WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #262
It’s Episode 262 and we’ve got plugins for WordPress Notifications, Image Zooming, GZip Minification, RestAPI User Interface, and two new plugins for dealing with Stage Sites.. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, the first plugin I’ve got here is called Better Notifications for WordPress. This plugin here is one to help you get a grip on the notifications that are sent out for your site comments. One of the biggest problems I seem to face is that they never seem to arrive in my email box. I don’t know what happens to them. And when they do arrive, I often forget which site they come from because they come with that simple, bland header.
This plugin allows you to get in there and customize the forms that are being sent out, as well as who they go to. You can have them sent to specific email addresses for specific purposes. It does seem to work pretty well; I’ve tested it out and it’s been nice with the sites that I’ve needed to get the notifications for comments on sent to me. It works pretty well and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating, so check it out: Better Notifications for WordPress.
Marcus: Wow, very cool. I definitely need something like that. So the first one I’ve got today, John, is called the WP REST API Controller. It is by Yikes Inc. and my buddy Evan Herman. I’ve talked to Evan a couple of times and he’s a great coder. I even interviewed him on the industry night show that I used to do over at WP Tavern as well.
This is a great plugin to help you connect the dots in terms of the REST API, and that’s something that I jokingly refer to as “flying cars” a lot. It’s something that we’ve all heard about for a couple of years now, but we just don’t exactly know how it works. Well, what this allows you to do is toggle the visibility and customization of all the endpoints that come off of the API for post types and all of that kind of stuff.
It lets you tweak the visibility, customize the names of the metadata – all of that stuff. It’s very confusing, I know. But if you install the WP REST API Version 2 or later, you can piggyback this extension onto the back end. It allows you to do a lot more in a visual sense with the REST API than you may typically get just with the plugin. It’s important to look at all of these kinds of extensions to the REST API and eventually two or three extensions will give you sort of a mind map as to how the REST API works and then you can move forward from there.
So I recommend this for anybody who’s interested in using or learning the REST API and I gave it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice. REST API is loads of fun, I understand. I haven’t been through it yet.
Marcus: It is, actually. I’ve done a couple of integrations with third-party stuff that seemed a little too easy, so it does do a good job. It just is so confusing when you first start out to try and understand what it was. It’s like custom post types, right? You didn’t really understand what they did and when you figured it out, you’re like, “Oh my God!”
John: Pretty much, yeah.
Marcus: This is everything, yeah. So WP REST API Controller – rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Okay, well the second plugin I’ve got here today is a premium plugin and it’s called Hummingbird. It comes from WPMU Dev and of course since I have a membership there, I get all their wonderful plugins for testing. It’s kind of a newer one and what it’s to help you do is to speed up your site. We know that fast loading sites are very important and there’s lots of things you can do, and this plugin actually works well with Comic Cache, which is what I’ve been using on websites.
What it does for you is it makes it easy for you to add the code to your HT access file to allow for the implementation of gzip and minification without having to figure out where the HT access file is, FTP it down, add the code, FTP it up, and all of that jazz. You just go through, load the plugin up, go choose the things you want for it, make the settings, and it’s done that quickly.
You can actually increase your site load anywhere from one to four seconds, depending on what it was doing before. It works very well. I’ve used it across a couple of different hosting providers so far. Check it out – it’s a good plugin called Hummingbird from WPMU Dev and I gave it a rating of 4 Dragons.
Marcus: Beautiful! I love the stuff they’re putting together over there.
John: They’re doing a great job. This is a new one from them from over the last couple of months, because I just noticed it the other day when I was in there.
Marcus: Yeah. Well, I am going to talk about a pretty cool plugin that I’ve found. It’s called WP Image Zoomify and it is by Sultan Nasir Uddin. It is a very easy kind of a gallery-style lightbox plugin that pops an image into that lightbox and then you have the ability to zoom in and out of any image on the site.
Now here’s how you use it. It’s not with a short code or anything like that. You’re just adding a Rel attribute, so you’re going to put REL = Zoomify and then it makes any picture that you do in that lightbox situation zoomable. You can put big, huge images in there and then have actually somebody zoom into real size. It’s a really cool plugin; I like it a lot. It’s called WP Image Zoomify and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: I’ll have to check that out. That’s nice with your images. You can use it in multiple ways, I’m sure.
Marcus: Yeah, definitely.
John: Okay, the final plugin I’ve got here for you today was sent in to us by Mark Benzakein and it’s called WPSiteSync. Now, this is a pretty useful plugin. A lot of people do work on their Dev site and then will want to export it off their live site.
What this one does for you is it allows you to export posts or pages at this moment in time. It’s just come out of beta and they just released it, so they’re still developing it and they’re going to be adding additional features to it. But at the moment I tested out the post and page export function between two sites. You have to remember when you set the plugin up, you set it up on both your sites, and then the site you’re going to do the work on, then export to the new site, you connect it to the new site, go make your post changes, your update, and then you click a button that says, “Export to your live site,” and it exports it out.
Even if you go in there and make another change to the stuff on the Dev site, you can then re-export it and it will re-update it on the live site for you. It’s a really nice way to do stuff on your Dev site and send it to your live site. So far, it’s looking pretty good. I’m looking forward to when they’ve got custom post types and other things that you can export out of it, so I’ll be watching this one for a while because I’ve got a couple of clients that do work on their Dev site and we need to export to the live site. So check it out – I gave it a 4-Dragon rating. It’s called WPSiteSync.
Marcus: Interesting, because the next plugin I have is actually something you might be able to use for that. It’s often difficult that I can tell you this just by working on the Membership Coach site lately. There were a lot of different instances where I had live sites and production sites or stage sites. It was often difficult to tell which one I was looking at, especially just between versions and things.
So I found this new plugin very cool. It’s by a guy named Joseph Fusco and it is called WP Breathe. What it does is every time you’ve got a stage site, you can enact WP Breathe and it changes the colors of the site you’re looking at just subtly, so it looks like the site is breathing. It goes from like a gray to a light white color, just kind of in a repetitive pattern as you would be breathing, lungs, or any of those things.
That’s really nice because it lets you know with just a one-second glance what you’re looking at, whether it be production or an actual live site. It’s cool; it’s called WP Breathe – one of those real simple, subtle little things that helps you out, and I gave it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Very nice! Yeah, I actually saw that one and I just didn’t check it out.
Marcus: I saved you the trouble.
John: It looks kind of interesting so yeah, that can be very useful to make sure you’re working on the right site.
Marcus: Yeah, plus it’s fun to look at. You know, it’s one of those nice little ideas that somebody has come up with in terms of visually being able to see it without being too obtrusive. It’s a really cool plugin and really well thought out.
John: Okay, well that covers up our plugins for this week. I myself covered up Better Notifications for WordPress, which a gave a 4 to; Hummingbird, which I gave a 4 to; and WPSiteSync, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I talked about the WP REST API Controller and I gave that a 4 out of 5; WP Image Zoomify, 4 out of 5; and WP Breathe is a 5 out of 5.