Which Plugins Do You Want to See Built into WordPress?

It seems like every time WordPress gets close to a new release, I praise the WordPress team for integrating popular WordPress plugins into the WordPress software and I get several of the same responses…”If it already exists a WordPress plugin, why waste time installing it into the software?”

Unfortunately, just because a WordPress plugin exists, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t better off having it built into WordPress.  Here are a few reasons:

  • Security Vulnerabilities – Improperly coded WordPress plugins can cause security vulnerabilities. Now, this can obviously happen with the WordPress software, but it is more likely to be coded correctly or caught and fixed quickly when it is integrated into the WordPress software.
  • Wasting Database Resources – Poorly coded WordPress plugins can waste a lot of database resources. Unneeded database queries can cause slow loading times, etc.
  • Everyone Has Access – Although we all know about WordPress plugins, I’m sure there are a number of users who don’t understand what they are, how they work, how to install them, etc.  Having it built into WordPress ensures that everyone has access to these features.

It is with this thought process that I always try to use as few WordPress plugins as possible on my websites, and I rejoice every time popular WordPress plugins are built directly into WordPress.

With WordPress 2.7 coming out soon, we’ll be getting a bunch of new plugins built into WordPress.  What plugins would you like to see built into WordPress next?  Keep in mind that the plugin would need to be something that would benefit most (if not all) WordPress users in order to be considered (not situational plugins).

The five I would like to see built into WordPress next:

  1. All-in-One SEO Pack (or at least some parts of it) – This is very basic stuff and everyone who uses WordPress would benefit.
  2. Google XML Sitemaps – This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins and for good reason. A sitemap.xml file should come standard with any blogging software.
  3. No Self Pings – Why does WordPress send pingbacks internally?  I think this one would be easy to integrate and people would love it.
  4. Popularity Contest – We have recent posts, recent comments, etc.  Who wouldn’t want this as an option on their WordPress theme?
  5. Database Manager – It would be nice if there was a way that you could easily backup and restore your database without the use of a WordPress plugin.

Share your five most wanted in the comments!


How To: Display WordPress Categories without Children

About a week ago I decided I was unhappy with the archives plugin I was using to display our archives, so I decided to build a custom archives page.   This archives page is fairly basic in that it displays the categories and archives side-by-side, then all the posts below it.   This way people can use Ctrl+F to quickly find posts they are looking for. 

After getting the page built, I realized all of the “child” categories I use for the WordPress Hacks theme was causing some problems, so I decided to remove them from the display.   After all, these posts can also be found in their parent category. 

If you are displaying your categories somewhere and would like to remove the children, here is the code you’ll need (for WordPress 2.5+):

<?php wp_list_categories('title_li=&depth=1&show_count=1') ?>

The depth=1 is the important one for the purpose of this hack as it is what tells WordPress not to display more than your parent categories.   By default, it is of course set to depth=0 (shows all categories).   If you are wondering what other options you have, here is what the WordPress Codex lists for the depth parameter:

  • 0 – All Categories and child Categories (Default).
  • -1 – All Categories displayed in flat (no indent) form (overrides hierarchical).
  • 1 – Show only top level Categories.
  • n – Value of n (some number) specifies the depth (or level) to descend in displaying Categories.

Code: Displaying Your WordPress Feedburner Count

You’ve probably noticed that with our last redesign of this site, we switched from displaying the Feedburner widget to instead displaying our actual Feedburner feed count.

Back in May of 2008 I wrote about the FeedCount plugin, which is a WordPress plugin which allows you to easily display your WordPress feed count to your readers. Basically you just activate the feedcount option in your Feedburner feed and activate the Awareness API, then upload and activate the Feedcount WordPress plugin, and then enter your feed information into the dashboard option panel and you are done.

If you’d prefer to instead build the code directly into your WordPress theme, Joost De Valk of Yoast.com recently published a great post providing the code you need to show off your Feedburner count. The code is incredibly easy to integrate into your theme and also includes caching so you won’t overload the Feedburner API.

When Should You Display Your Feedburner Count?

This is a question that doesn’t really have a correct answer, but I’ve always found it interesting to hear others thoughts on this topic. I personally have always felt a good round number is 500 and I’ve had several people tell me that when they are considering subscribing to a feed, 500 is the number that they look for as a mark of a good blogger. 500+ subscribers generally shows that people like your content.

Do you look at a blog’s feed count before subscribing to a feed?


iThemes Releases Ultimate Flexx Premium WordPress Theme

Some of our long time readers may remember last April I wrote about a somewhat revolutionary new WordPress theme, which in my opinion was well ahead of its time, known as the Shifter theme.  Though this theme looked a little plain at first, it was completely built around using the WordPress widget feature, allowing for incredible versatility.

Since that time no one else has really attacked the widget angle the way Shifter did…..at least until now.   After over 2 months of production and quite a few beta testers (myself included), I am excited to share with our readers that iThemes has released what is probably their best theme yet, the Flexx Theme.

This theme comes with over 1,000 possible layout combinations!   Other Flexx features include:

  • Rotating Header Images – Easily upload your new header images and set the Flash-like transition effects
  • Contact Form Page Template – The custom image uploader feature allows you to personalize your site with your own logo
  • Plug and Play Graphic Changes – Easily change the look of your site by uploading new background images (setting every different combo with it) and setting the color through a Photoshop-like color picker.
  • Menu Builder – Pick and choose what Pages you want in the menu navigation, including subpages.
  • Search Engine Optimization – As with all our themes, we’ve built it to get you the best exposure in the search engines, and include a SEO panel to tweak some basic settings.
  • Multiple Color Styles – This first series comes in two pre-built color styles (Bold and Canvas), but it has a rockin’ feature that lets you easily upload new background images (setting every different combo with it) and setting the color through a Photoshop-like color picker.
  • Drop down navigation menu

To get an idea of one of the 1,000+ possibilities available, you can check out the Flexx demo.   Here are a couple screen shots:

Flexx Homepage

Flexx Post Page

The best part about the new Flexx theme is the price!  It falls under the iThemes standard pricing model of $79.95 for a single-use license and $249.95 for the developer’s license.  iThemes 2008 theme club members of course get this theme for free.

What do you think of this incredible theme?   Anyone else think that widget-based themes might be the future or the premium WordPress themes market?


How To: Do a Trademark Search

Last month when we switched from HackWordPress.com to WPHacks.com, I mentioned that one part of the move was due to the trademark violation in the old domain name (WordPress is a trademarked term).

Looking back, I really wish I would have known about the trademark prior to launching the blog. Moving your blog to a new domain name can be a huge hassle (I explained what was involved here) and your blog will usually take a huge hit in the search engine rankings (either temporarily or permanently). This is because most of those backlinks accrued over the past year are pointing towards the old domain name, etc.

Being someone who manages quite a large sized domain portfolio (300+ domains), I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year or so learning how to do a trademark search when researching what domains to invest my money in and which domains I want to develop into web properties. There seems to be a good amount of interest from others wanting to know how to do this, so hopefully this post will fill that need.

Why Should I Worry About Trademark Violations?

Before I explain how to do a trademark search, I wanted to quickly discuss why avoiding trademark violations is so important. A trademark is filed by a company to protect their brand.

How many of you call tissues “Kleenex”? Kleenex describes one brand of tissues, but because they did not protect their trademark, the term Kleenex has instead become a generic term for tissues.  This of course caused them to lose any control they might have had over how their name is used.

Like any good company would, Automattic wants to protect the term “WordPress” from becoming a generic term. This is why they do not allow others to use the term “WordPress” in their domain name. This can lead to confusion with readers who believe that the domain is an official WordPress site or affiliated in some way with WordPress, which could eventually lead to problems for WordPress users (if the content is bad, incorrect, or the site is malicious in some way).

Because of this, most trademark holders will go a long way to protect their brand, including filing lawsuits.   Lawsuits, or threatening lawsuits, has become very common with people registering names like FacebookApplications.com, DiggThis.com, etc. In order to avoid complications, avoid being forced to pull down a website/blog, or having to move your site to a new domain, you’ll want to first make sure that your potential domain/website is free of any trademarks.

Note:  If you register a domain prior to a trademark being filed by a company, that company usually won’t have rights to take the domain from you UNLESS you are displaying ads on the site or somehow making money off their brand.  Keep this in mind if you own a domain and an upstart grows popular fast.

How To Do a Trademark Search

Okay, so now you know why doing a trademark search is so important.   Here are the 5 steps you need to follow to do a trademark search:

  1. Visit the US government’s sitesearch page.
  2. Click Search at the top of the right sidebar menu.
  3. Click New User Form Search (Basic).
  4. In the Search Term field, you’ll want to enter the keyword you want to check on the trademark of.
  5. Click Submit Query.

When doing your search, you’ll want to make sure to search for your term with and without spaces. An example would be if you were looking for Burger King, you would try both “burgerking” and “burger king”.

If you follow the above steps and search for the term “wordpress” you’ll see that it is indeed trademarked, but you can use this method to search for just any keyword you want to. I recommend doing this prior to ever launching a website of any kind, just to make sure. I also used this process after picking my business name to ensure that I wouldn’t run the risk of losing my business identity at some point down the road.

Are you always doing a trademark search prior to launching a new website or blog?