So, you might remember, back in August, I wrote a plugin called “Back End Instructions” and popped it on my site for you all to freely download and use, if you wanted. If you recall, the plugin is for those of you who have a lot of clients that utilize WordPress, and you’ve written a custom theme for them, but no matter how many times you send instructions or answer their questions on how to use it, they still keep asking you.
I’ve discovered that the reason clients do this is because (and no offense to clients – we live in an “instant gratification” age right now) it’s easier to just call you and ask when they forget how to do something than search for the last time they asked you and you provided that answer. You can send them written instructions or answer their questions with meaningful subject lines in email (so it’s easy to find), but they’ll still just call you when they forget instead of looking to see if the question’s already been answered. They want something that’s right there, in their face, and they don’t have to go looking for it.
So I came up with this plugin, and I tell ya, it’s been a lifesaver. It’s very unobtrusive, but there when you need it. basically, it uses the Custom Post Type functionality of WordPress to display instructions on any page you want within the administrative end of the WordPress installation. Not only can you create posts for each individual page of the site, you can customize said instructions so they only show for certain user levels – so people with “Contributor” levels won’t see the extra info that applies to Admins.
You can use written instructions, audio, video – anything you like. It’s just like writing a regular post – the only difference is it shows up in the back end of the site.
I’m getting ready to plop this into the WordPress Plugin Repository for people to download and utilize, but I figured I’d go ahead and write a little sumthin’ sumthin’ here on my site about it, so that’s in place when people have any questions.
Now, please note, this is the most intensive plugin I’ve ever written, and I’m not 100% sure how the whole “upgrade notification” thing works. I dont’ know if the WordPress system just suddenly tells you that a new version is available for download, or if I have to put in special code for that to happen. I’ve never quite found a 100% assurance on the issue, so I’ve given up and I’m just going to try it and see.
Back End Instructions
Tested in WordPress 3.0.x – 3.1.2
initial indications show that it also works in MU mode – but this isn’t fully tested.
if you downloaded the plugin back in August and have been using it, then I will ask you now: please download this new version, an you might have to FTP into your system and see if you have 2 copies. I’ve renamed the folders and such so many times since my last iteration that it’s probably best if you just delete the old plugin files, and grab these new copies and put them in. (Don’t worry, your already-existing instructions won’t be touched – they’ll still be there.)
There’s an extensive readme file in the download that will most likely answer any questions you might have – so I’m not going to copy the whole thing here. Instead, I’ll give you the highlights and some basic instructions, and let you run off with the readme file for the more in-depth stuff.
So, after you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you’ll see a new menu item show up to the left side, called “Instructions”. When you go there, there’ll actually already be a new post, and when you look to the top, there’s a new little tab on the page that says “View Instructions for this page”. Click it, and you’ll see this quick little video:
That gives you a quick run-down of how it all works. But what I didn’t mention in the video (sorry, it took me something like 15 tries to get that one done. I’m not doing it again LOL) was that if you’re not using self-hosted, YouTube or Vimeo for the instructions, you can just use the regular post content area and pop the videos in there. For example, if you go to WordPress.tv and find a video you’d like to have your client see, you can just click the “Share” link (in the upper left-hand corner) choose the HTML code” and paste it into the content area. As long as the “Video URL” field is blank, it won’t overwrite what’s in the regular content area, and you can still see the video. Just be sure you’re in HTML-writing format, because if you’re in “Visual” it’ll strip the code and it won’t work properly.
Please, if you have any questions, or have some idea on how I can improve this, pass it along. I really want this to be useful for people
Adding in changelog info. I never thought to do this before, so I’m just gonna start with the one I just uploaded – version 0.8.
0.8 I’ve fixed the issue where you can’t make the instruction show up on a specific page. Now you can make it show up on a “general” page or a specific one. For instance, if you want the instruction to show up on ALL “add new post” pages, you just pop in “post-new.php”, and the instruction will appear on any of them. But if you want a specific page, then look in your url and add everything after the last “/”.
I’ve had many requests to make the stylesheet easier to control, and not make upgrading overwrite your changes without saving. Now you can. Just create a file (“bei_style.css”) and pop it into your theme directory, at the same level as the style.css file. You can style as you wish without worrying about things getting overwritten.
Now you don’t need an additional plugin to his the menu item from lower levels. Administrators and Editors will be able to see the menu item in the sidebar, but lower levels will not. (If you’d like it to be Admins only, easy fix – but remember, upgrades will change any edits you make): in bei_post_type.php, line 13, change
if(current_user_can('edit_others_posts')) to any of the admin capabilities here (for example,
if(current_user_can('update_core')) will swap it to Admins only).
For future releases, I’m considering creating an administrative settings page that allows you to set your stylesheet and choose what the lowest level is to view the menu, but for now I’m not sure that’s really all that important. I’m also working on a version that stops relying on Jing, and uses HTML5 Video instead – then you have more options to play your videos instead of being stuck with Vimeo, YouTube or SWF files.