Plugins for publishers, April 2011 edition

The following are WordPress plugins I find myself using and recommending regularly. In the interest of making this available to everyone, here’s the full list:

  • Custom CSS – Use your own CSS to tweak your website without modifying your theme’s files. Includes a revision history so you can always backtrack to prior versions. This is a feature charges $14.97/year for and has saved the J-School significant pain.
  • Co-Authors Plus – Assign multiple bylines to an article. You’ll need to edit your theme templates too for the multiple bylines to appear.
  • W3 Total Cache – Speed up the load time of your website with caching. Caching takes a generated page of your website and stores it statically for future use.
  • After the Deadline – Spelling, style, and grammar checker powered by artificial intelligence. Catches misused words, passive voice, and cliches.
  • Edit Flow – Move your editorial workflow into WordPress with custom post statuses, editorial comments, and calendar and story budget views.
  • Post Author Box – Add an informational box about the author to the beginning or ending of every post (or any other post type). Can also be used to add the byline if your theme doesn’t support bylines.
  • Google Calendar Events – Parses Google Calendar feeds and displays the events as a calendar grid or list on a page, post or widget. It’s the Google Calendar widget you always wanted.
  • Audio Player – Embed MP3 files in your content with a simple shortcode.
  • JSON API – For the programmatically-inclined, access all of your content through a JSON API. Useful for pulling content into your website with jQuery.
  • Twitter Tools – Automatically publish your articles to Twitter, and pull in your most recent tweets into a widget area.
  • Subscribe to Comments – Allow commenters to subscribe to email notifications on threads they’ve commented on. Increase repeat visitors and engagement.
  • Emphasis – Paragraph- and sentence-level linking and highlighting. Originally developed for, Michael Donohoe open-sourced the code and Ben Balter made it into a WordPress plugin. Every website should have emphasis.
  • Restrict Multisite Plugins – For those running multisite instances, allow your users to activate only a limited number of approved plugins. Interface is very similar to WordPress’ network theme management.

Also, as a part of the documentation we’re continually preparing for the J-School, here are the criteria I follow for adding new plugins:

  • GPL-compatible – We can only install plugins on our server that are compatible with the GNU General Public License. This ensures we have the legal right to modify the plugin if it breaks, and make it available to all members of our community. All plugins should be compatible. The license must be packaged with the plugin. Unfortunately, Creative Commons licenses are not GPL-compatible.
  • Regularly updated and well-rated – The plugin has been updated in the last 6 months or so by its author. WordPress adds new features regularly, so it’s necessary the developer keep the plugin compatible with the latest version. Active users can also indicate whether the most recent version of the plugin is compatible with the most recent version of WordPress. You can find this information on the right hand of the plugin’s profile page.
  • Performs well – A couple of ways you can see whether it’s a good plugin are googling the name of the plugin to see if there’s any negative feedback, or looking in the support forums. If there are a lot of site comments or discussion threads complaining about problems with the plugin, it’s usually a bad sign.

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