Roundup of Free Awesome WordPress Plugins

I might start doing this semi-regularly. I’m calling it RoFAWP (pronounced: Roh – Fahp). I’ve been doing some experimenting with a couple sites and dug into the WordPress Repo quite a bit in search for some coolness and came up with a few gems. My goal with this series is: Introduce you to some cool… Read more Roundup of Free Awesome WordPress Plugins

I might start doing this semi-regularly. I’m calling it RoFAWP (pronounced: Roh – Fahp). I’ve been doing some experimenting with a couple sites and dug into the WordPress Repo quite a bit in search for some coolness and came up with a few gems. My goal with this series is:

  1. Introduce you to some cool tools to use on your next project
  2. Give a shout out to the developers behind these projects
  3. Well… that’s about it really
  4. So I’ll keep these short and sweet.

…. BEGIN!

Hierarchy

One thing I’ve always struggled with is how sooo many plugins depend so much on the Custom Post Template functionality of WordPress even when the output of that CPT won’t ever have it’s own page or slug or anything. Very often a CPT-based plugin is just created a “Content block” to be inserted into your posts or pages (which are REAL post types). This creates a bit of a disconnect when you login and see a whole long list of Post Types available to you, only some of which will actually create a front-end “page” of sorts. This is especially a hurdle for end-user clients.

Enter Hierarchy. It’s created by the stellar developer Jonathan Christopher, creator of SearchWP. Hierarchy gives you the ability to collect all of your post types into one area called “Content”. From the Content page, you can see all of your different Content types available to add or edit as you see fit.

Currently, all the CPT’s in the Content screen have the same default pin icon, but I’m sure that will change as the plugin develops. Christopher says in his post that he’s been using Hierarchy for years now, and finally gave it the attention it deserved for the latest version release. I’ve experienced Christopher’s support of SearchWP and I can vouch, he’s very prompt and very professional and thorough in his support. You’re in good hands with Hierarchy.

Bulk Content Creator

For the longest time I used a plugin called “Bulk Page Creator”. It does exactly what it sounds like, it let’s you create a bunch of pages, even hierarchically, and hit Publish just once and done.

But then I was like: “But I need a bunch of CPT’s now. Is there a plugin for that?” Yep. Bulk Content Creator is awesome for letting you output a bunch of empty post types with titles all at once. It’s a great way to just get all the posts out there so you can populate menus right away and worry about inserting the content later.

One feature that Bulk Page Creator has that this doesn’t is the ability to populate the page/post with lorem ipsum content just as filler rather than just an empty page. Would be a good feature request for this.

Modular Custom CSS

Over the last year the Customizer has been getting tons of really great attention. Behind the scenes of all that attention is Nick Halsey. He’s a young developer with serious chops. He recently did a “Google Summer of Code” in which he spent his time enhancing and perfecting the Customizer as much as possible. I had the pleasure of attending his session on the Customizer at WordCamp LAX.

So then suddenly I noticed “Modular Custom CSS” in the Repo, by none other than Nick Halsey. Basically, he adds a section to the Customizer designed for adding your own custom CSS styles into it. There are a ton of plugins that allow you to add custom CSS, but none of them that I’ve seen leverage the live reloading awesomeness of the Customizer. This is a really great way to style “in browser” and see your changes happen instantaneously. Highly recommended.

UPDATE: I love this plugin so much I wrote documentation on our Give site specifically for our Give users to know how to use it for custom styles. Worth a read as well since it goes into more detail on how useful this is.

W4 Post List

This is a really powerful little tool. It allows you to create custom post/page queries and saves them as a shortcode to be placed anywhere throughout your site. The UI is simple and direct, it has some nice AJAX action, and the shortcode couldn’t be easier to use.

I still need to experiment with it more, but I could easily see this replacing a lot of the child-page widgets, or category list shortcodes and whatnot that I’ve used often in the past for outputting simple lists of posts/pages.

One feature I really like is the ability to customize the output in a unique shortcode-based templating system. It’s really useful.

Fair warning though: The first site I installed it on it didn’t output the list on certain pages. Still haven’t figured out why, but I could imagine that if a query higher up the DOM is not properly ended, then it would interfere with this. Still, I kept working with it because the concept is really powerful and useful.

WP Plugin Info Card

Lastly, you might have noticed all these really cool little “Info Cards” for the plugins. That is done also with a free WordPress Repository plugin. I first learned about it on WPTavern, and this is the first time using it in full force.

It has a really easy shortcode generator¬†button, and the info card styles by themselves are really slick. I can imagine custom styles being a future feature addition. One drawback is having to populate the shortcode fields manually. You have to go searching for the repository slug of the plugin, you have to paste the logo url into the field (rather than using an Image Uploader). So there’s definitely room for improvement, but seriously, there’s no other plugin that does this at all and it already does it really well.

[UPDATE:] I gave the author of this plugin a review and made my feature requests known and he added new color schemes to the plugin within days after writing this. Really nice work! See my review and our convo here.

Pay it Forward

If you’ve appreciated this round up, then I’d encourage you to test out the plugin that piques your interest the most and then leave them a really great review. Reviews mean a lot to us WordPress developers, and it’s the least you can do when you’ve found really great use out of a free plugin.

If you have free plugins that are your favorites that you’d like to see me review in a future RoFAWP, hit me up on my contact form or comment below. Thanks!

 

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