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These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley, and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once more. This is episode number 240 entitled P is for plugging. It was published on Thursday, the 29th of July, 2021, my name's Nathan Wrigley. And in a few moments, I'll be joined by my good friend, David Wamsley, so that we can have our chats about plugins.
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You can check it out and get a free demo. That's an AB split test.com. Okay. To the main event, episode number 240 P is for plug-ins today. David Waumsley. And I talk about the thing I think, which has made WordPress as popular as it is without plugins, it would be a bit of a lean interface. We wouldn't be able to do very much, but we do have this fabulous structure of adding functionality into WordPress, with plugins.
And so we talk about what we use, what we like about plugins. Are they going to be replaced by blocks? Is there anything that we don't like about plugins? Is there too much choice? Are there too many adverts in the admin area and so on? I hope that you enjoy it. Hello.
David Waumsley: [00:03:19] It's another eight. Is that of WordPress, the series where we attempt to cover all the major aspects of building and maintain insights with WordPress today, it's P four plugins.
So much to say on this one, this
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:33] literally could go on for days, David. I just think we should warn everybody that, they really need. Okay he's in settled down by the fire cause we're going to be here for a long time. No, let's hope not.
David Waumsley: [00:03:44] Yeah. We got a little bit of structure, cause I'm going to talk a little bit about what plugins are and how they're different from themes.
And then we'll move on to talking about some of the downsides of plugins mistakes that we've made things to watch out for. And then we'll move on to more positive stuff with their personal favorite plugins and what we think are the essentials needed and all, you've got a few things that you want to add in as well.
Yeah. Yes. I think onNathan Wrigley: [00:04:09] the whole, we broadly agree about most of this, but yeah, there's a few variances where we probably have a slightly different opinion, but yeah, I guess the first thing to say is where would WordPress be without plugins? I think it really is the backbone of why it's become so successful because it can do anything should a developer turn their hand to it by creating a plugin to solve a job.
David Waumsley: [00:04:34] Yeah. It's what made it addictive to me and still does. We are obsessed. Don't wait. And all our Facebook groups that we're in. That's just all we talk about really as new
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:43] plugins. Yeah. And it is an amazing ecosystem. That's built up, we've got this completely free CMS, which is the bedrock of everything.
And then on top of that, it can do everything. And the conversations that you get into the wide and varied possibilities of what those plugins allow is truly incredible. If you just rewind the clock 10 years, it would have been inconceivable that a bit of online software available to all could have done the things that it now can do.
And I think it's also a great, it's great for WordPress that we have this paid for premium tier, so that plugin developers could actually earn a living doing this. And so in cases as the audience has grown, it's become quite a profitable thing. If you have a very successful.
David Waumsley: [00:05:30] Yeah. You said something earlier about the fact that do you think, if we were doing this a couple of years down the line, do you think we'd be talking about plugins or would it just be all blocks that would be talking about, which are effectively plugins?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:43] It's just a different idea, isn't it? I wonder if in a few years time, everything will be a WordPress block. And although as you say it, basically, it's a semantic thing. Really it's doing the same job. I wonder if we'll talk about plugins more than we talk about blocks because it feels like WordPress is moving towards a situation where the ability to acquire new blocks is going to be really frictionless.
It's going to be right where you're editing your stuff. So inside the block editor, and if you suddenly realize that you need a way of demonstrating your testimonial in a different way, and you want to lay it out in a different way, you might. Search for a testimonials block. So it's a bit of a worry that in the sense that we might get plugin sorry, block bloat, but only time will tell what to see if people can rein themselves in.
But anyway, we can have the bloat debate in a minute about plugins as well.
David Waumsley: [00:06:39] Yeah, exactly. But I think also the old arguments resurfacing, again, I think we'd get and Berg about what a theme is supposed to do and what plugin is supposed to do and how the separate, because I think the early concept was the theme gives you the, the, look, it does the basic styling of your site and the plugins, the functionality.
And that's how I used to define it. And then that kind of got blown away, with the mega themes, particularly theme forest, really blurred those lines, build in the functionality, into the themes and a page builder. So then just mostly their plugins, but they're really doing it. The styling, the taking over the style in that were done by themes.
So do you think there is any real clear difference between now a theme and a plugin? Do you think it was something that's what it's supposed
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:31] to do? I think that ought to be in order to make it really obvious for me a theme, is that the way it looks, it really ought to handle the way it looks and anything else outside of that?
So functionality for me is the domain of a plugin. So a really nice example of that would be something like generate press where the plugin itself, sorry, the theme itself does handle the job of, what colors there are and where things are positioned and what fonts you're using and so on and so forth.
And then all the additional things are handled by their sort of premium plugin. So you can add things in on top. It's not entirely as straightforward as that, but that feels like how it should be. But of course. Yeah, because it's a difference in semantics only in a plugin and a theme can do basically the same stuff.
I do remember when I came to WordPress, I was really confused that themes could do a whole load of the heavy lifting for what I imagined a plugin was supposed to be for. So there is that confusion and I wish it was obvious like that. And I wish that it was a plugin handles the functionality and a theme handles the presentation of it.
But I'm not everybody obeys that because it can be avoided. A good example is this new bricks page builder, which is a thing. Yeah. And all of the functionality of how you do everything is locked away inside of a theme, which to some extent for compatibility, it that's a good idea because at least there's no conflict with a theme.
You've just got the Brix theme and it just works. And if there's a problem, the developer can figure that out. Whereas if it's a plugin, then the developer of the plugin, let's say beaver builder, or Elementor, they also have to, cope with support tickets, which are saying it's not working in my theme and they've got to figure out why that might be.
So there's swings and roundabouts. I can see it from both.
David Waumsley: [00:09:30] Yeah. I came in really, as the premium market was just starting to open the first premium themes came out, but there wasn't really that for plugins as such, they were still little add on functionality that added. So picking your theme was the first thing you did.
And it was the primary thing, the a and a, a little bit of extra functionality to a theme was needed. And there wasn't really a plug-in market that was commercialized at that point. So it makes sense. Now, I think it's really tricky because there's nothing new about bricks. Being a theme Devi was that, and it's been successful in large for a long time, and there's still a whole bunch of the theme forest themes, which are basically a theme, but they've got their own page builder within it as well.
But yeah, it's, it's interesting because now. Web BeaverBuilder users and elements is the same. It's a plugin that really, most people think of the thing that makes things look pretty. That's right. That's your primary job.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:31] It's a muddled ecosystem, but anyway, we're supposed to be talking about plugins.
So now it's straight into the T is for theme. Surely we'll come to that later in the office. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:10:43] But there is the argument do you need, cause the depth of the themes has been talked about because of plugins dominance. And when you get things like oxygen. On the page builder side, that does away with the theme, it disables it, you just think, yeah that's a potential route, isn't it?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:11:01] Especially if you go out and you're doing research and you're brand new to WordPress, and you literally are told that the theme will handle the way it looks and the plugin will handle what it can do. And then you discover that you've downloaded a theme, which can do both. It does the way it looks and what it can do.
And that, that can be really confusing because the settings might be in a weird place and not what quite, what you're expecting. It's, it, it works. It all hangs together. It's not the end of the world. You just have to pick your bed and lie in it
David Waumsley: [00:11:33] yeah, exactly. Yeah. People just adapt to whatever the, my experience I thought is probably the traditional route where I picked my theme for the look, but maybe even though people back in 2007, when I started probably had a different route yeah.
Different expectations. Yeah. Yeah. So what, should we talk a bit about the problems with plugins apart from not knowing what they are, what they should do? Yeah. There's more.
So maybe we'll do a bit of myth-busting or attempt to. There's some sort of truth to the mistakes I made when I first started with WordPress.
And you told me did the same and it's the same for my clients. If they're given the opportunity you get, WordPress has all these plugins. Wow. I can install them, but you're not really generally thinking about what you're installed in that, the size of them, how that's going to impact on your site, what kind of assets they're loaded onto each of your pages, that kind of stuff.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:32] But how would you, unless you were a, somebody that really was concerned with this kind of stuff, how would you even know? You just have the assumption that all it's doing is adding in that thing. So you might download a plugin to do one very specific thing and have the assumption. That's all it's going to do.
And of course there might be impacts on different parts of the website where it really has no business being. You mentioned earlier, the loading of, I don't know, font, awesome icons or something like that, where that you might install a plugin. It has no business loading font or some icons over on a page where it's not used, but it just does.
And so there's an impact, but how on earth would, you would just assume that everything was taken care of and the person that is selling the plugin or giving it away on the repo has thought about all this, but of course they don't have to.
David Waumsley: [00:13:25] Yeah. And you would think something like font awesome would be something that the theme should be taking care of.
But of course, let's say you get review plugin and it wants to put the number of stars or something for your reviews on it. Probably use font, awesome fruits, icons of its stars. Suddenly it's double loaded onto your pages. It happens so often.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:44] Yep. Yeah. So that's a big problem and it highlights the thing.
You are installing things from third parties and you, uh, you've, you've got to take the time, certainly you and I probably would. And I would imagine most people listening to this podcast would, but your clients won't. And if you give them the ability to download plug-ins and install them on their WordPress websites, I think the expectation has to be that's what they'll do.
They'll go out and find for themselves something that achieves what it is that they need to achieve. And there'll be no concept that that's having an impact. A good example is I went to the opticians the other day and essentially I'm totally in their hands. I have the faintest idea what they're doing with my eyes, and if I was left in that and said, sought your own eyes out, I would just try, but I wouldn't have a clue what I was doing.
And I'd just muddle through. And we're the experts here? No, I guess we've just got to educate our clients and hope that they don't go trigger happy. Of course you can just lock them out from all of that stuff and make it easier for you.
David Waumsley: [00:14:47] Yeah, there were a few, I guess there were a few things my annoyance is sometimes with plugins is that they don't all clean up after themselves.
So you install them, they stick stuff in the database. You want to install them and that's it. I think it's got better in, I think there's more education around that. And most of them, when you delete the plugin, it will delete its contents. But that's perhaps, in most cases, if a client goes and installs lots of different plugins, cause they want the test amount, it's not too much of an issue to remove them again.
But if they stick stuff in the database that, yeah,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:20] I, I totally agree. And I don't understand why that doesn't happen because when you see the word delete, so you deactivate and then you delete. Yeah. I really expect it to delete everything. And as you say, some plugins will ask, do you want to delete everything?
Or the plugins might give you the choice? Cause it's, it is quite sensible leaving the stuff around in the database. Oh for certain reasons. Cause you might be, I don't know, you might just be upgrading or you might change your mind a few weeks later and realize you want to go back and, oh, the relief that I don't have to have set all of that up again, because everything is exactly how I was expecting it to be.
But I do think it's peculiar. But then again, if you're on a Mac and you delete applications, it still leaves a fingerprint of stuff on your hard disk applications, leave all of these files all over the place and it's P it's peculiar. I wish it was different and I wish there was a way that we could enforce that.
You make the choice when you delete it. Do you want to purge everything? Yes or no, because that would be good for the environment as much as anything else it's using up less hard disk space and so on.
David Waumsley: [00:16:27] Yeah. Save the planet wherever they are. You know, when we put too much stuff on our servers and they have to be called, it uses up resources in the world.
Big fan of keeping things as lightweight as possible. Yeah. Actually you just come up with a solution that is literally it, where you offer the choice. Cause I'm thinking it can't be imposed from above because page builders are likely to leave their stuff in there and thank God they do, because if you accidentally deleted your plugin and lost all of your work, you'd be really upset, wouldn't
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:59] you so well, that must be the reason, right?
Is that there's just from the developer's point of view, there's really no downside from their point of view because they'll have to deal with less support. If somebody deletes something accidentally just, okay, just re-install the plug and it'll be fine. Don't worry about it. Yeah. Whereas if you give them the opportunity to delete everything, I'm imagining that the support requests would go up.
W I deleted it. I didn't mean to, I didn't know. That's what it is. And so on so I can see why, but having a clear expectation and setting it out, I didn't have in some kind of I was going to say modal pop-up, but just a button at the point where you click delete, it's just a confirmation. Do you want to delete just the files or the data attached to this plugin and having a choice to do both?
How hard would that be?
David Waumsley: [00:17:50] Yeah, I love that. That's a brilliant idea. I guess the only other side of that is, does that make a lot of work for plugin authors? One thing this leads on to another topic really about finding plugins, but something about all those earlier free plugins that people used to do and they weren't commercialized, they didn't have big backers behind them.
There's still some fabulous plugins out there that just do one thing for you, which is how I came into WordPress. It was like that. And. These days, it's quite a lot of work for them to have to keep submitting, particularly with every change with WordPress. So they don't disappear from the search.
You know, you're flagged up. Now, if it hasn't been tested with the last three major releases of WordPress, and we think we were experimenting earlier, wasn't we worked with what came up in search because we couldn't understand the search algorithm for the repository and how yeah. We still don't know.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:18:47] No, we haven't the faintest idea, but I would imagine it wouldn't be that hard for developers after all, they are creating their own tables. They must have a handle on what tables they've made. And so just at the end saying, actually get rid of all the tables that we've created because we know what they are.
Wouldn't be that difficult, I guess it's just the, it's the nuclear option. Isn't it? You don't have a way back and you do if you've got a backup, but if you're, if you do something accidentally and you're a bit trigger, happy that there could be a lot of pain in down that route, but it doesn't make sense that you have a website, which only gets bigger every time you install a plugin, the minute you've activated that plugin forever more.
There's the tables in for that plugin inside your database. That doesn't make sense.
David Waumsley: [00:19:35] Yeah. Yeah, it did. I mean, one of the things that you said about the problem with plugins now is that those such a choice isn't the, before, if you want an SEO plugin, you literally, you've got, I dunno, maybe 10 that you can choose from.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:19:52] I mean that, that is a really big deal. I was looking for something on on the web the other day to buy a real physical product. And I was really struck by how many choices I had and how difficult that decision was for me. Yeah. Luckily, both you and I are it's in WordPress. At least we've, you we've spoken about things.
We've talked to other WordPress people. We've probably made some fairly informed decisions about the crucial plugins that we want to use and we want to deploy. So for us, our little laundry list of pre-installed plugins, if you like the ones that we're always going to use we're happy with those, but you go into the repository and you type in something like SEO and you are, you're presented with absolutely dozens.
It's great. It's really good. There's nothing wrong with competition, but it is also quite confusing because now that the marketplace is so big for WordPress 42% and rising. There's room for competition and all these different rival companies can make a living from having similar functionality.
So forms, plugins, SEO, plugins, caching, plugins, backup, plugins. They do the same thing broadly. And you're left with this choice of which one do I go for? And that can be a bit dazzling and it probably must confuse people who come to WordPress for the first time. And I've got to figure all this maelstrom of things out.
David Waumsley: [00:21:19] Yeah. You said that. And I do the same that often, if I'm trying to search for the plugin that I know I'm looking for, I might use Google search rather than use the repository search to find it. Oh yeah. Because it's more
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:31] successful. Should we go into that a bit more? Because we just briefly mentioned it a second ago.
That is the topic of how the repository deliver opera results. And we are totally confused. We haven't the faintest idea. There's different options inside the WordPress admin. If you go to. Your ad plugins section, and you're looking on the repository, you're not uploading anything you've gotten search.
And we don't know how that search is created. What we, what both of us do know is we got the same search results when we typed in the same keywords. So if we typed in SEO, both of us got the identical set of results. So that's good. It's not like my previous searches have been stored anywhere or anything like that.
And it's trying to, to offer me something a bit like Google, but equally, I've no idea why the order is like that. Now in the popular one, you go to the popular tab. That's more obvious because it's just the number of installations. Maybe there's a, there's an amalgamation with the reviews and things like that featured well, who knows how you get into there, but the search results, I don't know.
I'm just curious as to whether. Can, is there a way can you have a back channel to do better in these search results? Can you gain the search results? We, we know that people try because there's all sorts of fake reviews and fake accounts set up over on the.org side. So if you were starting as a developer, getting into these search results would be really important, but I don't know how confident I am.
And I usually go to Google, copy and paste the name of the plugin, go back, type it, paste it in and download it in that way, which is ridiculous. I'm using Google to find WordPress plus.
David Waumsley: [00:23:21] Yeah. I clearly, there must be some people who are very savvy these days. I noticed the, the titles of plugins are getting longer and longer as they're trying to cram it more key words and the descriptions get longer as well as they put in one of the difficulties of searching for things in search recently, I was trying to find a base simple plugin to do mail log-in.
So I wanted to use a form which didn't have its own way of being able to keep a log of the email. Being sent out. So I wanted it and I knew it would be a simple thing. And I searched for the kind of keywords I got most of the time I got another plugin, which would be related to something else. So SN TP plugins, where perhaps in one case the the mail login was a premium add on to it.
So it wasn't serving my needs really. And I think there must be something about how well people understand the keyword loading in the descriptions. It does pay some part as well as their popularity. Obviously the solution I stumbled upon was one of the big players. You know, they've got a dominance there anyway.
They plugins used a lot and rated highly, I think,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:24:36] I think it really hadn't occurred to me until you mentioned it prior to recording this, that these names for some of these plugins have gotten ludicrously long, because what you find is when you look. Most plugins have got 2, 3, 4 word name, that's their name.
And then they typically follow that with a hyphen and then a description of what the plugin does. So it's a blah, blah, blah, plugin, the best plugin to achieve this, that, and the other keyword stuff. Ram keyword in here, rum key word, and that's not the name, stop doing it. We just want the name, give us the name and then put the description in.
But obviously there's a benefit to that. And I actually think that the, that ought to be disallowed. You ought to just have the name of the plugin. My, sorry. I'm mumbling, not mumbling. I'm moaning. Now my other moan is animated gifts. Can we stop that? Can we not have those the little thumbnail for the plugin, because that's just cheeky.
Everything's static, except for the warm plugin on the plugin page, which is moving. It's got an M and it's a little trick. Isn't it? You are drawn to it because it's moving. Yeah,
David Waumsley: [00:25:48] well, actually, I'm quite surprised that there's so few of those, I expected it to just, all of them be flashing at me at some point, but yeah, people have been fairly reserved.
I think I bet
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:59] you, there is a way that we could have found out what the criteria are for playing games rising to the top, but neither of us did and it's a bit of a confusion to us, but there's just that, in a marketplace, like for example Google, you he's constantly in court battling because of antitrust because of the fact that their results may in some way impact certain sectors and certain businesses.
And you've got to imagine if you've got a plugin and for reasons, you've done everything right, but you're not rising to the top. If there's any hint of that would, that would be an real cause for concern. Anyway. Yeah, there we go. There's our moon about. The repository out
David Waumsley: [00:26:44] the way.
I think it doesn't serve my needs. I think it does mean that a lot of there, the simple plugins that are made to do one job for free by people who support them for many years, they often lose out and don't get found so easily where perhaps bigger players who want to use a small plug-in to promote other plugins that they have commercially will do a lot better.
I find, you so I think it's the search doesn't help, to feature what maybe it does. I do. I don't go to the feature tab very often, but a feature, those small plugins. So I found recently that I looked for a lot of those, just small, lightweight plugins that do something like that. And I think, yeah, they have a really hard job to be found there.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:29] Right. Exactly. I would agree. And we, we, we like the underdog.
David Waumsley: [00:27:35] Yeah, we're British. That's what we do. Okay. So anything else we wanna discuss about when we're moaning about plugins?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:45] Well, I mean, we've talked about the fact that there's so many, it's difficult. You've got this problem of choice.
That's one thing you've got the repository, which is another thing. No, I think that's probably all, on the whole, I think it's an incredible fact that we've got them. I can't think of anything else I want to matter about. I bet there is. And there's something that I'm missing out, but no, I think we're good.
David Waumsley: [00:28:09] We've started to talk about then the things we like about plugins, then let's see if we can agree what we think.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:17] I just thought of something. Can I go back, go and this isn't a moan. This is a conversation. Don't shoot the messenger. What about the whole acquisition space at the minute? What about the fact that plugins are being.
By people that you didn't have any interest in previously. So let's say that you've got a plugin, which does some functionality and that's all you want. You just want that thing. And now you realize it's been bought by a company that you may have had a terrible experience with in the past. Now I raised this debate reasonably recently in the Facebook.
Yeah. And I would say it was 50 50. Lots of people concerned that plugins were being bought by larger companies who were wealthy enough to really buy everything, including all rivals. And then there was the other half who were totally sanguine about it and just thinks that this is a, the maturing of any ecosystem.
It ends up being bought out by larger entities and you get bigger things growing up. I'm not a hundred percent sure where I sit, but I definitely think it's worth debating. And so that, that's a new thing. It feels like over the last three or four years, this has started to happen. I do have concerns that will end up.
Some often it's hosting companies who have the pockets that are deep enough to buy these things, hosting companies that have just bought up all the good stuff. You know, you might not be able to get it in the future. You don't know what they're going to do with it. So I'm really, I'm just raising it as a concern.
It hasn't affected me, but I can see why some people might be concerned by it.
David Waumsley: [00:30:01] There are, yeah, there are also interesting cases. There are some folks out there I won't mention their name who do seem to buy up the rivals to their plugins. And they become the same plugin effectively. I don't know.
Yeah. You're buying
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:14] the competition. You're buying the competition. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:30:18] And it becomes exactly the same. So you get two versions and then people get what they're offered. It gets changed. That's when people get really upset, isn't it? When it, when the plugin that you update suddenly isn't the same plugin and it's a whole different thing.
Do you know what? I think it even happens in the interestingly there's a plugin that I use for a long time that the same author and they do it for free. There's no commercial interest in it, but they just decided overnight to change the guts of it, how it was going to work and what it was going to support.
And. There's just nothing to warn you about that happening. In my case, it was anti-spam and spam just appeared and that's how I knew something could change. And I looked at it, they just completely ripped out the guts and rechanged it. And that, and there's no system is there with the plugins to let you know that there's a change of ownership or that what you're updating to could be entirely different to what you're expecting.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:31:15] Yeah. W there was a debate about this as to whether or not there ought to be a sort of public open channel about acquisitions and mergers. And I can't remember how that debate went or where the people thought that information ought to surface. But I think if you are going to sell your plugin and move on you, you are, let me just examine in my head, whether what I'm about to say is true.
Yeah. I think there is a bit of a duty of care for you to inform every body. The problem is that unless they're on your email list, You don't have a way of actually telling them yes. You could put stuff in the change log. Yes. You could post stuff on your website, months in advance if necessary, but unless they're on your email list, you don't really have a way to get in touch with them.
You probably do. If they've got a license. In other words, if it's a commercial plug-in cause you probably got some way of, you've had some interaction, they filled out a form, with payment details and that there probably is a way there, but if it's from the repository, there's no way you're going to be able to get in touch with them.
So I think in principle, it's a really good idea, but in practice, I think it's virtually empty.
David Waumsley: [00:32:29] Yeah, I agree. And I think even if you had a system that meant they couldn't update until you would agree to the update in the backend of your system, that may be a possible route. You know, you have to agree to the update, but then maybe a lot of us might get quite annoyed about that.
If there was some, it would depend on those changes, those of us who update in bulk using some other system, they have to go into all of our sites and do this manually. It could be annoying as well. So yeah, I can't see a solution.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:01] No. And so far I've not really been affected by any mergers or acquisitions.
It's just an interesting debate. And it's something that I think in the future is going to be more and more popular that developers will build solutions to things which they know are pain points with the intention of selling it. I'm imagining if you went yeah. Oh, I don't know. Let's make up a number eight years.
Most plugins were created to solve a problem. And if they were lucky, there might be a commercial bit of it. Whereas now I feel that because the ecosystem is so large, there's now a total route to building a plugin with the expectation that it will gain paid customers. And you will be able to sell it on in three or four years time.
And I don't know if that change in philosophy is good or healthy or bad or unhealthy. Not sure. Don't think the time has passed to figure that out, but it's definitely something to watch out. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:34:10] It's a thing. It's definitely a thing. Yeah. Yeah. There was some good example. Interestingly, only the other day, I realized that a plugin, which I've used for quite some years gravity forms, zero spam, tiny little thing, adds a script, stops people being able to spam.
And now not affected. They haven't changed anything about it. There's no commercial side to it than the advertising themselves for it. I just thought, oh, that's quite a nice change over it. Didn't affect me. I wouldn't need to know about that change of ownership because then they're not pushing anything on me, but why would they want
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:00] In that scenario, obviously I'm no plugin developer. I don't understand the motivations. Is it that somebody in that scenario. It was obvious. They no longer were interested in maintaining that and, changes in web technology, even things which do one simple thing. It may be that in the period of a year, it needs looking at a couple of times, even if it does very little, just in case you want to be secure from a security perspective, if nothing else, is it just that the gravity views people in this case, maybe they were making use of it.
They found it really useful themselves, and they didn't want it to fester and become less popular because of time, time is a big indicator. It hasn't been updated for three WordPress versions as well. You're going to get warnings for that. Yeah. I think just being good custodians of something, or do you feel that in the future there's the possibility to, I dunno, put adverts in the admin.
David Waumsley: [00:36:01] Maybe they will. They haven't so far, that hour long is changed over, but I thought it was a good example. And I guess, one thing we didn't really cover here is that there is a bit of a burden on small developers. A friend of ours who created an add on for beaver builder said to me that he, he hadn't updated for a long time.
And he just said, it's really quite a complex for him, the process to do that just as this sort of part-time job, this plugin that is creative for everybody. So it falls behind and I'm used to that, but you still. And then this is going to put a lot of people off. I see it in a beginners group that I run where a lot of people say, like to use this plugin, but he says it hasn't been updated.
And you just say, yeah just one simple thing. I think you can trust it. And that used to be the case in my Genesis days, a lot of the add-on plugins for that just didn't get updated. People didn't have the time, but it just did one thing. And they only worked within the Genesis framework. And unless that radically changed, which it was notorious for not doing yeah.
The plugin was going to go for all time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:07] Really? Yeah. Yeah. That's interesting. I don't know. Anyway, it's happening. These things are bought and we just have to keep an eye on it. See how it works. Clearly the new custodians there, they're gaining an audience. Hopefully they're good custodians of it and doing the right thing.
I have to wait and see you. Yeah. But the, the coagulation of many plugins under the umbrella of one company, That, that could be an interesting one to keep an eye on, because if one company does come to really own a lot of the good stuff, that's the point at which they can start to charge quite a lot of money in the knowledge that really that's the quickest route to building your website because the counter argument would be well, somebody will fork it and create an alternative.
Yeah, that's also possible. And let's just see how it works.
David Waumsley: [00:38:04] Yeah. So we will carry on with our, why we love the plugins and talk a bit about our choices, but can we, do we agree that for a guess, most of the, our audience, people who make some kind of living out of doing general client work, do we agree?
There's a set of plugins that we need, regardless of who makes those so a page builder, some form, including the add ons for the. Editor. Yep. Cash Cashin. Yep. Security backups. Yep. SEO. Yup. Subscription and contact. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:40] Some sort of forms. Plugin. Yep. Yep. Anti-spam I don't know about that one. In that I think sometimes the form plugins themselves, try to deal with that, but I'll totally concede it.
I do use, try to use anti-spam features inside of form plugins as well as additional anti-spam things as well. Yeah. I agree with that.
David Waumsley: [00:39:00] I only threw that in at the end cause I've just been looking into two spam plugins, like yes. But also, we probably need something to, for most of us anyway doing it for a living would need to manipulate dynamic content.
So probably be able to create some custom fields and some custom post types as well. Yup. And a migrate or cloning tool of some kind. See,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:24] I think that one's also okay. That's an edge case. I think that for people like you and me, that's a yes. But I think for most people using WordPress, that's a no, because they'll just set it up on the hosting environment and they'll run with that forever.
Yeah. And they'll use the backups on their own hosting setup. So yes, for me, totally. Yes, because I waive enough site backup in case something goes wrong. But I think for most WordPress normal in inverted commerce, WordPress users, I think that's probably a net.
David Waumsley: [00:39:58] Yeah. And naturally migrating and cloning tools are becoming part of what hosts offer routinely now.
So maybe it's not in the right necessarily against a pop-up maker youth, or maybe that's not necessary
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:09] total. No, on that. Yeah. I don't think that's a requirement, although you like it and you've got that in your M U yeah. Plug-in list.
David Waumsley: [00:40:20] Yeah, it is on my kind of it's mostly for user interactive popups rather than the the ones that just annoy people, but image optimization.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:31] yes. But again, I think most people wouldn't know that was something. And also now WordPress does do since when was it 5.6? Was it 5.6 or 5.7? It now does handle a little bit of this, it will resize to a S to a maximum dimension. But that's for output on the front end. I believe it keeps the original as well, but certainly for my part, I always put some image optimization on.
Cause I just see that as a complete quick.
David Waumsley: [00:41:06] Yeah, it might go out soon. The web P formats coming in with 5.8 is it's going to support it in WordPress. You just wonder whether creating that format will be a com a part of WordPress eventually,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:17] what? This is for another conversation, but I'm just not even sure that the, the web P thing is ready yet.
Is it, what are we on? Is it something like 70% browser compatibility there? So I'm not jumping on the web pea thing yet, but I will.
David Waumsley: [00:41:32] No it's higher than that. It's just that good. Yeah. It's in the nineties, but it's yeah, but it's a safari and that's huge. Mostly. Yeah. And that,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:45] yeah. So safari does support it well, in that case until they do I look at this like once every six months, I'm not in any great rush because I optimize things, but yeah, without a doubt in the future, if web P stuff comes along, but.
David Waumsley: [00:42:03] it's there. I think if you're on the latest safari on the, on a more recent Mac, then you it's fine.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:09] Does that mean that there's another way? Is it called avid a V I D something like that, which is even more compressed than web P that's coming down the pipe. And I think it's avid a V I D I'm sure people tell me that I've got that wrong, but it's, uh, for example, in short pixel, the plugin, which we both use to optimize things, it's now an option and it, it says that it's got a greater reduction even than web P.
If you look into settings, you'll notice it in there.
David Waumsley: [00:42:39] But then, I just see why Pete might take off, because I'm sure there'll be some API that that can be embedded in some of the, like WordPress from Google or something that will allow you to do it. I imagine this in the future, but who knows
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:54] all of that, generally speaking from a.
From the perspective of somebody that's working with WordPress, all of those things make perfect sense. And in fact I'd say that you really couldn't build a moderately complicated site with out. Most of those things, certainly the page builder, certainly the manipulating, the custom post types and the custom post type fields makes perfect sense.
The SEO stuff. That's nice. The backup stuff. It's nice. The security stuff is nice, but just to get started. Yeah, I think that's really important.
David Waumsley: [00:43:30] Do you want to go through which ones you use the
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:33] equivalence for those? Yeah. So at the minute it's funny because I settle on these things, but then review them.
There are certain ones that I just can't be bothered to go back and review. Once I've settled on an SEO one, there's no way. Hi, I'm going back to look at that on a regular basis, but things like page builders. And themes. For some reason, I'm really drawn to exploring those. They create more excitement for me than SEO does.
Anyway, here we go. Disqualified is bricks. There's this new page builder, but it's a theme, so I'm not allowed to mention it, but I do like that, but also my absolute go-to is beaver builder. So there we go. A beaver builder, plugin, and. Which if you've not used, it is just great. I use ACF, which has, as of the last few weeks been bought by delicious brains.
I also use fluent forms. I've got a gravity forms license, and I've also started to explore Ws form as well. My SEO one at the minute is SEO press, and that's not likely to change cause I feel it's doing a good job back up as per your advice. I ended up with updraft plus I had all sorts of different solutions, including my own sort of scripts to make Tarbowl backups.
But I got fed up with all that. And so I'm using updraft the free version a variety of different security things. I use, I theme security, which has just that a big update. Their onboarding is now significantly easier. I seem security. That is, but also WebEx and Mulcaire, I've got those installed on a lot, generate.
Which I know it's a theme, but I'm saying it because there's a premium plugin. So I use that. Yeah. And again, per your advice, I use black hole for bad bots that goes on every single site. And I've no idea if it's doing a lot, but I just feel nice and cozy and warm it's there. And also an SVG plugin, which usually gets stuck on the website and wants the logos and the icons that we want are done.
It is ripped out again, but it's just a strip out all the junk. And I don't really understand what it's stripping out, but it's stripping things out.
David Waumsley: [00:45:54] Yeah. Wow. Okay, good. A black hole for bag bots. I actually I've stopped using that now. What? Sorry about that. But I think it's fun. It's fabulous. I love Jeff styles plugins.
Yes. One of those people who puts out a lot of stuff for free and they always, they're always minimalistic. They do one thing. And his take on how to do things is always good. It's the kind of most unintrusive way of doing stuff. So I really like his stuff. So
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:22] his latest one is latest perishable, press one.
It was to disable something that came out. Yeah. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:46:29] He does a lot of disabling. It's disable this, disable
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:33] that. Yeah. But it's great. He was disabling something which was controversial in core. And I can't remember what was it? The, was it like the, was it the, oh God. Oh, I can't remember. Okay, stop now.
I'll look it up after the show.
David Waumsley: [00:46:50] Yeah, I do know what you mean that he has done something. I don't know if it was notification, somebody has done something on notifications and I'm like, anyway. Okay. So mine are pretty similar with no surprise their guests, but with beaver builder,
Hard to believe, but it's true. ACF again. You know, but pods could be used for
Nathan Wrigley: [00:47:16] pause you there. Can I just put you out the ACF has the acquisition of ACF given you any pause? No, it hasn't mainly, you said that. Yeah, me neither. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:47:30] I think it was really handed. I thought it was one of the nice transfers.
I just thought Elliott had really thought about who it needed to go to someone, very similar vein developer focused and how it is too, because it's moving very much with what Gutenberg does. It requires a lot more skills than he would have needed previously. And I just think it's beautifully done.
Yeah. That's so Bravo. Yeah. Yeah. And they seem a good, I really don't know. I do use the, the only plugin I use by delicious brains is the search and reply, better search and replace plugin. Does another freebie? No, no advertising in that. Another good bit of work. So I like them anyway.
Um, uh, so up Jeff palace, the same as you gravity forms is I've just stuck with that because my thing is really, if something works well and it doesn't break along the time, then I stick with it. And that's pretty much what I've talked about so far. Everything's worked well that hasn't let me down. So there,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:48:33] sorry, I'm really curious about that.
Can I just plumb the depths of that a bit? If you discover something better and I don't know what that means, but your existing one works well. What's the criteria there? Do you just say actually I don't care about shiny new box. And I do mean better if something literally objectively better came along and you could compare like for and say, do you know what it's got?
It's got cleaner code, it's got a leaner output. It does more, it's better. Would you fly or do you stick with gravity forms in this case? Let's just use that as an example, because it just works and I don't need to worry about it.
David Waumsley: [00:49:14] Yeah. It's a good, quick you know, at the end of the day, we, we talk a lot about progress and we think it's there and everything's a game changer every six months, but it really is.
And in terms of building the kind of sites that I build, so I'm very pragmatic in the sense that I would like to have the same set of tools for the people that I support through the years. Cause that makes it a lot easier for my business. And then. That continuity. So that always weighs me in the favor of being cautious.
But if something really is just evidently better in the terms of my business BeaverBuilder was better than using gravity forms because the clients demanded to be able to access their sites and change things easier. So that had to force a change in me, but otherwise I'd probably be still on Genesis.
That's me. Really? Yeah. No.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:50:04] That's fair enough. Good answer.
Yeah, no, if the codeDavid Waumsley: [00:50:07] is a lot cleaner than I do, uh, interestingly enough, I was thinking I overused gravity forums when it's not required, it's too big for what I needed to do, and I need to stop sticking it in as my default and think whether I actually need it on this project.
Yeah. So there is a, an element of that, but anyway, sorry, my list SEO press is the one that I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with. I say, I really don't know how to judge, whether an SEO plugin is doing the work for me or not. Um, I've gone safe before on most of my sites, I've gone with Yoast because it's the big player and SEO press was the new guy, but I tend to have swapped to it because it's nice and clean and no advertising stuff.
Custom post type UI is a plugin that she used a lot for making my custom post types, but I can make a plugin. I don't
Nathan Wrigley: [00:50:58] know why say that one as well. You're absolutely right. I use that all the time.
Yeah, I do. But I, you it's somethingDavid Waumsley: [00:51:05] you can make yourself with a plugin. I've been able to do that.
So if I can do that, anyone can do it for sure. WP rocket has become my default cash, but there are so many good ones out there. Cash enabler. I really like simple breeze. Pretty good. All free and WP rocket wins only really, because it's so easy to be to, with main WP to be able to change all the settings across all the sites.
That's really it's key thing. Yep. Yeah, that's it. And then there's a whole bunch. Can I go into them of non essential, not less known ones, which I think are just fabulous. Cause I won't call out the small. So I mentioned it once gravity forms zero spam. I've also just discovered another one called L H zero spam.
It's just such a, it's six kilobytes. This plugin it's got hardly any reviews it's been around for a number of
Nathan Wrigley: [00:51:59] years has three reviews. One of which is.
This allows people who have that turned off not to be able to submit a form or contact not to be able to actually get into your log-in either. So it cuts out for security and your comments spam and anything like that. It's just simple plugin and just solve a big a big problem. If you like with spam, where other plugins could be huge anyway, just to call out for them, pop up maker, another freebie that as a premium stuff, which I really liked for that.
My great guru. We were talking about this earlier, well, it is fabulous, but it makes me think about the chances of really good plugins that are only needed to do one job. And then you can only install them because that's one of those you might, you installed it to migrate your plugin. And then when you're finished, you've migrated, you saw your migrate your site.
You want to install it and then you're done with it. And then suddenly it's not active on sites as it. It's not going to figure, yeah. It's a
Nathan Wrigley: [00:53:13] difficult one search well, if, if one of the criteria is how many installs for the repository to push you up the search results and the plugin, like an SVG, plug-in where it's quite likely that you're just going to use it and then get rid of it.
Same for the, your migration plugin after you've migrated. It doesn't really need to be there. You do wonder will it get the results that it deserves? Yeah. Good point. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:53:38] Yeah. There's a lot that like that. And then including the SVG one that uh, it, I use it to enable me to get those SVGs into library, but once the client goes in, then unlikely to use those.
So I just uninstalled it again. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Sorry, I'm going on with my long list now, trying to cut it down a bit quick, query monitors and other one, when I'm building sites usage, DD is a similar thing. It just measures the kind of speed in the backend of your site and how many queries have been outputted, that kind of stuff.
And it can help you with problem solving if you've got, duplicate queries and stuff like that. So that's a brilliant plugin query monitor. Again, someone that has been in the WordPress can't remember his name actually now, but it's been in the WordPress community since forever. Yeah, there's a.
Database cleaner. That is a premium to get the best use out of it, but still a very handy plugin for cleaning up stuff. That's going in your database. Yeah. And, and just start gets mentioned again, for me, you weren't like there's so much disabled Gutenberg. I think that the best way to disable Gutenberg is Jeff's plugin.
I know solace a system by beaver builder is now becoming my new tool and will probably become more useful over time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:55:00] What recent video about that was really great, so great. In fact that they put it on their website and that tool is really shaping up into something, which I probably will put everywhere.
It just looks so far.
David Waumsley: [00:55:14] Yeah, it'll solve a problem for me. So it's w we just mentioned what it does just very quickly is that on the surface, the free plugin is a utility plugin to help you to do basic tasks, daily tasks in WordPress quickly without having to keep going to the backend to your admin side.
But it's soon to be connected up to a system pro, which is not all premium. You'll be able to save your assets. So save your templates and your page designs and stuff up to the cloud. And we use them. It's just the only, if you don't want that to be public, then you need to pay for it, but that's to come, isn't it?
Yep. They've just got a free ad out.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:55:56] Wow. Very deadly. No, that's good. Good, good plugins need. Good support. So yeah, happy to mention it. So that's the less known, but pretty essential stuff. Yeah. Everything else can be discounted. It we've said it all. Now we are the only ones worth mentioning.
One thing, I didn't mentionDavid Waumsley: [00:56:19] in the problems with plugins. I'm surprised about that because I haven't read out my list of add-on plugins that go with other services, which are added to WordPress. I'll save you from that. But it does. That is one of the issues there. Isn't it. When a lot of people do that, so Mailgun has one and I think that fell.
It didn't get updated when these companies are not in the WordPress ecosystem and they produce plugins for their services. Go, daddy have done this. They've. Plug-ins kind of rot away cause they forget about it. It's not part of their main business. I think that's one of my concerns with plugins as well.
You think, oh, I should go for the plugin that is made as an add on service for WordPress by those people. But in my experience, it always, they always seems to be the plugins that are the most problematic. They forget about them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:57:11] Yeah. Good point. And of course, just because something's premium doesn't mean it's going to be updated it as often as you would wish it was updated.
It just means that whenever it comes, you're going to get.
David Waumsley: [00:57:23] Yeah, exactly. It's like, it's the, yeah. This in, cause obviously if you run something like Mailgun you want to make sure that you're serving the WordPress, you build your own plugin for that, but they let theirs fall apart. It's fine now, but but I see that happen in a lot, with those kind of services.
Yeah, unless they're directly making money from WordPress anyway. That's just what I spotted. Maybe others have different experiences.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:57:48] Yeah. I think we've yeah, I do think we've covered plugins. There was a lot more to say we could have talked for another hour or so, but we are, we're almost at an hour.
Oh, Christ. I know fixed fitness. 55 minutes is how far we've got so far. So unless just scrolling through the show notes, I can think of anything that we didn't cover. I think we've probably said
David Waumsley: [00:58:11] everything we wanted to say. We didn't cover it all, but we had a nice chat
Nathan Wrigley: [00:58:15] Go and install loads of plugging.
And and tell us which ones are the best. Actually, that's a good point. If you are, if you have managed to get to this far in the podcast, firstly, you deserve a medal. Secondly, please write a little comment somewhere and let us know what the plugins you're using are, where we've gone wrong. What we said that we're stupid.
And maybe just maybe what we said that was sensible and what we do in next time then. Cause that was P what comes down. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:58:46] For quibble. You're just like the word I do. I love the word that we're going to have a lighthearted look at the kind of debates around in and around WordPress over the years.
That's how I do it will be really hopefully a
Nathan Wrigley: [00:59:02] long episode. I mean they come up every single week okay. That'll be in a couple of weeks time for now. Thanks for chatting about plugins with me, David. That was nice. I hope that you enjoyed that episode. Always fun to chat with David Waumsley.
Honestly, that conversation could've gone on for twice as long, there is so much to say about WordPress and it's plugin architecture. It's the thing which makes it amazing. And I'm sure you've already discovered the wonderful things that it makes it possible for each and every one of us to do when we install new plugins.
If you've got anything to say about that, find us on our Facebook group. Find us on the website. Search for episode number 240. And give us a comment. What did we miss? What did we say wrong? And so on the WP build's podcast was brought to you today by AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time, then you AB split test plugin for WordPress.
We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes, use your existing pages and you can test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers rows. And the best part is that it works with element or BeaverBuilder and the WordPress block editor. So check it out, get a free [email protected]
Okie doke. We will be back next week because it will be a podcast episode. Only this time. It will be an interview episode because we rotate them one week discussion with David and then another week and interview. So we'll be on an interview next week. Also, don't forget this week in WordPress, 2:00 PM. UK [email protected] forward slash live.
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I hope that you enjoyed it. Stay safe, have a good day. Bye-bye for now. .