We’re always excited to discover new WordPress plugins that we can work with. It’s one of the benefits of providing services across a wide range of industries and to clients with a variety of website from elearning to ecommerce. Recently we were hired to work on a MainWP project. If you’re not familiar with it already, MainWP is a dashboard for managing multiple websites within the WP admin. It provides many of the same features found in SAAS (software as a service) dashboards available for WordPress. The advantage over those external system is MainWP is a WordPress plugin, and it runs in your own website. That means you own it! And yes, it’s free. Both the MainWP Dashboard plugin, and the MainWP Child Plugin (which is installed on all the child sites) are available for free in the WordPress directory. There are also numerous MainWP extensions, some are free, and others premium.
MainWP can clearly save time and help create a more systematic approach to content development and distribution across a network of websites. It also simplifies management of sites and updates, saving development time and cost. Are you sold yet? We were immediately sold on the idea of using MainWP, and added it here to GoldHat.ca.
The project we worked on with MainWP involved a custom integration of the MainWP Spinner plugin. The client had hired a previous developer to build a custom approach to creating posts that would be published across their network of over 200 websites. MainWP Spinner extension integrates with online article spinner services such as The Best Spinner, Chimp Rewriter and many more. It is however limited in the content it can spin, only posts and pages. In this case the client had a customization where there was a custom post type, and fields were setup for images, headlines and various body text sections. After the article was “spun” all these fields would be aggregated together as post content, and published using the MainWP bulkpost feature. At this point the 1 article would be published to 5 sites, 10 sites or more and would be sufficiently unique on each site to qualify as unique content.
The problem with the implementation our client faced was a typical case of offshore development gone wrong. The previous developer “hacked” MainWP (the core plugin), hacked MainWP Spinner extension, and put only about 10% of the functionality into the actual custom plugin he built! Best practices be damned I imagine the developer saying! Well the result is the client updated MainWP, and voila the custom functionality broke. Fortunately it did not down his website, which is not uncommon in these cases. Reversing the damage done by the previous developer was a painstaking process of moving code from MainWP and MainWP Spinner into the custom plugin which we named MainWP Spinner Upload.
If you’re a site owner contemplating hopping on Upwork and hiring an offshore developer for customizations or plugin development just remember that it is very common to have this situation where work has to be redone later by a qualified WordPress developer. Mistakes made can be very costly in terms of downtime, cost to debug errors, and finally the obvious cost of having to eventually rebuild the features that you’ve had added. This is not to suggest that all Upwork developers are problematic, we still sell on Upwork to this day! There are also offshore developers, particularly in places such as Russia, Eastern Europe who do quality work. However the most common “help me my website is broken” situation we find is from “Built in India” or “Built in Pakistan” websites. While there are probably many great developers in these countries, unfortunately there are thousands of developers and firms that violate the most basic principles of WordPress development such as don’t edit the plugins (extend them) and don’t edit base themes (use child themes). Edits to plugins and base themes render your site unable to receive updates and because the entire ecosystem of WordPress is constantly evolving, it’s only a matter of time until something breaks, or a security flaw opens up that hackers can exploit.
Now that we have experience with MainWP and MainWP Spinner, we’re looking at opportunities to build custom MainWP extensions. We already have one new project with MainWP underway, it’s an integration with MainWP Spinner called MainWP Spintax Templates. It solves the problem that sometimes when spinning content you may want to embed a link, video or other content that is very lengthy when pasted into a text editor. Also organizing that content is time consuming. With our MainWP Spintax Templates plugin content managers can setup these spintax templates that then generate a shortcode. The shortcode is then copied into the editor and processed when the content is published.
We welcome our readers to comment on their experiences with MainWP and other topics in this blog post. Thanks for reading!