Category Archives: Function

Plugin or hack? How to get the best functionality in your WordPress installation.

Pods WordPress Plugin

The Pods WordPress plugin is driving me crazy.

Mad with admiration one minute, mad with frustration the next.

It’s like breaking your leg when you jump around to celebrate a lottery win. Fantastic find – frustrating failings.

Let me say first, that so far, I believe the potential of this plugin is tremendous. I’m just letting off a bit of steam here because the excitement of finding a truly great WordPress plugin is making me emotional about the rough edges. I am certain those rough edges can be easily smoothed. The proof of the pudding will come in a day or so, when I complete my replacement toolbar.

The developers describe it as:

WordPress evolved.
Pods is a CMS framework for WordPress.
It’s a plugin that sits on top of WordPress, allowing you to add and display your own content types.

I see it as a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool that could change the way we look at plugins.

Why am I so pleased with this gem?

For months, I have been looking for an easy way to work with extra data tagged onto WordPress. With a background in relational database planning and management, it is frustrating to have to workround things like usermeta & WordPress options. Also, I like simple but comprehensive forms to manage linked data, and it is daunting to have to code a relational database application to integrate with WordPress.

I can see that it can be done. The forum [now moved to separate site] is a prime example of integrating a rich database application into WordPress, but it has a scary amount of code and complex field relationships, with little in the way of generic routines that can be adapted for other applications.

Other tools I have seen, only allow simple flat file manipulation, and would need a lot of adapting to tackle relationships. Enter Pods – an easy way to add relational tables as separate applications, or linked into WordPress users or posts. Amazing potential, and amazingly easy to use.

So what are the problems?

Not much if you are familiar with coding, and do not mind getting your hands dirty.

  • The user guide is very poor in examples, and I suspect some of it is out of date, as the plugin is still on a steep development curve.
  • The forum, and the guide, have been radically pruned recently, so just as you think you have found an answer to something – click – 404 not found!
  • Pods has a great way of attaching code to fields called helpers, but the names of these have been changed in the latest release, so many of the example packages do not work. However, it is very easy to find and replace on these, so very easy to fix – I’m just surprised it should be necessary.

So that’s a very brief introduction to Pods. I’ll go and finish the toolbar, then go through some code over the next few posts to show you just how easy it is to build an application. Early days yet, but I think this might be the answer to my nightmare about the lack of good, well-structured example plugins.

Simple:Press Forum Enhancements

Q2A Update

I no longer support or recommend Simple:Press. Please search here for Question2Answer if you want a forum for your hosted WordPress website.

The Simple:Press forum plugin is one of the most comprehensive and customisable plugins available for WordPress.

Is that enough for me?

Oh, no! I have to push just that little bit further.

It started some time ago, when I wanted to include a hyperlink in a forum description. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the HTML held up fine in the forum, and links, bold text and other markups were easy to add.

I was less happy when I went back to the Admin pages to make other changes – the HTML screwed up the Admin display, and could not be edited. However, it could easily be re-typed, or edited directly in the database through phpMyAdmin, so, I left things as they were. For a while.

I was tempted to raise this with the support guys at Simple:Press. They have always been extremely responsive, and their own forum is a fine example of the best in technical support. However, a new version was in the late stages of the release process, so I thought I would wait until after it’s release.

A few days later, I had the bright idea of including some AdSense in the description. I was certain that the Simple:Press forum description was no match for the AdSense javascript code. However, I remembered how I had used the Enzymes plugin in the past to make adding AdSense code to posts very easy.

WordPress Enzymes Plugin

As good as Enzymes is, I find I can do the same things and more with the Pods CMS plugin. See the WordPress Pods Blog for more.

This is a fascinating plugin that allows so many ways of manipulating your content that it deserves (and probably needs) a series of articles to do it justice.

In it’s very simple form, it allows you to store data in standard WordPress Custom Fields and refer to them wherever you want.

I’ll cover Enzymes in more detail later. For the forum description, all you need to do is to store the HTML for your description in a Custom Field, and it is easy to display, and easy to edit.

Simple:Press Forum Description Enhancement

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