The pain of plug-in fragmentation

Today I wanted to enhance my WordPress blog. My goal was to research and include a plug-in that makes it easy to introduce html tables. I finally honed in on TinyMCE advanced. It not only had the feature I was looking for, but a ton of others such as horizontal lines, symbols, formatting, etc. After installing the plug-in and activating it, I found out that my Suffusion theme isn’t updated to support TinyMCE. So I experimented with the WordPress Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve themes – just previewing using the live preview feature. As I was doing so, I noticed that the categories on the side bar had started showing those I had previously hidden. So I went back to find out how to hide them again. You have to essentially put in code which was a pain – you have to ftp the code, experiment if it works, if not try another snippet. So I  searched for a plug-in to do the same and found two of these – Categories but Exclude and another. As I was experimenting exclusions, I found that I was no longer able to drag and drop widgets to the side bars. In fact I had lost all my widgets that were already set. Then I found out the way to find the culprit was to de-activate plug-ins one by one. I started with the most recently activated plug-in and was able to immediately get drag and drop working with widgets. The point of this blog is, while there is a great deal of choice and flexibility and creativity available by the plethora of plug-ins and widgets available, there is no way each and every one of these will be tested against another in combination and you, as the end-user, will need to sort out any conflicts caused by such intermingling. In addition, if you upgrade a plug-in, there is no guarantee the others that your blog is using will work. So, make sure you backup your blog every time you make a change. And also make sure you are using a good backup tool that can also restore easily. I found out the hard way that the ‘Simple Backup’ tool available on WordPress doesn’t do the restores.

All-in-all, 3 1/2 hours of an evening spent fighting disconcerted mess of plug-ins.  Steve Jobs would always refer to the Android world as fragmented, but had he seen the plug-in mess, wonder what he would have said!

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