New Plugin – Simple Post Alerts

I just released my 2nd WordPress plugin to on wordpress.org – Simple Post Alerts. The plugin is simple, it allows users to subscribe to alerts for new posts pending review and/or published.

A Little Background

When it comes to WordPress plugins, they are best done in the most simple form with little to no settings screens. I have been hunting around for a plugin that does notifications for posts “Pending Review” but everything I found was overloaded with settings, options, and lots of things that just really aren’t necessary. It’s much better to to keep things simple, lean, and do it well. I was also looking for something that would be easy for users to understand, ie the settings would be per user and on their profile settings and not hidden deep in a plugin administration page.

Intro Simple Post Alerts

Simple Post Alerts allows users to easily get alerts for new posts pending review and published.

screenshot-1
Post Notifications in the User Profile Settings

How does it work?

It adds permissions appropriate settings on the user profile for post notifications. For example, Editors (and above) who work with contributors can get notified of new posts that are “Pending Review” so they can know when they need to review and publish a post. Any site user can also get notified of new published posts so they can stay up to date. The notifications aren’t fancy, just a quick note with the title and a link, but that’s the point right?

The plugin is also super simple and hopefully straight forward to make it easy to fork and change to your specific use case. With some small modifications you could use it as the base for custom post types or custom post statuses. See the plugin on Github – Simple Post Alerts on Github.

Hopefully this plugin is just what you were looking for too, enjoy!

Jetpack Keeps Getting Better

The Jetpack plugin for WordPress that brings a lot of the features from WordPress.com blogs to your own hosted installation of WordPress has always been good, but in the past 4 months they’ve had several releases that have taken the plugin to the next level. This is one of the best plugins out there for self hosted WordPress installations, it brings all the things you love about WordPress.com with the flexibility of hosting your own installation.

Latest Features include:

  • Publicize – settings on the post editor to automatically push your blog post out to your social media accounts.
  • Post by Email – self-explanatory, the ability to publish posts via email.
  • Photon – upload and deliver your post images via the WordPress.com CDN for better performance.
  • Infinite Scroll – loads 7 posts at a time and continuously loads more posts for infinite reading and makes post pagination redundant.

In total so far, Jetpack has 23 separate feature modules for everything from Fancy Lightbox galleries, site backup management, to a really awesome CSS editor with revision history that makes it easy to customize your Theme’s style without accessing SVN or FTP. All of these features add up to a really powerful plugin that should be first on your list of plugins to install on your next WordPress installation. Really excited to see where Automattic takes Jetpack next.

WordPress Caching Plugin Face-off

I’ve been looking into the ways to speed up my blog, WordPress by default is pretty heavy on servers and I’m on about as cheap of hosting you can find at Dreamhost. The first place to turn is caching which will help reduce the load on the server significantly when loading pages. The top favored WordPress caching plugins are W3 Total Cache  and WP Super Cache. Different reviews say different things, and on the surface without digging too deep it’s really hard to tell which one is better. So, I thought I’d do a little test to see which one works best for my setup.

To test this out, I installed each plugin for a 24 hour period and used Pingdom Monitoring to track the site’s response time from before and during each plugin’s active period. To view the full Pingdom results, you can see them on here – Alexphelps.me Status September 2012.

The proof is the in pudding folks. WP Super Cache was able to optimize my blog to be faster than W3 Total Cache.  On a side note, W3 Total Cache also broke some javascript used for optimizing the main navigation menu on a mobile, where with WP Super Cache it works as expected. W3 Total Cache breaking my theme menu javascript leads me to believe that it will be less compatible with Plugins that add their own javascript to the page header which makes me pretty concerned about this plugin’s ability to play nice.

Both plugins made drastic improvements on my site speed though, going from 1,700ms response time to under 500ms is cutting it by more than 2/3, and in website optimization terms that’s enormous. From here on out after this initial gain most of the configurations made will probably on see minor improvements and it’ll be a battle of inches.

There could be lots of arguments made about which one is better, but for the time I feel like investing in setup and configuration, WP Super Cache is the clear winner for me. Next thing on the list for Website Optimization is setting up a CDN to deliver static files, I’ll let you know how it goes.