in April 2010 - WP Smith
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The Best Administrator Plugins for WordPress

I use a lot of plugins though many times I wish I had the time to work them into my core files. However, over time I have figured out what plugins I absolutely love. So what do I mean by Administrator plugins? These are plugins that help the Administrator create, organize, and even operate the site or blog. Typically, these are some of the first plugins that I install, and while the results can be seen on the other side, these plugins are primarily for the admin. I did not include the security or SEO plugins as I will write separate posts on those at a later time.

  1. Admin Management Xtended: This plugin allows the admin to  to be able to manage contents easily and quickly, especially important those who are using WordPress as a CMS. This plugin has a video demo as well.
  2. Broken Link Checker: There is nothing worse than having dead links or no images. This plugin helps you ensure that none of your links are dead, pictures go missing, or frustrate your readers. It lets you know on the WordPress Dashboard how many dead links that you have that need attention. One of the practices I started doing was if I referred to a page that served as a source for a content article, I would make a PDF of that article and store it on my site, so when the site takes down the article and/or the moved it somewhere, you have an easy place to refer people that ensures that people can see the content.
  3. Digital Fingerprint: No one likes their stuff taken, but how do you know if it is or not? This plugin solves that for you. “This plugin helps blog owners stay vigilant against unauthorized content use by the overwhelming majority of blogs that are splogs,” who steal your content!
  4. Gravity Forms: This is a premium plugin that is well worth the money because of the time it saves you. Previously I used plugins like cforms that were rather cumbersome. However, Gravity Forms allows you to create all sorts of forms including forms that turn into post drafts!
  5. My Category Order & My Page Order: One thing that I dislike about WordPress postings was the ranking number. I simply wanted to write, create, etc, and then go back and re-order easily. My Category Order and My Page Order allow just that. It uses a drag and drop interface that is simple and easy.
  6. Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu: This plugin is probably my most favorite admin plugin. One thing I absolutely dispised about WordPress was the lack of space to write posts, etc. This plugin moves the left menu system and replaces it with a drop down menu system, which means more horizontal space below! For small monitors, this is a dream come true.
  7. Widget Logic: This plugin is a bit more technical; however, it allows for much more customization. Many taut this as the best plugin for sidebar customization. Widget Logic allows widgets to appear or not depending on standard WP conditional tags, such as is_home() and is_single() and so on.
  8. Widgets Reloaded: Widgets Reloaded replaces many of the default widgets with versions that allow much more control. Widgets come with highly customizable control panels. Each widget (archives, authors, bookmarks/links, calendar, categories, pages, search, tags) can also be used any number of times.
  9. WordPress Navigation List (NAVT): This is also another favorite plugin of mine. This powerful tool is designed to provide you with complete control over the creation, styling and contents of your web site’s navigation. The plugin gives you the ability to create unique site navigation from your pages, categories and users using a Drag ‘n Drop Interface; arrange the items within a group in any arbitrary order. It requires the use of Javascript, so ensure that it is turned on.  However, be careful if you operate more than one website using this plugin as I have lost a few menu systems that way. Previous to this, I used Multi-level navigation plugin.
  10. Permalink Plugins: Personally, I don’t really care to much for the use of these; however, I always install one of the following, just in case I do eventually have the use of one of these. The two best permalink plugins are: Advanced Permalinks and Custom Permalinks. It personally doesn’t matter which one I use as I have found not much difference between the two functionally. However, if I were to choose, I would choose the Advanced Permalinks but I could be easily persuaded to encourage the use of the other as well.
  11. Embed iFrame: This will let you embed iframe – an HTML tag that allows a webpage to be displayed inline with the current page, in a WordPress post. Although an iframe can lead to a complicated website, it can be very effective when used appropriately. So if you wish to have an Amazon store on your WordPress site, you can, but you must use this plugin.
  12. Search Meter: This plugin helps you keep your blog focused on what your visitors want to read. It does this by keeping track of what your visitors are searching for. If you have a Search box on your blog, Search Meter automatically records what people are searching for — and whether they are finding what they are looking for. So it is an excellent plugin to help you come up with more blog posts or even to know which ones to edit (copywrite) so that they appear in the search box.
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Remove or Replace “Blog Comments Powered by DISQUS”

This line of code that you are wanting to hide is:
[html]<a href="http://disqus.com" class="dsq-brlink">blog comments powered by <span class="logo-disqus">Disqus</span></a>[/html]

There are two ways to hide this: CSS & php. In CSS, just go to your DISQUS CSS file located in COMMENTS > DISQUS > SETTINGS > APPEARANCE and add
[html].dsq-brlink {display:none;}
.logo-disqus {display:none;}[/html]

Or, if you wish to edit the file in WordPress, which is typically not advisable, especially if you do not have access via FTP to your files as a change may render your site inoperable. So with that caution,  go under Plugins and select Editor. Where it says, “Select what plugin to edit,” you want to select Disqus Comment System. Then click Select. Then you want to select the disqus-comment-system/comments.php file on the right side, which should be located at the bottom. If you do this through a FTP and you are using a folder system (where each plugin is located in its own folder), simply navigate to your plugins directory, typically /yourdomainrootfolder/wp-content/plugins/disqus-comment-system/comments.php is the file that you want to get.

At line 30 you will find:

[html] <a href="http://disqus.com">blog comments powered by <span>Disqus</span></a> [/html]

Simply delete the entire line, or write whatever you’d like to write there.

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How to Remove the Borders in Thesis 1.7

thesisborders.png
thesis borders

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If you do not wish to have any borders in your Thesis layout, one method would be to edit the custom.css file to make this happen. However, Thesis does have the user-friendly ability to remove these things as well. There are two things that you must do.

  1. Remove the Navigation Menu border.
  2. Remove the Interior borders.

To remove the navigation menu border, under Thesis Design Options, which is located under Thesis > Design Options, expand the Nav Menu section at the top left. Scroll until you can see “nav border width (px).” Change the default 1 to 0 (zero).

To remove the interior borders, under Thesis Design

thesis borders

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Options, which is located under Thesis > Design Options, expand the Body (and Content Area) section at the top left. Scroll until you can see “Show interior layout borders,” which is the last option in the section. Uncheck that option.

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Flash Video Hiding My CSS Navigation Menu

In one of the sites I was working, I moved the Thesis navigation menu below the imaged header. However, I had a video in the Multimedia Box and the CSS Navigation Menu was dropping below the flash video. Problem! So how do we fix this?

The typical embed code of a flash video from Vimeo (or YouTube, etc) is:

[html] <object width="400" height="225">
<param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" />
<param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" />
<param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9188712&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" />
<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9188712&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="400" height="225"></embed></object>[/html]

So, after the <object> tag, but before the <embed> tag, you need to add another <param> tag.

[html]<param name="wmode" value="transparent" />[/html]

And then you need to add within the <embed> tag, wmode=”transparent” so that the new embed code says:

[html highlight=”3,6″] <object width="400" height="225">
<param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" />
<param name="wmode" value="transparent" />
<param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" />
<param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9188712&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" />
<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9188712&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" wmode="transparent" width="400" height="225"></embed></object>[/html]

So, that fixes most if not all of the problems (for more information on wmode, see Adobe). If it does not fix the problem, you will need to add z-index: 0; to the CSS containing the flash video and z-index: 99; (99 is an arbitrary number as any number > O can fit here) to the menu system (for further information on the z-index property). If you are using thesis, this code goes into your custom.css. Here is the code that I added (which is probably a little overboard as I believe the .custom .menu portion is not necessary):

[css].custom .image_box {z-index:1;}, .custom_box { border-style: solid; border-color: #ddd; z-index:1;}
.custom #image_box img { background: #fff; border-style: solid; border-color: #bbb; z-index:1;}
.custom .menu ul, .custom .menu ul li { z-index:99; }
.custom .menu ul ul, .custom .menu :hover ul :hover ul { z-index:99; }
.custom .menu li:hover ul, .custom .menu a:hover ul { z-index:99; }
.custom .menu { z-index:99; }
[/css]

So I have eventually landed on just this CSS code:

[css].custom .image_box {z-index:1;}, .custom_box { border-style: solid; border-color: #ddd; z-index:1;}
.custom #image_box img { background: #fff; border-style: solid; border-color: #bbb; z-index:1;}
[/css]

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How to Call the Title(s) of Your Most Recent Blog Posts

Probably the easiest way (at least that I’ve found so there probably is a much easier way native to WordPress) is to get the Recent Post plugin By Nick Momrik, which allows for the PHP call

[php]<code><?php mdv_recent_posts(); ?>[/php]

in your posts or templates. It also can be expanded to include other paramaters. For example,

[php]<?php mdv_recent_posts(1, ”, ‘<br />’, true, 0, true, false); ?>[/php]

The parameters:

  • $no_posts (#)- sets the number of recent posts to display
  • $before (‘HTML Code’)- text to be displayed before the link to the recent post (needs single quotes around the text)
  • $after (HTML Code’)- text to be displayed after the link to the recent post (needs single quotes around the text)
  • $hide_pass_post (true/false)- whether or not to display password protected posts
  • $skip_posts (#)- allows skipping of a number of posts before showing the number of posts specified with the $no_posts parameter
  • $show_excerpts (true/false) – allows the post excerpt to be output after the post title
  • $include_pages (true/false)- allows recent pages to be show with recent posts

So,

[php] <?php mdv_recent_posts($no_posts, $before, $after, $hide_pass_post, $skip_posts, $show_excerpts, $include_pages); ?> [/php]

Now, if you wish to use this in one of your blog posts or sidebar widget as I did on one of my sites, you will need another plugin to allow you to use PHP code in your Visual/HTML editor (though the Visual part will have to be disabled) or in your sidebar. Two really good ones are:

  • Exec-PHP, requires the visual editor to be turned off (though it can be worked around if you are willing to lose your code if you accidentally switch to the Visual Editor). What would make this a most excellent plugin would be if you could turn off the visual editor only on certain, specific posts and not just everyone.
  • Executable PHP Widget, which is like the Text Widget but allows PHP.
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Four Features I Would Love to See in Thesis 1.8 or in 2.0

Upon the release of Thesis 1.7, I was disappointed in only a few things; however, there are three things I would love to see in the near future releases.

  1. Advanced Feature Box Controls & Options*
  2. Customizable & Integrated Navigation Menu*
  3. Mobile Features
  4. Multiple Custom Page Layouts & Options*

*Granted that Thesis does have some features that already address these in a very limited format, there is a lot of work that needs to be done with these.

First, in Thesis 1.6, it said, “Expect your display options to improve dramatically in a future release!” So I was expecting, and there was nothing. Nothing? Yes, nothing. However, they do have a consistent track record of producing some fantastic releases and upgrades, so hopefully there will be more in the Thesis Options pages in the future. However, there is a fairly decent text tutorial by godhammer in the Thesis Support Forums, which I will also be documenting what I did on one of my sites. However, both Dynamic Content Gallery and Featured Content Gallery (which I believe Dynamic Content Gallery is much simpler & easier for the non-techie) have tutorials on how to use them with Thesis’s Featured Box (DCG tutorial, FCG tutorial).

Second, while Thesis has improved the way that they do their navigation menu, for someone who wants more user-friendly customizable control, it is still lacking. However, the NAVT plugin works exceptionally well. I love their drag and drop functionality; however, one is stuck with the order of pages, categories, and external links. However, there are some hacks that can enable a person to manipulate the order of their tabs. However, it is not user-friendly in that regard. Why not create this section where all of these are interchangeable and selectable and adaptable very similar to the NAVT plugin.

Third, I am surprised that Thesis has not yet produced something like the Carrington Framework where the theme can be converted to a mobile-friendly site (possibly through a plugin that is later enveloped into the core files), further increasing SEO for the Thesis theme (to me the only hanging fruit left for Thesis to execute). However, not just to take on what another theme does, but to take it and improve it is the key. So for Thesis to take this to the next level, it would be awesome to see a mobile-friendly theme with a mobile-friendly admin.

Fourth, one of the things I was trying to figure out for the longest time was how to create a variety of custom pages using Thesis. However, I didn’t really want this feature in just the pages, I wanted it in posts. I wanted the ability to customize the sidebar based on the post and/or page. When I bought Genesis, I finally found part of what I wanted. One of the features from the Genesis theme is the ability to have both a universal and in-post layouts that differ (see a comparison between Thesis and Genesis). However, what would be better would be the ability to have different widgets (or array of widgets on the sidebar) that can be assigned to different layouts.

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Two Necessary Thesis Plugins for Thesis WordPress Users

Once I discovered WordPress, I was super excited about its potential, especially over Blogger.com.  Then I learned about the coding behind WordPress.com. With a strong desire to customize and customize, I grew unhappy with WordPress.com, and eventually switched to WordPress.org. Then I learned how to hijack php code and manipulate stuff around. Then eventually I grew unhappy with some of the results of just dealing with php and having little luck with SEO. So then I learned of Thesis, and eventually I switched over to Thesis. Then bam! Hooks! I had no idea what to do and where to start. It was as though I was back at square one.

However, there were a few things that helped me learn fairly quickly the major benefits of hooks. First, a must read is Rae Hoffman’s Hooks for Dummies. Then seeing it visually is so important! Here are two: ThesisHooks and from FrancisRaymond.com (but both refer to pre-Thesis 1.7).

thesis 1.6 hooks visual guide

Plugin #1: Thesis OpenHook

Once you understand this, you’ll understand the need for the Thesis OpenHook Plugin (WordPress Plugin Directory, (and here is a video introduction to the Thesis OpenHook Plugin). Thesis OpenHook Plugin gives you option to add HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and even PHP code anywhere in thesis your theme without modifying the template files including the custom_functions.php file. Thesis works on hooks and you can call particular hooks very easily to make changes using this plugin, so having OpenHook with the visual guide is priceless. From what I can tell so far, Thesis OpenHook does not yet support Thesis 1.7 though I am sure it is only a matter of time.

thesis 1.6 1.7 openhook plugin

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Plugin #2: Thesis Import/Export

You don’t realize the importance of backing up until something crashes or until you did something in the custom_functions.php file editor that renders the entire site inoperable or you upgraded a plugin or theme or WordPress itself that makes your site go haywire until it happens. And then all that work starts over! And in Thesis, it is not enough to have the custom folder backed up because of all those minor changes made to the various options. So having the Thesis Import/Export plugin (WordPress Plugin Directory) makes this extremely useful. However, in Thesis 1.7, this plugin is rendered useless as its features are upgraded aesthetically and with an additional option of doing all (Thesis Options, Design Options, and OpenHook Content) and built into the theme under Thesis Options Manager.

thesis 1.6 1.7 import export plugin

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thesis 1.7 options manager

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