Transparency Reports

Transparency Report of November 2021

Print Buttons in Sidebars, New Capabilities, Use-Case Interview with Heredis, WPML Integration, Duplicate Post as Print Material, Better Non-English Character Support, and User Manual for Sale on Amazon

This is the 32nd monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin.

What Happened This Month

Plugin Stats

Just one day of releases (I actually made three releases that day) so just one spike.
Not sure what the spike in installs was from this month. The latest dip corresponds to the release, though. I suspect there’s either some error or the changes made some users nervous.

Mailing List Stats

Stats from my MailChimp mailing list.

Email list growth is still dead without Freemius’ Opt-in screen.

Website Visits

Stats from my site’s Koko analytics (don’t need no Google Analytics, thank you!)

A few posts but no improvement in pageviews, and actually a slight decrease in visitors.

Freemius Stats

Freemius gathers other stats about sales and sites using the plugin.

There were some sales, but actually about 20% less than last month (I’m not sure why Freemius reports it as a 13% increase).
I think the “Opted-in Sites” are actually only folks who “opt in” to sharing information during deactivation in my case, which is why it’s almost the same as “un-installed” numbers.

Finances and More Plugin Stats

This is different. Rather than copy-and-paste everything from my spreadsheet to the blog post each month, here’s read-only access to my spreadsheet! By the way, sheet 2 has a pretty graph.

The Details

Tutorial on How to Add Print Buttons to Widget Areas

This month a potential user asked if the print buttons could be placed in their theme’s sidebar, to which I replied with a video showing how to do that (and how to generally add print buttons to any widget area).

The gist of the tutorial is to add the shortcode [pmb_print_buttons] to a text widget. Then it just all works as expected.

I also added an update that made it work a bit better: on any pages listing multiple posts (like archive pages) the print buttons are just hidden from the widgets area.

If I see much interest in this, I’ll probably add a Gutenberg block for adding print buttons to widget areas like this without needing to use a shortcode.

Capabilities for Print Materials

Previously, PMB Print Materials (a custom post type which is basically posts for including in PMB projects and don’t appear on your website for visitors to see) were controlled by the same capabilities as regular WordPress posts. That is, if you wanted to give a user permission to edit posts, you had to also give them permission to edit print materials (and vice-versa).

But this month, I introduced new capabilities for Print Materials, which means you can use a plugin like User Role Editor to create a new role like “book editor”, so those users can only edit print materials and nothing else on the website.

Use-Case Interview with Hélène Debaque of Heredis

I finally published my first use-case interview with Hélène Debaque from the genealogy software company Heredis on how they’re using PMB. Because she’s maintaining their companies documentation in various formats (online and printable PDF), languages (French, English, and German) for so various operating systems (Windows and Mac), it could have been an unholy amount of copy-and-pasting, and a nightmare to maintain. But using PMB and WPML she’s able to write the documentation in French, then let WPML take care of translations, and PMB take care of making the PDF.

WPML Integration Released

I released the WPML integration I mentioned last month, and I think it makes writing a book in WordPress a good choice even if you don’t have a blog. The workflow is this:

  • write your book as posts (or print materials if you don’t want them to appear on the frontend of your website)
  • let WPML automatically translate the posts as you go (optionally hire a translation from WPML’s suggested list)
  • use PMB to generate the book in each language

I think the especially big advantage is when books need to be edited or updated. If you wrote the book in one language in Microsoft Word, and then make tweaks and changes throughout the document, a translator is going to have a very hard time finding where exactly to change in the translation. In contrast, using PMB and WPML, it will show which posts need their translations updated, and it will even show which paragraphs need to be re-translated.

Duplicate Post as Print Material Feature Released

I released another feature mentioned last month: one-click duplicating a post (or page, or most custom post types) as print materials.

This was developed based on user feedback. The user wanted to customize posts for their book, but didn’t feel comfortable using CSS classes or shortcodes to do it.

Better Non-English Character Support

A user reported they were getting a strange error using Pro Print which turned out to be because their project’s name had some non-ASCII characters (specifically, Chinese characters). Their feedback helped me find the cause of the error and fix it. So hopefully that fix will make PMB more friendly to non-English users.

User Manual for Sale on Amazon

The PMB printed User Manual is now officially on Amazon and for sale. It was mostly a bit of work fixing a couple formatting issues I had missed earlier, and making a cover.

No, I haven’t had any sales which is ok. It’s mostly there as proof PMB can be used for making books and putting them on Amazon for sale, and to give me a bit more direct experience doing it. I think the main value will be is advertising it on my website, as writing a book, right or wrong, establishes a bit more authority.

Once I have PMB making ePubs, I think I’ll write a tutorial on using PMB to get a book on Amazon.

Thinking Out Loud

Facilitating Integration with Premium Plugins

This last month PMB got integration with WPML, a fully premium plugin. Fortunately, WPML has a very friendly policy towards fellow plugin developers: not only do they give you a free license to their software, but they’ve also got a whole “Go Global” program for supporting and encouraging integration with their popular software.

I think WPML’s policy is much healthier for the community than some others. For example, Elementor and LearnDash refused to give me a free license for integration. That makes integration difficult, especially when I don’t intend to use either on my website.

Ok, so maybe I should cough up the money and buy an Elementor and LearnDash license, but there’s a few dozen other plugins I should pay for too. And when you’re a small fry, paying for integrating with all the big players is tough. It’s really just other big players (eg maybe WooCommerce) that can afford to pay for a license to every other plugins they want to integrate with. Of course, I bet Elementor and LearnDash both give free licenses to WooCommerce, because they want their millions of customers to also use their software.

So if there isn’t a free version of your plugin (PMB does, by the way) you should really give out free limited licenses to fellow plugin developers. We don’t need to use these licenses on our public websites, so go ahead and make them add a banner saying “Development site” or something on the site to discourage use on live sites. But please put your licenses where your mouth is and actually encourage the growth of the community rather than just your share of the pie.

WPML’s free license adds a banner saying “Development Site” at the top, which is totally appropriate as I got it for free. If I decide to use it on a live site (which I may, having gotten used to it while creating my integration) I’ll buy a regular license

Having said how much I appreciate WPML’s policy about supporting fellow developers, I am still waiting for them to give me some feedback on the integration and share it with their users. So everything’s not perfect, but I hope it will be good.

A Double-Dip in Active Install Growth

I do need to acknowledge that while growth was still positive this month, there were two weeks where there was negative growth. I’m not certain why that was. I assume the latest dip was because folks got scared off with the fairly big update (and not finding anything they needed in it). It’s unfortunate but oh well. I suppose it’s also a bit natural when you’re developing features for a minority who’s willing to pay, that you’re probably going to lose some of the free users as they don’t want or need any of those pro features.

What’s Next?

Making ePubs is still next on my priorities… again…

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