WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for Episode #271
It’s Episode 271 and we’ve got plugins for Enhancing Buddypress Activity Feeds, Menu Duplication, Changing Default System Emails, Podcast Players, and Creating a Services Section.. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, the first plugin I’ve got this week is called Menu Duplicator and this is a pretty straightforward plugin – a very useful plugin, and that’s to duplicate your menus. Now, you may have to duplicate your menu for any number of reasons. You might be doing something like I was doing, which was playing with menus and I wanted to make a backup of the really big, long one I had created. That way, I could just remove the bits and pieces. Or you might have to duplicate the menu to put it in alternate places in your website – who knows. At any rate, to recreate a menu from scratch one after another, it means drag and drop, click and pop, and you know, reloading screen, after screen, after screen.
Well, this plugin saves all that trouble. All you need to do is install it, activate it, and it gives you a new choice under Tools for duplicate menu. You load it up, you find the menu you want to duplicate, you create a new name for the menu you want to duplicate, hit enter, and poof, the menu has been created for you. Then you go back to your menu page and there it is. You can tweak it, adjust it, change it, move it, place it wherever you want it. A sweet plugin; it works exactly how it’s supposed to, a timesaver and all that jazz. And of course when they’re that nice, they always get popped right to the top. Five Dragons for that one, Menu Duplicator.
Marcus: Cool – very cool. All right, I’m going to talk about three plugins that I used actually for one site. I was doing kind of a pseudo app site for one of my clients that’s actually having a conference that starts today in Ireland and they wanted to replace their old app and use something new. It’s a little more mobile responsive that would work on all platforms, so here’s what I did.
It’s a BuddyPress-based kind of site and he wanted first to have a neat looking sort of Facebook wall, and we did this with a plugin called BuddyPress Activity Plus. What it does is it does just exactly as I described it. It adds a Facebook-style content sharing button to the BuddyPress activity feed so users can quickly share articles, videos, images, and all that. They basically paste a link in and the BuddyPress Activity Plus automatically pulls the content snippets for fast sharing, preview, editing, and those kinds of things.
It has full interactivity; people can like it, favorite it, and all of those other different kinds of activities that you would expect with a social networking site. I rated this a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Very nice. It sounds like a great way to use BuddyPress.
Marcus: It is one of the best I’ve seen, actually.
John: Okay, the next one I’ve got here is called Services Plugin for WordPress. This is a premium plugin and it was submitted to us by Shawn DeWolf. He’s actually a local developer here in the Victoria area and this is the second plugin he’s submitted to us over time. We’ve got a link to the show notes where you can go purchase it. It’s a pretty simple plugin and you can add it to your website.
What it allows you to do is create a services section of your website. The plugin uses custom post types, you can create up all your services in separate custom post types with images and everything else you need and want. Then you take a shortcode and paste it on a page and it displays all that stuff in a nice, neat format for you to display, so you can organize it all on one page for people. But you don’t have to manage one page for it if you’ve got services that might pop in and out of what you do and you want to turn them on and off by maybe putting the post on hiatus, things of that nature.
This is a nice way to manage out all your separate services. A great little plugin; it works fairly well, it’s $19 and it’s a premium plugin, so go give it a check out. It’s called Services Plugin for WordPress and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Good! Very nice. All right, so I wanted to do something for this social event – actually, it’s a live event, so it’s a live conference/convention/whatever you want to call it – and we wanted to make it to where people could post to Instagram and it would automatically pull those images into this mobile site. So I chose one called WD Instagram Feed and what it does, there are two versions.
Now the free version allows you to take either one hashtag or one Instagram account and pull all of those things in automatically. It is limited in the free version in the stylings that you can use and also that one account. However, in the pro version (which is the version that I bought), it allows you to use multiple hashtags, multiple accounts, set a masonry layout, it has a lot cooler display, kind of a slideshow type of a button that you can use also, full screen, all that kind of stuff. So I bought the $60 developer version that allows me to use unlimited types because I wanted to use it on some other sites that I have as well.
However, I think the pro version is absolutely perfect but since we do what we do, we take one point away for the free version and I gave it a 4 out of 5.
John: Yeah, but it sounds like you reviewed partly on the pro version, so I still give it a Dragon.
John: You did more review on the pro version than the free version.
Marcus: That’s true.
John: You’ve got to remember that key point there means when we weren’t able to review or use the pro version —
Marcus: Oh, okay.
John: — because we didn’t need it. You know, we’re not going to fork out money to buy plugins just to test them.
Marcus: Right, well I did for a client, so that’s why a bought it.
John: Yeah, well still, you bought it. But we’re not going to fork it out just for testing. If the developer wants to send us a pro version with a key, we’ll rate it on its pro features. We won’t rate it on the free features. If it’s a free one, we rate it strictly on the free features, which is why it loses a point, remember?
Marcus: That’s true. However, I did use the free version first, so that’s —
John: So you know it was worth the —
Marcus: — that’s where the 4 came.
John: You knew it was worth the money, so it got a 4 and then a 5 —
Marcus: That’s correct.
John: — so it’s still deserved a dragon.
John: All right. Fair is fair. Okay, now the final plugin I’ve got here is another premium plugin and this one was sent in by the developer, Dan Barry, and it’s called WordPress Podcast Player. Now it’s a pretty great add-on player for your website and podcast.
I started out to use it but I ran into some issues in the MU environment (at least I think it’s the MU environment or it could just be all of the plugins that are on the WP Plugins A to Z site conflicting). One of the two; I’m not sure. It seemed okay in another standalone test site I use for testing plugins.
So anyway, what this plugin does for you is it creates a .mp3 player for your audio files and with that, you can go in there when you upload the audio, you’ve got to upload it into a separate area. It uploads the file but you can put up to five notes into it with little tags that as the player plays, it will pop up these notes up underneath the player for people. So you could put notes that will pop up at certain key points during the playing of the audio if they’re playing it on your website, and then it creates a link where they could download the audio directly from your website if you want. It seemed like a very great feature.
You can colorize it, style it, make some changes to it. It’s a really great, useful plugin for the most part but due to running into issues in the MU environment (at least I’m pretty sure it was that) – I hadn’t contacted the developer to find out. But at the moment I’m going to have to put it at a 4-Dragon rating and it’s WordPress Podcast Player. So check it out if you want to use an additional player on your website for tweaking a little bit of promotions for your audio files.
Marcus: Hmm…very interesting.
John: Yeah, it looked like it would be cool. I would’ve tried it out on our site but I just couldn’t get it to properly take the files and I couldn’t get it to take the settings.
Marcus: Right. Okay, so finally on this mobile site, we had one other issue which was the site had me as the primary user and the administrator, which is, you know, my Gmail address.
Marcus: But the issue became as we were sending new passwords to people that are members of the client – the client’s site – I didn’t exactly want them to see firstname.lastname@example.org as the sender or the person to reply to.
Marcus: I wanted it to come from the client email address. So without actually deleting the admin account and going a different route, I needed to have a way to edit these emails, and that’s where this plugin comes into play. It is called WP Better Emails and it takes all the emails from WordPress (and I’m talking about lost password, notifications, and all of those different things). This wraps them in a much better looking and customizable HTML email template and it also lets you change the sender name and email address. And I love this except the table layout made aligning a company logo with the text nearly impossible, so that was a huge problem that I had that I just – you know what I did? I just put the logo on one side and put the text on the other side and just left it that way. Otherwise, it worked really well for getting rid of the admin user as the primary sender and reply to on system emails, so I gave this one a 4 out of 5.
John: Yeah, very nice. Yeah, I’ve used that plugin before in the past and I just never reviewed it. But yeah, it’s really great for enhancing the emails being sent out from your site.
John: All right, well I covered up in this episode Menu Duplicator, which I gave a 5 to; Services Plugin for WordPress, which I gave a 4 to; and then the WordPress Podcast Player, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I discussed BuddyPress Activity Plus – gave a 5 out of 5; WD Instagram Feed gets a 4 for the free, 5 for the paid; and WP Better Emails gets a 4 out of 5.