Over the last couple years it’s become a habit of mine to poke around the WordPress.org plugin directory and try a few new plugins each day. Or almost each day anyways. The point being, I was doing just that yesterday and came across a plugin called Xhanch’s My Twitter plugin which aims to give you more control over how you display tweets on your WordPress website.
We’re all familiar with the sidebar twitter widget that displays the 5 or 10 most recent tweets for the authorized account. What makes My Twitter different is that you are not only able to adjust the asthetics of the widget, but tweet order, types of tweets displayed, and even the tweet layout – among other things. I thought this sounded pretty cool so I installed the plugin and took it for a test drive.
Installing Xhanch’s My Twitter Plugin
If you want to follow along, go to the WordPress.org plugin directory, search for My Twitter and download the zipped file from Xhanch’s My Twitter plugin page. Next, open up your WordPress admin, go to Plugins > Add New > Upload and install the plugin.
Once installed, click Activate Plugin and upon activation you will see a new menu appear in your sidebar.
Configuring Xhanch’s My Twitter Plugin
When you click on this new menu you will be brought to the My Twitter Configuration page. There are three main sections to this page: Widget Settings, Tweet Settings, and Advanced Features.
Tip: Before getting too deep into the configuration, you may want to go to Appearance > Widgets and drag the new My Twitter widget into your site’s sidebar or footer. As you make adjustments in the Configuration page you will then be able to update and toggle back and forth between the settings and the live widget to see what your edits are doing.
In the Widget Settings you can change the title, twitter name/handle, header style, and whether or not to link the title to your account. You also have the option of using a number of shortcodes in the header/footer sections that will display your follower count, friend count, username, and more.
As far as choosing which tweets you want to display or not goes however, that is decided in the Tweet Setting section. It is in this section that you link up your twitter username, choose the order in which your tweets are displayed, determine the tweet count, and choose the specific types of tweets to be shown. Your choices are replies to you, replies from you, retweets, origin retweets. You can also choose to show or not show tweets according to specific key words, which I thought was a pretty cool feature.
In the Advanced Features settings you are able to choose different widget themes and insert custom CSS so as to style the widget to fit in with your site’s current design. I didn’t tweak any of these settings but if I were going to implement this plugin on my site permanently I would definitely spend time on the design.
Without such customization I was able to get this version of the widget up and running on my site in just a few minutes. Since everything is basically check boxes on the back end I was quickly and easily able to select only the tweet types I wanted to display and get it up on my site.
So that’s pretty much it. I thought this plugin was really easy to install, configure, and implement. However, as I mentioned above, if I were going to use it on my site permanently then I would definitely spend some seriously time getting the design just right. This may actually be a draw back from some since not everyone is keen on using CSS and they look to their plugins to help them avoid the need for such code based customizations. If anything, I think design may be this plugin’s only major flaw.