Here's How to Manage Your WordPress Plugins by Getting Even More Plugins!

As strange as this might sound, there’s actually quite a lot of plugins, the sole purpose of which is to help you manage other plugins. Let’s call them “inception plugins” … just to use a cool-sounding name going forward.

But first, how does the idea itself fit into the recommended approach of dealing with WordPress plugins – which is to install only the bare minimum of plugins that are essential for a given site? In other words, do we really need even more plugins to manage the ones we already have? Isn’t this an overkill?

Well, not entirely. The trick is that most of those inception plugins don’t need to remain activated at all times. So, we can just turn them on for a minute, do whatever we want from those plugins, and then deactivate them again.

Just a reminder. Deactivated plugins don’t impact the performance of your WordPress site.

Okay, without further delay, here’s a short list of the most useful inception plugins (four of them + two bonus ones):

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

https://wordpress.org/plugins/p3-profiler/

p3

I’m starting with this one because I featured it a couple of times in my past articles, so it should give you a good idea of what an inception plugin is.

P3 measures and then reports the performance (load time impact) of each plugin you use on the overall load time of your site.

This makes it clear that you don’t need to keep this plugin activated permanently. The test usually takes around a minute, and as a result, you get a clear report with a big pie chart in the middle.

p3-2

I encourage you to use this plugin whenever you install a completely new plugin that you want to get tested. Quite simply, if the new plugin turns out to be apocalyptically slow then you can start searching for an alternative immediately.

Why would you want it? To improve the performance of your site based on the plugins installed.

Do you have to keep it active? NO.

WP Install Profiles

https://wordpress.org/plugins/install-profiles/

wp-install

This particular plugin can be very handy when launching new WordPress sites, and I actually regret that I didn’t know about it earlier.

In short, it creates something called plugin profiles. Such profiles contain the handles (names or slugs) of the plugins that are part of the profile. You can create custom profiles and include any set of your own “starter pack” plugins in them. Profiles are saved as downloadable files, so you can store them on your local computer, or make available to the world if you feel like it.

profiles-2

Then, whenever you’re building a new site, all you have to do is get WP Install Profiles, import your “starter pack” profile and you’ll have all plugins listed in it installed in minutes. No manual labor required.

And the best thing is that you only need this plugin one time at any given site. So once it completes its job, you can remove it altogether.

Why would you want it? To make the setup process of a new WordPress site quicker.

Do you have to keep it active? NO. Moreover, you only need it once.

Adminimize

https://wordpress.org/plugins/adminimize/

Adminimize

To convey the functionality of this plugin in just one sentence, I’d have to say that it allows you to simplify the WP admin interface by hiding some of the options and features.

In reality, this is a huge plugin. I mean, maybe not that huge in disk-space, but the number of options on the settings page is rather scary.

Essentially, you can choose to hide any, and I do mean ANY, feature/option that is visible in the WP admin by default. More than that, you can choose the user role that should have the feature/option hidden.

Just to give you an example, you can even hide things like whether or not registered users should see the “Visit Site” link in the admin toolbar, or should they be able to change the color scheme of the admin interface. Those two are just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, the reason why I’m describing this plugin here is because it also controls the options enabled by other plugins, which means that you can hide those too.

For instance, if you don’t want to let anyone see your All In One SEO Pack settings boxes, you can disable them from display in the WP admin completely. (Not that you should, but you can.)

Adminimize-2

Anyway, I’m sure you can find a lot more interesting applications for this plugin than I did, so feel free to test it for yourself.

Why would you want it? To get complete control over what’s being displayed in the WP admin.

Do you have to keep it active? YES.

Plugin Test Drive

https://wordpress.org/plugins/plugin-test-drive/

First of all, I do realize that there is a big “This plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years” sign when you go to visit the plugin in the official directory. But I’ve tested it just a minute ago and it seems to be working just fine… at least on my local installation. Anyway, I don’t intend to guarantee anything here, so proceed with caution.

In short, the plugin does exactly what its name indicates, which is allowing you to take any other plugin for a test drive. The test drive means that only you (either your username or your IP) will be able to see the plugin’s output, both on the front end and in the WP admin. Then, if you’re happy with the plugin, you can finish the test drive and make it visible to everyone.

So here’s what you can do whenever you’re thinking about using a new plugin:

  1. Get Plugin Test Drive and activate it.
  2. Get the plugin you want to test.
  3. Instead of activating it, click the “Test Drive” link (right next to the activate link).
  4. See how the plugin is performing and activate it normally if everything is fine.
  5. Deactivate Plugin Test Drive.

The plugin is quite easy to use. However, not every plugin will cooperate with it. For instance, when the plugin you’re about to test uses simple function calls like this:


<?php some_plugin_function(); ?>

Instead of conditional calls:


<?php if( function_exists( "some_plugin_function" ) ) { some_plugin_function(); } ?>

If that’s the case then the site can crash for either you or, in some cases, everyone. This is one of the reasons why you should be careful with it. However, in the end, it can be very useful.

Why would you want it? To test new WordPress plugins before rolling them out on your site. Mainly when dealing with a completely new plugin, which you don’t trust yet.

Do you have to keep it active? NO. Only when you’re testing new plugins.

Debug Bar and Debug My Plugin with Debug Bar

https://wordpress.org/plugins/debug-bar/

https://wordpress.org/plugins/debug-my-plugin/

debug

These are the final two plugins on the list that I just want to mention real quick. They are rather complex and only plugin developers will find them useful.

(Actually, the Debug Bar plugin will come handy for any WordPress developer, not only those of us working with plugins.)

In essence, the Debug Bar plugin provides basic debug functionality that integrates with the admin bar in WordPress. It’s a handy thing to have if you’re working on a custom WordPress site that has a lot of new functionality or tailor-made code.

By the way, the plugin has been created by the user wordpressdotorg, which you’ll quickly find is actually the official dev account in the directory at WordPress.org.

Debug My Plugin is a kind of add-on on top of Debug Bar. It allows you to debug individual plugins by using custom functions and handles, and then present the results inside the debug bar.

Since there’s a lot of features that both of these plugins have to offer, I won’t go into detail at the moment. Here, I just want to indicate that such plugins do exist and that sometimes, it’s worth your while to look deeper into them. Especially if you’re working on some new plugin and you can’t find a way around some frustrating source code behavior.

So there you have it, six plugins to rule them all. What’s your opinion about using such things?

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