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 #283
It’s Episode 283 and we’ve got plugins for Automated Gallery Compositions, Better Search, Logo Carousels, Shortcodes Anywhere and a cool new plugin for taking notes in the edit screen. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: Okay, the first plugin I’ve got here today is called Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere. Now, I know I might have covered this in the past or Marcus has, but it’s time to bring some plugins back forth from time to time. Now, sooner or later you’ll be in the need to display a shortcode somewhere on your website aside from just in a post or a page. You might need it in a widget, in a title, in a custom area – who knows. Well, that’s what this plugin does for you. It saves you the headache and hassle of having to add functions to your functions file and once you install it and turn it on, you just determine what areas you want to be able to use short codes, turn them on, and away you go. It just allows you to add a shortcode anywhere.
Now, something I discovered by accident by playing with it today was be aware of the areas you turn on, because sometimes it’ll override stuff that’s in your theme. I had turned on the area for titles to see what it would do and it turned out it wiped out all of my images for the title of my posts, so something in my theme conflicted with it. So anyway, be aware of those kinds of issues; other than that, it’s a really great plugin. It saves you lots of time: Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere, and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Very good. Yeah, I use that all the time in a lot of different themes. The first plugin I’ve got today is called STM Gallery 0.9, which means it’s still in production. It is a pretty neat little tool, John. What it allows you to do is create original compositions based on images that are already in your media library, and it gives you the option to change the borders, the margins, the shadow of the images. You can make it kind of like a bunch of Polaroids laying down if you want to, that are all kind of hooked together.
And if you want different images rotated or anything like that, you can do that as well. You can create as many compositions as you want with all the parameters that you decide, and you just end up showing them through a shortcode. Now, that’s where this think kind of went off the tracks for me, because I want to be able to take that and use that as a featured image. However, it doesn’t let you.
John: Oh, bummer!
Marcus: So —
John: I was so excited there for a second.
Marcus: — so it nixes that part of it.
Marcus: I mean, it’s great for just inserting it within your posts and having a nice little gallery, but maybe I want to have a featured image of it. It just didn’t do it, so I rated it a 3 out of 5.
John: All righty. Well, that’s okay. I was getting excited there a minute until you said that.
Marcus: I know. Me, too. Me, too.
John: Okay, the next plugin I’ve got here is called Better Internal Link Search. Now, as I mentioned, it’s good to bring plugins back from our distant past and this is a plugin that I reviewed quite some time ago, back in Episode 121 of April, 2013, and I was wondering how it was doing. I may bring some more plugins back from the distant past to see how they’re doing and how they’ve fared, because lots of plugins have survived; others have disappeared entirely.
This one here though, it looks like they have kept it up to date. The functionality is still great. What it does for you once it’s installed and activated, it does a faster job of allowing you to insert links to your content within your site. With just a few keystrokes, it’s much faster than a default one. This is when you’re in your post and you click the Add a Link button and you’re going to go type up some information. But it also allows you to go search for content outside your site: areas like Wikipedia, GitHub, iTunes, Spotify, Codex, and probably a couple others. It allows you to bring those links in very quickly and easily.
It’s pretty well performing, a decent plugin still. Back then, I gave it a 4 and I’m still going to give it a 4-Dragon rating. Check it out: Better Internal Link Search.
Marcus: Yeah, that’s definitely something that WordPress needs more of.
Marcus: All right, the next one is something that all of us as designers or developers or things like that that have our own personal site (or even customer sites that you work on) sometimes use this. It’s called a logo carousel, and this plugin is called Unlimited Logo Carousel, and that is basically kind of a conveyor belt that shows different logos of your clients or the projects that you worked on, sponsors, affiliates, partners – anything like that.
This plugin is totally 100% responsive, which means all your logos show up across all devices perfectly. After clicking each logo, the user is directed to a manufacturer’s page or whatever page that you want to highlight the project. It lets you configure the colors, the speed, the amount of items to show, all kinds of other features, and I really liked this plugin a lot. It’s called Unlimited Logo Carousel, and it gets a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! Does it only display them in a row or will it stack them?
Marcus: It stacks, too.
John: Oh, sweet.
Marcus: So you get to determine how you want them and how many across and all that.
John: Sweet, this might actually solve a problem I’m having.
John: Excellent. I’m going to have to play with it then and see. I appreciate that. I always love it when you bring something to the table that helps me solve a problem I’ve been fighting with.
Marcus: Ah, it’s my job.
John: Okay, the final plugin I’ve got is called Hide the Dragons. Now, how could I not bring a plugin that had ‘dragons’ in its title? Initially, I thought it was going to be one of those joke plugins because the description is like, “Turn it on, that’s all you do, and it hides all the dragons.” They don’t describe anything about what the plugin does. I thought it was going to be one of those plugins I’ve been caught out before and I thought it was really cool and it turned out to be an April Fool’s joke.
Now, I know it’s not April Fool’s but hey. Anyway, what this plugin does is I took a look at the code to see what it did and I also installed it on my test site. What they mean by dragons is it allows you to instantly clean up an admin area to prevent – say you build a site and your users or your people you turn it over to, you don’t want them to access things such as the editor, the dashboard nags, the plugin info links. It removes the tools menu and more.
What it does is it goes through and removes all the most irritating areas or confusing areas to the website that an average user or a beginner at WordPress really doesn’t want to mess with. Now, I did find a conflicted with plugins when I was testing it and when I tried to check out how it got rid of all of the widgets on the dashboard for the admin area, it turned out that I white-screened when I did that. So it does have a couple of issues with it, but looking through the code, it looks like it cleans up a lot of stuff in the WordPress dashboard area. But it does it with one smooth click and you have no controls over what it turns on and off.
It looks like it could be a cool plugin if it was expanded out with some options to turn things on and off and play with it. Other than that, it could be interesting, so at this moment in time, we give Hide the Dragons a paltry 3-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Hmm…it’s kind of like childproofing your dashboard, yeah.
John: That’s pretty much it – childproofing your house there.
Marcus: All right, I’ve got one that’s actually pretty cool. It is called Take Note, and with this WordPress plugin, it does one simple, lazy type of thing and it just shows right under your normal content post editor, it actually shows an area where you can just take notes. The visitors never see the notes, they never go live, there’s no way to make the notes live. It’s simply just another text area that you can use to keep notes on your posts.
John: Oh, sweet.
Marcus: And I rated it a 5 out of 5.
John: Nice – so with it, is there a way to read the notes in bulk, or do you have to go back to each individual one?
Marcus: No, it’s just a scratch pad for each post.
John: Just a scratch pad? Oh, okay. Yeah, it could be very useful in many different ways if you want to keep a note or an idea, like, “Oh, I need this email address. I need to do this.” You can read your notes and go back and say, “Hey, did I do that?”
Marcus: Exactly! Okay.
John: All right, well in this episode, I covered up Shortcodes Anywhere or Everywhere, and I gave it a 4; I covered Better Internal Link Search, which I gave a 4; and then Hide the Dragons, which I gave a 3.
Marcus: And I covered STM Gallery 0.9, which I gave a 3; Unlimited Logo Carousel, which gets a 4 out of 5; and Take Note, which gets a 5 out of 5.