Explore the Power of Custom Post Types to Maximize WordPress as a CMS

One of the most exciting features coming in WordPress 3.0 is custom post types, which will vastly expand WordPress’ CMS capabilities. You can be one of the first users to pounce on this functionality by setting up a WordPress 3.0 test site and installing the new Custom Post Type UI plugin. Prior to WordPress 3.0 if you wanted to utilize custom post types you’d need to write the new post types into the database as well as an interface to let you easily handle them from within WordPress. WP 3.0 has this functionality built in and the Custom Post Type UI plugin will help you to start taking advantage of it.

What Are Custom Post Types?

If you think of WordPress as a site-building framework, custom post types are the different kinds of content blocks that make up your website. For example, you can have a unique post type for portfolio items, houses for sale, podcasts, journal entries, or anything that might warrant its own formatting. If a site is set up specifically for a client who is not so familiar with WordPress, a custom post type can be easier to understand than sorting out posts and pages, which have more of a generic meaning. Adding custom post types is a helpful way to tailor a WordPress site specifically for the content that it will be delivering.

How To Use Custom Post Types

The first thing you need to do is set up a test install of WordPress 3.0. The WordPress Beta Tester plugin makes this easy. Simply set up a WordPress installation the same way you normally would with the Famous 5 Minute Install. Then upload and activate the beta tester plugin. Navigate to “Tools” and select “Upgrade and update to the latest Beta Release.” This will automatically switch your blog onto the point release development track. It also offers the option to select the bleeding edge nightly, but this is not for the faint of heart. ;)

Now you can try out the magical world of custom post types. Install the Custom Post Type UI plugin. Navigate to Settings > Custom Post Type UI. You should see a fancy new menu where you can set up your new custom post types. The clear advantage here is that you can limit whether or not this post type includes custom fields, excerpts, comments, post thumbnails, etc., so that the editing screen is not cluttered by superfluous content boxes that you or your user may not require.

Once you create a custom post type it will automatically add it to the dashboard menu as you can see pictured left. You create as many as you need, so that future content updates can be quickly cranked out according to the unique specifications of your post.

Many thanks to Brad Williams, the developer for this plugin. He also created CollabPress, a project management and task tracking tool for WordPress and WPMU, which is another giant leap in establishing WordPress as a leader in open source CMS. Managing content with WordPress has never been easier! Set up your own test site and make sure you’re ready to deliver all the exciting new features that 3.0 has to offer.

Comments (27)

  1. cool. what are the advantages beyond what I can already do with Post template plugins like http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/single-post-template/ ? it looks like it organizes my templates, er types which is cool but with multiple post “types” like i use for cms sites it looks like it would clutter my dashboard menu. Haven’t tested yet but wonder if consolidating all post type management to the post tab, if it would keep things more neat and easy to navigate.

  2. The plug-in appears to be latching onto the upcoming Custom Post Type feature but for me the lack of Custom Taxonomy UI in the same dialog leaves the usefulness of the plug-in somewhat lacking.

  3. Thanks for the writeup! Creating custom taxonomies for your custom post types will be a feature in the next version of Custom Post Type UI. I hope to have that out by the end of the week

  4. I’ve been playing around with this a bit and I’ve come to a roadblock.

    Here are my settings:

    Post Type Name: launch
    Label: Site Launch
    Public: True
    Show UI: True
    Edit Link: post.php?post=%d
    Capability Type: post
    Hierarchical: True
    Rewrite: True
    Query Var: True

    When I make the post the permalink I get is “?1=test-site-launch” which brings me to a 404 page. What I would like is for the post to show up under the current permalink structure which would be like “/2010/03/test-site-launch/” but maybe this is something that is still being sorted out for 3.0 or maybe its something that this plugin doesn’t do (yet/at all).

    If I change the Query Var to False I get a permalink of “/?post_type=launch&p=210&post_type=launch” and the post works, however that is not the structure I would like.

    Any suggestions would be great. I’m looking forward to 3.0 and this plugin.

  5. @Bryce correct Query Var should be set to False for the custom post to load. Pretty permalinks aren’t a part of WordPress Core for custom post types yet. I have some code I’m working on integrating into the plugin to create pretty permalinks so look forward to that in a future version.

  6. Great plugin – I wonder if there will be support for additional custom fields for a custom post type eventually. Classification is great, but it would be great to have a UI to, say, upload an image, or have a subheder, or whatever, as a custom field…

  7. This is really a great plugin! Thanks a lot
    However, is there a way to display the entries written in a custom post type in a RSS Feed? I think this would be a really great feature, since feed are used everywhere

  8. WordPress Easy Post Types plugin was released today. The Easy Post Types plugin extends WordPress and provides a GUI interface that combines and leverages the power of custom post types, custom taxonomies, and meta tags. Publishers don’t have to hack code to take advantage of the new powerful features of WP 3.0. Easy Post Types is distributed under the GNU General Public License.

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