WordPress Sneak Peek: Quick Categories

I’d like to give you a sneak peek at something I’m working on for WordPress (hopefully for version 2.1).

The feature is currently being called “Quick Categories.” In version 2.0, WordPress gained the ability to add categories on the fly, sort of like how you do tagging in Flickr. In that way, a sort of combination tagging/category system was born. But it always seemed to me to be hindered by trying to be both things within the same interface. If you just want to do single-level (no hierarchy) categories, like Flickr’s tags, you still have to use the clunky checkmark system to remove your categories. If you have 300 categories, it will take you a while to scroll through, looking for the ones with checkmarks so that you can remove a category.

Also, the on the fly feature doesn’t appeal to people who like a nicely ordered category tree, because you can only add categories to the bottom level.

I wanted to fix those issues and make it faster and easier to use WordPress categories the way you want to use them.

Okay, watch the video, and then I’ll explain it and discuss it.

WordPress Quick Categories

First, I’ve separated the quick add feature into its own draggable toggle box. If you don’t have JavaScript enabled, you won’t see it, of course. If you don’t like it, you can minimize it and drag it down to the bottom and just use the basic category tree — just like with WordPress 1.5 and earlier. If you don’t like the category tree, and just want to do “tagging,” you can minimize the Category Tree and move it down. Or, you could keep them both open and use them both.

Second, the Quick Categories box will show a list of categories currently assigned to the post. Each category has a red “x” next to it that can be used to close it. As new categories are added via the on the fly system, they are added to the list.

One big improvement is that you can now add hierarchical categories, and WordPress will even create the parent categories if they don’t already exist! You can designate parent/child relationships using the > key… just think of it as an arrow. There is no limit to how deep you can go. You do not have to create parent categories first. For example, you can type in “Parent > Child” even if “Parent” doesn’t already exist.

There’s still some work to do, and I’d definitely like your feedback. If you want to help me develop the feature, please check out its ticket in Trac.

And yes, I do know it was “potato” that Dan Quayle famously misspelled. I took some artistic license in recreating the event. Also: his name is not spelled “Quale.” Give me a break, it’s 4:13am.

17 thoughts on “WordPress Sneak Peek: Quick Categories

  1. If you have a category in a hierarchy, and you quick add it in the current system, it keeps its hierarchy. (You can type in categories that already exist in the box and it works.)

  2. Matt,

    Yeah, you can assign categories that are children with the current system (and this hasn’t changed) but with this patch you can create and assign a subcategory in one step. You can create a whole tree without messing with Manage > Categories.

  3. Great feature! I have another suggestion on categories. In ther front end, what about the option to navigate through more categories at the same time? Like del.icio.us does with tags.

    example: http://www.mysite.com/category/music+movies

    by selecting music+movies i get a list of posts filed under both those categories.

    That would be great.

    Thank you 🙂

  4. I patched this into my trunk install, but I don’t seem to be getting any of the Quick Tree interactions.

    Is that functionality included in a more recent local patch?

  5. Ok.. this has got to be one of the most useful and awesomest plugins !!! I love it! It is extremely useful for larger websites that prefer categories because they are easier to search and easier to group in WordPress.

  6. Your are only closed to perfection. To be really quick… I select an existing category into the list… Use the quick tag form to write my free categories that are automatically moved under the selected category (ies). Of course, if you include as previously suggested the hierarchical category plugin, it’s even nirvana…
    An other way is to include them only into a category named “tag” so that admin and user can easily maintain and navigate vertically (category section) and horizontally (tag keyword) because you can easily restrict a cloud to one category.

  7. Is there any way I can get a copy of this to upload?? Pretty please?

    I just imported 3000 old LJ entries into my new self-hosted WP site and if I have to edit each and every post by hand through the “edit” menu… it will just never get done. 😦

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