We start early in the morning every day. Like the farmer extracting fresh eggs from his trusted hens, we’re up at the crack of dawn to examine the quality of each new plugin submitted to the WordPress Plugin Repository. Some are Grade A Extra Large, some are just a cracked shell with nothing inside. Either way, let’s get cracking and whip up today’s Daily Plugin Omelette. Remember that not all plugins play well with others. Make sure you test them on a secondary staging site before you take anything to a live site. We preach it, we live it. Follow our example and you’ll be thankful. OK, let’s get plugged in!
First Google Map employs one of my favorite slogans, “Keep It Simple”. Often times when we’re trying to insert a simple Google map, the plugins or embed code we use is too bloated, doesn’t display titles correctly or are too difficult to set up ahead of time. In comes “First Google Map” that allows you to insert a plain language formatted address to display your Google Map. The shortcode is rather simple and uses common sense taxonomy in its options. For example, if you wanted to show Mr. Mullenweg’s new rumored Tony Stark style mansion location, simply enter: [googlemap title='Matt's Beachfront Cottage' width=450 height=300 zoom=14]31250 Broad Beach Rd, Malibu, CA[/googlemap] and the map will embed inline in your content area with appropriate overlay title of your choosing. Pretty nice way to insert on the fly. I could not find a direct option to choose the “satellite” view option over the standard road-only mode, which was the only real drawback. Other than that, it would be nice to have more control over the size of the address font that overlays the map. Most addresses that I tried were hyphenated by the plugin because the font was too large and it flowed into the next line. Control over these elements would be great, even if just another call-out function from within the shortcode.
WP Chart Generator helps to embed an on-the fly 3D pie chart with multiple options, an automatic key and a nice hover dialogue that highlights each section when the user moves their mouse over the graph. The developer may need assistance converting this to English, as it’s completely in French. Fortunately, it’s so easy to use that the language barrier really didn’t make much difference. The shortcode is pretty easy to create within the plugin options, which allows you to copy the correct shortcode to embed within your posts. In the past I’ve used Google chart API callouts for embedding simple graphs, but for pie charts, this one takes the cake!
GSpeech is a text to speech plugin that uses Google to read selected text aloud. At first I thought it would be just one of those “Type Something in the box and I’ll read it” type of plugins. I was sorely inaccurate. This plugin can incorporate full speech to read when certain scenarios occur, such as hovering over a tab to hear the tab’s navigation title read out loud. There are also hover-on, hover-off possibilities as well. When a site visitor hovers over the “about us” page, perhaps it can just start reading your bio aloud. It’s an interesting plugin for serving those with eyesight disabilities, but also an ideal educational platform as well. It may be used in combination with a gallery for a “storybook” type presentation. Even job training could be utilized using this kind of plugin to read instructions out loud. Great effort from those at 2Glux who developed this.
I Recommend This scales back our traditional feedback mechanism by removing comments and relying on a simple “like” system instead. Included in the plugin is widget functionality that can display the most popular “liked” posts. Cookies are also utilized to prevent abuse of users over-liking your posts. You have the option to not show all the ZERO likes that you may have on your post. Once you get a like, it starts displaying on the post. Nice way to hide all the goose eggs (zeroes) that will be blatantly mocking you while you or other users browse through your site. It’s a good alternative to some of the mainstream Twitter/FB likes or the standard thumbs up / thumbs down ratings plugins that are out there. The developer Dreams Media really thought it through with IP logging and Cookie tracking to prevent abuse. Additionally you can remove the IP logging to save system resources. Worth a try if you want to keep a fully enclosed like system to replace comments. Good for business sites that may not want to allow commenting, yet show a favorable presentation that someone out there likes their content. Great recently updated plugin.
Easy Albums is a new plugin for BuddyPress that allows the user base to upload their own audio files, playlists, images and videos to be displayed and organized in their own personalized albums. Not only does this allow a lot of media functionality from your user base, but it encourages commenting from other users as well. From an activity stream perspective, each user’s new media posts are shown within the timeline. While I love the functionality and flexibility that this all provides, the problem with this plugin from my perspective is that is requires a login from a third-party hosting server that the media is uploaded to. It is nearly perfect otherwise. A fully supported WPMU and Buddypress solution for full user media participation. Ideal for social and business applications of BuddyPress alike. If we could tie it to our own hosting or from Amazon or Dropbox without the additional login, I would gladly pay the developer Itaynoy a premium for it.
That’s all the eggs in the basket for now. Looks like we had a good batch today! We’ll be up and at ‘em bright and early tomorrow in search of the newest and noteworthy plugins from the WordPress Plugin Repository. Keep plugging along out there.. The week is half-way over! We’ll see you again tomorrow with another installment of The Daily Plugin. Be sure to say hello on Twitter @marcuscouch or leave your feedback related to these plugins at WPTavern.