Tuesday, January 12, 2010...8:30 am

WordPress plugins I use

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A few months ago, when I moved Freelance Unbound to its own host, I wrote that I had got a bit excited about the world of plugins and had, temporarily, broken the site.
It’s all settled down now. And finally the vast universe of plugins is starting to make sense. Here are the ones I’m using. Because I’m sure you geeky WordPress types just want to know.
Admin Menu – creates a very useful admin menu bar right at the top of your site’s front end. WordPress.com users have something like this by default and it’s a great time-saver.

Akismet – Essential anti-spammage, no matter that it has its critics. Comes as standard.
Audio Player – Easy enough if you know WordPress’s syntax (no, me either). Looks boring. Works OK.
Blubrry PowerPress – Looks a bit better. Seems to work, but doesn’t like spaces in podcast URLs. Or Radio 4 podcasts (they’re mono, apparently). Thank god I don’t use much audio.
Broken Link Checker – Sorted out my broken links in a jiffy. Easy to use – but does report some false positives.
Get The Image – Anyone who has ended up weeping in a corner, defeated by WordPress’s arcane custom image fields, will welcome this. It’s robust and pretty easy to use, and it allows you to specify a thumbnail for a post by browsing your media library like normal folks, as opposed to pasting in image URLs in a field you have to create yourself. But you  still have to work with CSS if you want more control over how they’re displayed. How I’d love to have a plugin that allows you to specify a crop and a size from a menu, as well as choosing the image you want to use. I won’t hold my breath…
NextGEN Gallery – Probably the most popular gallery plugin. Probably rightly.
PollDaddy Polls – Requires you to have a free account with WordPress-owned PollDaddy. Stupid name, but works well and is easy to use.
Popular Posts – I’m not actually sure if this is working correctly, as it seems to continually show the same posts. Unless my visitors are sheep and only click on those links. You’re not, though.
Query Posts – Sophisticated plugin that seems to replicate some of Drupal‘s magnificent Views functionality. Has 40 different ways of showing posts. Not by popularity, sadly.
Recent Comments – Does what it says. Doesn’t filter out my own comments though, which would be nice, or trackbacks.
[UPDATE: On the advice of Malcolm Coles, now using Get Recent Comments. Works well, though doesn’t show Identicons, which is kind of a shame. Also trying out Subscribe To Comments.]
Reveal IDs for WP Admin – A developer thing. Super useful for Widget Logic.
ShareThis – Links to all those social bookmarking sites. I bet no one uses this EVAH.
StatPress Reloaded – Finally: decent stats. After try out various Google Analytics plugins and the familiar, if hopelessly inadequate, WP Stats, StatPress gives me a ton of useful data about my traffic. Such as it is.
Velvet Blues Update URLs – You’ll only need to use it if you change your entire blog file structure – when you buy a new domain name, say. But that one-time use works a treat to make all your embedded content link up again as it should.
Viper’s Video Quicktags – Quick and easy embedding from a whole host of video sites – though it did seem to break my animation blog when I installed it. Works fine here though. Could have been a WordPress version problem.
Widget Logic – Fantastic plug-in that allows you to specify which pages a Widget appears on. You do need to use a bit of PHP, but there’s a handy guide here.
WordPress Database Backup – Soilman says don’t trust it, but I do. So there. (I’ll be sorry, no doubt.)
WordPress Gravatars – Kind of works; kind of flaky. Two differently sized gravatars show up on my admin pages next to a comment, for example. Also took time to figure out how to configure it.
WPtouch iPhone Theme – Because so many people check in here on their iPhone. When I finally got to see Freelance Unbound on an iPhone I thought how cool it looked and what a good job the plugin must have done. Until I realised that all sites on an iPhone look like that. No idea if this even does anything.
WP_Identicon – Creates those jaggy icon things next to your name when you comment. Oh, go on – get a Gravatar, why don’t you.
I’m constantly surprised at how active and generous WordPress developers are in creating incredibly useful software that’s distributed free. Thanks to all of them.
Just thought I ought to say.


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