All the Features
Using the ContentFlow script, the Message Flow plugin can display a Cover Flow for a variety of content sources:
- The most recent posts, displaying the featured images
- The most recent posts of a specific category, displaying the featured images
- Items from some types of RSS feeds, displaying only the plugin’s default image
- Podcasts from the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting plugin, displaying the iTunes image and integrating an audio player so you can listen right from Message Flow
- Podcast RSS feeds from outside your site (like [message-flow feed=”http://twit.tv/node/feed”] ) that work as if they’re on your site
Following the shortcode instructions listed on the plugin’s page, you can also:
- Limit the number of items
- Use your own fallback / default image per theme
- Use your own fallback image per shortcode
- Turn off displaying the Excerpt within Message Flow
- It’s responsive!
- The mouse scroll wheel works when the mouse is positioned over any part of the Cover Flow area
- You can have more than one Message Flow shortcode per page/post
- If your shortcode outputs no results, the Cover Flow won’t display (i.e. it’s smart like that)
- Any fallback image will look good, even if it’s not a square image of the recommended 165 px dimensions
My Enhancement Ideas
Here are a few things to keep in mind before committing to using this plugin:
- If using Message Flow within a post (i.e. not a page), the Message Flow plugin will pick up its own post. For example, if I choose to display the 5 most recent posts and 1 of those 5 is the post I’m viewing Message Flow on, it’s essentially an infinite loop situation.
- The Cover Flow scrolling effect doesn’t work perfectly on touch devices (e.g. phones and tablets). All the images and links will work just fine, but scrolling through them is only possible by clicking on the narrow white navigation line where the circle isn’t positioned. You can get the navigation to move on a touch device, but, unfortunately, it’s not really usable.
- Scrolling with the mouse wheel is very smooth, but using the mouse to drag the slider sometimes feels choppy or jittery, until you’ve dragged it far enough to navigate fully to the next item. I found the CoverFlow script to do the same; however, the ImageFlow script was very smooth. I doubt this part of the Message Flow plugin will get improved, since it’s based on the CoverFlow script.
- The slider circle starts to the far-right, which intuitively feels wrong. I feel like it would be smarter to have the most recent post as item #1 not #10, with the slider starting all the way to the left.
- If looking to fully develop this plugin into a great Cover Flow solution, which I think should be done, it’d be nice to include alternative designs like the ContentFlow AddOns and including support for Custom Post Types.
If you don’t consider these issues to be a problem, give Message Flow a try and comment below to share how it worked out for you.