(Yes, those are pics of my kitty and of Sandhill cranes that came by my apartment recently…haha.)
Jetpack is a plugin for WordPress that brings quite a few bells & whistles to self-hosted WordPress sites that were previously only available to people using free WordPress.com blogs. When Jetpack first came out I poo-poo’d it, thinking it was just a crutch that would end up finding ways to limit self-hosted blogs. I mean, one of the reasons to have a self-hosted blog is to not be dependent on a free blogging site any more…and the idea of “connecting” a self-hosted blog to WordPress.com just seemed wrong to me.
Well, enter a few clients who were moving from WordPress.com to self-hosted…and wanted to keep their subscribers. And their stats (or at least wanted their stats to look & behave like they were used to). I soon learned that by using Jetpack, I could help my clients keep their subscribers and their stats format. And so I installed it for them & poked around a bit.
Lo and behold…I started to like it! It makes creating blog email subscriptions very easy—no more messing with Feedburner, which can be bewildering to a lot of people—and I admit that I like its stats, too. I’ve only just started to use it on my own sites so that I can play with more of its features & better explain it to future clients.
And in that vein, today I learned about its “Carousel” feature.
To sound complelely unprofessional: me likee.
You see, WordPress has the ability to display images in a gallery format, but working with and formatting that gallery could be…a pain. I’ve used various gallery plugins before that are just lovely, but I’ve found that most clients prefer to upload their pics into a post, insert a gallery right there, and away they go, thus using the WordPress built-in gallery and not whatever fancier gallery I’d installed.
And it makes sense that they’d do that. If it’s easier to upload & create & insert a gallery right on the post editing screen, why not do that? While it’s easy for me to use gallery plugins—I’ve done so for years on my own sites—it’s because I’m used to using them. People who are new to WordPress are going to want the least complicated solution for adding images, and oftentimes gallery plugins are not it.
I’ve since been on the hunt for the best & simplest way to format the built-in WordPress galleries. I’ve tried a few different solutions, but none did quite what I wanted them to do.
Recently I thought that I’d found a perfect solution, was ready to implement it…but then today saw that this “perfect” solution has had its development discontinued because of…Jetpack’s Carousel.
So away I went to test it out. And so far, I really do like it.
What does Carousel do? Click one of the images in the gallery at the top of this post to see it in action.
And that’s how it looks straight out of the box. I’ll be playing with ways to customize that look as I go.
It definitely makes the WP gallery look a heck of a lot nicer than it did before.
Want to try it? If you already have a self-hosted WordPress blog, to use Jetpack just go into your admin area and go to Plugins–>Add New and do a search for Jetpack. Install it, connect it to WordPress.com (you can sign up for an account when you do this), and then in the admin area again go to Jetpack, look for the Carousel module, and click “Activate.” Simple as that.
Here’s to fun and useful plugins!