab through all of the available sharing options. If you choose to see more options, you can easily filter the list of services and then tab to the one you like. We’ve also added focus styling so if you are navigating with a keyboard, you’ll have a better idea where you are. Also, if you are using a screen reader, you should properly hear the name of the service.

If you’re a publisher you might be asking yourself, “How do I make this available to my users?” It’s easy, we’ve enabled this for everyone. Your site’s visitors are now even more able to share whatever they like, wherever they like.

The key highlights of what we did:

  • Toolboxes are keyboard navable
  • Toolboxes are marked up so screen readers can use them all
  • The expanded menu is keyboard navable and closable with the esc key
  • Graphs and maps in analytics have alternatives for screen readers

At AddThis, all of our users are important to us and we believe it should be as easy as possible for users to share content from their favorite publishers. This is just one step in our continuous journey to make AddThis as great as we can. We have been able to get some feedback from Russell Heimlich and other accessibility experts to help make this happen. If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can give you a high quality experience with AddThis, please get in touch!

Security Alert for AddThis WordPress plugin

Late yesterday, the accounts of several popular plugins on were compromised, including the AddThis plugin account. Malicious code was inserted into these plugins, opening a backdoor for potential third party code to execute on your server. The issue affected version 2.1.3 of the AddThis plugin, and you will be affected only if you downloaded that version yesterday or this morning. We have also patched the plugin as of this morning, and version 2.2.0 is fully certified.

WordPress has reset all accounts, and is updating status in this post.

All users of the AddThis WordPress plugin are STRONGLY encouraged to upgrade to the latest version (2.2.0) as quickly as possible, especially if you updated or installed version 2.1.3 of the AddThis WordPress plugin (June 20, 2011) yesterday or (June 21, 2011) today.

In order to upgrade, please visit the upgrades page inside your WordPress instillation. You can also grab the latest version from the WordPress repository

We will continue to work with the WordPress team on this. If we have more information, we will update this post.

The AddThis Team

AddThis for WordPress Now Supports Address Bar Sharing

The AddThis WordPress Plugin now allows you to easily track Address Bar sharing. When activated, we now allow you to track and see how people are sharing your site when they copy the URL and paste it in an e-mail, instant message or anywhere else. To activate it, upgrade to the latest version of the plugin and check out the Advanced Tab.

Address Bar Sharing currently works in Firefox 4 and Safari 5. We also added Real Time Social Analytics as well.

We also have tested the plugin with the WordPress 3.2 Release Candidate and everything looks good.

If you notice any problems, make sure to head on over to the AddThis forum.

AddThis For WordPress 2.1.0

Recently we released version 2.1 of the AddThis WordPress plugin. There are a number of improvements that will make your experience as a publisher on WordPress even better. What are these great new features?

Custom Twitter Templates

While it has always been possible to modify the content of tweets with a small amount of code, we have made it easier to personalize the tweets from your site.

More Fine Grain Controls

Have a certain page that you don’t want to display AddThis on? No Problem. There is now a box on the create post and create page screens that will allow you to remove addthis from that specific post or page.

Since we don’t want to distract you by adding this box automatically, you need to enable it in the screen options which you can access from the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Updated Dashboard analytics

We’ve updated the dashboard analytics widget to now include your most shared and clicked urls for the last month. The social analytics on allow you to get more in depth reports, but the snapshot in your dashboard is now even more informative.

More Filters

We’ve included more filters so that developers can customize the plugin even more. Are you a developer that wants to build upon and improve the plugin? We’re listening and want to help.

All of these features came out of feedback that we received from you, the user. What features would you like to see in version 2.2? Head on over to our forums and let us know.

New and Improved Blogger Integration for AddThis

It’s now easier then ever to integrate AddThis with Blogger. We have two different integration options to help make your Blogger site easier to share.

Add AddThis After Every Post

Adding AddThis to your posts is easy as one, two, three! Go to the Get AddThiss page, select Blogger, pick your favorite sharing widget and then click the ‘Install AddThis on Blogger’ button. It’s super simple and gives all of your site visitors the chance to share your content around the web.

Add AddThis to Your SideBar

AddThis is now a featured gadget in Blogger. From the design panel of your Blogger site, click “Add a Gadget” and check out the Featured gadgets. You’ll find the AddThis Sharing Gadget that with one click you can add to your site. There are a few options including the size of the sharing icons and whether you want a tweet button and a like button to also appear.

We are always looking to improve how we integrate with the tools you use to publish your content. Please comment here or head over to our forums if you have any suggestions for how we can make the experience even better for Blogger, WordPress, or our other publishing platform plug-ins.

AddThis for WordPress plugin version 2.0.3

EDIT: Some themes lacked the proper hooks for us to work properly. We added in some additional code to help make sure those themes could still take advantage of our plugin and thus have now released 2.0.3.

We are proud to announce that we have just released version 2.0.2 2.0.3 of the AddThis for WordPress plugin. This version includes multiple fixes and some enhancements to customized versions of what you see.

Enhanced Template Tag

To take advantage of our enhanced template tag, you just need to add the following code to your theme:

do_action('addthis_widget',$url , $title, style);

Url is the url that you want to share, title is the title you want to pass with the share, and style is the AddThis style. Take a look at the $addthis_new_styles array inside addthis_social_widget.php for a list of the styles. Another option is to pass an array for creating a custom toolbox. To do this, just create an array like the following and pass that as the $style.

$customAddThis = array(
    'size' => '16', // size of the icons.  Either 16 or 32
    'services' => 'hyves,joliprint', // the services you want to always appear
    'preferred' => '8', // the number of auto personalized services
    'more' => true // if you want to have a more button at the end 

Custom Toolboxes

You can now select custom as the option for which AddThis widget you want to display. This will allow you to choose the size of your toolbox, the services that you want to always appear at the start of the toolbox, the number of auto personalized services, and if you want to include our iconic orange share button.

WordPress has a tradition of each release having a haiku, so I present to you:

AddThis for WordPress
Easier to make your own
Sharing made simpler

Now head on over to The WordPress plugin repository and grab this update. You can also check out our other WordPress Social Plugins.