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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 #274
It’s Episode 274 and we’ve got plugins for Switching Themes, Site Giveaways, Twitter Walls, Back-End File Search, iThemes Security, and a full review of the all new Ninja Forms 3. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: All right, the first plugin I have this week is from iThemes. It’s the iThemes Security plugin, formerly known as Better WP Security. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a security plugin and the reason I’ve looked at this one here is I’ve picked up a client with several websites and they were using the iThemes security and on one of their sites, they didn’t have it so we decided to add it in. I thought it was a good time to review this plugin.
It’s actually not bad from what it used to be. It’s a pretty decent plugin, it’s relatively easy to use, it is a freemium plugin, and it does offer some pretty decent protections. It’s pretty comparable to Wordfence, which is my standard. It allows you to set up email monitoring. One of the features I like about it is that it also monitors file changes and sends you an email about file changes, whereas I had been using two separate plugins, I might end up switching this because it’s now one plugin that would manage that for me.
It does require you to get a free API key, although that’s pretty easy to do. You just click for the API key, enter your email address, and it automatically inserts it into the plugin for you, so they’ve made it a real breeze to do that. It’s got a great place for you when you’re setting it up. It makes it real easy to add your own IP address to the whitelist, so you don’t block yourself out of your own website (which can happen and does happen to many people). For a while, you know, it’s a great plugin. Check it out. I give it a 4-Dragon rating. I couldn’t give it a 5 because of course it is a freemium plugin, so iThemes Security – check it out.
Marcus: All right, very good. And I’ve got something here that a couple a weeks ago was sent out into the community with great hype. Everybody was toasting and shots and all that kind of stuff to celebrate the arrival of Ninja Forms 3. I will say that Ninja Forms 3, which is a form plugin like Contact Forms 7, like Gravity Forms – I would say it’s right in between those two things in terms of functionality and how great it is.
It’s better than Contact Form 7; not as good as Gravity Forms, in my eyes. I would just say, you know, that’s just the order – the hierarchy. So Ninja Forms 3 actually redid the entire way that they do forms. It’s a drag-n-drop layout but it’s a drag-n-drop layout that doesn’t let me put things side by side, and that’s the whole thing that I want with drag-n-drop.
Marcus: I can do that with Gravity Forms already.
Marcus: So I did see a little bit of improvement with how emails get sent out and what happens when specific things and specific fields get sent. But honestly, I don’t – I understand that there’s a lot of hype for this, but I don’t quite understand why people are so high on this. I just don’t get it. It’s not anything better than what we’ve already got, so I rated this one a 3 out of 5.
John: Ah, slightly disappointing. I guess for Ninja Forms, but I have never actually used Ninja Forms, so I can’t say too much on that one.
Marcus: It’s pretty good and it’s a free plugin. I mean, it’s better than the free version of Contact Forms 7.
John: Well, anything is – well, I’m not even going to go there.
Marcus: Yeah, if you don’t want to spend the $200 for Gravity Forms, this might work for you.
John: Yeah, it’d probably be worthwhile.
John: Okay, well the next plugin I’ve got here today, it’s called GiveASAP, and it’s a freemium and a pro plugin and it was sent into us by Igor Benic. And of course, he was kind enough to supply us with the pro version of the plugin, so I checked out both versions: the free version and the pro version. It is a very nice plugin that helps you create contests and giveaways on your website.
I found it to be a very sweet setup; it allows you to set up the start date, the stop date of the contest, it allows you to set it up so that it will have people refer your contest. They can gain extra entries into the contest by the referral link they send out from your website. It does an automatic selection of the winner, notifies the winner automatically. The plugin is very smooth and fast, it uses a custom post type section of WordPress so that it’s separate and apart.
All in all, it’s just a great plugin and this is actually something that I had being developed by another coder who left me for a project I’ve been working on for quite some time. This has everything I need for it, so I’ve actually been in contact with the developer to hire him to customize this plugin for my needs. But all in all, this is just a fantastic plugin for creating contests on your website. The many little features and functions that are already in it are just great.
Now, the difference between freemium and pro – the freemium, they give you one template and the pro version gives you multiple templates for setting up your contest on it. Other than that, a great plugin. I had to rate at top 5-Dragon rating. And of course, I got the pro version, so that’s what it gets, so check it out: GiveASAP.
Marcus: Nice. Some guys that were doing a Word Camp wanted to do something where it showed a live Twitter feed going on one of the big screens at their event, and they created this plugin. It’s called WP Twitter Wall, and it shows a live Twitter wall at your event. You just install the plugin, hook up to a video projector, and then you can display the wall of peoples’ tweets reacting about the event or whatever it happens to be.
It updates itself twice a minute, adding the new tweets in a nice masonry kind of layout and it updates the publication times of all the tweets that happened. A very cool plugin – if you run an event and you want to have a live Twitter feed that is showing what everybody’s reaction is, you can base it on hashtag or whatever else you’d like. This is an excellent plugin for it and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! Yeah, I saw that come through and I considered reviewing it, so excellent.
Marcus: I tried it and it works very well. There’s a client that I have that I just did the same exact thing with Instagram, and I think I’m going to implement this for Twitter.
John: Very nice. Sweet! All right, now one of the things that happens to all developers: sooner or later, you’re going to have to do a little editing in the backend of your WordPress website. Now, I’m sure you’ve done some, Marcus – gone into the editor, edit the files. Well, once in a while you need to find a specific term in all of those files you can access and you’re trying to guess which file it might be. Maybe you’re looking for a header tag or a body tag or something. Well, these guys here have solved that problem for you.
This plugin here is called WP Backend File Search & Editor Tweaks. It was sent in to us by Austin Scherer. It is a pro plugin but it’s only $12, which kind of surprised me. I expected it to be a little more than that. It’s a great plugin. Once you set it up, activate it, you can then go back into your backend for your WordPress, into your editor for plugins or themes, and it modifies the editor window by adding lines, color coding, it has a search function that will allow you to search all the files in the theme folder for a specific word or a function.
It lists up all the files that that word or function is in. You click on it and it opens that up in a window that you can then edit and it sets it up with not only lines but word wraps so you can actually see all the lines of code in one small window block, versus the line running off the page. It was just all in all, a great plugin.
The premium plugin, I still think it’s more than worth the $12. I’ve been in contact with the author; he’s going to actually send us a discount code for the listeners of WP Plugins A to Z, which I’ll put up in the next show for anyone interested in getting this plugin. But all in all, a great plugin. I found it to be fantastic and I had to give it another 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: You’re on a roll today!
John: Yeah, I am. But hey, I was surprised. I didn’t expect it to be that great of a plugin. I thought I had an editor – let’s see – I was really impressed.
Marcus: Excellent. Okay, last one here. This one’s pretty cool. It’s called Theme Switcha – S-W-I-T-C-H-A – Theme Switcha, and it makes it easy for the site admin to preview and especially develop new themes without changing the default theme. So what happens is visitors will continue to see your site normally without really knowing that you’re testing a new theme behind the scenes. In other words, a site visitor comes to your site, they still see the theme that’s the “active theme,” but you can be creating something on the backend that doesn’t interfere with the flow whatsoever.
John: Oh, sweet!
Marcus: Now, that’s very, very, valuable for anyone that has a client that you’re working on their website and they’ve got something already existing in WordPress. You can completely modify the whole backend – the whole theme – without ever having to worry about being at a stage site or anything like that. Now, be cautious about that; I would still work from a stage site anyway. But if you want to be able to preview something new and not have it to where it interferes with all of your settings and everything that you’ve already got going on within your site, this is a great way to test that out. So it’s called Theme Switcha, and it gets a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice. That could be quite handy, yes. Okay, well I covered up in this episode iThemes Security (formerly Better WordPress Security), which I gave a 4 to; GiveASAP, which I gave a 5 to; and then WP Backend File Search & Editor Tweaks, which I gave a 5 to.
Marcus: And I talked about Ninja Forms 3, which gets a 3 out of 5; WP Twitter Wall, which gets a 4 out of 5; and actually Theme Switcha (I’ve got iThemes on my head), gets a 4 out of 5.