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- Building a design in Photoshop
- Converting Photoshop design to HTML and CSS
- Setting up MAMP on Mac and WAMP on Windows
- Moving HTML and CSS into a WordPress theme
- Building navigation
- Using custom fields
- Creating a commenting system
Skill Level Intermediate
I would like to talk a little bit about WordPress plugins. You might have heard of this WordPress plugin thing. These are files that you can add to your WordPress site that extend the functionality of WordPress in some way. It might add forms to your site, or change it graphically a little bit, or just make WordPress do something that it can't normally do out of the box, as they say. So if you want to go browse around and check out available plugins, you can go to WordPress.org and go under the Extend tab, into Plugins, and you'll be in the Plugin Directory.
And you can see there is over 10,000 plugins here. They've been downloaded like 110 million times. It's pretty crazy, but plugins are very popular and they can do some really cool stuff to extend WordPress. You can check out the most popular ones, having to do with spam blocking and SEO and adding forms and things like that. So how do you download and install and use a plugin? That's what we're going to take a look at. It's actually really easy. You can do it from the dashboard of your site. Here in the sidebar of your site, there's a whole area called plugins. We can click that.
WordPress comes by default with two plugins. One of them is Akismet, which has to do with blocking spam that comes in with comments, which can be kind of an epidemic problem, but Akismet does a great job of blocking that spam, kind of transparently. You don't have to do any work; you just activate it and let it do its thing. And this Hello Dolly plugin. If we activate that, we can see this quote being added up here, which is just a Louis Armstrong quote from the song Hello Dolly. It doesn't do anything. It's just a really simple plugin that way. Just for your Admin area. Nobody visiting your site will see that.
Now, if you want to add a new plugin, you can go to the Add New area of the WordPress Admin and literally search and add plugins through here. You don't have to do it that way. You can jump out to the web and do it this way as well. So let's add a plugin to our site. We're going to add a breadcrumb to our site. Let me just do a search here for a wp breadcrumbs. This is going to pull up my favorite breadcrumb plugin called Breadcrumb NavXT. What a breadcrumb is, it's a style of navigation that lists like how deep you are in the navigation of the site.
So imagine a site where you have an About page for a university and within that About page there is Faculty and Staff. Ao you go down to Staff, and then you go down to a person, and then you go down to their contact info, and you're like deeper and deeper into the hierarchy. A breadcrumb navigation would have links coming all the way back up, and you'll see what I mean in just a second. So I'm going to click the Download button here and download this file. It's going to download to our Desktop. Here's all the files that a plugin is. Now, to activate this plugin, here is our root, htdocs folder, all the files from our WordPress installation.
Here's our theme that we've been working with. In the wp-content folder, there is a folder called plugins. Now, there is, inside there, here's akismet, the folder for Akismet, and the Hello Dolly plugin. These are the two plugins that we've already seen. I can drag this whole folder into the Plug -ins, and then that's going to be there. So I can come back to our Plugin screen in our Admin. I'll click and go back here. Now we're going to see three. Wee're going to see Akismet and Hello Dolly that we already saw, and then this Breadcrumb plugin. Now, when you drag a plugin in there, it's not active by default. I need to choose to activate this plugin.
So I'm going to go ahead and click Activate and my plugin is now activated. And if I go back to my homepage, you're not going to see any difference. It doesn't do anything by default. There is function that you need to add to show breadcrumbs where you want to show them. I'm thinking on our site it's most appropriate in the Store. So now we've drilled down to the Store and now we've drilled down to just Sprockets in the Store, and now we've drilled down to an individual product in the Store. There's some stuff that's appropriate for breadcrumbs going on here, because we're kind of three levels deep now, so it would be kind of neat to be able to backup.
We don't have any mechanism to backup one step right now. So now that we have this breadcrumb installed, we can add a little code to our theme to output those breadcrumbs. So how do you do that? Well, let's take a look at the documentation here. It links out to this author's site and it says for Basic Usage, this is the code that you put in your theme. So let me go ahead and copy that to my Clipboard. Then I'm going to open our project, and I have our whole project open here in TextMate, and then I'm going to open up the page-product.php.
This is the template file that's controlling this page that we're looking at here and we're hoping to put a little line of breadcrumbs right up here, above the title. So I'm going to go ahead and paste that code that the author gave us. And if we take a little quick glance at this code, I'm just going to format it how I like it. It's using this if function_ exists breadcrumb display. Before it used breadcrumb display. That's a little bit of that past- proofing, future-proofing kind of thing. If all of a sudden we were to deactivate this plugin and it didn't have this, it just had this, we're going to get that nasty PHP error that we don't want, so this is just protecting us against that possibility.
So once that's in there and the plugin is activated, I can go ahead and reload this page. And there's our breadcrumbs, really nice style breadcrumbs right on top of this. We are being told that Mega Sprocketizer is a sub-product of Sprockets. We can back right up to Sprockets. Oh no, my breadcrumbs went away though, so maybe we should put this code on the Category page as well. No problem. We'll just copy and paste that code, and reload here, and we get the breadcrumb here as well.
So if we're on the Sprocketizer, we can backup one level, the breadcrumbs stay right where they are, so it's really nice and easy. We can backup all the way to the Store. And then it's saying Blog at the front here. I'm not sure if we need that. Why don't we go into the settings for this plugin, which should add a new option to our Settings from the Admin area. I'm going to click on Breadcrumb NavXT there. And I'm going to say, it's going to ask me if I want Home at all there. I think that's fine, but it's not our Blog at our Home. It's literally our homepage, so we'll say Home > Save Changes. Now, there's a bunch of categories in here for Settings, so make sure to explore all that for your own site.
I'll reload and now it's going to say Home instead of Store. So that's what plugins are for, extending what we're able to do with WordPress. Kind of really easy to use, hopefully, kind of way. So explore the Plugin repository, check out plugins, activate them on your site, and have fun with that.