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.