More Software

Well, I was planning on talking about some more plugins I have found and installed as a followup to my earlier post. Some from recommendations on other blogs, others just by browsing through the plugin directories on WordPress. There are some really neat things out there to add to blogs, the hard part is keeping it down to a reasonable number. I have actually not been as good about that as I should be. I keep wanting to try out new things that seem really neat.

First off, I learned a bit more about using the child theme that Drew has in the Vigilance theme. If you do a hack in a php file, which I have done with trepidation a few times, you can place that file in the child theme directory. So an upgrade to the theme will not overwrite your hack.  Of course, if he makes a change to the file you have hacked, you may have to redo them, but then again you may not. Version 1.21 added the ability to exclude pages from the header menu in the Vigilance theme options. This is very nice, it helps keep the menu there down to a minimum, helping keep a clean look. And Vigilance has been named by Mashable as one of the 10 Best WordPress 2.7 Themes. It is always nice to see your opinion confirmed by someone who is more knowledgeable about a subject.

I have removed the Amazon Showcase widget, there was a bug if more than one widget was placed in a sidebar. The author has stopped supporting it, but he is working on a re-written version that will have new features. I am keeping an eye there for the new one to be rolled out.

I have also dropped the All in One SEO Pack. Not because I have given up on SEO, but because I saw another plugin recommended over it. The Platinum SEO Pack does everything All in One did, plus some new stuff. If you have an opinion on what should and should not be indexed, followed, nofollowed, and noindexed, this will let you set it the way you want. And it will automatically import your All in One SEO setting.

I like the WordPress Database backup, but that is all it backs up. This is the important part of a blog of course, your words, links, and basic set up. But what about your theme, plugins, and images? Well, there is a plugin for that also. The WordPress Backup backs up your theme, plugin, and upload directories. You can schedule it to backup and mail the zip files to you. The support is very nice, he worked for several days putting out updates getting it to work on my host.

If you don’t want to mess around with uploading an info.php file, or don’t know how to do that, there is a nice plugin that replaces it. WP-ServerInfo places a window on your dashboard that gives your php and MySQL information along with some other useful stuff. But there is a caveat.

With the WordPress Database, WordPress Backup, and WP-ServerInfo plugins all activated, there is an intermittent bug on the dashboard. The QuickPress window disappears. Sometimes. It is very frustrating, and will happen with any 2 of them activated. Sometimes. Not always. Since I do not have a busy blog, I have kept the ServerInfo and one of the backups deactivated unless I need them. When one of them does an update I will turn on all of them and see what happens. Unless I set up a test blog and try to figure out if there is a pattern to the bug first. But the bug is not dangerous, just annoying, and they are worth using, even if you have to activate one of the backups before you can run it.

While looking for a way to manage a Blogroll that could easily get very big, I found the Collapsing Links plugin by Robert Felty. It lets you organize your links by categories and have them in a neat little bundle. I had one problem to start, but one update took care of it. The plugin has worked nicely since.

Rob has done 3 other Collapsing plugins. Collapsing Archives, also working well here, and very useful for people that do a lot of posting. Collapsing Categories, which is not working well on my blog just yet, but does play well on other people’s. But Rob is working on it, which is why it is on my sidebar, I have it set to debug for him to look at,  and it has improved. I am sure it will be working well very soon. I have not tried Collapsing Pages yet, I have not decided how I will handle my page navigation yet. But it is one of my options, so it is good to see that Rob is also very actively supporting it.

Another option for navigation is the Simple Sidebar Navigation Plugin. It works well, and has one bit of functionality that is very nice. You can decide where a particular navigation menu will appear. So some links will only show on your posts, others on your pages, and others on both. This kind of customization is very nice.

For ease of posting, there are a couple of plugins that are must haves. The Amazon Widgets Shortcode means no more working in the html editor instead of the visual editor. It adds a drop down menu on the visual editor that lets you add Amazon.com product links or widgets onto your post or page with ease. If you  are an Amazon.com associate, you don’t have to worry about making a link and copying it, you just need the ASIN. Amazon widgets are slight more complicated to add, but much easier than the regular way.

The Smart Youtube plugin makes embedding Youtube videos completely painless. You just paste the link in your post, add a letter or two, depending on the quality of the video, and it is set. I used it to add the two videos in this post. The frames and other features are options the plugin controls. No messing with the html editor or worrying about messing up coding when embedding a video. From Youtube anyway. You still need to do it the old way for other video sites.

One final plugin to help make things easier on the admin side. Reveal IDs for the WP Admin puts the IDs for your posts, pages, links, and categories on your admin pages. You can decide exactly which kind of IDs you want visible, and you can control what your users (if you have any) can see also. Very simple plugin, that is incredibly useful for setting up other plugins, widgets, and themes. If you are an admin on a WordPress blog, even if you ignore the rest of the plugins on this post, you really want this one.

Time to stop for now. If you look around, you can see some obvious plugins on my site that I have not mentioned yet. And there are more behind the scenes as well. One of the pitfalls of playing with them so much is I add them in faster than I write about them. So I will be doing at least one more of these posts. But at this rate, I will be doing these for a while, since I keep finding more to play with.

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2 Responses to More Software

  1. Pingback: Posts about Wordpress as of January 14, 2009 | TUI's Voice

  2. Pingback: Behind the Scenes: 7 WP Dashboard Plugins | Tom B.'s Rambles

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