I love working with WordPress and like many of it’s features. One of the nicest things about WordPress is the ability to change the “look” of it by activating different themes. Another powerful capability is being able to change or enhance the operation of the website by installing plugins.
In fact, about half of the plugins that I install are for the express purpose of making the back end work better for me. As I’ve written before, I don’t like the menu on the left, so I install Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu. I like the ability to duplicate a page/post with one click of the mouse, so I install the Duplicate Post plugin. I also like the ability to move from one page/post to the next one without going back to the page/post listing, so I install Admin Post Navigation.
As you can see, I have quite a list of “Back End Plugins” that I install on every website. If I install them from the “Add New Plugins” menu, it can be a slow and tedious process. I have wished that there was some plugin or modification that I could make to WordPress so that I could tick several plugins in the “Add New Plugins” menu after a search and install them all at once.
A perfect example of this desire is when I want to install a lot of the Genesis plugins to work with the Genesis theme I’m building for a client. There are about 30 or so that are available and I may want to use as many as fifteen of them. I can’t do a search for “Genesis” then choose multiple Genesis plugins to install. I have to install them one at a time.
But, this is one area that seems to be lacking
I’ve proposed this idea to several people before and a couple have developed plugins that come close, but they miss the mark. Each developer that has come up with a solution has approached it using the concept that you enter the URL from the WordPress Repository where the plugin resides. That meant a lot of extra work for me and I’m not interested in doing that much extra work.
I’ve created a folder in my DropBox where I’ve unzipped all the plugins that I use and store them in their appropriate folders under a main folder I’ve titled “Plugins To Upload”. Then, I just use my FTP program and upload all the contents of that folder to the “Plugins” folder in the “wp-content” folder. Then, I can visit my “Installed Plugins” menu and activate the plugins that I want to use. Finally, I go back to my FTP program and delete the ones I don’t want – or delete them in my “Installed Plugins” menu.
This worked fairly good when I first started doing it. But, every few days, I would discover a plugin that needed updating. This meant that I had to download the new version, unzip it, and then replace all the files in my folder on Dropbox. Of course, I usually am busy and decide to “get to it later”.
Later never comes and then I reach a day like today where I upload the folders and discover that 47 of my 73 plugins need an update. Well, that just stinks. There’s got to be a better way. But, I haven’t see it.
Then Came PluginBot
I discovered PluginBot a few months back, but I was a bit concerned that it might be someones fishing scam or a way to get in to more WordPress websites. So I sat back and monitored to see if there was any chatter about it or if it got shut down.
Today I decided to give it a shot. I had previously signed up for an account, so I logged in and downloaded the plugin. I installed it on a website and after working with it a bit, I decided that I would share my experience with our WPMU community.
Sign Up For A PluginBot Account
The first thing you need to do is signup for a PluginBot account at their website.
Once you are at the website, click the “Join” button and you will be taken to a separate screen where you input your “First Name” and “Email Address”. Click the “Continue” button and wait for your email confirmation. When you get that email, click the confirmation email link and then wait for your email with the registration link in it. When that email arrives, click the registration link and follow the instructions on the screen.
After You’ve Signed Up For A PluginBot Account
After you have signed up for an account and logged in to the members area, you can download your own copy of the PluginBot plugin. Once you have downloaded it, you add it to your WordPress website by clicking on “Add New” under the Plugins menu. The choose “Upload” from the screen and click on “Choose File” to open the file upload window. Choose the current version of PluginBot that you just downloaded and then choose “Upload” from the screen. Once the file is uploaded, you can “Activate” the plugin so that it can be configured and logged into your PluginBot account.
After The PluginBot Plugin Is Activated
You will see the PluginBot choice under the Settings Menu. Navigate to it and the PluginBot screen will load. On that screen, on the right side, will be a login section where you enter your Username and Password to connect the installed plugin to your PluginBot account so that you can use the powers of PluginBot.
The first time you login, you will not see any of your plugins on the right side of the screen because that represents the plugins that you have referenced in your PluginBot account. However, on the left side of your screen, you will see the active plugins on your website where the plugin is installed. In fact, PluginBot will be one of those plugins noted there.
Look at the list of plugins on the left side of the screen and tick the box beside the plugins you want to put into your PluginBot account to install on other websites in the future. Then click the “Add Checked To PluginBot” button to copy that information over to your PluginBot account.
After this process is complete, and you install the PluginBot plugin on another website, these plugins will show up in the list on the right hand side. You can then install them easily on any other WordPress website that you install the PluginBot plugin on.
How Do I Use This With A New WordPress Installation
After you complete your new WordPress setup, the first plugin you should install would be the PluginBot plugin. After installation, activation, and login, you should see the screen below:
You’ll notice that the only plugin shown in your new WordPress installation is PluginBot; however, if you have already activated Akismet, HelloDolly, or JetPack, those may show up as well.
On the right side, you can choose what plugins you want to install on this new WordPress website by ticking their boxes and then hitting the “Install Plugins” button. If you want them to automatically be activated after you install them, be sure to tick the “Activate After Install” box. Your screen will refresh and then you will see the installation process displayed on the screen. After installation is complete, your screen should look similar to the one below (with your chosen plugins shown of course).
Simple isn’t it? Problem solved. Install and activate the latest version of multiple plugins quickly and easily.
But What About Plugins That Are Not In The WordPress Repository
If you are like me, you use a lot of premium plugins, so you have a number of plugins not located in the WordPress Repository. How does PluginBot handle those?
Currently, the plugin does not handle plugins stored on your computer’s hard drive, so you have to be a little creative here.
One option recommended by the Developers is to simply put in the download link for the plugin where your originally downloaded it from. However, I’ve found that less than effective because most of the ones I have are located behind LoginID’s and Passwords or some other protection measure. That is just more trouble than it’s worth.
Another option would be to upload your premium plugin ZIP files to an online storage service such as Dropbox, AmazonS3, or even your own server. Then, install them on one of your WordPress websites and activate them. You don’t have to intend to use them, just install them long enough to load them into your PluginBot account.
With each of your plugins installed and activated, when you visit your PluginBot dashboard in your WordPress website, you will see them listed in the bottom left section along with PluginBot.
To load the info into your PluginBot account, simply copy and paste the URL for each of your Premium Plugin ZIP files into the box just below the plugin name, tick the box for that plugin, then press “Add Checked To PluginBot” and that information will be stored in your PluginBot Account.
Problems I’ve Identified With PluginBot
There are a lot of great features with PluginBot, but I’ve also noted a few issues that need to be addressed by the developers to really streamline this plugin.
- There’s no method to directly add/select a list of plugins (Repository or Premium) directly at their website once you’ve logged in to your account.
- If you add a premium plugin and either put the incorrect download link or the download link changes, when you try to update it from the left panel, it simply creates a duplicate entry in your PluginBot account and there’s no way to tell which one is the correct one.
- There is supposed to be an “Update” function where you can remove plugins from your PluginBot account by unchecking them in the right panel and click the “Update” button. This function does not work like you think it would. You must actually choose the domain from the dropdown box that you were initially logged in to when you put that plugin in the list. Not sure why it’s done that way, but I’m responsible for 90+ WordPress websites, so there’s no way I can remember which one I was working on when I added a plugin.
- In the left side panel, there’s no “Check/Uncheck All” box to check or uncheck the entire list of plugins. I’m dealing with approximately 70 plugins sometimes and I’d like to be able to uncheck all of them and only add one or two of them to my PluginBot account.
So Is This Really FREE?
Absolutely FREE. Well, sorta.
“I knew there was a catch”
The catch is actually pretty innocuous though so don’t be too concerned. With PluginBot installed and activated another menu selection is added to your “Plugins” menu labeled “Add Premium”. If you visit this menu you will see a list of premium plugins that might be of interest to you. There’s nothing really wrong with the plugins listed – in fact, I use many of them in my work with clients. However, I contend there’s an ethical issue as there’s no notation that the Developers of PluginBot may receive a commission when you purchase one of the listed Premium Plugins. Additionally, the FTC may take a dim view of such a method of affiliate marketing.
Should I Use This?
This is one plugin that I’m reviewing that I still have some hesitation about. The features are fantastic – even considering the negatives I pointed out just above. But, I’m still concerned about the potential that the plugin itself may provide a backdoor into the website for some malicious activity. I guess, you could install it initially, install all your plugins, and then uninstall it. I’d probably “scrub” my database and files afterwards as well. Bottom line – the jury is still out on the security concerns with this one. But, if you ask me does it work I’d have to say absolutely – like a charm.
Other than that, I have found no issues with PluginBot and would recommend it for anyone wanting to be able to install numerous plugins with ease. If you’re using PluginBot, please leave your comments in the comment section below. However, I’d really like to get your opinion of the affiliate marketing strategy employed by the developers of PluginBot.