12 WordPress Plugins for Theme Development
One of the great things about using WordPress as a content management system is the huge community of users and all of the resources that are available. While all plugins could be used by theme developers, the ones featured in this post have features that can be especially helpful for various aspects of theme development.
If you design and develop themes for you own use, custom themes for clients, premium themes for sale, or free themes to distribute, I think some of these plugins will be very useful to you.
When you’re designing and developing a WordPress theme, you obviously won’t want the public to see your theme until it is ready. However, it’s helpful to also be able to test the theme in a live environment in attempt to find any flaws before officially changing over to the new theme. The Theme Switch plugin will allow you to control what theme is seen by logged in users with specific access privilege, and what theme is shown to regular visitors. This is a great way to test your theme before going live. It’s especially useful when you’re designing a new theme for an existing site or blog.
Theme Test Drive is another plugin that was created for testing a theme without showing it to everyone. It works in a similar fashion to Theme Switch, so you can look at the details of each, test them and see which one you like best.
WordPress Theme Demo was developed to help web designers who want to showcase demos of their themes. If you visit sites of premium themes sellers, or those who give away free themes, there is usually an option to view the theme on a demo blog. This plugin allows you to showcase demos of multiple themes on one WordPress installation.
Although theme development will be done in a way that doesn’t impact an existing site, there may be some times when you need to make changes that would be better to not be visible to everyone. The Maintenance Mode is a good plugin to have handy for times when you would like to temporarily prevent visitors from seeing the site or theme in it’s current state. With this plugin visitors will get a customizable message until you are ready for the site to be viewed.
If you’ve developed themes in a test environment you may have found that you tend to login and logout a lot, or login as different users. The User Switching plugin was created to make this a quicker, less painful process. With one click you can swicth from one user to another.
This is a plugin that I just came across and have not used yet, but it looks promising. Raw HTML allows you to use raw HTML or any other code in your posts or pages. This may be especially useful if you are converting an existing static site to WordPress. There have been times when I worked on a project like this and had extra work because of the way WordPress dealt with code that was pasted from an existing page.
If you’ve developed a number of different WordPress-based sites you know that each site tends to have it’s own unique needs and challenges, especially when focusing on using WordPress as a CMS more so than just a blogging platform. Advanced Category Excluder allows you to easily have control over what content is available in specific places. You can exclude certain categories from the front page and/or RSS feeds. You can control what content will be included or excluded from search results.
Simply Exclude offers similar functionality to Advanced Category Excluder. If you’re interested in this type of plugin, take a look at both and see which one looks like it will meet your needs.
Looking to use sIFR with WordPress? This plugin makes it easy. You can handle pretty much everything from within the WordPress dashboard and take advantage of sIFR’s ability to have more control and wider choices with fonts.
Much like the previous plugin, FLIR for WordPress will give you more control over the fonts used, but obviously it uses FLIR (Facelift Image Replacement) instead of sIFR. Again, with this plugin almost everything can be controlled from within the WP dashboard.
With TDO Mini Forms you can set up forms for visitors to fill out that are used to create posts. Non-registered users can enter data into highly customizable forms, this information is then stored in drafts until an administrator approves it for publishing. Many sites that include a community news section are using TDO Mini Forms.
This isn’t technically a plugin, but I wanted to include it because it can be so helpful for theme designers and developers. WPCandy has put together a set of posts that will help you by providing sample content that can easily be imported into your WordPress blog (importing is very easy in the WP dashboard). If you’re working on a theme on a WordPress installation that has no content, this will save you some time as opposed to entering your own dummy content.
What Plugins Do You Use for Theme Development?
If you use any plugins in your own theme development, please feel free to share in the comments.
Published March 31st, 2009 by Steven Snell