Using Commercial PluginsBrian Van Nieuwenhoven - WordPress Site Developer @brianvan http://485i.com
Discussion - Have you ever...● Purchased plugin modules?● Subscribed to a service attached to a plugin?● Purchased support or installation services?● Upgraded from a "lite" or normal plugin to a "pro" plugin?
What is a "commercial plugin"?(for the purposes of this discussion)Any code module which requires a purchaseor a license from a software developerand...Any code module for which commercialservices or additional products can bepurchased.
What does that definition include?● "Premium" or "Pro" plugins● Plugins (or parts of plugins) that work only when you purchase a service, license, or access key
What about all the other plugins outthere?● There is a vast collection of "free" plugins (the code is licensed and available for download and distribution without cost)● The WordPress Plugin Directory will host and list anything with a "compatible" free license● Some plugin authors offer free code licenses, but are happy to sell service and support or premium products related to their free products or to WordPress in general.
The WordPress Plugin Directory isNOT a commercial pluginmarketplace● Premium plugins are neither available for purchase nor listed in the directory● Premium plugins cant be found if youre using the "Add new" plugin search feature in the core WordPress dashboard
But what about themes?Just FYI:● WordPress.org does list some commercial/premium themes● WordPress.org doesnt sell the themes - it just links to some of them● Premium themes are not available from the dashboards theme search feature● If you want the most popular premium framework/parent themes, you would need to find them on your own
The difference between premiumthemes and premium plugins● WordPress.org has a list for some premium themes● WordPress.org has no list at all for premium plugins
Will WordPress.org ever add aplugin marketplace?::shakes 8 ball::"Outlook not so good"● There are currently no plans for this in the works.● WordPress is a free software, open source product under the GPL license; the core team chooses to keep its directory services limited to plugins/themes that are similarly licensed.
That said...● There is nothing stopping you from adding any code to your WordPress installations● If you want to purchase a premium plugin, youll be able to add it the manual way● You might not find a premium plugin in the directory, but you CAN get the benefit of Automatic Upgrade alerts for premium plugins (if the author included that feature)
Where to find premium plugins(the type that is not part of the WP directory)● Authors sites● Editorial reviews● User forums, discussions● Google (abandon hope all ye who enter here)
And in the future...There is at least one service claiming to offer adashboard-integrated plugin marketplace...Its not finished, yet. Currently in private beta.Visit http://renku.me to join the mailing list andreceive updates(I have no affiliation with or recommendation oftheir services. But Im interested...)
Adding a plugin manually(this might be new to some)● All plugins live on your web server in this directory (under your WP site root):● Put your plugin folder in this directory to add the plugin to the available (but not yet activated) plugins● Activate the plugin from the dashboard (Plugins -> Installed Plugins)
Automatic Updates?● If the plugin has included its own update server, or is in the WP plugin directory, automatic updates will let you know when a new release is available.● Otherwise, manual updates are required. Its the same process as manual installation (overwrite/replace the old version)● (For advanced users) If youve made direct code edits, youll likely lose them. Avoid direct code edits when possible, or track your changes and merge them.
If youre not using automaticupdates...Its still really important for you to make sure allof your plugins are fully updated, for stabilityand security purposes!● Check often● Set reminders● Keep your site safe and secure
What weve covered so far:● What ● Commercial plugins offer or require paid services or purchases● Where ● Sometimes in the WP plugin directory (when the code is free but something else isnt), sometimes not (when the code is
What weve covered so far:● When ● Anytime you choose● How ● If its not in the directory, youll have to use the manual installation process to at least install the first time You may also have to manually monitor
Why would you...● Spend money on your sites code? ○ especially if there are free alternatives? ○ especially if youre not completely sure you like it or you havent used it directly?● Deal with the hassle of a separate installation/upgrade process?● Choose to use a product that doesnt fit the community code & support model that were all used to by now?
If a plugin can be an investment in your siteand can save you costs in the long run, then... Why not?
Commercial plugins...● Offer options to consider along with free alternatives● Can offer excellent value (depending on how youll use it and how well they are built)● Might save you time and money over using the "free" alternative
Are commercial plugins alwaysbetter than free alternatives?No.It is important to:● Define your goals and your budget● Evaluate on a case-by-case basis● Test, record, analyze, decide
Repeat:Test, record, analyze, decide"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound ofcure."&"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." - a man whose wisdom was so great that they put his face on the $100 bill
You can prepare by:● Using product demos when available● Testing plugins (and themes!) ahead of time in a "development" installation● Reading relevant support forums, reviews, ratingsBy doing this you can avoid:● Technical headaches● Growing pains● Unrealized expectations● Buyers remorse
Example: simple contact formFree: Premium:Fast Secure Contact Gravity Forms ($39 forForm Plugin personal license)Analysis:Gravity Forms is really nice, but I only need asimple contact form. Fast Secure Contact Formworks and is highly rated.Decision: Fast Secure Contact Form
Example: Highly customizablecontact form for 10 sitesFree: Premium:Fast Secure Contact Gravity Forms ($199Form Plugin for unlimited developer license)Analysis:Fast Secure Contact Form isnt as customizable, but I canget the exact look I want on each site with Gravity Forms.And also, Ive been toying with the idea of selling t-shirts.GF has a PayPal add-in! I could make the money back in amonth or two...Decision: GravityForms
Example: Site BackupFree: Premium:WordPress Backup to VaultPressDropbox ($15 monthly)Analysis:VaultPress backups are easier to restore if Iend up in-trouble. My developer charges $200to just LOOK at the site. Im ok with spending alittle more over the next two years for peace ofmind.Decision: VaultPress
Example: Site Backup on a tightbudgetPremium: Premium:WordPress Backup to Dropbox withadd-ins for .ZIP backup and email VaultPressnotifications ($28 total) ($15 monthly)Analysis:I cant spend $180 a year on this. Im a tinkerer,Ill take my chances with a manual restore if Ineed it. I want the notifications & archive files,though. And I already have a paid Dropboxsubscription, so space isnt an issue.Decision: WordPress Backup to Dropbox
The general idea:Premium plugins offer additional options for extending your site.
These options are sometimes bad options, sometimes not-ideal options...but sometimes, theyre really great options.
And now you know:● They exist● How to install them● Where to look for them● Why its a good idea to look for them
Q&A time(to be followed by a wonky discussion of any advanced topics of interest) Brian Van Nieuwenhoven - WordPress Site Developer @brianvan http://485i.com