Shiny New Toys: A Weekly Report of New WordPress Plugins“Shiny New Toys” is a weekly report of the latest, newest, and free-est WordPress plugins you’ll find on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

Around our office we frequently interact with professional WordPress developers. This series may help the community by showcasing new plugins.  After all, you never know when the next plugin that shows up will be the must-have plugin of 2016.

This week we feature plugins that allow you to sell event tickets, make chord charts, display presentations within WordPress, enable browser notifications, and publish from Facebook.

The Week in Review

This week we only see 89 new plugins added to the Plugin Directory. That might be the record for the slowest week this year.

Last week I reviewed “Rational Theme Server” and I made two recommendations:

  1. Don’t force the theme preview globally, but allow it to be designated per page
  2. Have an Easy Digital Downloads Integration

The author, Jeremy Hixon, already implemented both recommendations. Both are intuitive features, and well done. I particularly like the EDD integration. All you do is in your EDD product enable a checkbox indicating that that product is connected to one of your Theme Server themes. Then when you go to preview a theme (which you can do per page now instead of globally) instead of a “Download” button, you’ll see a “Buy Now” button which takes the user to the EDD product page to purchase.

In testing the new features I discovered that Rational Theme Server is not compatible with child themes at all and doesn’t fail gracefully if a Child theme is selected. Would love to see that implemented if possible.

OK, onto this week’s round-up!

Easy Paypal Events

There are literally hundreds of Event-related plugins in the WordPress space. If you want to enter this market you better enter BIG. In the case of Easy Paypal Events, most likely this was a developer/freelancer who had a specific client request that wanted a very simple event sales solution. That’s exactly what this is.

If you’re already using PayPal, this can allow you to very easily start selling event tickets from your site. The setup is very straight-forward, and out of the box it worked as expected. I only have a few minor comments:

  • Standard WordPress UI puts the “Add New” button just to the right of the Title of the page. This floats it far to the right side of the screen. It took a while to find the button.
  • The “Add New” button placement is doubley-difficult because there’s also no “Add New Event” link from the left-hand navigation, which is also standard WordPress practice.
  • Lastly, you can designate how many of each ticket type you have available. But that information isn’t displayed on the front-end — at least not before any tickets are sold. Would be nice to be able to display that and maybe even swap out the class names to “.only-5-remaining” so you could make that message red or something when there’s only a few tickets left. [EDIT:] Just noticed it looks like that’s a Pro feature. That’s not made clear in the free version at all, so making that clear in the settings would be beneficial.

It’s worth noting they also have a pro version. All together this is a simple but solid offering when you have simple ticket sales needs.

Pushchamp

We’ve talked about push notifications before. Are developers picking up on a trend that we’re missing? Would love feedback from our readers on whether they are seeing push notifications more and more on the web and your take on them overall.

Most websites have an email subscription of some sort either using Jetpack or MailChimp, etc. What this plugin does differently, is a browser notification.

This could be very useful for WordCamp sites, or any event-related site, really, to let users know when tickets are on sale.

Pushcamp also has a very reasonable pricing model for their service. Overall, this looks like a fairly good offering as well. We might have to do a more comprehensive write-up on all the different push notification plugins that we’ve been seeing cropping up over the year so far.

Ultra Facebook Timeline

This is a new take on social sharing. Most people push from their WordPress-powered site to Twitter and Facebook et al, this one pushes from Facebook to your site.

This could be useful for multiple Facebook Admins who are primarily mobile users. I see the power in this plugin as being an aggregator of multi-source content. Also, those who you wouldn’t necessarily want to be in your WP Admin, can still post via this method. They have a live demo, too.

The biggest problem with this plugin — and many that attempt to integrate with social platforms — is they really don’t make it easy to understand how to setup and configure the plugin at all. There really needs to be quite a bit more attention to the UI of this plugin, particularly hints and labels that are more constructive as to where to find the necessary info to configure the Timeline correctly.

ChordWP: Sheet Music for WordPress

Our whole WordImpress team are musicians. Bridget loves guitar and singing, I do keys and arranging, and Devin loves to shred on guitar. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is host chord charts on my website of songs I’ve arranged. This plugin makes it really fairly straight-forward to do that.

ChordWP is perfect for the singer/songwriter and could easily pair with the PayPal ticket plugin for coffee-shop gigging musicians. Many of us write music and freely distribute the charts, but need an easy way to create them. Also, it’s not strictly sheet music; this plugin helps you create lyric-based lead sheets. Think chord charts.

We’d discourage you from violating copyright by publishing someone else’s songs, however. Stay with your own music and public domain just to stay safe. Remember what happened with tab sites? Lawsuits are never fun.

One feature I’d love to see is integration with a service like “Print Friendly”. Everyone wants to be able to download your chords charts for their own livingroom music practice sessions. There’s a really simple plugin for Print Friendly and I tried to use these two together, but the chord chart is added outside of the content loop, which is the only thing that Print Friendly adds to the PDF.

Haste Impress

Impress.js is a javascript library that allows you to create dizzy-ing presentations just like Prezzy. Every WordCamp speaker I know is always on the hunt for a solid presentation plugin so they can host their presentations easily on their website.

The other plus with using a plugin like this on your WP install is often, wifi is just not reliable at WordCamp events. Spin your site up locally with Desktop Server or VVV and you’re ready to present regardless of the wifi situation.

So far this plugin looks like it’s a little short of being production ready. The presentation works, but it borked my theme at the same time. Hopefully the author will be continuing to test in a wider amount of environments and configurations to get it more stable for the future.

Until Next Week!

If you are a plugin author and are planning to release a plugin soon, reach out to us and let us know. We’d love to give you our insights in advance and potentially feature you in our Shiny New Toys series. Thanks!

Matt is Head of Support and Community Outreach at WordImpress.com. He's the author of many free WordPress plugins, a popular blogger at his website, an admin of the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, co-organizer of the San Diego WordPress Meetup, and a frequent WordCamp speaker and attender.

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