Using WP, which aims to democratise web publishing, and incidentally became the world’s leading CMS.

WordPress Plugin Review: Your Channel

Everything you want in a YouTube plugin?

A client of mine, a renaissance man, felt it was about time his ideas had an audience, and so requested a website to self-publish his writings, as well as setting up a YouTube channel. We wanted a way for the website to promote the channel, not just by providing a link but with a dedicated space on the site to embed his YouTube videos as they are released.

I thought a WordPress plugin the obvious solution, and so I set about researching those that met this use case. After a false start, I decided on Your Channel, a freemium plug-in by Plugin Builders. The previous plugin I tried, whose name escapes me now, was only able to show videos in a playlist trapped inside a single embedded iframe. I wanted something to show each video, ideally in a grid layout, and with Your Channel I found just what I was looking for.

Your Channel – the pros

I like a plugin that plays well with my theme, and doesn’t add any annoying styling that needs overriding, leading to code bloat. This plugin seems to fulfil that need, and I haven’t needed to add any styling at all to the video grid. It’s well presented with a cool player, and applies sensible responsive design principles. The grid layout is an option, as is the style of the player – inline or lightbox. The inline player option seems to me perfectly good. You can see the results over at my client’s video page:

Videos at xenspace.online

Your Channel – the cons

Perfection of course is elusive. The plugin is as I mentioned freemium, by which a number of useful and ‘nice to have’ but not essential features are available in the ‘pro’ version of the plugin, such as a slider and carousel theme and the ability to specify the start times of videos (although both these examples could in theory be added by a site developer if needed).

On the WordPress Dashboard, the plugin menu is well placed as an extra item in the Settings menu. The setting interface for the plugin could be improved in my view: some of the wording could be clearer, and until you hover and click over a section heading in the instructions, it’s not obvious they are collapsible accordion sections. Adding an open/close icon to each section would help make operating the plugin a smoother experience.

More worringly, at the time of writing, the plugin was last updated one month ago, has not been tested with the very latest versions of WordPress, and currently presents a bug leading to error warnings on the plugin’s setting page. Hopefully these issues will be fixed in the near future.

Conclusion and alternatives

Other than that I would recommend this plugin for the use case. Other similar plugins are available, and the good people at WPBeginner have curated their pick of these.

Disclaimer: this post is not paid or promoted by the makers of the Your Channel plugin.

Private Posts in WordPress

In WordPress, posts can be set to Public, Private or Password Protected, in the Document menu. Password Protected is out of scope for this article; it’s not a feature I’ve used much. I do however often make Private posts, useful for keeping educational notes and information, for example.

By default, Private posts have a front-end view of the post only logged-in users can see, the post title prefixed with ‘Private:’ . Other than that, the post behaves normally, appearing in the main posts query, and in archives, nestled amongst public posts in whatever order your theme specifies.

Can this feature be improved? In my case, I would prefer not to have my private posts displayed in this way: I’d much rather have my Private posts in their own archive, their own view for users authorised to see them, separate from the public blog. Imagined this way, anyone wanting to keep a private journal alongside their public blog might find this a preferable arrangement.

Sounds like a perfect idea for a custom plugin.

Private Posts Keep

Modifying Private Posts in a custom plugin

I broke down my plugin design with three goals in mind:

  • removing private posts from the main posts view and archives
  • creating a new archive-style view exclusively for private posts
  • creating a Private Posts Widget, for an alternative view and easy front-end access.

I decided to call the plugin Private Posts Keep. In giving Private posts their own area, I was reminded of keep within a castle, hence the perhaps obscure name based on this metaphor. The most straightforward title, to be honest, might be ‘Segregate Private Posts’ since that’s a clear and accurate description of both the intent, and the effect, of the plugin. Hmm, maybe a compromise title would be ‘Private Posts Sanctum’?

Enough of what to call it; let’s get to work making it function. First, let’s make a start on our first two goals, by creating two classes.

Inside our main class, class-pp-keep.php, we’ll create a few functions:

public function rem_pp( $query ) {
  if( current_user_can( 'read_private_posts' ) ){
  /*affects main query on posts page or archives.			 
    if ( $query->is_main_query() &&  $query->is_home() || $query->is_archive() ) {
      $query->set( 'post_status', 'publish' );

That takes care of modifying the main query on the posts page or an archive page. However, we’ll find on single post views our navigation links to the next and previous posts won’t reflect this change of emphasis. Let’s fix this with another function to filter these navigation links:

public function get_adjacent_post_mod($where){
  if (is_single()){
    global $wpdb, $post;
    if ( get_post_status ( ) == 'private' ) {
      $where = str_replace( "AND ( p.post_status = 'publish' OR p.post_status = 'private' )", "AND p.post_status = 'private'", $where );
      return $where;	
    } else {
      $where = str_replace( "AND ( p.post_status = 'publish' OR p.post_status = 'private' )", "AND p.post_status = 'publish'", $where );
      return $where;	

And we need somewhere to display those now missing Private posts. It’s possible to programmatically insert posts in the database, so that’s what we’ll do. The function first checks a Page with our desired title doesn’t exist, and if not creates it, set to Private, and fills it with the specified content, including a shortcode, for outputting a list of Private posts. we’ll define elsewhere in the plugin.

public function create(){
			$post = '';
			if( get_page_by_title('Private Archive') == NULL )
			// Create post object
			$post = array(
			  'post_title'    => 'Private Archive',
			  'post_status'   => 'private',
			  'post_type'     => 'page',
			  'post_content'   => 'This page is intended for your private posts.

			// Insert the post into the database
			$insert_post = wp_insert_post( $post, true);//now you can use $post_id within add_post_meta or update_post_meta	
			return $insert_post;	

The shortcode is defined in a function in a separate file. Finally we add our functions to the appropriate WordPress hooks, in our constructor function for the class, like so:

add_action( 'pre_get_posts', array(&$this, 'rem_pp'));
add_action( 'wp_loaded', array(&$this, 'create'));
add_filter( 'get_next_post_where', array(&$this, 'get_adjacent_post_mod'));
add_filter( 'get_previous_post_where', array(&$this, 'get_adjacent_post_mod'));

Our rem_pp() function is added to the pre_get_posts action hook. Note we need to add our navigation links filter to two separate hooks, get_next_post_where & get_previous_post_where

Our widget is created in a separate class, class-pp-keep-widget.php.

In our main plugin file, pp-keep.php, which runs the plugin, we’ll tie all this together:

Plugin Name: Private Posts Keep
Description: Segregates Private Posts
License: GPL2
/* exit if directly accessed */
defined( 'ABSPATH' ) || exit;
define( 'PPKEEP_PATH', plugin_dir_path( __FILE__ ) );

require_once( __DIR__ . '/pp-keep-shortcode.php' );
require_once( __DIR__ . '/class-pp-keep.php' );
require_once( __DIR__ . '/class-pp-keep-widget.php' );
if( class_exists( 'PP_Keep' ) ) {
	$PPKeep = new PP_Keep();// instantiate the plugin class

if ( class_exists( 'PP_Keep_Widget' ) ) {
	// Register and load the widget
	function pp_load_widget() {
		register_widget( 'PP_Keep_Widget' );
	add_action( 'widgets_init', 'pp_load_widget' );

 * Activate the plugin
function ppkeep_activate()
	// Do nothing
} // END public static function activate
 * Deactivate the plugin
function ppkeep_deactivate()
	$page = get_page_by_title('Private Archive');
	if (isset($page)){
		$page_id= $page->ID;
	wp_delete_post($page_id, true);
} // END public static function deactivate

function ppkeep_uninstall () {
	if ( ! current_user_can( 'activate_plugins' ) )
} // END public static function uninstall
register_activation_hook(__FILE__, 'ppkeep_activate');
register_deactivation_hook(__FILE__, 'ppkeep_deactivate');
register_uninstall_hook(__FILE__, 'ppkeep_uninstall');

The file runs a basic security check, defined( 'ABSPATH' ) || exit; and loads up our shortcode and classes . The activation, deactivation, and uninstall hooks are features available to plugin authors so code can be triggered when the user performs these actions. Here they are standard, except for the deactivate hook, which I’ve set to delete the private Page the plugin creates.

Try it out for yourself

The plugin works and the full plugin source code is freely available on my github. To install in your WordPress site, you’ll have to download the .zip archive:

Then go to your WordPress Admin>Plugins, and hit ‘Add New’ then ‘Upload Plugin’. Uploading the .zip file will install the plugin for you to activate.

After activation, you will find private posts are now gone from your main posts page and archives, but are listed on a Private Posts Archive page the plugin has created for you, which should show up on your Dashboard under ‘Pages’. You can edit this page as normal, but ensure it keeps the shortcode which outputs a simple list of Private Posts by title, with their permalinks. Alternatively you can add the shortcode anywhere you like.

You will find a Widget available which you can add to your sidebar. The widget will only show up for users authorised to read private posts, and displays a short list of the latest, along with a link to the Private Posts Archive page the plugin creates.

How can the plugin be improved?

The code which delete the Archive page on deactivation, and the link to the page in the widget, use the title and url of the page to function. This depends on the user neither changing the title nor deleting the page, which cannot be guaranteed (see github issue for more details).

Moreover, there aren’t many options available to the user. The widget has no options other than the widget title, and there are no options to modify how the Archive page displays the private posts.

Finally, I have a suspicion the plugin wouldn’t be accepted into the Plugin directory without a good code review and some refactoring. The code works, and does what it says on the tin, but it isn’t necessarily elegantly written and designed.

I wrote it back during the turn of 2015/16, but life rather got in the way of me developing it further. Nevertheless it’s a useful plugin that adds value to the native private posts feature of WordPress, and well worth revisiting.

You can follow along with development of the plugin, or even help out yourself, at the following url:


WordCamp Brum roundup – Sunday

Part Two of my report on WordCamp Birmingham 2015.

You can read Part One here .

As noted by Claire Brotherton in her round up of Day 2, Sunday morning seemed sparsely attended, the announcement that the previous night’s social was a record bar taking for a UK Wordcamp presumably no coincidence.

Despite a brisk and enjoyable late-night walk home, I confess I was one of those lunching out the morning, so I missed Petra Foster on how to Be a Brand, Not a Commodity (although I’d caught this presentation at the previous month’s WP Brum meetup) and Pauline Roche and Ted Ryan on WordPress for Small and Not For Profit Enterprises. 

I also missed Paul Cherry on Customers and the Web, who has put the slides from his talk online.

And the morning concluded with Ben Furfie on Why it’s time to stop using Photoshop for web design. But,  you can read useful summaries of all these talks in Claire Brotherton’s post.
Continue reading WordCamp Brum roundup – Sunday

WordCamp Brum Roundup – Saturday

WordCamp Birmingham (UK) 2015 happened last weekend, and seems to have been a great success for all concerned, putting the Birmingham WordPress community in, if you’ll excuse the pun, bullish mood. I certainly enjoyed myself. The event reignited my passion for WordPress and web-work in general, answering a few questions, confirming a few biases and giving me new energy and contacts. For anyone involved in WordPress, whether as a developer, designer, site manager or content creator, I would heartily recommend getting along to your nearest WordCamp. They tend to cater for all tastes and areas of this kind of work, and, as with most conferences and meet-ups, the most interesting conversations occur at the margins outside the programmed content.

But that’s another story. I thought here I’d gather all of the most relevant online stuff I can find from the event: slides of the talks, comments from myself on those talks I attended, comments and a sense of the buzz from others, as well as some of the photos available online. This will be a multi-part post, and in this one I’ll focus on day one.
Continue reading WordCamp Brum Roundup – Saturday

Why Install WordPress Manually?

Originally designed as a blogging platform, WordPress has become widely used as a content management system (CMS) for the web.

You may have automated installation of popular web applications, including WordPress, available through your webhost – Fantastico and Scriptaculous are common examples of these services. I recommend not using these, for two main reasons.

  • Security – the default settings of the automated installer will be known and exploitable
  • You won’t learn as much as you will be choosing to manually install.

So installing manually brings the benefit of empowerment, and with WordPress, the manual procedure’s well documented: just refer to the first port of call for WordPress, the documentation, known as the ‘codex’.

If you need more, read on for my companion tutorial.

Continue reading Why Install WordPress Manually?