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 See complete show notes for Episode #424 here.
It’s Episode 424 and I’ve got plugins for Clearing Shortcodes, Protecting Files, the Topper and ClassicPress Options, all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: It’s Episode 424 and I’ve got plugins for Clearing Shortcodes, Protecting Files, the Topper and ClassicPress Options, all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
WordPress, it’s the most popular content management and website solution on the internet. And with over 80,000 plugins to choose from, how do you separate the junk from the gems? Join us for a weekly unrehearsed conversation about the latest and greatest in WordPress plugins. This is WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
John: Well good morning, good afternoon, or good evening wherever you happen to be hiding out there on the globe today. Coming to you direct from the Brewery Overlook in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, I’m John Overall. And I have the usual great show for you today. But of course, all the Show Notes can be found at wppluginsatoz.com. Take a minute and subscribe to the Newsletter and get out there and hit everyone in the mouth.
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And with all that being said, let’s just dive into the meat and potatoes of the show.
All right, well starting it off here I have a great plugin that I have yet to use but felt you would want to know a bit about it and that it exists. Keep in mind, ratings are based off the descriptions at their site, using their demo if available, etc.
This one here is called Shortcode Cleaner, and this one here is a freemium plugin and they do have a premium version to go with it. But right off with the free version, there’s a fair bit you can do. What it’s great for is if you are moving from a website that a theme that used lots of shortcodes in it – say you were using WP Bakery and now you’re gonna move on to Elementor or you had plugins or other things that were using multiple shortcodes. Well, cleaning that mess up can be a daunting task. I know I was working on another site. I’m pretty sure I reviewed another plugin in a previous show about cleaning up your shortcodes. This is one I didn’t get to be testing because the other one works so great.
But you’ll want to check this one out. Once you install it, it goes in there and it activates, and at first what it does is it just automatically hides the shortcodes. In other words, when shortcodes show up to be displayed, it just zeroes them out and it doesn’t display a big chunk of code. They also have the ability in here with their premium version to go in there and actually – once you resave – you open up a post to edit, you see the shortcodes. It finds them, it hides them, and then when you resave it, they’re all gone so you don’t have to go hunt them down and delete them.
So this is something that’s kind of a neat feature with it. I haven’t tested it, so I’m not certain how well it works. But it does seem like something that’s very worthwhile to check out. If you’re going through that process of updating and replacing a theme or plugins or others that use shortcodes on your site, this may be something you’ll want to investigate to see about going through and cleaning up the shortcodes on the website. All in all, it looks to be a pretty good plugin for you, and it can save you a fair chunk of time and effort. Go check it out. It is called Shortcode Cleaner (Lite) and they do have a premium version. The links are in the Show Notes for it and I give this one a 4-Dragon rating.
Okay, a little bit of news and information from this week. What do we got? Well of course, first off – and you know its bad when it makes Forbes magazine, and it’s a critical backdoor attack, a warning issued for 60,000,000 WordPress users. Now, this is because there are a lot of plugins out there, a nice little list of them that are being infiltrated and abused by the hackers. They’ve got vulnerabilities and these plugins are Bold Pagebuilder, Blog Designer, Live Chat with Facebook Messenger, Use Old Related Posts, Visual CSS Style Editor, WP Live Chat, Form Lightbox, Hybrid Composer, and, you know, these are all plugins that you’ll want to have a look at. If you’re using any of these, make sure you go check it out and see if you might be at risk. There’s other plugins out there that you’ll want to stay on top of, but this is the first one out there and you know it’s getting bad when it makes Forbes magazine, because they don’t normally report on that sort of thing.
A little bit of news from the WordPress world itself, and this one here is it seems the WordPress governance project is looking for new leadership after the current leaders, Morton Rand Hendrickson and Rachel Cherry – it seems after they announced they’ll be stepping down. I don’t know the full story, but I know this started – this project here ran into lots of problems. The governance project wasn’t recognized, it started after the fiasco with Gutenberg. This is, you know, another one of WordPress’s little fiascos that’s going on. If you’re interested in it, go check them out.
They may be able to salvage it, who knows? But it is an interesting article and a little bit of history on the governance project. Go check that piece of news; the link is in the Show Notes or just go to WP Tavern and check them out.
And a final little bit piece of news I’ve got for you is from iThemes Security, and this is their “Vulnerability Roundup from August: Part 2.” This is going through the list of plugins that are having vulnerabilities and if they’ve been patched or not. It seems Next Gen was having problems, Easy Forums for MailChimp, WP Social Feed, and on and on. They’ve got a pretty good list of them; almost all of them have had vulnerabilities patched, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re checking on things. If you are using a plugin called User Pro, which is from CodeCanyon, you will want to stop using that plugin until a patch is released. It’s still not been released and it’s vulnerable to cross-site scripting, so make sure you go check it out and see if your plugins are on any of this list if you haven’t already done all the updates you can for your website. The best thing to do is if you’ve got updates, you know, read the update report on it and the change log on it, and do the updates if it’s looking like something you might be impacted by.
A little bit of news still from me and Plugin Dynamics. We are moving along. We are really close to a beta version of
Tabular Data Dynamics. We have it working fairly well. I’ve got it in the hands of an alpha tester right now aside from me and he hasn’t gotten the latest build, which came about last night, so he’ll want to check that one out. So get a hold of me if you’d like to check out Tabular Data Dynamics. This is a plugin for building tables of any type in your WordPress website. You can build your tables manually. You can import and export CSV files. It’s soon going to have the ability to import and export XLS files. The search function in it – there’s a lot to this plugin, and it’s coming along quite nicely. It’s been a long time in development, so this is going to be our main plugin.
We do have a couple other plugins that we’ve done that haven’t got ready to release yet: a Date Calculator, a Metric Conversion one, and a Clock plugin. We are in development for a Tarot Reading plugin and an Intranet Lockdown plugin, so this is some of the things that are coming from Plugin Dynamics, so you’ll want to get a hold of me if you want to alpha test any of these plugins.
Okay, contests – we do have a contest to win a premium license for Magic Conversation for Gravity Forms, and all our contests are powered by the Simple Giveaways plugin, who has kindly provided us with the premium version of their plugin to run our contests. If you want to run contests on your site, go check out this plugin.
And the current contest which is running until September 18th has been pushed out from when it was supposed to be this week, but I got so busy the last couple of weeks bringing a project to fruition that I just didn’t have time to deal with it, so I just pushed the contest out a little bit longer. So two more weeks to enter the contest where you can win a license for Magic Conversation for Gravity Forms. It is a plugin that allows you to turn your Gravity Form into a conversation-type form, create more engagement with your Gravity Forms on your website, so go check this one out. It’s a really great plugin and if you want more information, check out the interview I did with Russ Mate from WP Pay Per View, who created this plugin, where we talk about this plugin and the other plugins they create.
For more information, just simply go to wppluginsatoz.com/contests to find out what is happening there and to enter it. All we need is your name and email address and enter it. And don’t worry, if you’ve entered the contest previously, we won’t add you multiple times to the mailing list.
All right, what do we got up here next for you? Next up, I have a plugin called Prevent Direct Access, and this is a freemium plugin. Now, this plugin here – I was hoping to do some replacements. I’ve been working on a project – an intranet project – and I’ve been using a plugin that’s a few years old and I wanted to see about replacing it, but we’re just rebuilding the plugin.
But at any rate, this one here, initially I had the promise of what I’m trying to do is I need to protect the downloads directory to prevent any outside sources from direct URLing to any of the files within the downloads directory, which is your images, etc. But I needed to allow those images to be viewed by people who are viewing the site when they’re inside an internal IP network, which is exempted, and I was hoping this plugin was going to do it. Well, unfortunately this plugin didn’t do that, and it was a lot worse than I thought it would be. It turns out the free version isn’t all that helpful to those that are going to do it. It’ll be good enough to find out if you want to use it, but as far as I was concerned, it was a rather disappointing plugin.
What it does for you is it allows you to go in and it creates a new column inside your media library that allows you to protect the files and lock them down there. The free version only allows you to protect three files – no more than that. The premium version lets you do unlimited files, but the extra workload involved to manually protect files with this was a whole lot more than I thought it should be and even with the free version, it just didn’t work all that well.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but unfortunately this plugin here gets a 2-Dragon rating.
Yeah, that’s been a while. So at any rate, you’ll want to maybe avoid it. You could check it out, but I wouldn’t give much high hopes to it. And of course as I’ve said in the past, if I do run into ‘em when they’re not worthy, I still bring them to you to at least warn you away from them.
All right, this show is supported by you, our Producers. As a value-for-value model, meaning if you get any value out of it, then give some value back by becoming a Producer and helping the show out. You can do that by donating money to help the show. Links are in the Show Notes. Submitting artwork to the WP Plugins Art Generator. This art is used on a weekly basis for the art that is showed up in iTunes and across every other podcast feed out there to change out the artwork every week. Submit articles, news, and information through the Contact form. Submit plugin suggestions for reviews through the Contact form for that. You can also create a monthly donation at Patreon or something I may not have thought of. So Producers, get out there, help this show grow. Help it become your show and I will produce what you want out there.
I do like to acknowledge all the Producers who have supported the show in various ways, and this week I would like to acknowledge all of those who came in below $50. They remain anonymous and I thank you very much for that.
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Okay, the next thing I’ve got here for you is a plugin that I rather was impressed with. It’s called WP Front Scroll Top, and what this one’s for is it solved a minor issue I was having in this project I was working on. There was one page in particular we created, and it was just a very, very long page, and this page has – oh God, what do I want to call them? They’re anchor tags – anchor links – from the front page, so people click from the front page and they end up in different spots on this page, either halfway down, three-quarters down, way down the page, and of course the way we’ve designed this site is we don’t stick the menu at the top because of the design choices by the client.
So what happens is people have to scroll way back up to get to a menu, and this is one page that needed a back to top button. Most of the other pages are short, didn’t require it; this one did. So what happened was I wanted to just stick a back to top button on this one page, and there’s lots of ways you can do that out there, and coding is the most common way, but that often applies to the entire site.
Well, this plugin here lets you get in there, choose what pages you want the back to top button to appear. It even had a whole bevvy of extra settings in it, including multiple icons you can choose from, the ability to choose your own custom icon for that, deciding which pages you can include, deciding which pages you can exclude. There’s just a real lot that goes into this plugin. It’s a really great one, smooth, worked very well, provided exactly what it needed to do, completely free, and of course when I run into one of those, where else do they go but straight to the top. This one here gets a 5-Dragon rating.
Go check it out, the WP Front Scroll Top. Really, a great plugin. I’m really happy I found that. It saved me lots of time.
Okay, and ClassicPress Options. What do we got for ClassicPress this week? Well, ClassicPress is still growing along, people are moving forward. There’s a lot going in their forums and other places on the web. You want to hear some interesting info? Go check out the interview I did with James Nyland and Michelle Coe. The link is in the Show Notes for it.
So a little bit of general information, I’ve got a nice, great article that I picked up due to a discussion that was going on in the ClassicPress Forums. This was from a Dick Metcalf, the editor of Contemporary Fusion Reviews. He wrote a nice article of “No Reason to Delay; Switch to ClassicPress Today.” Nice and rhyming twister on the tongue. At any rate, it’s a really great article, and interesting take on why you might want to switch off to ClassicPress versus dealing with WordPress and what’s going on there.
Another little bit of information, there’s a really great couple of discussions going on in the ClassicPress Forums on what the needs are for ClassicPress plugins and what the peoples’ views are on premium plugins and freemium plugins in there, so it’s a really great article – something you’ll want to go check out if you’re dealing with ClassicPress. Go check out this article. CodePotent was heading it and he’s looking for information on what are the biggest needs people need for plugins, plugin types, and what needs they need for their website.
And then there was another side topic started because of this, which is discussing some of the things going on around paid plugins, and what paid and premium plugins mean in the ClassicPress world – what they might mean, not what they mean – what they might mean in the ClassicPress world. This is a really good article. I thought it was really interesting to check it all out. My personal viewpoints on it, I didn’t dump it into the forums, but I should. I’m not overly great at typing things in. And what that is is the premium plugins are fantastic. People will pay for premium plugins if it provides the functionality they need and it’s not ridiculously priced, and that’s a tough one to call.
But one of the big problems I’ve faced over the years of doing this with premium plugins is not being able to at least test the basic functionality before you shell out the money for that plugin. Now while many places offer a refund if it doesn’t work for you, they’re still kind of on the hook or is that person ever going to continue using the plugin even after they’ve got their money back? Did they scam me? But it’s a tough call. One of the reasons for the freemium plugin, I believe, is that it provides enough functionality that people can get in there, test that plugin, and see if it provides the functionality basics they need and then the premium stuff is added on when they need that extra functionality, and they’re more than happy to pay when they need it. I know I have been, so that’s my two cents on that.
What do we got for ClassicPress? We do have a plugin for ClassicPress. This one here is called cpvars (for CP variables), and this one’s available over at GitHub and it’s from Simone. And with cpvars, you can define a name value associations from the admin. And then in your content, you can insert a shortcode, cpvars, a name, cpvars, and get that value displayed. Its useful if you have values such as phone numbers, number of employees on several pages. That can change, so you can change this once from the admin and not have to worry about it on your pages.
So if you’ve got values that are regularly changing on certain pages and you don’t want to have to hunt those pages down to change it, you can set this up in your admin area. It also has options that affect shortcodes on your site and I haven’t been able to test this plugin yet, but it does look rather interesting and intriguing, so I’ll let you know when I get a test on it. But at the moment, it looks like it’s worthy of a 4-Dragon rating, so go check this out – and that information for the ClassicPress plugins can be found in the link in the Show Notes that takes you out to the listing of the ClassicPress plugins. There’s a nice listing in ClassicPress that lists out – I believe it’s 42 plugins? No, it’s 41 plugins right now. Forty-one plugins in there that are ClassicPress-specific, and I’m sure that’s going to even grow more as more and more developers hop on board.
And a little tidbit of news with my experiment of migrating from ClassicPress. That site there, I expect to actually make live next week, and it is the WP Plugins A-Z website which has been converted to ClassicPress, and I’m just about done with the revamped layout of everything and I hope to make that live in the coming week.
A couple of ClassicPress resources, make sure you go check them out. You’ve got the ClassicPress Club, which is a great place to go find alternative forum information for non-techies. Check out the must-have plugin list at ClassicPress Forums. This is a list of what plugins are must-have and whether people have checked off whether those plugins exist or not, so go check this one out. All in all, ClassicPress is coming along quite nicely and I am looking for more information. And if you’re a ClassicPress developer, please send me your ClassicPress plugins and I will get them here on the show and showcase them. Eventually, I’ll have a lot of them to work from; I’m really certain on that.
All right, that closes out this episode here, and I covered up the Shortcode Cleaner, which I gave a 4 to; the Prevent Direct Access, which I gave a 2 to; and the WP Front Scroll Top, which I gave a 5 to; and the cpvars, which I gave a 4 to.
A couple of quick reminders, the next WordPress Meetup in Victoria will be in September on the 24th at 6:30 p.m. It’s held in Victoria. It will be broadcast live on the YouTube channel. Make sure you check in for that if you can’t make it. Please, if you can make it to the live event, come on down. It’s only $5. Check out the event that we’re having. All the meetups that we’ve got scheduled for the coming year, you can go to wppluginsatoz.com/meetup and find out all about those events.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for you, so thank you very much for taking the time out to listen and I’m gonna let my girl take us on out of here.
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John can be reached at his website, JohnOverall.com, or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for joining us and have a great day.
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