For those of you looking for in-depth reviews of both paid and free WordPress plugins, you may want to add WPNuggets.com to your feedreader or bookmarks. The site is brand new and so far, features three different plugin reviews. From what I’ve read thus far, Adela does a good job of describing how the plugin works as well as outlining the good and the bad. Considering the large breadth of plugins available for WordPress, Adela shouldn’t be running out of plugins to review anytime soon.
By Jeffro on July 6, 2012
By Jeffro on February 17, 2012
For recently joining the 700 club. That number represents the amount of themes he has reviewed since joining the WordPress theme review team! Thanks goes out to Emil for volunteering his time to make the theme repository a better place. Out of curiosity, after reviewing 700 themes, I wonder what sort of patterns or similarities exist between them all that Emil could share.
If you’re interested in joining the theme review team, read the following guide to get started.
By Jeffro on January 30, 2012
The Theme Review Team tried something new this past weekend. Members of the review team that could make it, spent all day in IRC to review themes stuck in the Priority 2 queue which lists themes that have been stuck in the review process for more than two weeks. While the goal was to clear the queue, the last time I checked the number of themes was around 81. Some of the themes have been in the review process for over 6 weeks. Browsing through the queue, I even noticed two themes submitted by Automattic. One was called Duotone which has been in the queue for 5 weeks with Bouquet coming in at 6 weeks. Just goes to show that Automattic doesn’t receive preferential treatment when it comes to the review process.
If you would like to see themes get through the review process faster, please consider joining the theme review team. As a theme author, you can also help make the review process go faster by ensuring that your theme meets the following guidelines.
By Jeffro on November 2, 2011
Well this is interesting. The team behind DevPress are planning to launch a plugin/theme review service. During the first phase of the launch, efforts will focus on theme reviews only. Justin Tadlock mentions that one of the driving factors behind the decision to launch the service is to fill the voids that exist with the theme repository review process.
Another driving factor behind this decision is that WordPress.org has an official theme review system, but it only applies to people who upload their themes to the repository. There’s no place for freelancers, non-repository hosted theme authors, and plugin developers to get an experienced team of professionals to look over their code.
So far, it looks like the process will involve a ticketing system where the theme author will have direct contact with the DevPress team during the review process. These reviews will not be free but will come with a cost. Currently, the price has been undetermined and they are currently reviewing feedback from commenters on what they think the price should be.
So one of the sticking points regarding this service is whether or not the theme reviews will carry any weight. DevPress is currently made up of Ptah Dunbar, Justin Tadlock and Tung Do all of whom are exceptional developers. If a plugin or theme is reviewed by Mark Jaquith as a paid audit, people sit up and take notice because of Mark’s reputation when it comes to WordPress security. I’m not sure if the same level of attention will be given to themes or plugins reviewed by the DevPress team although I don’t see why not, considering all three individual backgrounds. While I don’t have any information as to how much Mark charges for his time, something tells me that whatever price the DevPress team decides on will probably be under it.
That’s the end user side of the equation. For the developer, this could be a good deal considering who will be doing the reviewing. As Justin mentions, the more eyes that review your code, the better. Not just any eyes though. Experienced, talented developers that have proven their worth in the WordPress community that are fully concentrating on your code.
In my opinion, the market is definitely there for the taking with a service like this. But not just anyone can pull this off. Anyone could launch a review service but it’s the people behind it which make the difference. If anyone were going to pull this off successfully, I’d be willing to put money on the DevPress team.
Definitely read through the comments that have been published already as they provide food for thought.
By Jeffro on October 19, 2011
Just a shout out and congratulations to Chip Bennett who recently hit the 1,000 theme reviews milestone. To see each one of his reviews, check out the ongoing list on Trac for the theme repository. Thanks Chip and the rest of the review team for providing your time and knowledge to making the theme repository a better place. .
If you want to learn more about the theme review team, you should listen to episode 106 of WordPress weekly where most of the episode centers around the topic.
By Jeffro on September 30, 2011
The much anticipated e-commerce product from WooThemes has finally launched. It’s called WooCommerce and it aims to be the best native e-commerce solution for WordPress. The plugin is free as well as licensed under the GPL. I decided to give the plugin a try on my local server which is running a recent bleeding edge version of WordPress 3.3.
WooCommerce has eight tabs that are part of the initial configuration process. Most of the configuration process was pain free although I found myself sometimes hovering my mouse cursor over certain items to see if a tool tip would pop up that would provide a little extra clarification for a text box. For example, when adding a product, you have the option of specifying a price as well as a sales price. Since my unit of currency was the dollar symbol, I entered the price of $50.00 while $40.00 was the sale price.
When I checked out the product page, I discovered that the regular price as well as the sale price were $0.00. Apparently, the format in which I entered the cash values was incorrect. The correct method was to remove the dollar signs and use whole number integers such as 50 and 40. A tooltip that showed the correct method of putting in the values would have been nice but it’s not a deal breaker. It’s a small touch that adds an extra piece of finesse.
WooCommerce makes extensive use of Custom Post Types but because of this, I sometimes get confused. After creating a product, I then have to publish it to the store. The publish button makes me think I’m publishing a post or a page filled with content, not a product. This bit of confusion is compounded when I see the text “View Post” once it’s published. When I view the actual product I published, it’s in fact a page with its own permalink. Since products are actually a custom post type, they have access to the categories (in this case product categories) tags, (product tags), and everything else a normal content post would have. If it weren’t for the nomenclature changes, you’d think you were simply just creating and publishing a post. This is the first time I’ve used something that makes extensive use of Custom Post Types so pardon my confusion. The similarities disappear once you reach the bottom of the page to configure the various options related to the product such as visibility, what type of product it is, and product data that controls the tax, inventory, etc.
Probably one of the most important aspects of any e-commerce store is how it looks. WooCommerce comes with it’s own set of frontend CSS styles but as I quickly found out, they don’t look good on every theme. On my version of Hybrid News called Tavern News, the shop looks terrible with and without the styles. However, on TwentyEleven the store looks great with the CSS styles while looking mediocre without them.
It’s a crap shoot on whether or not WooCommerce will look good on your site with whatever theme you’re using but if it doesn’t, you have two options. First, you can use a free WooStore theme called Wootique. Second, you can edit the WooCommerce CSS files until you get something that looks good. From what I can tell, if you choose to use a theme that is specifically for WooCommerce, that theme will end up being used for the entire website. This is great news for WooThemes but bad news for everyone else that just wants to have a seperate look for their shopping cart without the whole site looking the same. Perhaps at some point in the future, WooCommerce will have an option to allow for third party theme support. I can certainly see commercial theme authors adding WooCommerce support to their child themes as another selling point.
Actually Using WooCommerce:
Overall, WooCommerce is pretty easy to use thanks to the interface. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world to create/configure products but once it’s done, editing them afterwards is a breeze. The creation of coupons in WooCommerce is pretty cool. Instead of creating a coupon for everything, you get the option of choosing specific products that the coupon can be used for. Or, you can elect to apply the coupon to the shopping cart either whole or through a percentage. Of course, you also get your typical settings such as coupon amount, expiration date, usage limit, and whether the coupon has to be used individually or if it can be combined with others.
Probably one of the most important areas within WooCommerce is the Orders page. This is where all of the information regarding orders is located such as status, shipping information and notes regarding the processing of the order. From here, you can make sure everything checks out before the product is shipped. One of the coolest features of the individual order pages is the Order Actions area. This is where you can save changes to the order, reduce the stock count, restore stock count, email an invoice or move the order to the trash. When I questioned whether or not, a decrease in the amount of stock takes place automatically after an order, MikeJolley responded with: It’s automated once PayPal IPN works, it won’t locally. I’m not sure if the stock counts change automatically with a successful check payment or through direct bank transfer. Hopefully they do because I doubt store owners want to manually change stock counts after each successful order.
One of the best things about the back-end of WooCommerce is that it blends in seamlessly as if it were part of WordPress all along. They did a great job of using existing elements that are supported within WordPress such as the tabs, file uploader, and my favorite little feature, the calendar. I only referred to the readme file once during configuration but that was to see if there was any information regarding themes and whether they were seperate from WordPress or not. Other than that, I was able to configure WooCommerce without any issues.
Gone are the days of using clunky E-Commerce software which seems to make every aspect of selling products harder versus easier. WooCommerce flips that trend over with beautiful execution. It’s not fancy but it shouldn’t be. It gets the job done without having me want to put my head through drywall. However, my review is based on setting up one product on my local server. To get a better sense of how this plugin really performs, it would be best to read a review from someone using it for a live store.
WooCommerce is free which is a price you can’t beat. There are already 9 extensions along with 6 compatible themes with more of both on the way. I think the WooThemes crew is going about this the right way by providing a stellar e-commerce product at a free price while offering pay for add-ons to increase the functionality. It’s pretty much the same model as WP E-Commerce although WP E-Commerce certainly has time on their side as they’ve been around for years. From a business perspective, WordPress end users now have two great free choices to serve their e-commerce needs. On the other side of the fence, Shopp Plugin has a price for single-site use along with add-ons that can be purchased for additional functionality. I’m very interested to see how the inclusion of WooCommerce along side WP E-Commerce messes with Shopps market share. Users now have two good e-commerce systems to choose from before even considering Shopp. However, the WordPress user base is huge and I don’t think WP E-Commerce or WooCommerce can cater to them all.
I can definitely recommend using WooCommerce for your e-commerce needs and since the plugin was audited by the great Mark Jaquith, you can be sure that it’s secure.
By Jeffro on June 22, 2010
The last time I had a chance to check out the Front End Editor plugin was back on April 28th, 2009. In that review, I mentioned that the plugin functioned well but for some sections of the Hybrid News theme, it didn’t play nice. To coincide with the release of WordPress 3.0, Front End Editor 1.9 is now available and has fixed the issues reported in the first review. The only complaint I have is the use of colors for the editable regions, specifically the edit button.
If you don’t pay attention, the button is easy to miss but thankfully, you can just double click anywhere within the yellow highlighted region to open the editor. This time around, none of the styling issues were present and the WYSIWYG editor functioned properly without all the beer mugs displaying. Other features worth noting in this release:
- Custom Post Type Support
- Configurable Editor Buttons
- Editable Term Descriptions
Improvements all the way around. Nice job Scribu.
Editing widgets from the front page is pretty convenient.
By Jeffro on June 19, 2009
The Degusto theme review I recently published showed me that switching themes on an established site is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. I didn’t know whether I should write the review from a fresh install of WordPress or on an established site pre filled with content. This is where you come in.
How Should I Review A Theme?
- Using A Fresh Install Of WordPress (52%, 12 Votes)
- Pre Existing Install With My Content (48%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 23
Personally, I think it’s a great idea if commercial theme authors provided an XML file which contained content exclusively for their theme preferably, the content I see on the demo site.
By Jeffro on April 28, 2009
A few days ago, I reported on a piece published by Andy Peatling regarding why BuddyPress themes were future proof and how the themes provided functions where you could perform most backend tasks on the frontend. This perked my interests because I’d love to see the same thing implemented on the WordPress side of things. After monitoring the WP Hackers List and doing a search on the plugin repository, I’ve come across a plugin developed by Scribu called Front End Editor.
Installation is simple and can be performed from the plugin section of the administration panel. Once installed, you’ll have a new option in your Settings menu called Front-end Editor. This is where you’ll find options for the plugin. From here you can enable/disable editing of the following:
- Post/page title
- Post/page content
- Post/page excerpt
- Post tags
- Post/page custom fields
- Comment text
- Text widget content
- Text widget title
The great thing about doing this from a plugin approach is that you don’t need to do anything special with your theme. This is great news for theme developers and end users alike however, as you’ll see in a little bit, not all themes play nice.
After you configure the plugin, checkout your front page. You’ll notice that nothing has changed but if you double click on post content, widget title headers, or anywhere else you configured the plugin, you’ll instantly see a real time editor show up around the content. If you’ve selected the WYSIWYG editor, a full blown TinyMCE editor will show up around the content which is great if you’ve ever wanted the ability to edit a text widget with one of these. However, here are a couple of screenshots which show the plugin not playing nice with my version of Hybrid News.
In the first screenshot you can see how my list item graphic shows up multiple times within the WYSIWYG editor. The second screenshot showcases the top header widget messed up when widget title editing is enabled. The final screenshot shows how the editor box appears to be wider than the content box itself.
Other than these quirks which is probably due to the theme itself, this plugin works great. One thing I would suggest is that any editable area should have either an edit icon next to it or a small edit link. As it is currently, you have to double click an editable area such as a tag or post title in order to open the editor. I would also like the option to use the HTML version of the editor rather than the Visual version. Other than that, this plugin fits the bill quite nicely for moving WordPress administration from the dark ages to something more relevant. I bet if someone did a study of how much time was wasted during a year of using WordPress by doing all sorts of mundane tasks through the backend as opposed to a simple way of performing those tasks on the front end, I bet we would see a huge amount of time lost, like sitting at a red light.
I recommend this plugin to anyone who would like to perform simple tasks without the need to login and navigate your administration panel. Hopefully in the future, WordPress intertwines more backend tasks to the front end. Let me know if you experience the same theme quirks I did.
By Jeffro on January 24, 2009
Just the other day, I received an email from Angelo Mandato letting me know that he was producing a WordPress podcast called simply enough, PluginsPodcast. The show aims to review a plugin each week with occasional interviews with plugin developers, heavy plugin users and much more. Shows last between 10-15 minutes and are in MP3 format. So far, Angelo has produced episodes for his very own BluBrry Powerpress podcasting plugin, Peters custom anti spam and CForms2.
I took a listen to Angelos overview of the BlurBrry Powerpress plugin and enjoyed the high audio quality. Considering the short nature of these episodes, I believe many of you will be adding this new podcast to your Itunes subscriptions as I did because just about the entire WordPress community loves plugins.