Justin Tadlock

Two new plugins open for public testing

For a while now, I’ve had two plugins in mind to start standardizing on some common elements that theme authors are using in the WordPress community. These two plugins are:

  • A [column] shortcode plugin that would work across all themes.
  • A portfolio plugin since this is becoming a popular feature in themes.

Currently, these two plugins are up for testing on my GitHub page.

Grid Columns plugin

The use of a [column] shortcode has become increasingly popular in the WordPress community. I don’t have any real data on how many users are using this shortcode though. Based on my experience thus far, it’s just another bullet-point for marketing purposes. I suppose we’ll find out once the plugin is officially launched, assuming theme developers start dropping column shortcodes from their themes and recommending the plugin.

There are three major problems with theme developers adding column shortcodes to their themes:

  • There’s no need for 22 column shortcodes to handle what one shortcode will do. I see things like [column_one_fourth], [column_two_fifths], and so on. That’s the entire reason shortcodes are allowed to have attributes.
  • Theme developers are performing some weird hacks to get around WordPress’ content filters. No idea why. I haven’t run into any issues with this at all in development.
  • This absolutely does not belong in a theme. Users lose this functionality when they switch to a theme that doesn’t support their previous theme’s shortcodes, leaving bracketed words in their content.

Therefore, I’m officially opening beta testing of the Grid Columns plugin. The plugin is nearly finished, so I’d love to get as much feedback as possible before releasing it as a free plugin on the WordPress plugin repository.

Portfolio plugin

The number of users wanting a portfolio on their site is growing every day. More people are showcasing their work, whether it be Web design, videos, artwork, and/or many other talents. This demand has pushed theme developers to create custom post types to handle this within their themes.

The problem with custom post types in themes is that they are tied to the theme. A user’s content should never be tied to the presentation. This is Web Design/Dev 101 — separate content and presentation.

When you build a system for managing content, it should always go within a plugin.

With that in mind, I’m introducing my portfolio plugin. My hope is that it becomes the standard portfolio base for any theme developer who wants to integrate portfolios into their theme. The plugin is still in its infancy, so now is an extremely good time to get involved and share your feedback.

Some questions for you about portfolios:

  • What standard fields should be included in a porfolio (referring to post meta)?
  • What other features should be available out of the box with this plugin?

I welcome any and all feedback at this point. But, just as a preemptive note: this plugin is meant to provide a standard base for portfolios; it’s not meant to be 100 files of features.

I have some ideas about standardization on other post types and taxonomies as well. I’m just starting with the portfolio post type since it’s pretty common. Stay tuned to the blog for more on this in the future.

Help me test

The more feedback and testing that’s done, the faster I can get these things ready for public release on the WordPress plugin repository. I encourage everyone, even if you don’t know code, to get involved in the process. I’m slightly biased, but I think these two plugins will be pretty awesome when finished.