UPDATE: Please consider not using a carousel at all: Death to the Website Carousel
I previously posted on this same topic not all that long ago, but that slider broke when we updated to the most recent WordPress (3.4) and since new plugins come out all the time, I thought I’d just find a new one.
Just to briefly review the requirements:
- work in a sidebar
- have manual image selection (i.e. not (only) through featured image on posts)
- be able to set an external link for each image
- some sort of navigation i.e. arrows or buttons
- works with other necessary plugins for our site
- 2D, not a fancy 3D one
- does not override the image gallery built into WP
Preferred options include:
- buttons or numbers to skip directly to a specific image
- left/right arrow navigation on hover (optionally, with keyboard functionality)
- caption text at the bottom of image
- variety of choices for animation
- shortcode to easily add into widget
- accessible (instead of me adding manual noscript + links)
This time, with the plugin breaking on update, I more highly prioritized a recent update, sometime 2012 (which means the past 6 months).
I did a quick search for ‘slider’ and ‘carousel’ (separately) and went through quite a few pages (until I was no longer getting relevant results). Once again, many of them just did not work for me for whatever reason. There were also a number of nice looking plugins but were specific to posts/categories and/or had no external linking.
- Slides – While this works, you cannot change the size, so it’s very inflexible.
- oik-nivo-slider – This requires a second plugin, oik. This plugin allows pulling from a custom post type but unless you already have that enabled it only takes from a category or all posts (not including featured images). It also seems you only set one link for all images. Just wasn’t what I was looking for.
- jQuery Slides – While it works, it seems to be missing a CSS file, so you would have to style the nav buttons & caption (position, colour, etc.).
- Image Slider with Description – This one works, and has the usual basic settings you’d hope to have. Problem I had is that I’m using it for smaller images and the buttons take up a lot of space and are inline with the title/description, so the text ends up being in the wrong place. I think this will work well if you have for a banner/larger images.
- M-vSlider – Really like this one. Has a nice admin interface and is super easy to use. The one major downside is that the slider has no navigation (buttons or arrows), so this is also a no go for me. UPDATE: Arrows (when you hover) have now been included, so I’ve marked this one as a backup for our site.
- EasyRotator – This one requires installation of an app and registration (which some people might not like). This one is definitely very easy to use with a really nice interface. However, the templates are limited and I couldn’t find one that met my needs, because I wanted text (and thre were actually only a few, the rest were for “Pro” users). The ones that had text were good, again, for a banner/larger images or where you want a long description.
- WOW Slider – This is another that requires providing an email to download a program. Again, a very simple to use interface (if not a prettiest). The templates are quite nice as well. I even found one that met my needs! The one problem is that it has a watermark and to get rid of it, you have to pay a “license fee”.
- WPNewCarousels – This one worked well. I wish you could set all the options as defaults instead of having to do it in the shortcode. Would be nice to be able to reposition or resize some things (though you can probably do this using CSS overrides). Conclusion: Simple, but works well.
That’s it. It’s possible that jQuery was conflicting (between WP and plugin) in some cases specific to my install, but there were a lot that just didn’t work. It could be that I just updated to 3.4.1 today. Either way, I am now very tempted to ask my supervisor to purchase the Nivo slider plugin and hope that works. Since the last one seems to fit my requirements and all I’d need is to override the CSS just a little bit, I’m going to try that one for now.
Conflicts with FancyBox Plugins
On a somewhat sidenote, WPNewCarousels broke when I loaded it on the main website. It turns out that’s because FancyBox conflicts with it. Going through a number of them, I found that FancyBox plugins tended to break it, but LightBox plugins were generally fine.
I ended up going with Lightbox Plus since it was easy to use, had a good number of themes and settings, and it worked with the carousel plugin.