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Great WordPress Plugins (Small Giants) – Part 2

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Great WordPress Plugins (Small Giants) – Part 2

A WordPress plugin can choose to be great instead of big, and it seems obvious to me that people always want to use an efficient plugin that is somewhat feature-limited, rather than a plugin that does a lot of things, but also uses a lot of resources along the way.

In the previous article in this Small Giants series, I have introduced five plugins that are very useful, but lack awareness. This time, I will review another five plugins that provide unique functionality, but most of them of course are still off the radar. I do hope that you guys will like this list. Note that all plugins listed below have been tested with WordPress 3.2 branch.

TOC Generator

Multi-site Compatible: Yes

This plugin can be easily overlooked because it doesn’t seem to be available on wp.org plugin repository. I only found out about this plugin because someone recommended it to me, and I’m happy that he did.

This plugin allows you to automatically generate a Table of Contents for a post / page based on all headings inside the content. You use a pre-defined tag (i.e. <!--TOC-->) or edit your theme file with <?php echo $post->post_toc; ?> to show the TOC. You can see a demo on the right (I’m using a slightly modified version).

The best thing about this plugin is that it is extremely simple and lightweight. It generates and caches TOC for any post in the current loop, so that you can conveniently reuse the TOC anywhere you want.

Customization: The only thing you might want to customize is the look and feel of your TOC, and this plugin makes it easy for you to do so, check out its customization section.

Caveat: As you can see, this plugin has not been updated in a very long time, but I can guarantee that it works well with the latest version of WordPress. Another drawback is that this plugin doesn’t work with multi-page post / page, I’ve fixed this in my own version of this plugin, so feel free to ask if you need help.

Download: http://scott.yang.id.au/code/toc-generator/#toc-downloa ... c-download

Virtual Pages

Multi-site Compatible: Unknown. Gave ’404 Not Found’ error in my test.

This Virtual Pages plugin is great not because it is tiny, which it isn’t, but because of the fact that it provides a very unique functionality: allowing you to create a virtual (or fake) page using which you can list posts based on some criteria, such as post date range, categories, tags, etc. You can also set a title along with a permalink for the page, which is pretty nice.

You know that adding a fake page in WordPress isn’t easy, so this plugin can act as a friendly front end so that any user can build their fake pages without having to study WordPress API and such. Note that the link to my article about creating fake WordPress pages will describe a rather different approach, but the idea and methods are generally the same.

Caveat: This plugin has a rather unfriendly option page, especially when you have a lot of tags as it displays all tags for you to choose. Another thing is if your permalink is invalid, you will have to choose all criteria again (when creating a new virtual page), which is somewhat annoying.

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/virtual-pages/

Revisionary

Multi-site Compatible: Yes

This is one of a few plugins out there that doesn’t have much competition. It allows you, or other authors, to submit change revisions to published contents, so that a senior editor can review and approve those changes at a later date.

Needless to say, Revisionary is a unique and extremely helpful plugin when you have a blog with a lot of authors, and you would like all changes made reviewed and modified as needed. By default WordPress allows you to save post revisions, but how it handles those revisions is not something you can actually control. With this plugin, you can make temporary changes to published articles, which is only shown to ones who are in charge of the review process, and not your visitors.

For a free plugin, the number of features Revisionary has will blow you away:

  • Pending Revisions allow designated users to suggest changes to a currently published post/page
  • Scheduled Revisions allow you to specify future changes to published content (either via Pending Revision approval or directly by fully qualified author/editor)
  • Enchanced Revision Management Form (with diff comparison)
  • Front-end preview display of Pending / Scheduled Revisions with “Publish Now” link
  • New WordPress role, “Revisor” is a moderated Editor
  • Works with blog-wide WordPress Roles, or in conjunction with Role Scoper

Caveat: Of course, as complex as this plugin is, bugs will constantly show up, so instead of complaining it’s better to post support topics in Revisionary’s support forum.

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/revisionary/

WP Widget Cache

Multi-site Compatible: Yes

Another unique and great plugin for optimizing your blog’s performance. This plugin uses a very unique approach: it allows you to cache individual widgets, rather than the whole page. Widgets in WordPress can cause a lot of performance issues, and by caching only widgets that you want, which this plugin does rather well (see screenshot), it can be much more efficient than page caching.

Caching Individual Widgets

Caching Individual Widgets

This plugin has been downloaded more than 52,000 times, but the fact that it’s been online for more than 3 years makes me think it needs more recognition, as it is a great plugin with a great concept. Here’s what the author says about WP Widget Cache:

If a page is very popular, and people keep visit this page, then the page cache will be very helpful. But what if the user click some link and visit another page of your blog, or Google is crawling your site? Cache another whole page? Actually that’s not necessary for most time. As we all know, WordPress share the same widgets, they’re all the same, maybe on all the pages of your site. For example, the Categories widget, this maybe never change, the Archives widget, maybe changes once a month. So it’s really really not that necessary to query the database again, especially when you use a lot of widgets.

WP Widget Cache is not to replace the WP-Cache or WP Super Cache, it’s a plus for them, as it reducing the cost for caching a new page. you can set the cache time for each widget individually, seconds to years, whatever you like. For Categories widget, days maybe fine, for Recent Comments widget, seconds maybe fine.

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-widget-cache/

Sticky Comments

Multi-site Compatible: Yes

A very new (3 weeks old) and fun plugin that allows you to make some comments always stay on top of others. This way, you can easily stick important comments at the top, such as a great comment from a visitor, or a great answer to a support question, so that people don’t have to look for them.

Sticky Comments WordPress Plugin

Sticky Comments WordPress Plugin

Despite being very simple, Sticky Comments does have some interesting features:

  • Allow you to set comments as Sticky from the comment edit page
  • Re-does the order in which the comments are shown, putting the sticky comments at the top. You can also change the order of comments (newest first / oldest first )
  • You can put either a text or an image on the left / right of the sticky comments author

This is a very promising plugin and I do believe that it will be downloaded much more in the future.

Notes: To successfully install this plugin you will have to go to your single template and replace:

  1. <?php comments_template() ?>
<?php comments_template() ?>

with this snippet:

  1. <?php
  2. if (function_exists('sc_comments_template'))
  3.     sc_comments_template();
  4. else
  5.     comments_template();
  6. ?>
<?php
if (function_exists('sc_comments_template'))
    sc_comments_template();
else
    comments_template();
?>

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sticky-comments/

The Bottom Line

So that’s it, another article in the Small Giants series with another five excellent WordPress plugins that you definitely should not miss! Since WP Widget Cache and Revisionary are rather advanced, it is recommended that you use them only in certain setups, and of course, with extra care.

I don’t actually plan to give any advise or recommendation in this section, as it’s just here to make this article’s Table of Contents look a little longer ;). If you have any corrections or questions, feel free to comment below, thanks!

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7 Opinions for Great WordPress Plugins (Small Giants) – Part 2

  1. User's Gravatar
    1
    Diego Posicionamiento November 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm – Permalink

    Hi Khang,

    Thanks for sharing your opinion about the most useful plugins.

    This is a very useful resource.

    All the best

  2. User's Gravatar
    2
    Willem December 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm – Permalink

    This is refreshing. Not just another top xx list reiterating the same things, but a list into which some thought went, and useful and relevant comments.

    I just stumbled on this by accident, but bookmarked it and will follow with interest.

  3. User's Gravatar
    3
    Radovan Súkopa February 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm – Permalink

    Also I would like to recommend the LePopup plugin for WordPress – very useful for advertising purposes as well as the gallery, etc.. Although is for a small fee which is compensated with an high quality support and frequent updates.
    You can found demo at this link http://goo.gl/y6Vgs or direct link http://goo.gl/7NnPu

  4. User's Gravatar
    4
    Raj May 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm – Permalink

    refreshing and awesome.. setting up this one on my blog…

  5. User's Gravatar
    5
    Toufiq February 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm – Permalink

    I am using Nginx, config with WP super cache, can i use widget cache, without config?

    • User's Gravatar
      6
      OddOneOut February 18, 2013 at 11:38 pm – Permalink

      Yes they can work together, but please note that widget cache will only work properly for logged-in users.

  6. User's Gravatar
    7
    Bashir Ahmed November 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm – Permalink

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing awesome plugins. I’d like to know that widget cache plugin works with W3 Total Cache plugin?

    And how’s it look in mobile version?

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