Beware Google Analytics

I’ve been a huge fan of Google Analytics for years. I first started using it in 2007 and quickly fell in love … but then became dependent. The love, not so bad, the dependency, a real issue.

I currently use Google Analytics to monitor traffic for the non-profit I work for. I’ve been doings so since January 2009 when we launched a new site. Here’s the problem. I logged this week to check the stats and guess what? One account out of the dozen I have registered to my username has disappeared … and it’s the one account I depend on for my job. A year and a half of data … gone.

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WordPress Real Estate Plugin in the Works

Update: If anyone wants an email when this plugin is ready just leave a comment  here. Or shoot me an email at mike(at)www.mikevanwinkle.com. Or subscribe to my feedburner.

Hmmm. So what they hell have I been doing with my time lately. Not blogging, clearly. Well first there’s the day job, I’m trying to keep it :-). Then I’ve been working on a Real Estate plugin built on the PodsCMS framework. (Which incidentally is about to launch version 1.90) Why a plugin based on a plugin? Well Pods creates the power on the database side to build a better real estate listing system than would be possible using custom fields.

Real Estate listings have LOTS of fields, i.e. List Price, Agent, Square Footage, Neighborhood, etc. Sure you could use WP’s native taxonomies for some of these fields, but there are still going to be a lot of Custom Fields like # of beds, # of baths, etc. And try putting together a standard WP Query to filter for 20 custom fields. Damn. I’m just not that much of a pro I guess.

So the plugin will take the power of the pods framework and package it up in a way that you won’t really have to learn anything about pods in order to use it. I’m also adding some custom functions to create listings, display related listings, etc. Hopefully it will prove a valuable plugin to small to mid-size real estate companies looking to showcase their listings.

Full credit, I started the plugin as part of a freelance project for Big Sea Design. Woot! Woot!

Five WordPress 3.0 Plugins You Should Try

So WordPress 3.0 has been around for a few weeks now, and there are already plugins flooding the WordPress Repository meant to help you manage your new post types.  Some are outstanding, some not. But here’s a quick rundown.

WordPress Custom Post Type UI

Developer: WebDevStudios | Download Link

This was likely the first WordPress 3.0-specific plugin posted on WordPress.org. It creates an easy-to-use interface for creating and managing your custom post types. You can also use it to manage taxonomies.

While I always recommend people try to learn as much about the code as possible so as not to be overly reliant on plugins. This is a good one to keep around. It will make your life easier and keep you functions.php file from getting too crowded.

Post Type Switcher

Post Type Switcher

Developer: John James Jacoby | Download Link

I love this simple little plugin. It adds a post type switcher to your “Publish” meta-box that allows you to easily change a page or a post to a custom post type. Though, I wish he’d find a way to work this into the bulk editing functionality so you could switch multiple posts at once.

WP Easy Post Types

Developer: NewSignature | Download Link

This plugin takes the custom post type user interface to another level. Not only can you create and manage new post types but you can create and manage custom fields and meta boxes associated with a particular post type. It comes with a built-in date picker field to help with post types that are date-specific. Another key feature giving this plugin loads of potential is that it allows you manage the admin display of your created post types. For instance, if you wanted a custom field to show up in the posts list screen, you can do that.

Relations Post Types

Download Link

From a developer POV, the Relations Post Type plugin is the most interesting one I’ve seen because it satisfies the need to easily related data between post types. Say you have an Events post type and you want to associate each Event with a speaker. You can do this by creating a custom taxonomy for “speaker”, but you would be limiting the amount of info you could assign to the term “speaker”. So what if you create another post type for “Speaker” then assigned a speaker to the Event using a custom meta box. You can do that but there will be some serious custom programming involved. That’s what this plugin does.

But before you run off thinking the Relations Post Types plugin is going to save your wordpress dev project,  it still has a long way to go. For one thing, the documentation is non-existent. It comes with an easy to deploy sidebar widget, but to do anything more you’ll need to dig into the code.

Also, the plugin sets up an additional table for storing the relationships, which means you’ll have to do a little SQL to retrieve the info, unless the developers decide to create a special query class. Some might question why the relationships couldn’t be stored as a custom field instead of in a new table. The answer, at least in my estimate, is that a relationship table will allow you to perform more complex and more efficient queries on the data.

So, while this plugin looks awesome in theory. There’s some time before it will be mature enough for non-expert devs to use.

Convert Post Types

Developer: Stephanie Leary | Download Link

Ah hah! Here’s the one I’ve been waiting for. Need to convert all those old events-category posts to you new Events post type? This will do it for you in one click saving you the trouble of performing any DB operations via phpmyadmin. Whoo hoo!

Are there any I forgot? If so, let me know and I’m happy to look at them.