All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of John and Amber’s discussion of this weeks plugins that have been reviewed.
WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #486 here.
It’s Episode 486 with plugins for Feeding the Monster, Tracking, PDF Viewing, Mobiles Zooms, Databases, Woo Searching and ClassicPress Options. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
John: All right. It is time to talk about our plugins, and first off, ClassicPress options. I do have a couple of ClassicPress things this week and a couple of pieces of news from ClassicPress. What I’ve got here first is an older post from azurecurve, who is a very active person in the ClassicPress community as well. This is an old post, the list that is in this post is something that’s constantly updated and is a list of plugins that are ClassicPress-compatible, and they’re being constantly updated and something you will want to check out if you’re using ClassicPress. So go follow and check out this link here.
The other one here is from Kevin Space, and it is the Endorse ClassicPress Plugin. And the Endorse ClassicPress Plugin is a testimonial plugin for ClassicPress and so you’ll want to go check out this plugin. If you’re using ClassicPress and you’re looking to put testimonials in your site, go check out this plugin, see how it can work for you in ClassicPress. All right, off we go into – aside from that ClassicPress resources, there’s the ClassicPress forum, a ClassicPress blog, nothing too big in there. We had to pull the ClassicPress club. They’re no longer valid and seem they took their website down and vanished from the Internet. So, so be it.
All right. WordPress Plugins, what do we have for you this week? The first one I’ve got for you is called Participants Database. And Participants Database; this is an interesting one here. It was originally developed as a plugin for managing voter rolls and all kinds of fields that go with it. I’m using it for a pet project because of the fact that allows me to put in multiple types of data into the plugin.
It’s a really interesting plugin. It’s expandable, you can import-export records as a CSV file. You can put all kinds of data, create custom fields, mailing list information participants, but you can customize these up in multiple ways. So I’m using it for another pet project that I’ve got going to see if it will work for what I’m trying to accomplish. Great little plugin. It does have a bunch of add-ons for premium stuff, so it does get kind of dinged for that aspect, something you’ll want to check out if you’re looking for managing a user’s database for any number of reasons, or in my particular case, I’m using it to manage a database of information.
And so far, it seems to be working okay, but I haven’t really got too in-depth into it. It is a pet project, which only gets time on the rare occasions when I’m actually – feel like working on it. Anyway, go check this out. It’s called Participants Database, and I give it a 4-Dragon rating.
Amber: Seems pretty interesting. So the first one I’ve got is the Dashboard Feed Widget. This is a neat plugin. I found it while I was searching for something else because it doesn’t seem to matter what I put into the search bar. I always get a million plugins that I’m not actually looking for. Apparently, this —
John: Never the one you look for exactly by name.
Amber: Yeah, that’s what I mean. So apparently, this actually started out as a thing that the creators would put on the site that they worked on to help their clients. And then, they realized it is really quite useful for any other developers that may need to come onto the site and get some work done, so they made it into a plugin. So actually, I’ve been using it for a bit now, and it’s quite useful.
It shows up on your dashboard under the heading, Recent Updates, and you can choose how many updates will show up on your new little widget. You can also choose whether or not the links show up in a tab or just stay on in a new tab or to stay on the same tab, so it’s like a new page opening. It’s kind of an ugly mustard yellow color. It leaves something to be desired, but you can change that to whatever color you want. So it’s simply designed with functionality in mind, and I think they did a bang-up job on it honestly. So I would absolutely recommend this free plugin to anyone if you like to stay in the know on what’s been done recently on your site, and you don’t like having to search around for it. I rate it 5 Dragons.
John: Very nice. That’s a cool one to check out. Okay, the next one I have for you here today is called Advanced Woo Search, and this is an advanced search plugin that replaces your standard WordPress search function, which everybody knows by now is basically a piece of crap, and that includes the search functions at the wordpress.org website. So anyway, what this one does, it replaces your search results with the Advanced Woo Search, and when it’s used in a ecommerce store, the free version of the plugin returns a nice search with an image for the products people are looking for, and it does a really good job of pulling up the exact products or the ones that are actually related to the keyword that you’re searching for.
Now, it does have a premium version, which allows you to go in and change the results layouts, form layouts, give additional filters in there, get an unlimited amount of things, search for custom taxonomies, custom fields, and a whole lot more, even input an Add to Cart button right there in the search function. So the premium version is probably worthwhile if your store is doing a lot of business because a lot of times, people don’t want to search for your products. They just type in a name and see what comes up. I mean, I go to a store. I just look up the name and find what I’m looking for. It’s like the search is the most key thing that is used nowadays for pretty much all websites. So you need a good search function, and this one works very well for the free version.
I just recently used it on a project that I’m just about getting ready to launch and it works very well for the hundreds of products they have in the store. So go check this one out. It’s called Advanced Woo Search, and I give it a 4-Dragon rating. Until I get the premium version, I can’t give it a 5, so go check it out.
Amber: So with that one – that actually seems like a really good idea. Have you tried it out?
John: Yeah, I just said I used it on a project that I’m just getting ready to launch this project, and this is used in the project that I —
Amber: My question specifically was does it actually pull up the things you’re looking for like all the other search things? It’s cool.
John: Oh yeah, it does. It pulls out the – if you type in a specific name, that’s the top list, and then, it lists the other ones below it, but if you just type in a keyword, it lists up everything confined to the keyword.
John: So it’s actually quite good. It’s a really good search.
Amber: Cool. All right, the next one I have is a PDF Viewer for Elementor. I came across this problem of viewing a PDF in a project I’m working on, and I found this little ditty. It has two aspects to it. One is a PDF viewer and the other is a PDF JS viewer. The PDF viewer, it only really works when you let it load, then press the refresh button and let it load again, and sometimes not even then, though the PDF JS viewer works every time. It just looks a little strange.
I’m not really clear as to whether or not the people who took over it recently have any plans to fix this issue though they themselves suggest that you just use the PDF JS viewer instead of the PDF because it works better. It works well on the PDF JS, and it is what I needed, and I was able to — it’s what I was able to find for the project that I’m working on, though I am searching for a better version of a PDF viewer that works well with Elementor.
This plugin is a good-for-now type plugin, and I’m hoping that the new owners will fix whatever issue they’re having with the regular PDF part. So if you need something for just now, go ahead and grab this up, but if anybody knows of a better version out there, let me know. I rate this at 3 Dragons.
John: Yeah, well, it’s too bad, but that’s where it goes. But yeah, that’s weird. I’m sure they will get around to it if they get enough complaints.
Amber: I’m not sure. I was checking out the different things, like the different little conversations again last night. They’re not even responding now.
John: Oh, okay.
Amber: So I’m not sure what’s going on there.
John: They’re moving in a different direction. They’re probably developing a premium version –
John: — and they don’t want to bother with this one anymore. I think that’s probably what’s happening.
Amber: The creators of this just sold it to someone, so —
John: Well, the creators made their money and they’re gone. Okay, the next one I have for you here is called Activity Log. Right now, I’m in the process of testing out multiple activity log plugins, because I had an Activity Log Plugin that worked beautiful for years, and the last few updates of that plugin, they’ve stripped out a lot of the functionality and poured it into their premium version of the plugin, which I can understand they need to make money. But, you know, I like that little bits of functionality and, you know, I don’t use it so much that I need the functionality, or I need to pay a premium license for it. And it’s like, I don’t mind paying premium license fees when the plugin is justified, but in this case, here, it was just used for tracking a few things to make sure everything was okay for a little while, and then, I turned off and get rid of it.
But so what I had to do is I had to start looking through to see what Activity Log Plugins are still available giving good results for the information I was trying to track in the particular websites. This is the result of one of them; this is an okay one. I did like it. I initially set it up and it seemed like it was going to work well, but then, I started having issues around the setup of it. The setup window didn’t want to load correctly. It didn’t really give me the results it says it’s going to give me, and I finally ended up yanking it, and I’m using another one now, and that one will come up next week or the week after, because I’m reviewing them all, and they’ll eventually make their way to the show.
So at any rate, this one here Activity Log, it’s a so-so activity log. It gives you enough information if you want true basics, and I can’t really say too much else about it. Go check it out if you want it, but I give this one a 3-Dragon rating.
Amber: All right. The last one I’ve got is Definitely Allow Mobile Zooming. Such an interesting name. So this is a new plugin. It gives you the ability to make your website capable of zooming on mobiles. And I know that generally, a person can do this on most sites, but some sites get a bit wonky when you Zoom in on them. This plugin fixes that. There’s nothing to do with this plugin, you just download it and activate it, and it does everything on its own. It’s a pretty nifty, total freebie.
I would generally give this a five, but since it’s a neat, though, not overly useful plugin, since most sites do this anyway, I’m lowering it a bit. If you found that your site is one of those that is a little wonky when Zoomed in on, go check this one out. I rate it 4 Dragons.
John: Alrighty. That can be useful to fix some minor glitch you’ve got going until you get around to solving the real problem. Okay. That’s it for that. This show is currently brought to you by…
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Okay, and this is the point here where we like to talk about listener feedback, but we still don’t have any. Folks, send us some listener feedback. We need it – questions, feedback, tell us if we’re doing good, bad and different, questions you might have, you know, comments, you know, even you can even send us in your own plugin reviews. If you send me a pre-recorded clip, I will play it for others to hear. I’ll try to keep the clip below three minutes though.
All right, contests. We do have contests. And our Simple Giveaway – our contests are powered by the Simple Giveaways plugin. These guys were kind enough to provide us with a premium license to run our contest, and it’s a great plugin. I’ve been using it since it first launched, and they have improved this plugin dramatically over – I think it’s been about three years old now, give or take, and it’s just improved dramatically. Great plugin, so go check it out.
I do also want to thank Charlie for coming to the aid of the show and getting our contests all organized up, so we have a never-ending flow contest coming to you now. We did have a contest the last couple of weeks where we were giving away a license for WP Admin Pages PRO, and we do have a winner. The winner is Shahbaz Qureshi. Thank you. You’re much better that than me. Maybe I should have you read this stuff.
John: At any rate, congratulations to you, Shahbaz. Get hold of us. You’ve got an email. You got to reach back out to me. If you don’t reach back out to me in two weeks, we recycle the license. That means the email address you gave us was incorrect. So congratulations to you.
We do have a new contest, and this contest will be running from November 19 today until December 2nd, and the winner will be announced on the December 3rd show. We are giving away a license – a lifetime license for Cart Lift valued at $249s from RexTheme. Go check out this thing, links in the show notes for it is a fantastic little plugin.
If you’ve got a WooCommerce store and you’re dealing with abandoned carts, this gives you a chance to win back over 20% of your abandoned customers, recover 20% of the abandoned cart customers with an automated email campaign, meaning, they started to fill out the cart. They’ve got their email in there, and then, they like get sidetracked, the kids come along, their web browser shuts down. They forget what they’re doing or they’re like me, I sit there and go, “Oh, do I really want to buy this? Let me think about it for a little while,” you know, when I think about it and I’m just closing browser tabs. “Oh shit, I wanted to keep that open. Oh, don’t worry about it.”
So, it will email them and say, “Hey, look, you’ve abandoned all these items in your cart – your shopping cart, do you still want them?” Bring them back and start to get an immediate increase on your return on investment for the plugin. Really great one. The other thing is if you want to get more information and talk about that plugin, Sultan from RexTheme, he was on Episode 485, and he gave us a whole lot of information about this excellent plugin, and some of the other plugins that they build out. So go check it out, enter to win the contest, and remember, share the contest on your social media channels for additional entries into the contest.
Hey, in this one here I covered up in this episode – the plugins I covered was the Activity Log, which I gave a 3 to, the Advanced Woo Search, which I gave a 4 to, and the Participants Database, which I gave a 4 to.
Amber: And I covered Definitely Allow Mobile Zooming, which I give a 4. PDF Viewer for Elementor, which I gave a 3. And Dashboard Feed Widget, which I gave a 5.
John: All right. And a couple of quick reminders before we move into the Q&A segment because partway through, we use the closeout credits. Well, I still have a meetup plan that is — I’m trying to figure out how to get that worked into my schedule again.
If you’d like to be on an interview show, which is a separate show apart from this one, reach out to me at wppluginsatoz.com/interview. Want To find out more about my insanity? Go check out the roguestavern.com to find out what I’m up to in the world. It’s a great website. Lots of really cool videos on everything I’ve been doing in this last year and some more interesting videos are getting ready to be uploaded. Okay, it is Q&A time. Now, we have a jingle where’d it go?
Amber: Did you eat it?
John: I might have. I can’t remember where I put it on here. There it is.
John: Absolutely, let’s move into that.
Amber: All right. My first question for is how does a plugin work? Does it create its own universe attached to WordPress, or does it fully mesh with the programming that’s already there? How does it interact with WordPress site itself?
John: Okay, that’s a good question actually. And no, I need that one. That’s not a good question. All right. The question is very valid, and what it is, is the plugins for WordPress, they are partly their own universe and partly attached to WordPress. They’re more like a parasite, I guess, is what you would think about because they live on their own, but they suck off of WordPress resources.
Amber: I like thinking them as parasites. That’s entertaining.
John: Yes, they are basically parasites because what they do is they have all their own code, but they can’t survive on their own as a general rule. They need the integration into the WordPress core code so that it fits into your WordPress dashboard or presents the information on your WordPress website in the frontend, and they also integrate and call certain pieces of information from the WordPress database to work with their database.
Some plugins have their own database tables, some plugins depend on the database tables from WordPress itself. So it’s kind of a bit of a mishmash, and thinking of them as a parasite is probably the best thing I can think of for them because a parasite can’t live on its own. And I don’t know any WordPress plugins that really live on their own, because without the WordPress core, they don’t do anything, or they try to do something, and it doesn’t quite give you the full experience. So does that sort answer that question?
Amber: Yeah, it does actually. It helps me to understand a bit more what’s going on every time I plug it in or remove it. So what’s going on with the site when a plugin stops it from working? Is the plugin stopping communication throughout the entire site somehow?
John: Well, when a plugin breaks your website, what it’s done is it’s reached for a specific piece of information from the WordPress core it’s asked for WordPress core to do something and it goes, “I can’t do that, I give up,” and it injects or because it’s using or it’s trying to override a piece of core code that WordPress is doing, and it causes it to white screen, or it conflicts.
WordPress is trying to put out one code A, and the plugins trying to put out code A, and they run head to head into each other. And it just causes the white screen crash, or the plugin will not work with the latest version of PHP and your websites up to the latest version of PHP. It’s truly complex as to what’s going on when it stops a website from working. It is multiple things that causes it to happen.
Amber: Okay, so why is it that it stops the entire site from working? I mean, because they’re kind of like a parasite, you would think that the plugin itself not working, so I’m going on – a plugin would just kill the plugin’s ability to work not – does not wreck the whole site?
John: Oh, when you think of it like a parasite actually works, it’s like a parasite that’s causing problems in a human. As long as it’s attached, it creates problems in humans. But the moment you detach it from the human, the human gets better, which is the same thing you can do with a plugin, you can go in and deactivate a specific plugin. If you can’t get to your dashboard, you can FTP in and you can change the folder name of the plugin, which effectively turns it off –
John: — and so the website starts working again. So it’s basically like taking the parasite off the human body, it gets better. So it’s the same sort of thing.
Amber: I keep getting this image of two people trying to go through a door at the same time and crashing.
John: There’s the other problem. That’s the same sort of issue as well — that’s another good analogy of what’s happening, is two people trying to go through this door at the exact same time, or two people trying to go through a door that swings both ways and both on them pulling on the handle at the same time from opposite sides of the door.
John: So you end up with nothing. So yeah, and that’s why when a plugin stops a site from working, it’s the communication of the plugin, but that’s why you can turn off that specific plugin, and your website comes back, and then, you know that that plugin has got a problem, and you got and you either have to – if you know how to code, fix the code yourself or get a coder to fix it, or reach out to the developer and say, “You broke my site.” And hopefully, you have errors, you can send to the developer. You may or may not have errors. Errors are not always produced.
Amber: Well, here’s another question for you. What’s the most common reason for a plugin failing?
John: You know, I don’t know what the most common reason for a plugin failing is. The biggest thing I’ve run into is incompatibilities. I don’t even know what specific code.
Amber: Well, I don’t expect to remember the code, you know, just general.
John: It’s just a code issue. It’s a – they wrote their code with an incorrect call or a function call, or they’re trying to create a function that can’t be created or, you know, or their plugin isn’t compatible with the latest version of PHP or some others.
John: There’re so many things. I don’t think there’s any specific —
Amber: So, the most common issue is every issue it’s ever had?
John: Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Amber: All right. My next question is when you mix two themes, one parent and one child, do they always work together, or are there issues where the themes just don’t work together?
John: Okay, are you talking about two themes from this with the same name branding? The same —
Amber: No, I’m talking about like – I don’t know, take Elementor and choose a name of another one.
John: Okay. Well, Elementor is not an actual theme.
Amber: Oh, it’s not.
John: Elementor is not a theme. Elementor is a plugin.
Amber: Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought it was a theme.
John: Elementor is a page builder. It’s not a theme. That’s why it works with so many themes.
Amber: Oh, okay.
John: Okay. It’s like, if you’re talking about a parent and child theme, the parent and child themes have to be of the same lineage.
Amber: Do they?
John: Yeah –
John: — because they have to be able to work together. A child theme is actually basically just an empty folder, and all it does is points to the parent theme. You can create a child theme out of any theme in existence. You can make it into – you can make a child theme for it. The reason for the child themes came about because what would happen, I remember back in the early years of WordPress. I would get a theme, I would go in and create custom functions and the functions PHP and do other things.
And if I didn’t back it up, if I wasn’t paying attention one day, and the theme updated, I hit the update theme button, all of my custom functions were wiped out. They were gone. So what the child theme came about is a way to preserve all your custom changes while having the parent theme or the master theme you could update it to your heart’s content, and it would never impact the child theme or all your custom stuff because you’ve put all your custom stuff in the child theme folder.
John: And the child theme folder, basically, all the main files are in the parent folder. So the child theme folder points to the main folder and says, “Oh, if you need all these functions, they’re over here in the parent’s folder.” It’s like the teenage kids who go to their parent’s fridge and they don’t have their own fridge, you know, because they need all the food, but yet, you know, and that’s the basic thing.
Amber: Okay. So then, you can actually mix what – you can use whatever you want for the child theme, it doesn’t matter?
John: Yeah, as long as it matches to the parent, is basically what it is.
Amber: So if you have like a 21 theme – you have to have a child 21 theme?
John: Yeah, you can create a child 21 theme.
John: So it’s really quite common to create a child them. In fact, there’s a plugin out there, I reviewed it, God, a couple of years ago that helps you automatically create a child theme.
Amber: Oh, cool.
John: You can use — load the plugin and put create a child theme, and it goes, well, which theme do you want? A child theme. And you push a button, and poof, it creates a child theme for you.
Amber: That’s useful.
John: Yeah, it was very useful. It saved about 20 minutes’ worth of work.
John: So, you know, so it’s — because to create a child theme, you have to create a folder, you have to create the CSS file, you have to create, you know, a couple of other basic files have to be created. And it can take you 10 to 20 minutes to do it, but if you got a plugin that says, push, click, done five minutes, perfect. But back to, you know, like Elementor or – well, Divi is actually a theming system, so that’s completely different. It’s a builder with its own theme built in, although Divi works on other themes. But Elementor, Bee Busy, you know, something builder –
John: Beaver Builder. Those are builder plugins that build out pages for you, and they build them out with pretty much any theme. Now, many themes have to make themselves sort of compatible too as a builder because the builder injects code in different places.
Amber: Is Gutenberg a builder or theme?
John: Gutenberg, they’re trying to be both. And Gutenberg is in the same thing. So there you go. Hemdian has popped up the Child Theme Configurator, so that was probably the plugin. I sort of remember reviewing it years back.
Amber: So do you want me to go on asking questions or do you want to —
John: All right. I think this is the point here where we’re going to split it off and we will call it here and let play out the credits. And for those of you listening on the podcast, you got to come to the YouTube channel to catch the rest of this. So we’re going play this show outro credits, and we’ll be back in a sec or two.
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