10 free WordPress plugins for February 2015

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February 02, 2015
10 free WordPress plugins for February 2015.
Ah, February. Isn't it about time we all just admitted that WordPress is our collective one true love? Well, I mean except for the people in committed relationships with Drupal, Joomla, and the rest. They married too young. Don't get me started on those Node.js deviants. Server-side JavaScript ain't natural. All right, once I've yelled at the kids who are getting too close to my lawn, we'll put the jokes aside and get on to the good stuff! This month: make sure your posts don't get published 'til they're ready, create your very own community site, and a million (not really) fun things to do with data!

1. Post Type Requirements Checklist

Everyone forgets to do things, even at the best of times. I have come to accept that even with a shopping list, I will forget to buy at least one thing I wanted at the store, every week. What I would give for brain feature that wouldn't let me leave the store without everything I want. Fortunately for WordPress users who don't want to forget anything important before publishing, the answer to this problem is simpler. The Post Type Requirements Checklist plugin allows you to select which parts of any post or page are required before you even get to see the “Publish” button. Settings include:
  • The post/page title
  • The WYSIWYG editor
  • Featured Images
  • The excerpt
  • 1-3 categories
  • 1-5 tags
A quick test confirms that it works. According to the plugin’s authors, it also works with custom post types. 001

2. Ultimate Member

I've never actually built a live site with membership myself, but I know I could. I could cobble together all of the necessary functionality from a number of plugins I know, and build a community site exactly to my liking. I could also install Ultimate Member and let it do most of the heavy lifting. It’s free. It’s open source. It’s the full version. For your convenience, a set of default pages are created with forms for registration, login, resetting passwords and creating/editing user profiles. All default forms are customizable, and you can build your own with a visual, drag‘n’drop form editor. Users are easily listed and search-able, and can be listed with several different templates. Other features include: custom user roles, conditional menus, content restriction, and more. Everything’s heavily template-dependent, as it’s designed for people to use from the WordPress admin interface without any need for coding knowledge. To display any functionality on the front-end, all you need is a shortcode. The default styles and templates are pretty enough, though. Customization would require overriding the CSS in your template files, and you can always call in forms anywhere you like in your template with PHP. Editing the actual HTML of a form, however, is not supported by default. Another thing not supported is user-generated posts, pages, or custom post types. If you wish to give new users this sort of functionality, you’ll need to use custom code, or another plugin. Ultimate Member is all about user and profile management, which is half the work of building a community site in any case. 002

3. Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension

Add Mailchimp integration to your Contact Form 7 Forms. Yep. That’s it. Install Contact Form 7, the custom form plugin we all know and love, then install this extension. When you go to edit any form, you can choose to integrate said form with a Mailchimp mailing list. 003

4. Tag Wiki for WordPress

It’s all in the title. You make wiki-style pages based on your tags. You make a tag, then if you want, you can make a page dedicated to discussing that tag. For example, if you’re making a directory of musical artists, and you tag them by genres, you could make a “wiki page” dedicated to each genre. Now, why would you want wiki-functionality based on WordPress tags? There are a couple of reasons. If your site is content-heavy, and broaches a variety of topics, it might help users to have some pages dedicated to an overview of those particular topics. You know, like the music genre example I listed above. Better yet, you can use those pages to create a more customized list of “related posts/pages” than you'd get by simply listing them all. Pick the five most popular, for example. The other reason is that search engines will love you. And you can tag the pages dedicated to tags. Because why not? 004

5. Tweak Hidden Options

Tweak Hidden Options gives you access to... well... hidden options. You know, stuff you didn’t know you could set defaults for. Unlike some other customizer plugins, it doesn’t give you unrestricted access to database values. That’s not safe. Instead, a (quite) limited set of options are presented with drop-down menus which include all valid options. Current options include:
  • Comment order
  • .gzip compression
  • The default alignment for images you want to insert into your content
  • The default image size
  • The default image link type (link to a file, post, custom link, or nothing)
Be sure to check it out if any of those defaults have been bugging you during the blogging or editorial processes. Also, tell the plugin developers about any other hidden options you'd like access to. They’re looking for feedback. 005

6. Acknowledge Me

List your Github project contributors automatically. Or anyone else's contributors for that matter. Whether you’re making a list of open source projects, or you just want to show the people on your own project some love, this’ll do it automatically. Insert their profile pictures with a shortcode or PHP function, throw in any custom styles if you feel the need, and you’re good to go. 006

7. By This Author

I’m going to shamelessly steal the creator’s own description for this plugin, because they truly say it best:
Sometimes in a website the articles are not authored by the respective registered users but still need to be attributed to them somehow. This plugin addresses this specific situation and offers a way to deal with it. The idea is that articles are tagged with the names of people to which they should be attributed. Thus, when making an author’s bio page a shortcode can be inserted that will show a list of articles authored by or attributed to a registered user. If the user later registers using the same name and starts publishing his/her own posts, they will auto-magically be inserted in his bio page.
The creator states that this is a very specific plugin for a very specific problem. It is specific, perhaps; but I think it’s also common enough. I regularly read blogs which include guest posts posted by the site’s administrator. Many a site administrator might be grateful to have a plugin that makes it easy to list posts written by a variety of guest authors, using the tag system. If that’s you, give this a look.

8. Easy Replace

Replace text on the fly! Easy Replace will search for any text you input, and replace it with something else on the front end. The content in the database will remain untouched. Only front-end users will see the difference. Also, it doesn’t touch titles, only content. It can replace content in posts, pages, custom post types, and even nav menu items. Use it as a very limited swear filter, fix common spelling errors, or for anything else you can imagine!

9. Compact View

Save space! Install Compact View Mode, and that’s exactly what you get. A smaller version of the list of posts in the WordPress Admin. Use it on a tablet, for example. 009

10. Code Snippets Extended

You ever wish you could run some specialized code inside your own posts? This probably isn’t the best thing to do on a multi-author site, but if you’ve got your own little WordPress install, and you want to use custom HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and yes, PHP in an individual post or page, Code Snippets Extended is for you. The snippet code editor keeps things simple, with one big field for editing your code. The code editor comes with context-aware code highlighting. The snippets themselves are inserted into posts and pages with a shortcode. If you don’t remember the code ID, there’s a button that will show you all saved snippets, and insert them for you with a click. The plugin’s creator uses this system to place ads, in one example. You could also use it to add flourishes and custom elements to a special blog post. Or you could showcase the results of a code example. The uses are limitless, so it could be an excellent tool for any number of reasons. 010

Ezequiel Bruni

Ezequiel Bruni is a web/UX designer, blogger, and aspiring photographer living in Mexico. When he’s not up to his finely-chiselled ears in wire-frames and front-end code, or ranting about the same, he indulges in beer, pizza, fantasy novels, and stand-up comedy.

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