The UltimateIDX delivers the ideal solution to one of the most common WordPress blog limitations people encounter. Menu management in WordPress is a bit of an art combined with some clever coding as you may have experienced if you have spent any time building WordPress themes. Although there are about a half dozen methods for handling menu items in WordPress, none of those commonly used provide a non technical end user of the WordPress blog any significant control over what is linked to and how; until now!
The developers at the UltimateIDX wanted to take the concept of a WordPress CMS and move it to a more recognizable reality by providing an easy to use Menu Management features that can be quickly implemented in a short period of time. Since this solution does require some basic modification to the WordPress templates or themes in use, we documented the template tag in the actual plugin for quick reference for those who may find it necessary to create dozens of menus on any one site.
How the WordPress Menu Creator works.
This UltimateIDX plugin was designed to be as easy to use as possible in answer to our clients request for a way to manage their blog links without requiring them to perform the modification to the templates we build for them. Initially the process for managing menus was to trick the link categories feature in WordPress into behaving like a quasi menu manager of sorts. The technique used quite frequently does work fine, providing the link order on the menu wasn’t all that important. Having built literally dozens of blog sites for our clients using this technique it became obvious that a better solution was needed in order to reduce the amount of time spent fixing mishaps and frustrations experienced by some theme users.
The Menu Creator works by adding one of two different types of php template tags to the theme and then creating the menu items for those instances to render the links accordingly. With forethought and planning we knew in advance that people would likely request or should we say require a way to add cascading drop down menus to WordPress, often called the SuckerFish menu. We made sure that the output could nest at a bare minimum of 3 levels and with the potential of many more, limited only by CSS styling for the unordered lists.
Since the output or rendering of the menus is based entirely on good common practices for HTML markup, your menus on your site will not hinder or alter your CSS / XHTML validation efforts. Unordered lists are likely the most common and most effective method for displaying menu items given the wide support and styling examples available anywhere on the web. So what type of menu does the plugin support?
Supported Menu Types and Solutions
The UltimateIDX maintains a commercial developer licenses for several dozen products used in the development of client website solutions. Of those licensed products most commonly requested by our clients is the inclusion of the OpenCube menu system in WordPress sites. During the development of the WordPress Menu Creator we made certain that compatibility with OpenCube and other popular menu scripting solutions was an absolute core requirement. As a result, we ended up developing two variants of the plugin to accommodate the individual needs of the end user. The FREE version, the one you see herein supports, any menu system dependent on the unordered lists or nested unordered lists, including those from Dynamic Drive, HTML Dog, A List Apart, Meyers Web and those created by Stu Nicholls from CSS Play.
The commercial version has OpenCube features built into the Menu Creator in accordance to our commercial license and is therefore not freely distributed but can be requested and customized none the less starting at $39.95. Naturally the OpenCube variant includes installation and configuration as certain aspects of the design process must be carefully edited.
How to install the WordPress Menu Creator Plugin
After downloading and extracting the ZIP file for the plugin, installation of the Menu Creator is done exactly as nearly all plugins are installed. You access your WordPress installation via FTP and upload the menu-creator/ folder to wp-content/plugins/ and then in the administration panel, you activate the plugin to begin using it.
How to create WordPress menus using the plugin
Create A Menu:
With the plugin activated, you simply navigate to the Manage link and then select Menu Creator. We have added in a few checks and balances to prevent accidental deletion of a menu once created and as a result it is important to note that you pay close attention to how the overall Menu Creator works.
By default, the Menu Creator does not install with any menus pre-configured. Its is the best practice to name your menu according to its intended use as in Top Navigation or Real Estate Links for example. After you create your first menu it may be required in some browsers to click on the “Menu Creator” link again in order to see the new menu in the list, this is certainly true of FireFox as of version 3.0.
Create Menu Items:
Once the menu is visible, simply click on title of the menu or select the “Edit” link to begin adding menu items. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that the first item must start with the order number of 0.
Creating External Links Items: Selecting the meny type for External Link is required in order to display an external link. External links MUST start with http:// if they do not they will not display properly.
Creating Internal Link Items: Selecting the Page or Post type option in the drop down list tells the Menu Creator to look for a post or page id number and display the link for that particular item. You can easily find the post or page ID by editing the post or page and examining the ID in the address bar of your browser. Alternatively if you don’t know the ID number you can select Manage (either posts or pages) and by holding your mouse over any particular post or page the item number will show up in the browsers status bar. Please see the video tutorial below for more details.
Creating Drop Down Sub Items: If your menu is to be a cascading type menu then sub items should be added as you would any other menu item. However, there are two important aspects to getting this right and the first is the Parent: item number and the second is Order.
The Parent number field refers to the parent menu item this link will be subject to. Meaning that if you have a top menu item of About Us and under that heading you want a link to Contact Us you must specify in the Parent field the actual item number of the parent, and again, the first item requires a zero.
Adding the template tags to the theme
- To display a menu simply paste in the template tag with the appropriate menu ID number into your theme such as in the sidebar.php or maybe even the header.php where you want the menu to render as follows:
<?php displayMenu(1); ?>
- If however you have a cascading menu and need to display a drop down menu list you would paste this into your template where you want that cascading menu to render:
<?php displayMenu(1, 2); ?>
- It is possible to display multiple sub levels although we have tested to only three levels as follows:
<?php displayMenu(1, 3); ?>
Example menu master files are included in the template as well as on this site. Please see the link below for tutorials and menu structure examples and source code.
In addition to this tool, please check out our other WordPress plugins by visiting the Joomla – WordPress Latest Posts Module and the WordPress Menu Creator.