WPCodeBox. Why it’s becoming the most useful addition to my toolbox in 5 years.
I’ve been mentioning WPCodeBox for a while. Recently I tried to “review” it and failed!
As WPCodeBox is relatively new, it’s probably best to look at their website and particularly their road map to see where it is currently. It’s great as it is, but as it is still to reach its full potential and so there is a very attractive unlimited lifetime deal running.
The author has also given me his best discount.
Special 25% off coupon
Just enter “beaverjunction” to get the best discount available.
This gives me an affiliate kickback. That is not the motivation for the promotion, but earning something from my content makes the family more understanding!)
What I am going to do here is give you an insight to how I am using it now and how I plan to further incorporate it into my workflow.
Then, if anyone is interested, I will follow it up with shorter, more practical posts where I can share snippets.
The short version
WPCodeBox is a WordPress code snippet plugin that allows you to store your snippets to the cloud and it comes with a repository of ready to use snippets.
In the next release there will be a way to export what you have done in WPCodeBox to your own plugin. It should mean you can remove dependency on it and treat it more like a web building tool.
The conditions builder first caught my attention
I had been doing work on website performance. Even though my page builder (Beaver Builder) loads assets conditionally there is always something that can be tweaked. Typically removing defaults coming from WordPress, Gutenberg, other plugins and services.
I did not want the dependency or the complexity of the new wave performance plugins as I could generally find good code snippets to remove or add what I needed.
But, not being a programmer I struggled to conditionally hook these into the pages or post types I wanted and have theme load in the right way. This, for me, was the perfect solution.
Quickly from there I realised the conditions builder could replace a lot of admin side plugins. Some of which have let me down, have been bought and to turned into another plugin or used to advertise.
Below are the types of plugins I’m replacing. I will do separate posts on these.
What now excites me most is Sass & Live reload
Beaver Builder has allowed me to speed up my page layouts, do clever stuff with dynamic content and give my client an easy UI to make their own content updates. But, it’s also made me lazy, inefficient and perhaps too dependent on it. I’m not concerned by the WordPress prophets who claim Gutenberg will kill page builders, but I find it is easy to invest my time in things that will not help me in the longer term.
My CSS skills were more basic than they are now when I used to globally style Genesis child themes back in 2011. Recently I looked at one of these sites and realised how easy it would be to restyle compared to some of the messy site I have now.
Easy page builder options have often made me my worst enemy and slowed me staying up-to-date with the real game changers in web design: – the developments in CSS and what you can do with Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets).
Although Sass partials are still to come to WPCodeBox I have started setting up a system so I can do all my page builder styling with Sass via WPCodeBox.
There’s still much to consider, but I can see it will give me more flexibility, speed and control and help me adopt a more agile and collaborative approach with client website builds.
Much of this is the sense that as a web designer I should be guided more by the W3C and less by things that are profit led.
Types of plugins I am replacing
To be covered individually in later posts.
- Performance plugins -I can conditionally remove unwanted scripts and stylesheets and load others where needed. With the new support for hook areas I can get more granular control over that.
- Uploading SVG plugins – a simple snippet I can assign only to me. No need for extra security measures as my clients don’t need to upload them.
- Duplicate post/pages. Another simple snippet. One popular plugin sold to Yoast who then sold to a hosting company and so it’s used for advertising.
- Locally loading Google fonts – Mostly, I do this manually, but it’s quicker with a snippets template (using a Sass mixin) and a preloading snippet.
- Classic editor/Classic Widgets – I don’t need Gutenberg but it keeps adding more front end bloat and these plugins don’t remove as much as the snippets I find.
- Admin (dashboard) customizations. I can add and remove dashboard widgets and menu items based on users and roles. I covered some of this here.
- Coming Soon/Maintenance. My plugin was bought and I updated to find a full blown page builder. For now I use a snippet to activate a customised WP maintenance. I could also redirect to a template.
- Custom Post Type UI – I previously talked about how easy it is to use an online generator to create your own custom plugin, but I still use Custom Post Type UI as it is there when quick changes are needed. Soon I think a generator in WPCodeBox is likely to be able to do this.
- Database clean up. WPCodeBox can be used to run one off SQL commands. Expected too is the ability to run cron jobs. There’s an example snippet from WPCodeBox’s library and also a video by the WPCodeBox author showing him using a database snippet from a great recipe book by Jeff Starr.
Additionally, it’s reducing my dependency on any particular theme. I will still use the Beaver Builder theme. The new wave of WP themes are very impressive, but tend to grow as they go into competition to add more code free “innovations” for new customers. My aim is for the sites I build to remain the sites I built.