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.
It’s Episode 269 and we’ve got plugins for Protecting your Logins, Gravity Forms Styling, PDFs in Gravity Forms, Question and Answers, and Integration into Freshdesk.. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, the first plugin I’ve got this week is called Gravity PDF. Now, this is a great plugin and recently I had need to do some customizations to my Gravity Forms for a client and have that Gravity Form when it was emailed out, turned into something they could print on one page and read. Now of course, Gravity Forms has an okay layout and when it sends out an email that prints all the fields in a column, so you can end up with one, two, or three pages of email depending on how many items you have – how many fields you have, and that was the problem we were having here.
So what I did was I went searching for a solution to this and I knew well if I could PDF it, maybe I can squeeze everything down into the PDF onto one page. Well, Gravity PDF does just that. It takes advantage of the custom CSS in Gravity forms for creating columns. You can take your Gravity Form fields and columnize them, put them in two or three columns wide, and display it on the page. Well, that’s great for your website but even after it emails it out, it still stacks them.
What we needed it to do was end up just like it looks on the page of the website with the columns side-by-side. That’s what Gravity PDF does is it takes advantage of that CSS by putting it into a template and then printing that PDF exactly in those column widths you want. It’s very nice; it’s a very useful plugin. I’ve found it to be great. The templates in there – if you’re code inclined, you can go through the templates they have and rebuild the templates so that you can customize them. You can add in a custom header for the PDF so you can have a custom graphic printed on it. You could use this to create any number of things, such as invoices or other things that are sent out via Gravity Forms, if you send such things out.
So anyway, a great plugin. I had to give this one a great top 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Good deal. Sounds good. And so that one’s a free plugin from the Repository?
John: That’s a free plugin, man. It didn’t cost me a dime for that one.
Marcus: Ah, excellent.
John: I mean, the only is there are add-ons that you can go buy their services to have them create custom templates for you.
Marcus: Huh, interesting. Okay, the first plugin I want to talk about today is called Login Watchdog, and this is something I sometimes have Wordfence to do this on sites, but this one is actually very different. What it does is it monitors failed login attempts and you can set in your settings how many login attempts you want to give somebody, like you know, three or whatever. And then what it does is if you go past that, it just basically blocks the entire IP for all future login attempts. So if you want to just cut it off completely, it’s an automated solution that allows you to monitor failed login attempts and then block that IP completely.
Be careful with it if you’re doing this on client stuff. I would mostly use this for sites where it’s just you as the administrator and keep it that way, because you know you’re not going to try and login five times with a bad password – at least I hope.
John: No, you’re going to go fix it if you’re going to miss it a couple of times.
Marcus: Right, right. So it’s a very good, small little lazy plugin – Login Watchdog – I gave it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! That sounds like a very useful one.
John: Okay, the next plugin I have here is called Gravity Forms Styler. Now, I got this one – it’s a premium plugin – it’s $34 and it’s available at CodeCanyon. Now I got this one while working on the same set of forms I was working on, hoping to be able to do some customizations on their page without writing a whole lot of CSS. Unfortunately, this plugin was a bit of a disappointment.
It reminded me that I should read the comments especially on CodeCanyon before buying a plugin. After I had some issues with it and I went and read the comments, I went yeah, okay. Well, they show a demo video showing how the plugin works and the demo video must be of an earlier version of the plugin because the version that you get now doesn’t even match the demo video entirely. It’s missing several of the really cool key features that it showed, it claims that it’s going to be able to format and adjust all of your fields on your Gravity Form. Well, it does – sort of.
What it does is it will adjust the fields en masse. It’ll adjust all of the text fields or it will adjust all the input fields, but it won’t do individual fields. From the way I was reading it, I was led to believe – or I felt I was led to believe – that I could adjust individual fields with this plugin. It doesn’t work that way; you have to go in and customize your individual fields with CSS.
It turns out it does do a lot of basic styling and it works fairly well. The easy sliders that they show in the video are missing from the current version of the plugin, so you actually have to type in your numbers. You can’t do the backgrounds of all the elements and I was trying to individualize the backgrounds of separate elements. There was a couple of the elements that it would do the backgrounds on. So all in all, it’s an okay plugin. At $34, I thought it was a bit overpriced for what they promised, but it’s still probably an okay plugin, so be wary of it. It might have been worth $15 or $20 to me, so anyway, Gravity Forms Styler – I gave it a 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Hmm…that’s a disappointment.
John: It was. I was rather disappointed in it after I got into it and I was like, oh, it’s not nearly as what it looks like in the video the demoed it in.
Marcus: That’s too bad. A lot of you out there may use Freshdesk for customer support and I think I mislabeled this plugin at the beginning in the intro and said Fresh Books, which is an accounting system. This is not this. Freshdesk is like a support ticket system and you can actually get a free account and you don’t ever have to pay.
This plugin is called WP Freshdesk, and what it does is it connects your WordPress site with your Freshdesk account. The nice thing about it is it gives you stats in terms of tickets in the dashboard but the nice thing is it provides a single sign-on that’s configured between WordPress and Freshdesk. So once you’re logged into your WordPress site and you click on a ticket, it just goes right into that ticket on Freshdesk and you don’t have to do a separate login, so it’s completely seamless between the two. I love it and I’ve used Freshdesk for a while. I rate this plugin a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Very nice. Now I’ve got a question here: I think I’ve heard of Freshdesk occasionally. Could you use the same Freshdesk account over multiple WordPress websites with this plugin?
Marcus: I don’t see why not.
John: So you could have – say you’re the admin of five websites and people send you info. You could set up your Freshdesk so they contact you from those separate websites and it all goes into one account and maybe sorts them?
Marcus: Yeah, because it’s just like any other CRM system like Zendesk or anything else, it’s just kind of a form and a click-through. The thing that you’d have to be considerate of would be how you separate those between those five domains —
Marcus: — and that’s the sorting issue that you’d have to do. I think it would work but you’d just have to play around with it.
John: Yeah, it could be quite useful.
John: Okay, the final one that I have here today is called Q&A — WordPress Questions and Answers Plugin, and it’s a premium plugin from WPMU Dev. This is a pretty nice plugin. I had forgotten I had even used it once upon a time until I was updating one of my older websites. Now it’s available on WP Plugins A to Z and what it does is it creates a Q&A section on your website that is user-driven, much like the Q&As on Quora or whatever. People can ask their questions and they get listed up. People can vote the answers for the questions up and down, whether or not they’re appropriate or useful.
It’s a very decent plugin, fairly easy to set up. It does take a little bit of tweaking to get it to work correctly. Once it’s set in there, it’s a great way for your visitors to come in, ask questions, and for you to provide answers. Or if you’ve got lots of visitors, they can provide answers for the people asking the questions. A great way to create interactivity on your websites, so now that it’s live and up on WP Plugins A to Z, maybe a few people will take advantage of it. Anyway, I give this a 4-Dragon rating on Q&A — WordPress Questions and Answers Plugin.
Marcus: Cool. All right, the final plugin for the show here today is called Post Lock. This is really nice. John, how many times have you accidently hit the update or publish button when creating a post?
John: Oh, once or twice.
Marcus: Well, this is pretty neat, because what it does is it puts a little padlock symbol next to the update/publish button, depending on what phase you’re in in the editing and you cannot hit publish or update until you click this little padlock. What happens is a little modal pops up and says, “Here’s the password. It’s XZ4281. Enter it in the box below,” and then you enter XZ4281 or whatever the password happens to be that it randomly generates. It then unlocks that little padlock and then you can hit publish or hit update.
Marcus: So it prevents you from accidentally doing that and it works very, very well. I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: That’s kind of a cool plugin. That’s very useful if you have such as I do on several sites where once you publish something, it automatically sends it out to social media. This is a great way to prevent sending it out before you’re ready.
Marcus: That’s right.
Marcus: That’s right.
John: All right, perfect. So I covered up in this episode Gravity PDF, which I gave a 5 to; Gravity Forms Styler, which I gave a 3 to; and Q&A –WordPress Questions and Answers Plugin, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I reviewed Login Watchdog – gave that a 4 out of 5; WP Freshdesk – a perfect 5 out of 5; and Post Lock – gave that one a 4 out of 5.