In June of 2010 WordPress 3.0 introduced Custom Post Types, and thereby changed WordPress from a blog platform to a Content Management System.
The power and flexibility of Custom Post Types has played a strong role in getting WordPress to the place where it powers nearly 25% of the web.
The Easy Custom Types plugin
When custom post types were first introduced, I was terribly excited to try them and immediately started reading tutorials on implementation. Then I quite quickly got discouraged by how much code was involved. Dozens, and in some cases hundreds of lines of code just WAITING for me to miss a semi-colon and mess it all up.
I started looking around for ways to make the process more consistent, harder to break. I tried a number of plugins over the years, and then one day I ran across a plugin called Easy Custom Post Types. I wasn’t quite sure if it would do what I wanted, so I contacted the author, Pippin Williamson. He responded immediately and thus began a friendship that has been there for years now.
Easy Custom Post Types is now called Easy Content Types, and has even more great functionality than it did then. Using a simple web interface you can create custom content types, meta boxes with advanced functionality, and custom taxonomies for sorting your content.
I recently made a video series that went through the process of creating a content type for animals. When I created a post for Elephants the url had /animals/elephant/ at the end, which is great for SEO. I also added some meta fields for habitat and diet that look something like this:
Then we put in some taxonomies for good sorting. This gives us urls like /habitat/savannah/ , /class/mammal/ , and /diet/grasses/, again awesome for SEO. Here’s what they look like in the admin area:
Using Easy Content Types allowed me to set up the content type, the meta boxes, and the taxonomy, which automatically made those awesome SEO friendly URLs, in about 8 minutes.
That kind of power and flexibility can dramatically accelerate the building of a site, and sometimes speed can be very, very important.
Am I advocating never learning how to make custom content types by hand, and always using this? No. If you’re building something you should always know how it works.
On the other hand, it’s an excellent tool for getting your feet wet and beginning to understand all the options. It can also be a tool for experts who want to quickly build something out or create mockups.