I am currently working on some significant upgrades to the WP-Members plugin. This will be the biggest change since I made the change from 1.8 to 2.0. Version 2.0 brought in a whole new (and I think – better) approach to the plugin and its purpose. 2.2 will usher in some changes that takes it to the next level.
Most of the changes are on the admin side in terms of customization and they come directly from user requests. The two biggest requests are:
- The ability to change which registration fields are required
- The ability to change whether posts are blocked by default
The new admin features in 2.2 will give the admin the ability to pick which fields display in the registration form and also the ability to set which of those are required. This will include all of the WP native fields as well as the contact info fields that WP-Members currently uses.
I have found that some users want to simply use the plugin to integrate the login and registration features into their site, but not really block the content based on login. This can be done in earlier versions but requires some code changes. Although these are not hard to make, I wanted to make it even easier for those that don’t like to touch code. The ability to block posts and pages by default will now be managed in the admin panel. Admins will still have the ability to assign individual posts or pages to be blocked or unblocked, this just changes the default setting.
Another upgrade includes the ability to customize the error and dialog messages that the plugin delivers during the registration and update process. For example, all blocked posts put the following message above the login and registration forms:
Content is restricted to site members. Site membership is free, register below. If you are an existing user, please login.
Perhaps you’d like that to read:
Dude, my content is so awesome that I don’t give it out to just anyone. You need to register first. (Of course, if you are already a registered user, by all means – login below.)
You’ll now be able to change these dialogs within the admin panel. However, if you want to customize the look for better theme integration, you’ll still need to know some CSS. There is just no way around that. I have tried to keep the style as generic as possible so as to blend with most themes as best we can out of the box, but there are going to be times that some CSS customization needs to be done.
These changes are a reflection of the vast change in the WordPress community over the past few years where we have seen the shift from users that are code monkeys and like to tweak their blog code to a less “hands on” audience. That’s not a bad thing. It has definitely broadened the audience of WordPress – A LOT. And that’s a good thing. It has forced plugin developers to really think about fully functional admin capabilities geared toward a “hands off the code” approach.
Like I said, this is the biggest change to the plugin since the 2.0 release and I think it’s a great upgrade. Most of the heavy lifting is complete at this point, and I’m mostly bug testing now. I also am testing some various upgrade scenarios so that existing users are minimally impacted by any changes. If all goes well, 2.2 should be released after this weekend.