A Couple of WordPress Plugins

Posted on Friday 28 September 2007

So, I warned you yesterday that I would be taking a closer look at improving my editor options within WordPress… Who knew it would be so soon!

There was actually two tools that I was looking for. One was an improved editor, or enhancement to what I currently had and the second was a statistical tool that would allow me to see how well my blog is doing with you the reader.

I decided that the first thing that I should look at is WordPress itself and see if it had any tools that could help me… While it should have been no surprise to me that it would, I never realized just how large a variety I had to choose from!

WordPress, as of this writing, has over 1,000 various plugins to choose from and experiment with. Some of them can actually change the original code of your WordPress engine, while others work in conjunction with what is there. My preference at this stage of the game is to work with what I have, and if I don’t like the plugin, to be able to remove it without damaging my current system.

The first and most pressing issue, was finding an advanced editor that would allow me to avoid the cut and paste issue that I talked about before, and also let underline items without having to flip the editor from it’s “visual” mode (very close to what you see is what you get) to its “code” mode (that stuff that sometimes appears as gobbledygook on your screen when you are hoping for pretty pictures and text.)

The plugin directory for editing tools contained over 125 various items. Some offered to replace my current editor, while others added to it. After reviewing the screenshots, home pages, and reame files for those which I thought might do the trick, I settle on “WP Super Edit” as the authors website gave clear screenshots of the editor in use and showed how easy it was to modify. Most importantly, the shots also showed me that not only could it handle underlining, but much, much more. Including a whole wealth of formatting tools for tables, highlighting and one of my favorites – more smileys! Big Grin

My other concern was how these extra features would impact my document. When I looked behind the scenes at the actual code, everything looked great, with nothing extra put in where it shouldn’t be. My concern here was that there are a lot of tools out there for creating and modifying web pages. Many of them do a great job creating the visual page that everyone sees, but some of them do a horrible job behind the scenes.

What I am referring to is extraneous code or bizarre extra pieces of code that are put into the actual document for no reason. It can slow down loading and viewing a page, and worse could actually stop you from seeing it. For those who might be interested here is a great article by Robin Good explaining this problem in much more and better detail than what I can give it here.

Another really nice option that this editor has is that you can turn off any and all features you don’t want, or don’t understand. Which was great as it had some very advanced editing tools that I didn’t really need, nor want at this time. You can also choose to place your layout buttons where you personally find it most logical and useful.

I unfortunately still have my cut and paste problem (which I talked about earlier), but I am now getting into the habit of using control codes to past a copied piece into a document instead of just the mouse. I’m beginning to think that it may be an issue with Windows/Firefox/HTML than WordPress itself.

Be warned that this is a large plugin, over 500K in size. It is hefty, but in my opinion, worth every byte that you upload. After putting it through it’s paces, , I would give it a 5 stars rating. Which, by a strange coincidence is what it is rated on the WordPress site!

As I mentioned, the second plugin that I was looking for was something that could give me some valuable statistics, again without replacing any code or interfering with the normal operation of my blog. The choices on WordPress weren’t quite as many, but it did give me over 30 choices to choose from.

Most web site providers offer a wealth of information and mine was no different. It offered several packages with lots and lots of statistics and charts. It was almost overwhelming. What I was looking for, though, was something that would weed out my own activities and give me just true “reader” statistics, which was something that I couldn’t get through “normal” web statistics.

My choice, after reviewing the various screenshots and readme files was a tool called Quickstats . This one will probably take me a little longer to evaluate and give a proper review on. The reason I chose it was two fold. First, it has several options for fine tuning out information that I may deem irrelevant, either by IP addres or Administrative Pages and/or Local Referrals.

The other feature that I really liked in this tool, was that it would help identify for me whether or not the RSS feature of my blog was being used heavily, lightly or not at all, without interfering with the convenience and ease of use that RSS offers.

RSS is one of the best services currently on the web, it allows a user to subscribe to a web page or news feed and get updates whenever a change and/or posting occurs. More and more people are using this great tool. Why go find information, when you can have it delivered to you!

For those who are new to the concept of RSS feeds and want to know more, or want to know how they can get started, there is a great article with all sorts of information on getting started on the Dummies.com website. Check it out!

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