15 Helpful WordPress Plugins for the Savvy User

Apr 2 2008 by Jacob Gube | 75 Comments

15 helpful WordPress plugins for advanced users - photo by  jimwhimpey of flickr

This article presents 15 WordPress plugins to help enhance and simplify the blogging experience of advanced users, especially web developers and designers. Most of the plugins were tested on a default installation of WordPress version 2.3.1 for basic functionality; relevant screenshots of the plugins in action are included.

What’s a savvy user?

  1. A blogger with basic to expert knowledge of HTML/CSS, and for a lot of the plugins featured here, PHP and MySQL experience is highly recommended.
  2. A blogger who needs to display complex content in posts and pages like displaying and colorizing code snipplets, running custom scripts only on certain posts or pages, incorporating custom web forms, etc.
  3. A blogger who knows what they’re doing - The default configuration of WordPress is too "fool-proof". For example, with the visual editor turned on, it will add unexpected indents and line breaks even inside <pre> tags. Additionally, it blocks you from adding <div> tags, automatically "sanitizing" them into <p> tags.

If you match any of the above criteria, read on and maybe you’ll find a plugin or two that will make your blogging experience more convenient.

1) Google Syntax Highlighter for WordPress

Google Syntax Highligher for WordPress colorizes your code on-the-fly. It supports most programming/scripting languages such as C++, PHP, Perl, Ruby, and much more. The syntax is simple — just put your code inside <pre> tags and assign them the attributes name="code" and class="thelanguage".

The following code was tested:

<pre name="code" class="javascript">
var myString = "nSync";
if (myString == "Justin Timberlake") {
   document.write("You're a winner");
   } else {
   document.write("There's always celebreality shows");
   }
</pre>

 

This is how it colorizes my code:

Screenshot of Google Syntax Highlighter for WordPress

You can learn more more ways to customize your highlighted code in the Google code wiki entry on Usage – syntaxhighlighter. Also check out the full list of supported languages on Google Code.

Other code highlighters available are:

WP-Syntax – A plain and simple code highlighter.

WP-Syntax Screenshot

WP-CodeBox – also check out the basic usage and demo page

This plugin gives you two awesome <pre> tag attributes: download – which automatically creates a download link for your code snipplet, and colla – which gives you the option to collapse and expand the code block.

WP-CodeBox Screenshot

CodeHighlighter - It’s almost identical to WP-Syntax.

CodeHighlighter plugin for WordPress

2) Exec-PHP

Exec-PHP gives you the capability of running PHP code inside certain posts and pages. You can insert PHP code directly into your posts without having to modify your theme files. You can find a more detailed documentation of Exec-PHP on Bluesome.

You have to turn off the visual editor whenever you use Exec-PHP in your posts or pages, It won’t work even in code view.

As a test, I used a WordPress conditional tag to see if it supports them, turns out it does — the conditional tag is is_single()

The PHP snipplet used to test PHP-Exec WordPress plugin

And this is what it looks like:

PHP script used for PHP-Exec

3) Save My <pre>

If you use the visual editor, then you’ve probably experienced the frustration of trying to figure out why it messes up your <pre> tags. Code in between
the <pre> tag should preserve the indents, spaces, and linebreaks, but the default visual editor doesn’t uphold this rule.

This is what I wanted my code snipplet to look like (minus the <pre> tags):

Save my <pre> not installed

This is how WordPress renders it after I save my work from the visual editor.

What happens to <pre> tag content without plugin installed

Using Save my <pre> will prevent the WordPress editor from processing and "cleaning" up the stuff inside <pre> tags.

4) Maintenance Mode

Maintenance Mode just notifies your readers that your blog is undergoing maintenance and is currently unavailable. The message won’t appear if you’re logged in as an administrator, so you can see what your updates look like during maintenance mode.

Here’s the options page for Maintenance Mode:

Maintenance mode options

This is how it looks for users that aren’t logged in or don’t have the proper credentials:

This is how the maintenance mode message looks 

5) WP-DBManager

WP-DBManager gives you an administrative interface to manage, backup, and optimize your WordPress database. It has countless of options for making database management quite effortless. Installing this plugin gives you a new tab in the admin panel, called "Database".

WP-DBManager admin interface screenshot

6) Deactivate Visual Editor

If you need to write intricate posts that have code snipplets and/or custom scripts, it’s highly advisable that you turn off the visual editor. But if you find value in the visual editor of WordPress, then you just may want to exclude certain posts and pages from using it. Installing the Deactivate Visual Editor WordPress plugin ensures that nothing gets accidentally screwed up when you edit a post that shouldn’t be edited using the visual editor. To deactivate the visual editor on a post or page, you’ll need to create a custom field called deactivate_visual_editor and set the value to true.

Wordpress custom field for Deactivate Visual Editor plugin

7) Search and Replace

Ever wanted to change a user’s name, email, website URL on old posts? How about correcting references to an old post that no longer exists or whose name has been editted? Search and Replace allows you to do all of this inside of WordPress, through an intuitive admin interface.

 

Here’s how the admin interface looks like:

Admin interface of Search And Replace

For this test, I created a few comments throughout the test installation using the name "myOldName". I then replaced it with "myNewName".

Search and Replace (before replacing the author name)

After pressing the "Go" button, search and replace simplifies this database update by not requiring you to run a custom MySQL query (alternatively, use WordPress’ $wpdb database class and PHP-Exec if you prefer to run your own update).

Screenshot after Search and Replace WordPress plugin was used to replace comments author name

8) WP-DB-Backup

WP-DB-Backup offers a straightforward interface for backing up your WordPress database. It’s an excellent alternative to WP-DBManager if you’re only looking to create a backup. You can save the backup on the server, on your computer, or have it sent to you via email.

WP-DB-Backup screenshot

9) Tidy Up

Tidy Up cleans your HTML source code and attempts to correct invalid XHTML code. It utilizes WC3′s HTML Tidy conversion tool. If you’re concerned about XHTML validation this plugin can help.

Running the Tidy Up report gives the following output:

Tidy Up Report

10) FormBuilder

FormBuilder is a simple plugin that allows you to create custom forms inside posts and pages.

Setting up a form is a walk in the park:

FormBuilder Set-up

Here’s how the form looks (unstyled):

FormBuilder - sample form

Other Notable Plug-ins

11) WP Super Edit

WP Super Edit is an alternative to the default visual WYIWYG editor (TinyMCE). It improves on the default editor by providing advanced users with additional options such as a button for inserting <div> tags in your posts.

12) WP-Debug

WP-Debug lets you see what’s going on when your WordPress web page is rendered. This plugin is vital for efficiently troubleshooting your WordPress installation.

13) Theme Preview

Theme Preview permits you to see how your new WordPress theme looks without having to switch it out. Use it on a demo WordPress site to showcase your theme designs.

14) post2pdf

post2pdf converts your blog posts into PDF format. This is terrific specifically for tutorial writers who want to provide a PDF download option.

15) X-Valid

X-Valid is another popular plugin to help you achieve XHTML validation by cleaning up HTML code.

Got any cool experiences with these plugins? Got a particularly awesome idea on how to use them? Please share it with us by leaving a comment!

75 Comments

Brian Moschel

April 3rd, 2008

The syntax highlighter and form builder are definitely getting installed. Syntax highlighting Sucks. If this is halfway decent it’ll make my life a lot easier.

Wassup

April 3rd, 2008

A very useful post and helped me to discover several plugins which I really need to install. Thanks!

Copes Flavio

April 3rd, 2008

A great list, thanks Jacob! Your discussion about the syntax highlighters is very useful.. I need one too :)

Nita K

April 3rd, 2008

You have lots of great plugins on the list. i really like post2pdf. I defnetly try some of these.

Thanks
http://blog.e-webtemplates.com

Jacob Gube

April 3rd, 2008

If you have a great plugin that you’d like to share with the rest of us, please drop the link to it here. I’ll test them out and either write a “readers’ choice” follow up or create a list later on down the comments section with some screenshots.

Matt

April 3rd, 2008

Nice list!

Russell Heimlich

April 3rd, 2008

Awesome list! I really like that DB_Manager one. I wrote up a list of my favorite WordPress plugins with screenshots on my blog here -> http://www.russellheimlich.com/blog/my-favorite-wordpress-plugins-important-ones/

Andrew

April 3rd, 2008

Pretty cool stuff – what about the wordpress plug-in, PodPress (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/podpress/). I’ve heard it’s really cool… anyone tried it?

Stephanie Blue

April 3rd, 2008

I would put a plug in (no pun intended) for photoxhibit, it has made my life so much easier when it comes to adding photos to my plugin. I use it for picasa but it supports flickr, SmugMug and it has its own Album Manager.

http://benjaminsterling.com/photoxhibit/

GoodOlClint

April 3rd, 2008

Here’s two that I have grown quite fond of:

PluginInstaller: http://henning.imaginemore.de/pluginstaller/

And

WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin:http://techie-buzz.com/wordpress-plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade-plugin.html

Joshua Dorkin

April 3rd, 2008

Great list. I was surprised to see that there were 2 that I hadn’t seen yet. I’m going to be testing these soon! Much appreciated.

Brad Hart

April 3rd, 2008

WP Super Edit is great but I have had trouble getting it to function in my 2.5 blog.

I wish the savvy plugin writer would hurry up and write one that will let us visually place the widgets in all columns at once. Then another one to put a color options page for the administrative pages.

wterminal

April 3rd, 2008

Nice post… but some of them are not compliant with the WordPress 2.5. Hope the plugins author realize the same…

Great compilation !!

Neezar

April 3rd, 2008

Actually, i have known some of them. But, i don’t know about search and replace plugin there. That is a very useful list. I’m impressed with your plugin example and screenshot, i think you need a lot time to get those screenshots and examples. Definitely, i will bookmark this post.

Justin

April 3rd, 2008

You missed Syntax Highlighter Plus. It’s the best syntax highlighting plugin.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/syntaxhighlighter-plus/

Lalita Negi

April 3rd, 2008

thanks for the good stuff. It really helps me a lot

Chris O'Rourke

April 3rd, 2008

Great list! I love the maintenance plugin. Some of these I hadn’t seen at all before.
One good new plugin automatically allows adding a webclip icon to your blog (works with iphone/ipod touch. You can find it here: http://cdcstudios.com/wordpress-plugins/iphone-webclip-manager/

Damn!

April 4th, 2008

Great article. I really like the pdf plugin. I may have to give that one a try along with WP-Codebox. Excellent!! Thanks for the article!

Whitney

April 4th, 2008

Thank you so much for the great list! I created 2 sites with WP and I am now a devotee!

Rajat Bhadani

April 4th, 2008

some new ones for me – should be useful
am currently trying to create a plugin for wordpress – you have any working knowledge on it?

DG

April 4th, 2008

Hi Jacob,

You may like to check this post DTWL – Best WordPress Plugins.

Hope, you’ll find some nice plugins.

DG…

Amit

April 4th, 2008

A very useful post of WordPress…additional plugins worth noting.

Sparkus

April 4th, 2008

Maintenance Mode and Search and Replace are two potentially ultra helpful plugins I didn’t know existed. Thanks!

Riyad Kalla

April 4th, 2008

Jacob,
This was a brilliant post… about 4 “omg I need that” moments reading through your list of plugins I’ve been dying to have but figured didn’t exist.

Thanks for taking the time to post this!

Andrew

April 4th, 2008

If anyone is using pages a lot, my “My Page Order” plugin is quite handy for reordering pages with a drag and drop interface. Right now you have to visit each individual page to order them manually which is a major PITA with lots of pages. I have plugins for ordering post categories and links too. Handy if you need to get stuff in a specific order instead of by name or ID.

My Page Order
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/my-page-order/

My Category Order
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/my-category-order/

My Link Order
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/my-link-order/

Chris

April 4th, 2008

Jacob,
First off, great post.
Secondly, I saw the DB backup plugins available – are there any recommended tutorials on both backing up and migrating your wordpress install from one host to another (especially for an established site with months of posts.)

Thanks and keep up the great work!

JP Dela Torre

April 5th, 2008

i think “All-in-One SEO Pack” would be a good addition to the list.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

jim

April 6th, 2008

Hi,

Another plugin for live search :
http://www.predictad.com

James

April 8th, 2008

Suddenly I feel un-savvy. Time to go install some plugins.

But seriously, these look/sound awesome. And most of them I’ve never heard of before.

PlugIn Junkie

April 8th, 2008

WordPress is such an awesome publishing platform and the hundreds of Plugins available, make it unbeatable… Does anyone have any thoughts on the maximum number of plugins a person should have activated at one time… The one drawback to wordpress is that it can be a little sluggish and slow in page loading, and I’ve noticed that some plugins make the problem worse… Any thoughts on optimkizing the plugin experience?

rajeswar

April 10th, 2008

nice article for wordpress pugin

Brad Bodine

April 11th, 2008

Thanks for the great info. I have tried most but will be trying a few more that I just found after reading your post.

Cyanide

April 19th, 2008

Wow, this a really cool list for serious wordpress developers. As a new WordPresser, I really appreciate it. Thanks, sixrevisions.

Venu

April 20th, 2008

Google syntax highlighter and tidy up.. never knew about the existence of these 2 plugins. Thanks for coming up with a good list..

website design

May 5th, 2008

First off, great post.
Secondly, I saw the DB backup plugins available – are there any recommended tutorials on both backing up and migrating your wordpress install from one host to another (especially for an established site with months of posts.)

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Nelly Yusupova

May 12th, 2008

Here is a list of wordpress plug-ins that I use classified by different categories.

http://www.webgrrls.com/blog/2007/09/14/must-have-plug-ins-for-blogs/

Submarine

May 21st, 2008

Hi. I think this plugin would be a good addition to the list :

Category Icons

;-)

Xavier Damman

May 22nd, 2008

I think there is another great plugin for WordPress which can be very useful.
It is called commentag (http://www.commentag.com).
It allows to tag comments to keep discussions sorted.
They use that on TheNextWeb.org and it is a great add-on!

jocuri

May 27th, 2008

That’s brilliant!

jocuri

May 30th, 2008

Keep up the good work! 10q

Jack - BloggingSupport

May 31st, 2008

Great list, the only extra one I use is Increase Sociability.
Jack

Richard

July 1st, 2008

Hi,

I just tried the wp-codebox plugin on wordpress-mu 1.5.1.
Is it me or WordPress that is screwing with the text of the post when I save it? I created a new post with your example 1 code click save and then tag gets cleaned out.

**Example 1: PHP, no line numbers**

<?php
function foo() {
echo “Hello World!\\n”;
}
for (\$i = 0; \$i

Flick

July 11th, 2008

Wow… some really useful plugins here! :D Thanks for the recommendation! I was already aware of a few, like WP-DB Manager (which I think is very under-rated) but ‘Deactivate Visual Editor’ is a new one for me as was ‘Form Builder’! Thanks :D

p/s: Has anyone had a look at the latest WLTC Plugin Competition Blog? I peeked at it today after a few days, and seriously, there is some very very clever stuff there!

Darko Bunic

July 25th, 2008

I love Google Syntax Highlighter. It is pure JavaScript, means server side independence. I also made some plugin improvements to minimize load of unused JavaScript brushes and load of brushes moved to the page top. To achieve this, user has to describe what brushes to load per page in post custom fields.
Thank you!

martinwaiss.com

September 2nd, 2008

Marvelous list and good picks, there are already now so many WP plugins so one gets lost very easy in the great WordPress community …

Jason Slater

September 19th, 2008

Some good looking plugins I haven’t seen before especially the HTML Tidier and the Database tools. My list of useful wordpress plugs-ins is http://www.jasonslater.co.uk/2008/03/17/favourite-wordpress-plug-ins/

Jas.

Jocuri

September 22nd, 2008

Nice post… but some of them are not compliant with the WordPress 2.5.

Dr. Mike Wendell

October 18th, 2008

Thanks for these. I’m surprised you didn’t touch on stats plugins.

Zoran

October 26th, 2008

Really Great post.

Advance web development

November 13th, 2008

Thanks for the sharing It is really great to know. Most of I know but some of not. Great job keep it up.

Addy

November 30th, 2008

Thanks..that its :)

william waldon

December 19th, 2008

Very helpful list. I have used all of these and they all work very well.

jocuri gratis

June 29th, 2009

very good plugin, thank you.

ravi

September 24th, 2009

A great list, thanks Jacob! Your discussion about the syntax highlighters is very useful.. I need one too

yingwen

October 22nd, 2009

As a new WordPresser, I really appreciate it. Thanks, sixrevisions.

donJocuri

May 4th, 2010

Actually, this plugins makes things easy.
You deserved a coffee.

donJocuri

May 4th, 2010

good plugins. i’m using 7 of them. great post :D

alex

May 13th, 2010

WOW! I following this blog, is good!

Jocurica

August 6th, 2010

works perfect for me. no problems.

parsdl

September 18th, 2010

thanks usefull

Jocuri fete

November 8th, 2010

I use all of them. You make me feel like a WordPress Plugin Geek :)

Jocuri fete

November 8th, 2010

Number eight, WP-DB-Backup, recently got a new update. It works very well for me and is one my favourite…

Jocuri gratis

December 28th, 2010

Number 1 and 2 are my favourites!

Rajesh Namase

January 9th, 2011

Best tips, I like this article.

Jocuri

January 12th, 2011

Great post.
I saw the DB backup plugins available

jocuri line

January 19th, 2011

I like to learn more about php, and when it involves wp it’s much better. Thanks!

jocuri

February 23rd, 2011

I use all of them. You make me feel like a WordPress Plugin Geek :)

forums24

March 14th, 2011

Yes .. but are a lots of more very helpful plugins not these. but nice article anyways. greetings!

Jocuri cu

April 6th, 2011

Great article .Congratulations for this !

mewcrazy

April 26th, 2011

incredible plugins :)

dennis

Nitesh Ahir

May 18th, 2011

Thanks for providing such a nice detail information about syntax highlighters and plugins. They may be really useful to us. You do great job by sharing all this information.

reflux guy

October 26th, 2011

I was looking for a plugin that can convert the raw html part of an html page while converting it into a wordpress post or page, could not locate it anywhere except for one called ‘raw html’ which is more or less a paid version, giving limited features in the free version, do you have one in your mind?

Kyleey

November 19th, 2011

The Google Syntax Highlighter looks brilliant. I always wondered how they did that on tech-websites, and the poster would never answer my question(s).

Maintenance Mode and the Database Manager I use all the time, I wouldn’t know where I’d be without them.

You should also include All in One SEO, Google XML Sitemap, WP Super Cache. They’re all great plugins as well.

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