Higher ed plugin roundup – WPCampus 2018 – WordPress in Higher Education

August 18, 2019

– [Stephanie] Welcome to the last session of the day, everyone, I’m excited. So what I’ve done is I’ve
kind of gone over a number of categories that are things
that people are always looking for in, like what’s
the best plugin for this. And I had some suggestions,
I have things that are most commonly used in higher ed. Now that I’m a freelancer, I
was at Texas A&M University in house for about 10 years,
now that I’m freelancing I still do a bunch of contracts with them, but I also get to work with
a lot of other universities. And I’ve also been involved
in the WP Campus community since it got started, and
going back a lot further to HighEdWeb since about
2004, so I have a lot of experience in what people are using in the WordPress community and
what’s popular on campuses, but I definitely wanna
hear what y’all are using, if we hit a category where
you found something that is really cool and it’s not
something that I’ve mentioned. So throw your hand up, shout them out and I’ll repeat them for the livestream. Before I talk about what
plugins people are using I wanna talk about how
you evaluate a plugin. This is my basic list. Is it maintained currently and supported? If not, can we maintain it and support it in whatever team I’m working with? Should we rewrite it, is it a good idea but the code quality is terrible? Maybe we should create our own, especially if it’s
something small and simple. Is it written with hooks, which is, if you’re not a developer,
is how WordPress accomplishes various
tasks, and a good plugin will give you ways to
add your own logic into whatever progression of steps it is doing. A poorly written plugin might not do that. The plugin might be so simple
that it really doesn’t need a hook, it’s just using the
hooks that exist in WordPress, but if it’s a complicated
thing, I’m gonna wanna be able to hook into it with my own logic and maybe modify and
customize what it’s doing. And then we worry about the licensing. Obviously one of the
first things that our GPL, maybe MIT licensed, we’re
totally great with premium plugins if the premium
actually gets us some support. And it depends on the project, as I move from university
to university, it depends on the budget and how we
wanna apportion that. Jeremy Felt had a great
list of the criteria that he uses for evaluating
enterprise level plugins in his talk about 90 minutes ago, and it’s up on the Twitter
if you go through the WP Campus hashtag and
go back a little bit, he has a slightly different
list for evaluating plugins that are going
to be used at scale, and I thought that was great. Any time, other than this
session, you wanna ask, “Hey, what’s good in such
and such plugin category,” there is a plugins channel
on the WP Campus Slack. And there’s been a lot of
really great suggestions just in the past couple of weeks. Some of them made it
into this presentation. So you can always go there and say, “Hey, “What are people using? “What’s the best for this?” And this is kind of my basic
set of things that I use on almost every site, no
matter what we’re doing. Advanced Custom Fields is super popular, and it’s one of the
best user interfaces for adding custom fields to
your WordPress posts. It does a lot of other
things too, it actually has a front-end editing form
feature that not a lot of people use, I think, in higher
ed, but it’s pretty cool. And I’m gonna talk a little bit
more about some other things that I do with Advanced Custom
Fields a little bit later. But, so basic custom field
editing, it’s kind of the best. I think people are a
little upset right now because Gutenberg is coming
along and is changing the way that we edit posts,
and Advanced Custom Fields is kind of trying to keep up
with that, and Gutenberg’s changing really fast, and
so they’re not perfectly in sync right now, if
you’re keeping up with the beta releases of Gutenberg. It’s going to be fine. (laughs) Everybody needs to take
a deep breath. (laughs) Gravity Forms, I think is
probably the most popular form builder for WordPress in higher ed. Some of us may be slightly
frustrated with it, it’s probably the oldest
and most well established of the big commercial form plugin options, but it’s not the most accessible. We have to have a second plugin, WCAG Fields for Gravity Forms, to make it do its labels and inputs in
a sort of sensible order. Otherwise it skips around, the
screen readers read one label and then a different field,
and then another label and a different field, and it doesn’t work in the order that it should. So this plugin fixes that, mostly. We’ll talk about some other
form options in a little bit. Safe Redirect Manager is a redirect and, or vanity URL
shortener that you can use, it’s written by the 10Up Agency, which is a very reputable
established group. That plugin is not going
anywhere any time soon. It’s pretty great. And it distinguishes itself from the other plugins by
having that word safe. There’s a function in
WordPress called Safe Redirect, and it strips out creative
strings that may not be quite so healthy. (laughs) It does some other things to make sure that when you’re doing your redirects, you’re not introducing
any vulnerabilities. Simple Page Ordering is
another one from 10Up, and it’s just a drag and
drop page order plugin. It works with all hierarchical post types, so if you have custom post types that are also parent
child, you can use this without any additional codes for that. WP Help is a little bit
older but still great. And it is a way to have documentation in the WordPress dashboard. I use it a lot, just for
whatever custom little thing that I’ve done for the client
that’s not pure WordPress. That helps me kind of keep track of that. And WP Pusher is the latest and greatest for using the WordPress plugin updater to keep up with plugins
that are hosted on GitHub. Or I think it also works with that other system that I can’t remember off the top of my head. (laughs) – [Woman] Subversion? – [Stephanie] I’m sorry? – [Woman] Another what kind of- – [Stephanie] I said
other version control. – [Woman] Oh, like Subversion or? – [Stephanie] No, not Subversion. – [Man] GitLab or- – [Stephanie] It works with GitLab, and it works for GitHub, and Bitbucket. Thank you. Bitbucket’s the other
one that it works with. There is one that people were using for a while called GitHub Updater. It was a little flaky and
had some update issues. And we ended up moving to this one, and it’s been super smooth. My only issue with WP Pusher
is last time I checked, it did not work with, if your campus has a hosted GitHub instance, which
Texas A&M University does, it will work with that, as long as the reposts are public on that. It will work with private
reposts on It will not work with private reposts on the private instance. Does that make sense? So it’s got that one little limitation. There’s some specialty plugins that I use when the occasion calls for it. Download Monitor is one that is just a download counter and
manager for your files. So if you’re making some
kind of zip package public and you wanna track who’s getting that, Download Monitor’s pretty good. Document Revisions has
been mentioned a few times, it’s a great plugin that lets you, it creates a post with an unchanging URL for a file that you upload through this. So rather than using your media library, if you had some sort of PDF that is like your institution’s
policies or something of that nature where you’re going to be updating it frequently,
and sharing that URL, you can use Document
Revisions to upload new copies without having to give a new URL for each version of that file. Menu Social Icons is just
one that you drop in, and if you have a link to
Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, whatever, in your navigation,
it replaces it with an icon. It’s the simplest thing in the world, and it’s beautiful, it works seamlessly. When I work with engineering
and science and math faculty, they always want LaTeX, and
there is a plugin for that. It’s called WP LaTeX, it works great. And Visualizer is one that I’ve recently kind of added to the lineup. It’s a bit… It probably wouldn’t meet
Jeremy’s qualifications, let’s put it that way. It’s a little… It’s not slender, it’s not elegant, and it pushes its updates, its premium features a little bit. But it is a really nice simple plugin to display charts and
graphs out of Google charts. Anybody here actually like Jetpack? One person? I hate Jetpack. I think most serious WordPress developers are not fond of Jetpack because it makes all of our site administrators
have a account. And it’s very hard to
tell, explain to faculty, you have to have this account, in addition to the one that we’ve given you. And by the way, Jetpack
is gonna disconnect itself every few weeks, and you’re
gonna have to log back into, and
that’s not your CAS login, your NetID, that’s your account and they’re completely separate. And for all of these reasons, we hate using Jetpack on
sites that are faculty facing. And so there’s a developer
mode that will, in theory, let you use Jetpack without
having to talk to, but it doesn’t work very
well in my experience. So there’s a bunch of Jetpack substitutes that are available on, and they’re all prefixed with JP. And so you take the individual
features that you want out of Jetpack and look
for the substitute plugin, and it’s usually there. So my favorites that I use
all the time are Widget Visibility, the Image
Carousel, and the Custom CSS. So those are kind of the usual suspects, and launching straight into
the specific categories of things, I wanna start
with images and media. Enable Media Replace, if you’re not using Document Revisions, but
you do want to occasionally just replace a file and
not have to update all of the embedded links to
it within your content, you just have a new version of an image that’s maybe already
been included in 16 posts and you don’t wanna have
to go replace all of those, you can just install this plugin, and it will let you
replace that file in place without creating a new URL for it. My Eyes Are Up Here, (laughs)
I love the name of this one. And all of the people in the audience will probably understand exactly
why it’s named this. Because as soon as you
start uploading pictures of people to WordPress,
it crops in the middle. And that usually means that you get from about mid-torso to about mid-nose. And what My Eyes Are Up Here does is it moves the cropping up, and it
has basic facial recognition. And so it will find hotspots
that are people’s faces, and it will re-crop that image so that you’re not cutting
off people’s faces. I think there are several
different plugins that do that. But this one is my favorite. AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild is super useful when you start adding custom image sizes or you start changing
your image optimization or your JPEG quality
settings, and all of a sudden, you need to redo all of the images that you’ve already uploaded. Just do AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild, it has some nice options
you can only tell it to only rebuild the featured
images, if that’s something that you need, or you can
have it do all of them. For optimizing images, I
really like, which uses the external API
on the website and runs all of your newly
uploaded images through that and brings back the optimized PNG, GIF file, whatever you’re using. It’s a little slow, and so
I do have to warn my users about that when talking to
new editors in WordPress and say, “Hey, as you upload these images, “It’s gonna take a minute to
kind of turn through this, Because we’re trying to make
it faster for the end users.” And usually they’re okay with that. Unattach and Re-attach Media Attachments does exactly what you think it does. If you’ve worked a lot
with the media library, you know that each file that was uploaded to a specific post is
attached to that post, that post is its parent. And Unattach and Re-attach
will let you remove it from one post and attach
it to a different one. So if you need to make something for some reason attached
to a different page, you can do that. Before I move on, did
anybody have any questions about image and media that I didn’t cover? Yes. – [Woman] I really like
My Eyes Are Up Here, also although it’s definitely
an accessibility issue, if you ever have to upload logos or flyers or things like that that are text based, and you really need to make sure a specific part of it shows,
you can use it manually. It isn’t just facial recognition. – [Stephanie] That’s right, it does have a manual hotspot feature, and so you can make sure that your words aren’t getting cropped,
in addition to faces. – [Woman] Yes, we also put in alt text. – [Stephanie] And yes,
and alt text. (laughs) – [Man] That was kind of my question. Do you also have plugins
for accessibility? – [Stephanie] I had a different set for accessibility, we’ll move on. Anybody managing a big network? No? A couple? Okay, so there’s a few that make network management a little easier. The first one that I
start with is Blog Copier. When I spin up a network of sites where faculty were
gonna be able to sign up and get a site for their
individual program, we created a template, enabled all the plugins that we wanted, set the settings the
way that we wanted it, got the theme all configured
and then made that our site number one in the network, and then used Blog Copier to copy that, rather than have the
bare WordPress install, so each new site on that network has some basic settings filled in already. 10Up has a Mu Migration
plugin that’s really great when you need to extract a site from one multisite network
and put it into another. Database wise, that’s complicated, and you can’t just do it
by exporting your database and then importing it, there’s some tables that have to change. This is a plugin for WP-CLI which is the command line
interface for WordPress, so if you don’t have command line access to your WordPress
installation for some reason, you’re not gonna wanna use that one. You’re going to want DB Migrate
Pro, by Delicious Brains, which is a graphical user
interface for the same function. There’s one called
Multisite User Management, this helps when you have people signing up and you have things like people who haven’t confirmed their email address, oh, that’s Unconfirmed, I’m sorry, that’s what Unconfirmed does. Multisite User Management does other things. (laughter) And so I forgot off the
top of my head. (laughs) Plugin Activation Status is fantastic, this is one written by Curtis Grymala who isn’t talking, I
don’t think, this week, but he’s here. He does a really cool multinetwork setup at William and Mary. And he wrote this plugin
so that he could evaluate on all of those sites in his network who’s using what plugin. It’s a really great way to find out are there any plugins
that we installed thinking that a lot of people would use
it, and they’re not using it, and we can remove it and not
have to keep updating that? Simple Multisite Sitemaps
creates just sitemaps.xml files, the Google, Yahoo!,
combined sitemaps format. Multisite, that’s tricky because you can’t use the
regular sitemaps plugins. So this one is a really simple one that just does exactly
what you think it should and creates a site map that’s
good for the whole network. I’ve just put in Calvalcade, because somebody was talking about it. It is a replacement for
the WordPress cron system, which isn’t a true cron, it doesn’t always run when you think it should. So you schedule something
to run every hour, it only runs every hour
if someone has visited the WordPress site and has
kicked off that process. So Calvalcade is a replacement for it that runs when you say it should run. Authentication on large networks is fun, and on college campuses. There’s a couple for active
directory integration, and this is the one that
has been recommended to me. I had to say that because
I am not the person who configures active directory plugins on my clients’ installations, I don’t have access to their
active directories. (laughs) And so it’s always somebody in the local team who’s doing that. But this one seems to be
reasonably easy to configure. CAS Maestro is the one that we use most often on CAS systems. There’s an older one called WP CAS that is no longer
updated, as far as I know. And also, it didn’t work with our campus implementation of CAS. And so we had to fork with it for a while, and then we moved to this one, and CAS Maestro works a whole lot better. There is a Duo plugin if you are requiring two factor authentication, and you don’t have something like CAS that’s already doing that for you, you can install the Duo plugin. And we’ve had issues with using CAS or active directory usernames
with the username restrictions being different on the
network versus WordPress. WordPress has some weird
username restrictions that are kind of a holdover
from old versions of multiuser, which is now multisite, and
it’s now built into WordPress. But it has some strange restrictions on usernames that may
not match your networks. And so Network Username
Restrictions Override lets you match that up
a little bit better, so that people don’t get
their usernames rejected when you’re trying to create
accounts for them in WordPress using an existing username
from some other system. The CAS setup has a few other issues that I feel like you should know
about before you jump into it. This payload issue may
depend on your campus, ours does not include any of
the information about the role. We send a username and a password, and we get back yes or no, that’s it. And so we can’t do some cool things with automatically
provisioning a user account and giving them access to certain things and maybe in a network
setup, creating a site for them based on their roles so a student would get a student site, a faculty would get a faculty
site, we can’t do that. We’re not getting that
information out of CAS. The CAS plugin has a way to use a local WordPress account rather than CAS. And I hesitate to call it a backdoor because that makes people
freak out about security. It’s there, it’s a feature, it’s not anything that is visible. So you have to tell people
if, for some reason, you need to use a local account, rather than creating them
a temporary CAS account, you have to give them a special URL. And the last time I tried it, CAS does not work with
the mobile WordPress app. So if you’re using the iOS WordPress app to edit things, you won’t be able to do it if you’ve enabled the CAS
logins because you can’t log in. I think that they’re working on that, but the bright side to that is that the WordPress admin screens
have become themselves much more user friendly on mobile phones, and so you don’t necessarily
need to use the mobile app as frequently anymore as you used to. Does that make sense? Okay. And that actually applies to any other app that relies on sort of older
XML-RPC authentication. And like I was saying when I was talking about the network
username override plugin, the WordPress usernames have to match CAS in order for this to work. And so you’ll need that plugin so that you can make sure that they match. This is the interface for the username restriction override plugin, and it just lets you say, “Hey, “We’re gonna allow hyphens and underscores “And periods in our username, “And maybe upper case letters.” Because WordPress doesn’t natively. And you can set a
different minimum length, all those things that WordPress
normally doesn’t let you do. This is a plugin that was
introduced at WP Campus in 2016, Site Setup Wizard, it’s really cool and I wish that I could use it, because it provisions new sites on a network based on the user role. So you can have faculty set up
and get a faculty themed site with maybe features that
are specific to things that faculty would want to do, versus students signing up on your network who need a totally different
theme and set of features. This is a really cool
plugin that lets you do that and lets you configure
those different types of sites that users are going to get. And it’s not compatible with CAS because we don’t get any real information. Hopefully, all of this stuff
will move to the REST API, and we can start using this. Some things that I have found useful when working with the REST API, the Advanced Custom
Fields to REST API plugin lets you make all those new
fields that you’ve created in Advanced Custom Fields
available in your API. Disable REST API doesn’t
disable the whole thing. It disables API access for
people who are not logged in. So if for some reason you need
to make your API available only to login users, this is
a great plugin to do that. And then Distributor is very new, and I think you probably got some cards about it in your swag bag. It’s a very new plugin
from 10Up that lets you push and pull posts from one
site into multiple other sites. And it can be a multisite network, or it can be some other URL, as long as Distributor is
installed on both ends. And it will check to see if
the person who’s logged in has permission to edit
that custom post type or whatever post type that
you’re trying to edit. And it has a little admin bar interface for pushing your current posts out to all of the other sites
that are authenticated. Or use it on the end points
sites you can go and say, I want to pull this content from the site into the current one and
it will keep it synced. It’s really nifty. Security plugins, these are
the kind of big players. iThemes Security used to be
known as Better WP Security. iThemes has bought it and has been doing some good things with
keeping it up to date. It is a very complex toolkit
for configuring absolutely everything that you could ever want to configure involving security. It’s not a simple plugin. WordFence is kind of a competitor slash slightly different feature set. WordFence is primarily known for its really great firewall, I think. And Sucuri is named after the security consulting firm of the same name. And they do a really nice
job with post hack cleanup. And so if your site has been
defaced for some reason, you can install this security plugin and it will go through and it’ll tell you, these are the files that don’t match the download. We’re gonna alert you every
time somebody’s logging in, every time somebody changes
a plugin or installs a theme, and you can configure all
kinds of notifications and stop certain things from happening. – [Man] Make sure you turn
off some notifications, otherwise you will die,
that your email people will hate you because every
time they post this up on any site on a multisite,
you will get an email about it. – [Stephanie] Yes, if you’re
using Sucuri on multisite, the first thing you should
do is visit the email notifications tab and turn
a bunch of things off. Because (laughs) by default, it emails you every time
someone posts something, every time they edit a post, pretty much any time they breathe in the WordPress installation. – [Man] When I was going
on vacation and I got back, and I had like 2,000 emails
or something, saying that- – [Stephanie] Yeah, your
email’s network managers are not gonna be happy when
they start seeing a million things come through from Sucuri,
so turn some of that off. But otherwise, it’s a fantastic plugin. For accessibility, these are the three that I like to install. I call it TotA11y, they
might pronounce it TotA11y, I’m not sure. It’s a great little visual tool for figuring out things like, do the images on this page have
alt tags or alt attributes? Is the color contrast on
this section sufficient? And it just gives you a little visual flag on each section of your website. There’s a WordPress plugin that makes this a little easier to use. It’s a tool that’s available for browser plugins and things like that. But the WordPress plugin
is really simple to use. WP Accessibility is kind of a group effort by the accessibility team
to make certain things more accessible out of
the box in WordPress that haven’t quite
gotten fixed in core yet. And the middle one there is maintained by Rachel who runs our lovely event. And it includes some of these other tools, so it just kind of packages everything up into a nice little bundle
so that you don’t have to install five different
things, and gives them to you. Search plugins are always
one of the first things that you want to fix when
you install WordPress because we all know that the built in WordPress search is terrible. My favorite is Relevanssi,
which is maintained by an Italian guy, that’s why
it’s spelled the way it is. The premium version is fantastic, and as of the last several months, you now will do PDF and Office documents that are uploaded to WordPress, which used to be a limitation,
it didn’t include that. SearchWP is also a good plugin. Those are great if you have
either a single WordPress installation or a network installation, and you’re trying to search only things that are part of WordPress. If you for some reason have a
lot of different subdomains, you have some stuff that’s
outside of WordPress, you’re going to need probably Google CSE. You could probably also work
with SwiftType or ElasticPress, both of those are third party services that have WordPress integration plugins. And ElasticPress is kind of the favorite of very, very large installations. Events calendars, the most popular is the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe. The problem with its name is that it’s hard to Google, so
put that in quote marks or just add Modern Tribe
to your search query. The probably second most
favorite is Event Espresso. Both of those have really
great feature sets, they’ve been around for a while. TimeTable is a plugin that is specifically for creating conference schedules, just like our conference
schedules it is, this event. CampTix is one that is used
by Word Camp to sell tickets. It’s a very simple ticketing plugin, and then there’s a couple other ones here that are third party services that again have these
WordPress integrations. And those are great for
scheduling resources like conference rooms
and making appointments. – [Man] Recommendation for one that syncs with Google Calendar? – [Stephanie] Recommendation for one that syncs with Google Calendar, the Events Calendar should do it. And I believe that that Espresso does, I haven’t looked at that
one in a while because we’ve been using the Events
Calendar for most of our stuff. – [Man] You know the one
that’s called Simple Calendar? It’ll pull from Google Calendar. – [Stephanie] Simple Calendar will pull from Google Calendar? – [Younger Man] It definitely
has, it will just replicate. I’ve tried Simple Calendar, you have to use with it over
time after some updates, like WordPress- – [Man] They do a lot of updates, and so you’re open to use either. – [Stephanie] There’s also one called- – [Man] There’s some that
have been on Google site. Google may have mentioned that. – [Stephanie] Some of these
aren’t working super well with Google integration, for
those on the live stream. Yes? – [Young Man] I have a question about if any of these plugins
do the room scheduling and the events management
in one that you’ve seen? – [Stephanie] Yeah, so
room scheduling and events is kind of a tall order, but that’s okay. The Events Calendar does
have premium add ons, and one of them does tickets
and I believe can be used for free, for scheduling as well. – [Young Man] Okay, and
then I had another question. I don’t know if you just saw a hand up. – [Stephanie] Sorry. – [Young Man] So, it’s fine. So, I had a question about research. So you mentioned, was it
only Google was the only one that will work across multisites? – [Stephanie] I believe that
SwiftType and ElasticPress will work across subdomains
as well as Google CSE, but double check me on
that, go investigate those. – SwiftType will-
– SwiftType will. I believe ElasticPress will as well. – [Young Man] I was literally
looking this up the other day. – [Older Man] Yeah, they can,
and they’ll look on those. SwiftType, you basically point them to the domains and everything
that you want it to- – [Stephanie] Ah, SwiftType, you get to white list your subdomains. – [Older Man] It’s a lot
more prevalent, yeah. – [Stephanie] Okay, great. The Events Calendar has
a lot of different views, the sort of month view is one of them but you can also just do
text for upcoming events. It’s got a really nice
search bar across the top where you can filter down you wanna find by keyword or by date or by category. The individual event view has a lot of custom information down at the bottom and the ability to put in things like organizer, contact
information, and a map and categories of events
is one of the things that I really like about this plugin. Here’s what a timetable looks like. And that’s the conference scheduler. This group uses a lot of
things like gym classes. This is the options interface for CampTix. Like I said, it’s super simple. It gives you a price,
the price can be zero. It gives you the number of
those that are available. And then you can schedule availability, so if you’re not ready
to sell tickets yet, and tickets are only gonna be
available starting August 1st, you can put in a start
and end date on that. And CampTix also comes with some questions so if you want to ask
some people some sort of registration question, in addition to just getting the ticket, you can add some questions to it. So this one is an example of dropdown, which workshop would you like? You can ask, do you have any dietary requirements, things like that. Form builders, moving right along. Gravity Forms, like I said, is probably the most popular in the higher ed space. You need WCAG fields as a second plugin in order to make that
a bit more accessible. There are some competitors. Gravity Forms is a little heavy on the download side on the front end. I’ve found that Ninja Forms is a bit lightweight, compared to Gravity. It’s also a plugin that has a free set and then premium features. And it’s a bit newer and let
me see if I’ve got it, yeah. It doesn’t look quite like WordPress. I think they’re a very different feel. And when you go into
edit an individual form, it kind of wipes out the
entire WordPress interface and gives you just this field editor view, which is a little bit different from some of the other form plugins. Like for example, Gravity
Forms looks more like this, it’s a much more familiar interface. I find that when you have
something like Ninja Forms that kind of overwhelms the
WordPress administration screen, sometimes users who are
not super experienced with content editing feel
like they’ve made a mistake, and they’ve gone somewhere else that they didn’t intend to go. So I put together the
form plugins that keep you kind of looking in the same
sort of WordPress looking deal. That’s another advantage of Gravity Forms. There are a couple of
newer players in the game, Formidable is one of them and I would take a look at both of those if you don’t already have a large institutional investment in
Gravity Forms, as many of us do. Email and notifications is
another problem in WordPress. WordPress sends you some notifications, not a lot, and one of the
things that drives me crazy is that the contributor
process of submitting to an editor doesn’t kick
off a notification email that the editor needs to
come review something. There’s one called Peter’s
Collaboration Emails that fills in that need. It’s a very simple plugin,
that’s all it does. Contributor submits, editors
and administrators get a notification that they
need to come in for a bit. There’s a much more complicated plugin called Better Notifications for WordPress that lets you configure
other types of notifications that you want to happen when
certain events are triggered. And then I dumped in here WP SMTP, if you are on a server
for that for some reason doesn’t have native email capability, like Pantheon, for example,
you might need this SMTP plugin so that you can
send mail via some other server. It could be your campus
server, it could be Gmail, something like that. And there are also plugins for
third party email services, like SendGrid, that will
fill in that same need. This is the screen for
better notifications. It has this dropdown list of actions that can possibly trigger a notification, and then it says, okay,
where do you wanna send it? What’s the subject gonna look like? And then you can add
some information to it. Permissions, this is a fun one. There’s one called Members, it’s been around for a long time. Again, it’s kind of
hard to search for that because it’s a generic word, it’s written by a guy named Justin Tadlock. So that’s one to take a look at. It’s pretty simple. I like his interface quite a bit. There is a certainly more complicated one called Advanced Access
Manager that’s quite popular. Boston University has a really great suite of WordPress plugins that
they have made available to the WordPress community,
open source for free. One of them is called BU Access Control, and it’s another one of
those sort of permissions, fine grain management of what people can do and what people can’t do. Along with that, they
have released one called BU Section Editing that
lets you lock down users to certain specific
categories or subsets of pages so that you don’t have to make everybody an editor who has access to everything. You can give them access to a specific piece of your content. Workflow, if you need something
a little more complicated than just a few email notifications here and there, there are a few options. There used to be one called EditFlow, it’s no longer being
maintained and has kind of been forked and renamed into PublishPress. It has a lot of approvals,
editorial calendar features, that kind of thing, so it’s
not just about notifications. It’s a lot of planning, kind of routing. There is one called Oasis Workflow that I haven’t personally
had a chance to check out, but it’s getting a lot of great reviews. And then Gravity Forms
has released an add on to their system called Gravity Flow. So if you’re already using
Gravity Forms for your forms, it might be worth looking into Gravity Flow for your workflow. Revisions, again, this is an area where we have a few popular ones that have kind of dropped off in terms of maintenance and being current. Revisionary and Revisionize are the ones that I think most of us were using. Anybody got a newer replacement for those, other than Boston
University’s Versions plugin? Nope, so those are the popular ones still, even though they’re a
bit long in the juice. This is what BU Versions looks like, it just gives you an
option to create a clone, so create a new version
without touching the old one that’s been published,
or to edit this version. Fantastic when you need to
create a revision of a page that the revision can’t be published until some embargo date has been reached. You can make that work. Performance and optimization,
if you are not hosting with a third party service that
takes care of this for you, like Pantheon or WP
Engine or any of those, then you need to have some
sort of caching in place. These are the most popular ones. WordPress does not natively smush all of your Javascript and
CSS files in your theme on the front end down into one request. So you can add various plugins to do that. FastVelocity Minify is pretty good. I put a couple of stars by it because you have to test all of your Javascript related functionality
after enabling this and make sure that it
didn’t break anything. I’ve had a couple instances
where it broke something. And so I had to either rewrite
my script or not use Minify. And then I mentioned already, for optimizing images, it’s pretty good. I’m gonna rush through these last few, I’ve got some changes to the admin screens that I like to make to sort of simplify things for my content editors. And one of the things I also like to do when I’m creating some
complicated Advanced Custom Fields input screens, I like to put in a little bit of inline documentation. And so there’s no real easy way to do that in WordPress by editing
the editing screen. But in ACF, you have those
different field types and one of them is message fields. And you can just create a message field that has a little bit
of text and drag that into the order of your input fields, and it will give you a few, just a helpful label or a line of text that reminds them of how to handle this. That’s one of the things I really like to use Advanced Custom Fields for. There’s another one called admin columns that I use quite a bit. If I’m not writing a plugin
that changes the columns of my edit list view, I
like to use admin columns to remove some things that
aren’t terribly relevant. This example we had a
publications database, and the author column is of course the person who wrote it in WordPress. That was not relevant for
this particular application, it was almost always
going to be the same user. What we needed was some
information about the publisher of that publication and
a flag to whether or not it was related to this
particular federal grant, and we were able to do all
of that using custom fields and then using admin columns
to adjust the edit screen so that she had the information that she really needed in that area. Lastly, the help and documentation, I mentioned WP Help as a plugin that I use almost all the time to put documentation
inline, to put a library of documents in WordPress
right where they can see it. And it lets you move
this admin menu option up and down and rename it if you want to. It’s not great when you
get a really long list of documentation, but when
you need 10 or 12 things that remind people of
your editorial guidelines or some sort of specific
technical reminder, this is a great way to do it. For example, I put in
how to do photo cropping with the Add Hotspots feature
in My Eyes Are Up Here. Whoops. The other one that I like
to use is the commercial WP 101 tutorial plugin,
and it looks the same as WP Help because it’s
lectured in by the same guy. But this one brings in
the help videos and puts an interface for them right into the WordPress dashboard. I find that really, really
helpful for new users who just need to remind
themselves how to do things like upload an image in WordPress. So I’ve maybe have done training, but then it’s been six months, and I’ve forgotten how to do it. This is really helpful. I’ve got a whole
presentation on migrations, and so I’m gonna skip through this and let you take a look at that elsewhere. The last one that I wanted to mention, because you’re in this
room and not in the one where the textbooks
presentation is happening, there is a great tool for
open education resources in textbook publishing called PressBooks. And it gives you a way to
author things in WordPress and then export them as
e-books, or as a web book. And this is kind of what
the web book looks like, you’ve got your table of contents, there is a dropdown menu up there. And it’s formatted for readability, you’ve got at the very bottom
your next and previous pages. Authoring it looks just like authoring a WordPress post or page. But the edit screen is very different. In fact, it takes out
the normal edit screen and gives you this organized,
where you’ve got different content types for the front matter, which is like the copyright
things at the beginning of your book, acknowledgements,
stuff like that. And then the body of the
book, you have each chapter, and you can create additional sections, which gives you different page breaks and things like that in the book, and then your back matter,
which is like your afterword, your index, glossary, that kind of thing. If you need information
on getting into WordPress from any other content management system or plain HTML file, CSV
export, things like that, I have a whole another
presentation on how to do that. And if you need some code snippets related to some of those
network management things that I talked about, I’ve
got those in my presentation from HighEdWeb two years ago. That was a workshop and so I had that stuff private until earlier today. But now I’ll put this slide
up, and it’s got a link, and you can go grab a few code snippets for additional management capabilities. And we’re about out of time. Does anybody have any additional questions about plugins that I did not cover? Whew. This will be up on the WP Campus on the schedule entity for this session. I will get it to Rachel, and she’ll probably
have it up later today. Thank you, everyone. (applause)

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