Social media WordPress plugins and drag and drop builders may get all the attention, but I am a big fan of administration plugins that help me run my websites more efficiently.
In particular, I like admin WordPress plugins that add functionality missing from the core version of WordPress.
Last year I was lucky enough to meet up with the team in Vienna at WordCamp Europe 2016. It was great to meet the people who developed one of my favourite WordPress plugins.
Their latest version of Admin Columns Pro is impressive. Admin Columns 4 adds refines the product and adds a lot of new functionality.
Check out the video below to see what it can do.
If you would prefer to read my thoughts on Admin Columns 4, keep on reading.
What Does Admin Columns Do?
WordPress displays all entries on overview pages, however the columns that are displayed are fixed. For example on the post overview page you will see information such as title, author, categories, tags, comments and date. Whereas on the media overview page the columns are file, author, the post/page the media was uploaded to, comments and date.
Unfortunately, WordPress does not give you any way to change what columns are displayed. That is why Admin Columns is so useful.
Admin Columns lets you edit columns, create new columns and remove columns that are not important to you. You can control every single overview page on your website using a simple drag and drop builder.
For example, a blogger may modify the blog post overview page so that tags are not displayed but display columns for featured images, attachments and word count.
Essentially, Admin Columns gives you full control over your WordPress overview pages and lets you decide what information is displayed and what is not.
Upgrading to the pro version of the plugin adds many additional features such as sortable columns, filterable columns, column sets, and importing and exporting.
Admin Columns Pro also adds inline editing, which is one of the most useful features of Admin Columns. Enabling inline editing lets you edit thousands of fields one the one page. You no longer need to access each item to edit the data.
For a large website, pro features such as inline editing and sorting and filtering will save you a huge amount of administration every month.
What's New in Admin Columns 4?
Each minor release of Admin Columns 3 added one or two new features, however Admin Columns 4 marks the biggest update of the product since the pro version was released three years ago.
The User-Interface Has Been Improved
Admin Columns was initially designed using the same styling as WordPress to help it seamlessly blend in with your WordPress website.
Over the last few years WordPress has tweaked the style of the WordPress user interface. Therefore, whilst Admin Columns was still easy to use, it didn't match the default WordPress styling as close as it once did.
This was addressed in Admin Columns 4 by adjusting margins and padding and making many other styling modifications. The changes are subtle, but they do help.
CodePress made a number of other changes to improve the experience of users such as improving column management and adding additional action buttons to speed up things like saving.
More Integration with WordPress Plugins
One of the best features of Admin Columns is how well it integrates with other WordPress solutions. The goal of Admin Columns has always been to compliment third-party WordPress plugins, not replace them. Or to put it another way, Admin Columns makes good WordPress plugins better by giving you full control over how data is displayed.
Both of these plugins can be used to create custom post types, custom fields and custom taxonomies. Admin Columns lets you add columns for all of this additional content to help you filter data better.
Support for WordPress multisite has also been added in Admin Columns 4.
17 unique columns have been added and more are going to be added soon. These additional columns will help you administrate your network more easily.
Columns include a used space column that displays a graphic to show you how much storage a particular website is using, plugin and theme columns that highlight which theme and plugins are activated on websites, and a post and comment count column to help you see how popular a website is.
My favourite new feature in Admin Columns is horizontal scrolling.
Admin Columns has always allowed you to add an unlimited number of columns to your overview pages. It is sometimes desirable to display over a dozen columns of data. For example, for an order that was placed on your online shop.
The problem is that WordPress was not designed to handle too many columns so all the information gets squashed up in the screen. It was annoying and impractical.
Horizontal Scrolling fixes this problem by allowing the main content area to be expanded to as long as it needs to be. Each column is spaced out so that content can be viewed properly. You can then scroll through data using a horizontal scrollbar or using touch gestures on smartphones and tablets.
Horizontal scrolling works great on mobile devices, but I would love to see it refined for desktops.
At the moment the horizontal scrollbar is displayed at the very bottom of the page. This means that in order to see some data you need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and then all the way back up. This can be a pain if you are displaying a large number of entries on a page.
One way to improve this would be to add an option to enable a horizontal scrollbar underneath each entry. This would allow users to independently control each row and slide through data without having to go to the bottom of the page and back up.
Other Features & Improvements
Many other improvements have found their way into Admin Columns 4.
- Date formatting lets you define the exact format dates are displayed on each column
- Range filtering has been expanded so that you can filter between any two fields, whether it be values, dates, text, or whatever
- Filter labels allow you to name each filter to help you sort data better
- Multi-line editing for arrays of data
- Colour pick editing adds a colour wheel when inline editing columns with colours
- An option to use either the default taxonomy column from WordPress or a unique column from Admin Columns
A lot of small bugs have been addressed for this release too (you can see more information on this here).
Admin Columns 4 is a significant release that is sure to please existing customers and encourage those who use the free version of Admin Columns to upgrade. Additional support for Pods and Types will also encourage others to try out Admin Columns for the first time.
I was really impressed with how Admin Columns has been improved. The horizontal scrolling feature is really cool and WordPress multisite users will love the columns that the plugin adds.
Admin Columns Pro is available at $59 for a personal license and offers support and updates for one year. Upgrading to the the business license at $119 increases support and updates from one website to four websites and adds support for third-party plugins. The developer license costs $199 and gives support and updates for an unlimited number of websites.
To celebrate the launch of Admin Columns Pro, CodePress have reduced the cost of the plugin.
- Personal license has been reduced from $59 to $50
- Business license has been reduced from $119 to $100
- Developer license has been reduced from $199 to $170
Be sure to take advantage of this 15% discount offer when it's still available.
The official announcement of Admin Columns 4 can be seen on their blog.