The Daily Plugin for 07-17-2013

We start early in the morning every day. Like the farmer extracting fresh eggs from his trusted hens, we’re up at the crack of dawn to examine the quality of each new plugin submitted to the WordPress Plugin Repository. Some are Grade A Extra Large, some are just a cracked shell with nothing inside. Either way, let’s get cracking and whip up today’s Daily Plugin Omelette. Remember that not all plugins play well with others. Make sure you test them on a secondary staging site before you take anything to a live site. We preach it, we live it. Follow our example and you’ll be thankful. OK, let’s get plugged in!

First Google Map employs one of my favorite slogans, “Keep It Simple”. Often times when we’re trying to insert a simple Google map, the plugins or embed code we use is too bloated, doesn’t display titles correctly or are too difficult to set up ahead of time. In comes “First Google Map” that allows you to insert a plain language formatted address to display your Google Map. The shortcode is rather simple and uses common sense taxonomy in its options. For example, if you wanted to show Mr. Mullenweg’s new rumored Tony Stark style mansion location, simply enter: [googlemap title=’Matt’s Beachfront Cottage’ width=450 height=300 zoom=14]31250 Broad Beach Rd, Malibu, CA[/googlemap] and the map will embed inline in your content area with appropriate overlay title of your choosing. Pretty nice way to insert on the fly. I could not find a direct option to choose the “satellite” view option over the standard road-only mode, which was the only real drawback. Other than that, it would be nice to have more control over the size of the address font that overlays the map. Most addresses that I tried were hyphenated by the plugin because the font was too large and it flowed into the next line. Control over these elements would be great, even if just another call-out function from within the shortcode.

Wp-chart-generator sample outputWP Chart Generator helps to embed an on-the fly 3D pie chart with multiple options, an automatic key and a nice hover dialogue that highlights each section when the user moves their mouse over the graph. The developer may need assistance converting this to English, as it’s completely in French. Fortunately, it’s so easy to use that the language barrier really didn’t make much difference. The shortcode is pretty easy to create within the plugin options, which allows you to copy the correct shortcode to embed within your posts. In the past I’ve used Google chart API callouts for embedding simple graphs, but for pie charts, this one takes the cake!

GSpeech is a text to speech plugin that uses Google to read selected text aloud. At first I thought it would be just one of those “Type Something in the box and I’ll read it” type of plugins. I was sorely inaccurate. This plugin can incorporate full speech to read when certain scenarios occur, such as hovering over a tab to hear the tab’s navigation title read out loud. There are also hover-on, hover-off possibilities as well. When a site visitor hovers over the “about us” page, perhaps it can just start reading your bio aloud. It’s an interesting plugin for serving those with eyesight disabilities, but also an ideal educational platform as well. It may be used in combination with a gallery for a “storybook” type presentation. Even job training could be utilized using this kind of plugin to read instructions out loud. Great effort from those at 2Glux who developed this.

I Recommend This scales back our traditional feedback mechanism by removing comments and relying on a simple “like” system instead. Included in the plugin is widget functionality that can display the most popular “liked” posts. Cookies are also utilized to prevent abuse of users over-liking your posts. You have the option to not show all the ZERO likes that you may have on your post. Once you get a like, it starts displaying on the post. Nice way to hide all the goose eggs (zeroes) that will be blatantly mocking you while you or other users browse through your site. It’s a good alternative to some of the mainstream Twitter/FB likes or the standard thumbs up / thumbs down ratings plugins that are out there. The developer Dreams Media really thought it through with IP logging and Cookie tracking to prevent abuse. Additionally you can remove the IP logging to save system resources. Worth a try if you want to keep a fully enclosed like system to replace comments. Good for business sites that may not want to allow commenting, yet show a favorable presentation that someone out there likes their content. Great recently updated plugin.

Easy Albums for BuddyPressEasy Albums is a new plugin for BuddyPress that allows the user base to upload their own audio files, playlists, images and videos to be displayed and organized in their own personalized albums. Not only does this allow a lot of media functionality from your user base, but it encourages commenting from other users as well. From an activity stream perspective, each user’s new media posts are shown within the timeline. While I love the functionality and flexibility that this all provides, the problem with this plugin from my perspective is that is requires a login from a third-party hosting server that the media is uploaded to. It is nearly perfect otherwise. A fully supported WPMU and Buddypress solution for full user media participation. Ideal for social and business applications of BuddyPress alike. If we could tie it to our own hosting or from Amazon or Dropbox without the additional login, I would gladly pay the developer Itaynoy a premium for it.

That’s all the eggs in the basket for now. Looks like we had a good batch today! We’ll be up and at ’em bright and early tomorrow in search of the newest and noteworthy plugins from the WordPress Plugin Repository. Keep plugging along out there.. The week is half-way over! We’ll see you again tomorrow with another installment of The Daily Plugin. Be sure to say hello on Twitter @marcuscouch or leave your feedback related to these plugins at WPTavern.


  1. WP Chart Generator

    Some of these data used to generate the test-example may need to be refactored. Matt is only 40%?!

    But good-looking charts – with a key – are always in demand.

    Only the pie chart? Control/assignment of colors? Will it read a data-file, or is it strictly hand-entry? Pie charts usually have little data, but other charts & graphs often need file-entry. Maybe that’s why it’s a pie?

    Still, with the 3-D shading and hover popups and auto-key, it sounds worth a careful look.

    I will install it and try to answer my questions …


  2. @Ted Clayton – What? You think my data is skewed? I’m not sure about Jeff, but I think I earn a solid 27% on the coolness factor. Matt might have that vibe, but I live in Southern California, where cool is a requirement.

    The plugin only does Pie Charts. You manually enter in the data variables and then call up the full chart via shortcode. Though limited in that scope, it’s a killer plugin for creating pie charts on the fly that don’t use external Google Chart API callouts. This is all internal, on the fly.


  3. @Marcus Couch

    Oh yeah … the SoCal-NoCal rivalry. How could I have forgotten, having lived in both Sans, on the waterfronts?

    It must be tough in San Fransisco, contemplating the inspiring beauty and technical tour-de-force of San Diego’s Coronada Bridge.

    Though at least the climate on the Bay is fit for humans, instead of Gila Monsters.

    Ok, the data stand.


  4. WP Chart Generator – installation & test report

    @Marcus Couch notes that “[I]t’s a killer plugin for creating pie charts on the fly that don’t use external Google Chart API callouts”. There are many good reasons to avoid or minimize 3rd-party dependencies. Recent news that major providers of Internet-based services collaborate with spy-agencies, should motivate a broadening climate of caution. Google is not in it to be your buddy … have no real committment to or lasting interest in any implied partnership role on your website.

    Upon beginning the installation of this plugin, the first thing noticed is that although it shows as updated “5 days ago”, it is only “Compatible up to: 3.1.4”. Accurate or not, that’s what it says. (Normally, we would just ‘move on’, upon seeing it that outdated.)

    Once installed, it’s all in French, as Marcus notes. If you have wide familiarity with many kinds of plugins, have in fact installed & played with hundreds if not thousands of them, as Marcus says it can be figured out. If you aren’t that much of a plugin-Ninja, otoh, and it is not ‘evident’ how to proceed, you may be stumped.

    For example, there is a graphical color-picker, but once a color was selected with it, I never did figure out how to get the numeric value for that color into the color-value input-box. Fortunately, I know hexidecimal a lot better than I do French … and I created color-values directly by hand, in hex. But that didn’t work either.

    What really ‘saved’ this plugin, for me, is that there is only a single thing you can click. Keep clicking the same bar, and what needs to happen keeps unfolding. If there had been any additional functionality, I may well have been stumped. Actually, I did almost give up … what I thought was the color-value, is the data-value … and the chosen color remains in the graphical picker. It was not obvious to me, that that was how it worked.

    A leading weakness or need that I felt with this plugin, is that additional information about the statistics, like their source, (metadata) couldn’t be included. Typically, this really won’t cut it.

    I especially wanted to see how the Legend/Key would work, with a more-realistic set of data. I chose the well-known & commonly-cited Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic stats on ten nations.

    I entered the 10 nation-names and the gun-homicide values for each. I picked 10 different colors that looked good. The editing went well, once I saw how to proceed.

    Unfortunately, the subsequent steps involving copying a shortcode and getting it into a Post did not work out, and while attempting to get this to happen, the entire dataset and all the editing disappeared.

    And that’s all the time I have for this right now. Pretty good input-environment, once you catch onto the secret handshake. The color-picker system is a nice solution; compact and entirely visual.

    Negative reports are still valuable information. I might be able to overcome what finally derailed me. I may try a couple tiny data-sets, to see if I can actually get a pie chart on the screen … and try to post it here.


  5. @Ted Clayton Breaking News!

    There was an update waiting this morning for WP Chart Generator. It is now in English!.

    I have to return to outdoor work, but later today will make another try on the 10-nation gun-statistics pie chart, and will try to link a screenshot of it here in the comments.

    The author, Emilien laborde, has also update the official WP Chart Generator page on the WordPress plugin repository, to show it compatible up to the current WP_v3.5.2 … and I think with a new screenshot.


  6. Well, I have a specific problem.

    Everything looks promising while building a new Chart, until I’m done and hit the Publish button. That’s supposed to then result in a Shortcode, in a box.

    But when I Publish, instead of a shortcode, a PHP-string appears in the box, thusly:

    [?= esc_attr(get_post_meta($object-]ID,’wpchartgenerator_shortcode_result’,true)); ?]

    (Angle-brackets are replaced with their respective square counterparts.)

    And the Legend-tokens and Data-values are each changed to:

    [?= esc_attr($value[0]); ?],
    [?= esc_attr($value[1]); ?], respectively.

    I’m then unable to recover my editing, and when I follow a link to the offered new Post, it returns a File Not Found error.


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