In our plan for 2020 announcement post, we said that we had been working on something and would tell you when they're finished. And today is that day. We're happy to announce that we're releasing ready-to-use solutions that are built on top of Meta Box to serve specific purposes. You can download and use them immediately without paying any extra fee if you own a Lifetime Bundle license.
What are Solutions and Why?
We've been thinking about how developers use Meta Box everyday. Since day one, Meta Box plays a role as a framework, a library, or a foundation, where developers use it to build things. The main purpose of Meta Box is saving developers time and effort, so they don't have to deal with low-level technical things such as handling nonce when saving custom fields or styling when working with settings pages. And it does its job very well.
But one question keeps popping in our heads for years: Can we do better? By better, we mean, can we help developers more? Save them more time, reduce the amount of coding, or something like that.
We've been thinking about it for a long time. Until last year, an idea come out in our discussions: why don't we make complete & ready-to-use solutions for developers so they can just use them without building again?
Think about it as a complete package that has everything you need to do a specific thing, so you don't have to install a bunch of extensions, write some custom code to configure things. All you need to do is installing the plugin and then use it. No coding. Just use it as a normal user.
The Journey of Solutions
The idea of solutions doesn't come overnight. If you follow how we released extensions in recent years, you'll see we were close to it. We had MB User Meta first, then we use it to build MB User Profile. MB User Profile can be considered as a solution for creating custom front-end user profiles for WordPress.
But at that time, we didn't realize that. We simply thought MB User Profile was an extension, and make it available as other extensions. You might still need to do some custom coding with shortcodes to use it well on your site.
After re-thinking about how we built MB User Profile and some additional features for MB Frontend Submission, we asked ourselves why don't we push them a little further, so you don't need to touch anything? And that's how solutions were born.
Solutions vs. Extensions
The main difference between a solution and an extension is that with a solution, you have everything ready to use such as settings pages with UI or integration code for WordPress. You don't have to go through our technical documentation to find how to use an extension anymore. You just need to use the settings page (if any) to set the options you want.
We try our best to make everything as easy as possible for you to use solutions. We hope that will save you a lot of time and of course, keep you away from potential bugs that might happen if you have to do yourself all these things.
So, solutions are like normal WordPress plugins, extensions are more like libraries or tools.
How Do You Build Solutions?
A solution is a plugin that has the following things:
- Meta Box plugin (of course)
- One or more extensions (free or premium), depending on the purpose of the solution. They're bundled in solutions so you don't need to install and activate them separately. It still works fine if you already activated the extensions separately or have Meta Box AIO activated.
- A custom settings page, if required. Of course, it's built with MB Settings Page.
- Some custom code to glue everything and make them work together.
We bundled everything above in a single plugin, so you don't have to care about them.
Available Solutions (for Now)
Currently, we have completed the following solutions:
- MB User Avatar: Allow you to set custom avatars for users. It will replace the default WordPress Gravatar with user photos.
- MB Favorite Posts: Allows users (both guests and logged-in users) to bookmark your posts to view them later. It provides a dashboard where users can view and manage their favorites.
- MB Testimonials: Build and show your testimonial showcase. Supports grid & slider style with 7 built-in nice looking templates. You can also customize the templates with HTML and CSS if you want.
In the future, we'll release more solutions if we find them useful. We're collecting ideas for solutions and if you have any suggestions, please let us know.
We hope what we've done is useful for you. But you're the ones who actually use the solutions, we hope you can spend some time and give us honest feedback: is it built right for you? What do you think can be improved? Is there any problem you have when using it? Please let us know. We appreciate that.
And the last thing, if you love the solutions, please share them with your friends!