Create Complex WordPress Websites With WP Types & Views
Amir Helzer contacted me yesterday about two plugins he has developed. Types is a free custom fields, custom taxonomy and custom post type management plugin. Views is a premium plugin that lets you create beautiful layouts and complex lists.
Custom fields can be attached to any post type. They are useful for adding additional meta information to posts, pages and more such as price, date, discount code, related website etc. You can apply custom fields to all of your post types or specifically to certain ones. You can also set which categories and tags they are attached to.
Existing custom fields from plugins etc can also be edited easily using the plugin.
The plugin makes creating new custom post types and custom taxonomies really simple. You can define labels, set which sections should be displayed (e.g. comments, thumbnails) and change lots of other settings such as whether the post type should appear in the WordPress menu system.
Types makes customising your WordPress website very straight forward. I recommend trying it out if you want to expand your site beyond simple posts and pages.
Amir warned me that there is a bit of a learning curve with the Views plugin. It’s certainly not as easy to jump right in and start using the plugin compared to WP Types though there are 5 detailed tutorials available that walk you through exactly what can be achieved with it. It’s worth noting that to use the Views plugin effectively you will need to create custom post types using its sister plugin Types.
Views lets you create templates directly through your dashboard area that can be applied inside posts using short codes and styled using CSS.
The first thing you need to do is select what type of post type you want (e.g. posts, pages, media or a custom post type you created yourself). You can order the content in ascending or descending order with a number of different fields. The way that the content is loaded onto your page can also be changed.
The content that you loaded can be displayed as normal or in a table, a table of fields, ordered list or unordered list. You then select the fields you want to display e.g. date, featured image etc. The HTML for your layout can be edited directly via the views page.
The next thing you need to do is customise the content that the layout is added too. This is where you tweak how the content is going to be displayed on your website. I was confused by this initially as what you need to do is create a view and specify the content you want to load/display and then create a template to display that content. Finally, you have to insert the template into your post or page so that it appears live on your website.
Inserting the content into your page is easy. A ‘V’ is added to your post editor next to the media upload icon. When you click on the icon you can choose which view to load and which template you want to style it with.
I have to stress that you can’t just install Views and then start creating complex layouts and lists on your website. I created a few views and a few templates and after 10 minutes I was still not 100% sure what I was doing. This makes the online tutorials essential rather than complementary. The tutorials show you how you can create an ajax slider, real estate theme, showcase slider, showcase website and regular slider.
I encourage you to bear with it though and follow one of the tutorials until you have an understanding of how it works. It really will be worth your time as once you get to grips with it the plugin becomes a very useful tool for adding complex designs inside your posts and pages that would normally require a lot of heavy coding.
Whereas Types is free to download, Views retails for $49. The license gives you unlimited support and upgrades and allows you to install the plugin on as many websites as you wish.
Types is a fantastic free plugin and one that I would recommend if you want to add custom fields and custom post types and taxonomies to your site. Views is also very powerful plugin. I admit that that that I struggled to understand it fully until I walked through the tutorials though once you have changed the settings a few times and tried out a few different things, you start to understand how powerful the plugin is.
If you want to try Views out, please let me know and I’m sure I can arrange a few demo accounts for WP Mods readers :)
* Thanks to Amir for providing a copy of the views plugin for the purpose of this review.