Whether you use WordPress for a weblog or as a more traditional CMS, your pages probably have a page navigation menu somewhere near the top. Sooner or later there comes a time when you need a way to manage this menu better. In fact, if you use WordPress more as a CMS and your main content is pages arranged hierarchically, this time comes right at the beginning.
There are several good plugins that help with that, and op111.net has written about two of them: Page Links To and Page Menu Editor. A few months ago I started using another page-menu plugin, which finally replaced for me both Page Links To and Page Menu Editor, as well as a third plugin, Exclude Pages. It is called Page Lists Plus and this is a small review of it.
Page Lists Plus
WP.org homepage: wordpress.org/extend/plugins/page-lists-plus
Author homepage: technokinetics.com
Version reviewed: Page Lists Plus v1.1.5
Compatibility: Tested and works fine with WordPress v2.8, v2.9 and v3.0-dev.
Page Lists Plus is a plugin that offers options to customize the output of wp_list_pages(). If that sounded like Greek to you, here is an explanation: wp_list_pages() is the main WordPress function for generating a list of all pages (as opposed to posts) in a site, and it is what WordPress themes use to create page navigation menus. What that means is that Page Lists Plus will work with virtually any WordPress theme that has a page menu.
What exactly can Page Lists Plus do then?
Page Lists Plus global options
Page Lists Plus has about twenty options. They are all presented on one screen, separated in two groups. The first group is the global options, which you set once and forget about:
Add “Home” link is the first option and, I imagine, it must among the most useful to the users of the plugin: If your theme does not have a Home link on the page menu (or an option to add one), all it takes to add it with PLP is one click.
Add class="first_item" and the four options after it make it easy to change the appearance of the page menu via CSS.
The last global option, Remove title attributes from anchors, is what intrigued me most the first time I tried PLP, becaused it indicated interest for an area in which WordPress has not always been perfect (and in which WordPress has significantly improved the last few versions) — accessibility.
As the author of Page Lists Plus explains in his site, what WordPress does with title attributes is wrong and, unless you are manually adding meaningful and informative title attributes to your links, the best thing to do is remove them completely. Selecting Remove title attributes from anchors will do exactly that.
(Even leaving accessibility aside, a title attribute identical to the anchor text is pointless and annoying.)
Page Lists Plus per-page options
Next is the group of page-specific options. They are eight in total and, since not all will be of interest to everyone, the plugin lets you select the ones you want to use:
The options you select will then appear grouped in a box on the Edit screen of your Pages:
As of version 1.1.5, the page-specific options of PLP are eight — one that I dislike, one that I’m indifferent to, and six I like and use:
- Add Custom Classes to Individual List Items
- Adding custom CSS classes to specific items makes it easy to style them individually via CSS.
- Alternative Link Text
- To specify, e.g., a short link text for a page that has a long title. If I had a page with the title, say, Greek Cuisine Recipes by Demetris, I could use just Greek Recipes for the page menu.
- Alternative Title Attribute
- To supply supplementary information that appears when a link is hovered over. (See screenshot example below.)
- To specify whether a page appears on page lists and page menus. This option is selected by default for new pages. (In the Global options you can also specify whether children of excluded pages are excluded too.)
- To unlink a page. Useful, for example, for empty pages that serve as parents to other pages.
- Redirect To
- To make a page that appears on page menus and redirects transparently to a different URL. For example, you can make a page that redirects to a category archive, by specifying the URL of the category archive.
Suggestions & Feature requests
All in all, I’m happy with Page Lists Plus. It’s been a three-in-one plugin for me, and it has been working flawlessly. The following are just a few small points that I think would help make it even better, at least for what I need:
- An additional Save button near the top of the Options screen.
- An option to use page Excerpts as title attributes of links.
- An option to use custom anchor text for the Home link.
Questions & Answers
These are a few questions I had when I started using Page Lists Plus, along with the answers I can offer now:
- Is PLP a replacement for Page Links To?
- Page Links To is a specialized plugin that does redirections of all kinds. In that sense, Page Lists Plus is not a replacement for Page Links to. However, if all you need is adding links to your page menu, Page Lists Plus will do that for you just fine.
- Is PLP a replacement for Page Menu Editor?
- For me it has been a complete replacement, as it does everything Page Menu Editor does, and more. Also, PLP is more economical in database queries: While Page Menu Editor makes one query for every page that exists in a site, Page Lists Plus only makes one query per active option that needs information from the database. (Some of its options, like the addition of various CSS classes, do not need database information at all.)
- Does PLP work with wp_page_menu()?
- It should in theory, as wp_page_menu() is simply a wrapper for wp_list_pages(), and it seems to work in practice too. (At this writing, the page menu of op111.net uses wp_page_menu(), and Page Lists Plus seems to work fine with it.)
Behind Page Lists Plus: Tim Holt
Page Lists Plus is made by Tim Holt, a web developer in England. Tim Holt specializes in WordPress customization, and, as his homepage and Page Lists Plus show, has also a special interest in web accessibility.
Tim replied prompty and informatively to two questions I sent his way before I started writing this review. I want to thank him for his kindness from here too.
All Page Lists Plus links again, for your convenience.
Remember that you can install the plugin directly from your WordPress dashboard too: Go to Plugins › Add New, search for Page Lists Plus and click Install on the first result.
Thank you for reading! I wish you a happy 2010!
- 2010-01-02. Added Questions & Answers part.