WordPress Workbench: Shortcodes Ultimate

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With bloggers and companies looking to create better more interactive and user friendly content, WordPress default set of tools can start to look a bit anemic. Some themes provide awesome add-on tools than extend this by being built on complex modular frameworks, like Twitter’s Bootstrap, or using JavaScript libraries like jQuery and custom templates. This works great for the most part, but can easily be broken the next time your site gets a facelift or moves to a new theme.
One way to stop this from happening is to get these formatting tools from a plugin instead, bypassing the theme’s tools altogether. I’ve had a fair bit of luck with Shortcodes Ultimate plugin by Vladimir Anokhin, which serves staple UI elements like tabs, according and buttons, using a modal (pop-up) window straight from WordPress’s WSYIWYG editor.

Shortcodes?

Shortcodes are pretty common in WordPress, using the square brackets [ ] in a Page or Post tells WordPress to run whatever PHP function is declared within, along with any variables you add.  But it’s actually a little more complicated than that. There is some set-up needed to register shortcodes before they can be used, so it’s not something the average user can implement without some knowledge of PHP.
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be that difficult, as the WordPress Community has written tons of plugins to create shortcodes to perform various tasks. Shortcodes Ultimate is one of the most commonly used, and is also the most comprehensive ones I’ve seen. Creating a section with tabbed content is as simple clicking on the insert shortcode button, picking tabs, and filling out a few options. Once the shortcode is dropped onto the page it’ll look something like this in the editor:

shortcode

But once the page is published or previewed you can check out the results:

Title 1Title 2Title 3
Content 1
Content 2
Content 3

The list of shortcodes provided in the free version is pretty extensive and is sufficient for most bloggers. This set also allows for adding customized CSS classes, which provide more styling options. Unlike many plugins there really isn’t a paid Pro version, instead it has paid add-ons that add additional shortcodes, stying skins, and a shortcode maker that lets you put in custom PHP, CSS and HTML without having to go through registering codes. I’ve just started using the add-ons myself and find the additional shortcodes very handy, especially when used in conjunction with a Plugin like Advanced Custom Fields.

Tech Note
I thought I would mention a caveat of using this plugin, there’s some conflicts between optimization plugins that move or minify custom CSS styles, or move the load order of the jQuery library. If you’re using a plugin like this on site and these Shortcodes stop working, add an exception to the jQuery Library and what file you added the custom styles to, and it should clear up the problem.

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