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It's Episode 283 and we've got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

Transcript of Episode 283

It's Episode 283 and we've got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #283


It’s Episode 283 and we’ve got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!


Episode #283

John:                Okay, the first plugin I’ve got here today is called Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere. Now, I know I might have covered this in the past or Marcus has, but it’s time to bring some plugins back forth from time to time. Now, sooner or later you’ll be in the need to display a shortcode somewhere on your website aside from just in a post or a page. You might need it in a widget, in a title, in a custom area – who knows. Well, that’s what this plugin does for you. It saves you the headache and hassle of having to add functions to your functions file and once you install it and turn it on, you just determine what areas you want to be able to use short codes, turn them on, and away you go. It just allows you to add a shortcode anywhere.

Now, something I discovered by accident by playing with it today was be aware of the areas you turn on, because sometimes it’ll override stuff that’s in your theme. I had turned on the area for titles to see what it would do and it turned out it wiped out all of my images for the title of my posts, so something in my theme conflicted with it. So anyway, be aware of those kinds of issues; other than that, it’s a really great plugin. It saves you lots of time: Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere, and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           Very good. Yeah, I use that all the time in a lot of different themes. The first plugin I’ve got today is called STM Gallery 0.9, which means it’s still in production. It is a pretty neat little tool, John. What it allows you to do is create original compositions based on images that are already in your media library, and it gives you the option to change the borders, the margins, the shadow of the images. You can make it kind of like a bunch of Polaroids laying down if you want to, that are all kind of hooked together.

And if you want different images rotated or anything like that, you can do that as well. You can create as many compositions as you want with all the parameters that you decide, and you just end up showing them through a shortcode. Now, that’s where this think kind of went off the tracks for me, because I want to be able to take that and use that as a featured image. However, it doesn’t let you.

John:                Oh, bummer!

Marcus:           So —

John:                I was so excited there for a second.

Marcus:           — so it nixes that part of it.

John:                Yeah?

Marcus:           I mean, it’s great for just inserting it within your posts and having a nice little gallery, but maybe I want to have a featured image of it. It just didn’t do it, so I rated it a 3 out of 5.

John:                All righty. Well, that’s okay. I was getting excited there a minute until you said that.

Marcus:           I know. Me, too. Me, too.

John:                Okay, the next plugin I’ve got here is called Better Internal Link Search. Now, as I mentioned, it’s good to bring plugins back from our distant past and this is a plugin that I reviewed quite some time ago, back in Episode 121 of April, 2013, and I was wondering how it was doing. I may bring some more plugins back from the distant past to see how they’re doing and how they’ve fared, because lots of plugins have survived; others have disappeared entirely.

This one here though, it looks like they have kept it up to date. The functionality is still great. What it does for you once it’s installed and activated, it does a faster job of allowing you to insert links to your content within your site. With just a few keystrokes, it’s much faster than a default one. This is when you’re in your post and you click the Add a Link button and you’re going to go type up some information. But it also allows you to go search for content outside your site: areas like Wikipedia, GitHub, iTunes, Spotify, Codex, and probably a couple others. It allows you to bring those links in very quickly and easily.

It’s pretty well performing, a decent plugin still. Back then, I gave it a 4 and I’m still going to give it a 4-Dragon rating. Check it out: Better Internal Link Search.

Marcus:           Yeah, that’s definitely something that WordPress needs more of.

John:                Mm-hmm.

Marcus:           All right, the next one is something that all of us as designers or developers or things like that that have our own personal site (or even customer sites that you work on) sometimes use this. It’s called a logo carousel, and this plugin is called Unlimited Logo Carousel, and that is basically kind of a conveyor belt that shows different logos of your clients or the projects that you worked on, sponsors, affiliates, partners – anything like that.

This plugin is totally 100% responsive, which means all your logos show up across all devices perfectly. After clicking each logo, the user is directed to a manufacturer’s page or whatever page that you want to highlight the project. It lets you configure the colors, the speed, the amount of items to show, all kinds of other features, and I really liked this plugin a lot. It’s called Unlimited Logo Carousel, and it gets a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice! Does it only display them in a row or will it stack them?

Marcus:           It stacks, too.

John:                Oh, sweet.

Marcus:           So you get to determine how you want them and how many across and all that.

John:                Sweet, this might actually solve a problem I’m having.

Marcus:           Hm.

John:                Excellent. I’m going to have to play with it then and see. I appreciate that. I always love it when you bring something to the table that helps me solve a problem I’ve been fighting with.

Marcus:           Ah, it’s my job.

John:                Okay, the final plugin I’ve got is called Hide the Dragons. Now, how could I not bring a plugin that had ‘dragons’ in its title? Initially, I thought it was going to be one of those joke plugins because the description is like, “Turn it on, that’s all you do, and it hides all the dragons.” They don’t describe anything about what the plugin does. I thought it was going to be one of those plugins I’ve been caught out before and I thought it was really cool and it turned out to be an April Fool’s joke.

Now, I know it’s not April Fool’s but hey. Anyway, what this plugin does is I took a look at the code to see what it did and I also installed it on my test site. What they mean by dragons is it allows you to instantly clean up an admin area to prevent – say you build a site and your users or your people you turn it over to, you don’t want them to access things such as the editor, the dashboard nags, the plugin info links. It removes the tools menu and more.

What it does is it goes through and removes all the most irritating areas or confusing areas to the website that an average user or a beginner at WordPress really doesn’t want to mess with. Now, I did find a conflicted with plugins when I was testing it and when I tried to check out how it got rid of all of the widgets on the dashboard for the admin area, it turned out that I white-screened when I did that. So it does have a couple of issues with it, but looking through the code, it looks like it cleans up a lot of stuff in the WordPress dashboard area. But it does it with one smooth click and you have no controls over what it turns on and off.

It looks like it could be a cool plugin if it was expanded out with some options to turn things on and off and play with it. Other than that, it could be interesting, so at this moment in time, we give Hide the Dragons a paltry 3-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           Hmm…it’s kind of like childproofing your dashboard, yeah.

John:                That’s pretty much it – childproofing your house there.

Marcus:           All right, I’ve got one that’s actually pretty cool. It is called Take Note, and with this WordPress plugin, it does one simple, lazy type of thing and it just shows right under your normal content post editor, it actually shows an area where you can just take notes. The visitors never see the notes, they never go live, there’s no way to make the notes live. It’s simply just another text area that you can use to keep notes on your posts.

John:                Oh, sweet.

Marcus:           And I rated it a 5 out of 5.

John:                Nice – so with it, is there a way to read the notes in bulk, or do you have to go back to each individual one?

Marcus:           No, it’s just a scratch pad for each post.

John:                Just a scratch pad? Oh, okay. Yeah, it could be very useful in many different ways if you want to keep a note or an idea, like, “Oh, I need this email address. I need to do this.” You can read your notes and go back and say, “Hey, did I do that?”

Marcus:           Right.

John:                Excellent.

Marcus:           Exactly! Okay.

John:                All right, well in this episode, I covered up Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere, and I gave it a 4; I covered Better Internal Link Search, which I gave a 4; and then Hide the Dragons, which I gave a 3.

Marcus:           And I covered STM Gallery 0.9, which I gave a 3; Unlimited Logo Carousel, which gets a 4 out of 5; and Take Note, which gets a 5 out of 5.

 

[End of Audio]

 

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It's Episode 283 and we've got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

WordPress Plugins A-Z #283 Better Search, Logo Carousels

It's Episode 283 and we've got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!It’s Episode 283 and we’ve got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

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It's episode 204 and we’ve got plugins for Facebook Feed Embedding, Self-Expiring Sticky posts, Admin Bar Tools, Better Search and a great new plugin for importing and exporting settings from the customizer! It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

Transcript of Episode 204 WP Plugins A to Z

It's episode 204 and we’ve got plugins for Facebook Feed Embedding, Self-Expiring Sticky posts, Admin Bar Tools, Better Search and a great new plugin for importing and exporting settings from the customizer! It's all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #310 here.


It’s episode 204 and we’ve got plugins for Facebook Feed Embedding, Self-Expiring Sticky posts, Admin Bar Tools, Better Search and a great new plugin for importing and exporting settings from the customizer! It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!


Episode #204

John:                All right, well this week here, I’ve got a plugin to help your search function improve on your website.  It’s called Better Search, and this plugin here is a change-up and I’ve added it to the WP Plugin A-Z website, so if you’re in there doing searching, let us know of the way you think it’s working.  It gives a little bit better layout on the page, a little bit more cleaner functionality to the search function itself.

When you’re setting it up, it allows you to do some tweaking as to exactly what you’re going to do on this site and how you’re going to get everything in there and laid out.  So all in all, it turns out to be better than the search function we had in there before.  I’ve never used a WP default search — or I shouldn’t say never — I haven’t used it in many years because it’s never been all that great.

But this one here does some really great improvements over the last one we had in there.  I don’t even remember what it was now.  I think it was All-in-One Search or something.  And if you just want to check this one out, it’s a great one.  It works very well.  It gives you some customizable output options, general options, if you want to customize the CSS output, you can deal with that.  It also gives you some stats and it does also have a premium version on it that you can add a few things to it, so give it a check out: Better Search.  I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           All right.  Well John, one of the things that, you know, in both on-show and off-show discussions is I despise Facebook.

John:                Yeah, I’ve heard that once or twice.

Marcus:           So, you know, clients sometimes have these needs where they want to embed Facebook and use Facebook and you just can’t fight the tide.

John:                Nah.

Marcus:           Sometimes you’ve just got to deal with it.  And dealing with Facebook code can be a real pain when it comes to WordPress.

John:                Oh, yeah.

Marcus:           And I found a really nice plugin called Facebook Feed, that allows you to easily — and I mean easily — display a customizable feed of your Facebook page right on your WordPress website.  Now it lets you do it just with a short code: Facebook-feed is the short code, and then you can customize exactly what gets displayed.  Now what I really liked about this is one particular feature alone, which is it allowed me to display events from my Facebook feed.

John:                I like that!

Marcus:           So I could literally let the client not get into WordPress and do all these crazy events and try and make all of this stuff.  But they could do it within Facebook and I could just import that stuff within one page.  So I thought it was really easy.  To me, it’s the perfect plugin for Facebook.  But because it’s Facebook, I had to take a point away, so I rated it a 4 out of 5.

John:                Well, you know, that’s one drawback.  But I like the feature of the events.  That’s actually kind of nice because I’ve had clients that don’t want to understand a new feature in their website, use the Facebook stuff and it’s a nice way to import it.  I like that.

Marcus:           It’s very handy and it’s a good way for people to just RSVP to stuff without having to go through the signup and all that other stuff, so it’s really nice.

John:                All right, well the next one I’ve got here is called the Custom Admin Bar.  This one here I really kind of like because, you know, it’s really nice to be able to — I’ve tried different admin bar customizers over the last couple of years and I’ve never found one that just really stuck with me.  I think this one might, because one of the great things it does is it allows me to create my own branding up in the admin bar.  And then underneath my own branding logo, it creates a drop-down menu where I can create some customized links.

And when I build a website where a client is there and I maintain this stuff, I can put my links in there and link them back to answers on my website for some of the common questions they ask me.  Or if they want to contact me for support so they can remember how to get to support me.  And all in all, it turned out to be a really nice feature for customizing the admin bar and it’s one that just might stick with me.  In fact, so good and so easy to use and set up, I just had to give this one a top 5-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           Beautiful.  That’s got a lot of different support things that you can do, even links to checklists or different support or new support or anything like that, so —

John:                Oh, yeah.

Marcus:           — it’s pretty cool.

John:                Link it to any page you want.

Marcus:           I like the support aspect.

John:                That’s the biggest thing I saw for it.

Marcus:           And you can even incorporate something like a link that is a Skype link, so it could directly Skype you or something like that.  That’s pretty cool.

Well, speaking of cool, one of the cool things about WordPress is the customizer that allows you to change different settings with your theme, background images, background colors, fonts, things like that, right within one simple little custom interface.  But the problem with it, John, is that you can’t move the custom settings from one to another, so you have to really kind of redo your customization from one site to the next.

Well no more, my friend.  This one is called Customizer Export Import, and it allows you to save your settings for customization.

John:                Nice.

Marcus:           Export them, download them, and then go to your next site that has this plugin installed, and import that same file and all of your customization settings are exactly perfect — totally the way that you want them.  Now here’s what’s really unique about this plugin.  The files are named after your theme and they can only be used to import settings for that theme or that child theme that they came from.

John:                Hmm…that’s interesting.

Marcus:           So you can’t set them up for one theme and then try and hybrid that into another theme.  It only works for that theme.  And that’s really nice because you can almost like stage something with the customizer on the backstage site and not have to go through all the rigmarole of migrating a theme, you could just migrate the theme settings —

John:                Nice!

Marcus:           — to change the theme settings.

John:                I like that.

Marcus:           So this one’s really, really handy and I gave it a perfect 5 out of 5.

John:                That could be very handy.  I’m gonna have to give that a test, because I’m always staging websites then I have to move stuff, so —

Marcus:           Yeah, because this now gives you a different dimension.

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           You can set up one kind of base block theme and then do the customizations through the customizer, and then just change those custom settings.

John:                Yeah, it’s nice.  Okay, well the final one I’ve got here today is another customizer to your admin menu.  And this one here is mostly for developers’ usage.  It includes settings in it, such as what it does.  It’s called Helpful Information and it creates a new menu on your admin bar called Helpful Information.  And in this, it lists up there, drop down, tells you what theme you’re currently using, any custom templates you’ve got, post types.  It tells you what scripts are being used; which ones are queued up to be used, which ones are registered on your website, how many are registered, tells you what styles are being used on a particular page you’re looking at, and this works in both the front end and in the back end of the site, so it’s a very nice feature.

It allows you to look and see what plugins are being included on that page, what core settings are being included on it.  All of the information a developer would need to know if they’re trying to in particular, I can see this of use if you’re trying to debug a problem and you’re trying to figure out what’s loading on that page.  This will help tell you what’s happening with it.  All in all, this is a really great little add-on for you developers out there.  It could save you tons of time and I’m looking forward to using this on more and more websites as I’m sorting through and doing debugging and figuring out issues with it.  I had to give this one a top 5-Dragon rating.  It’s called Helpful Information.

Marcus:           Now does it — how do I put this?  Does it — so on a page-by-page basis, the output of this actually changes based on what plugins are being called through the system at the time?

John:                Yes.  Yeah, because not all plugins are called on every single page.  Yeah, and —

Marcus:           So those of you trying to troubleshoot maybe specific pages that have enormous load times, this is perfect for that.

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           Because then you can pinpoint from one to the other and even start just a blank page with no content on it —

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           — and use that as a litmus test versus something that’s kind of a bloated, huge, fully-grown post.

John:                Yeah, and I got a —

Marcus:           A really nice plugin, John.

John:                It is, it is.  That’s why I had to give it a top rating.  I mean, I was looking at the information it providing and I’m thinking, God, I could’ve used this a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to figure out what was wrong.

Marcus:           Yeah, and I can think of a site right now that I’m having some issues on that it would help me investigate this just a little bit further.

John:                That’s the thing.  It helps you find things that you might not — it might not pinpoint it for you, but it’ll give you a nice overall view and you can help bring yourself down to what’s happening.

Marcus:           Right.  Well John, I’m going to talk about something.  You know, we just ended the — ended the year.  We expired the year and perhaps some of you out there had some posts that maybe should’ve expired, too.  Maybe some sticky posts.  And this plugin is called Expire Sticky Posts.  Now what it lets you do is you can set a post to be sticky, but then you put an expiration date as to when it’ll stop being sticky, and then just revert back into the normal archive of posts again.

So I thought this was really handy.  I don’t use sticky posts that often, but I can definitely see a use for it for those that do, so it was quite handy and I rated it a 4 out of 5.

John:                Very nice.  Yeah, I don’t use sticky posts that often.  I do know of a few clients that do and this could be very useful for them.

Marcus:           Yeah, having this functionality kind of makes me want to use sticky posts if I know that I can just leave something up there for, you know, a week or two weeks, or something like that.

John:                Yeah.  All right, well in this episode here, I covered up Better Search, giving you better search function and any other that I found in quite a while.  I gave it a 4 rating.  The Custom Admin Bar to allow you to customize the admin bar and brand it with your own logo, which I gave a 5-Dragon rating to.  And then the Helpful Information to help you developers pinpoint those problems, which I gave a 5 rating to.

Marcus:           And I talked about Facebook Feed, which allows you to embed events and other Facebook pages directly into WordPress with one short code.  I gave that one a 4 out of 5.  Customizer Export Import, which allows you to save and migrate settings out of your customizer.  I gave that one a perfect 5 out of 5.  And we just discussed Expire Sticky Posts, which allows you to set an expiration date for all of those sticky posts on your site, and I gave that one a 4 out of 5.

[End of Audio]

 

 

 

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