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