The best free WordPress plugins for July 2014
Welcome, friends, to WebdesignerDepot’s monthly WordPress plugin roundup, July 2014 edition. Featuring all manner of free-to-download plugin goodness.
It’s another awesome WordPress adventure in the month ahead, so start up your local servers and have at it! Sadly no dragon at the end of this adventure, I’m afraid.
Pretty PHP Error Pages
Ever get a PHP error that made no sense whatsoever? Hell, if you’re a non-developer like me, have you ever seen a PHP error that did make sense? Pretty PHP Error Pages will give you error messages with more detail, and will show you exactly where in your files they are.
Mind you, it still won’t translate the problem into plain English, but you will have more details to work with.
NS Featured Posts
There are many ways to mark a given post as “featured”, and give it special attention on the front-end. You could make it sticky and put “Featured” in the title, or create a separate category for featured posts. You could follow the example of WordPress’ current default theme and put any post with the “featured” tag above all the rest.
Or, you could install this plugin. When you look at all of your posts, you’ll see a new optional checkbox beside each one. It’s a lot simpler, really.
You can enable the “featured” functionality for posts, pages, and custom content types alike. The only downside is that nothing happens automatically. If you want to display your featured posts on the front end, you’ll have to use a separate query.
This makes it perfect for theme developers who want to customize every aspect of their featured posts, but may be less useful for the casual WordPress-ite.
I know I’ve featured another WP-based project management solution before, but this one is quite impressive. It doesn’t look like much, at first. The only place it shows up is on the Dashboard screen, and it fits quite well inside those thin columns.
That said, it’s packed full of features. You can add projects with accompanying tasks, sure, but you can also assign any post or page to a specific task. You can edit which kinds of users have what permissions, and assign task categories, and download it already because there is no way I’m listing each one of the features. There are too many.
Suffice it to say that it works, and will work just as well for multi-author blogs as for single-author blogs.
Wish you had syntax highlighting in the WP Admin’s theme and plugin editors? Install Syntax Highlight from the main plugin repository. Done. You have it.
Swifty Page Manager
Some people don’t like the way WordPress handles its pages. Those people should try out Swifty Page Manager and see if it does the trick for them.
Once installed, the plugin provides an entry in the “Pages” menu that takes you to a separate page-management interface. Features include drag ‘n’ drop page re-ordering, easy option editing, and so on.
Something I’d like to see is the option to enable this functionality for other hierarchical post types.
Easy Video Gallery Responsive HTML5
This plugin‘s name is accurate, if somewhat unwieldy. Videos are added as a custom post type, and the “galleries” are basically just a taxonomy. The magic happens when you use a shortcode to display the videos in a (you guessed it!) gallery.
Thumbnails are automatically created for Youtube and Vimeo embeds, and the gallery itself is responsive.
PressForward aggregates content from RSS feeds, and allows you to republish it. Don’t get me wrong, it is most definitely not an auto-blogger. You have to choose what to republish manually.
Before you do, you can flag content for review and discussion, and start comment threads (inside the WP admin only) about each item. The plugin’s authors also encourage you to re-blog responsibly. In their words on their Github Wiki:
PressForward enables and encourages responsible use of aggregated content. This includes, for example, linking back to the original work, republishing selective quotes rather than a full article, and securing author permission for the reproduction of an entire post.
PressForward offers the option to auto-redirect back to the original source. PressForward also retains detailed metadata about each aggregated post, which can be revealed on your website by displaying Custom Fields.“
There really is a WordPress plugin for everyone. WP Lawyer creates two custom post types, complete with the relevant custom fields: Attorneys, and Cases.
Basically, this is a solution for any law firm (or, perhaps, law fan-site) that wants an easy way to publish information about legal cases and attorneys.
At this stage, all it does are these custom post types. If you want to display the information on your front-end, you’ll have to do that manually.
Jigoshop Mini Cart
This plugin is a quick and simple add-on for anyone who is using Jigoshop to power their e-commerce. Just install it, and a very small version of your users’ shopping cart will be displayed at the top of the page, detailing the total amount to be paid. Clicking on said information will display the complete list of what’s in your users’ shopping carts.
Tidio Form Builder
Tidio Form Builder is new, so it’s no surprise that it’s not overflowing with features. Simply put, you can build a lot of basic contact forms very quickly with it.
You get almost nothing in the way of options, and no control over the appearance of the forms unless you do it manually. What you do get is a ridiculously easy way to build forms, and add them to pages.
The form elements themselves look beautiful, but generic, and so they shouldn’t look too out of place in most designs.
Disqus Conditional Load
Speed up your post loading time by stopping Disqus from loading automatically. This plugin will create a button that loads comments only when your users want to see them.