After ***Dave asked me which plugin I was using for the HTML toolbar above the comments (it was Comment Form Quicktags) I was reminded that the WP Admin side of that plugin has never worked for me. So I checked to see if there was a newer version and it’s not been updated in a very long time.
Which brings up a sore point I have with WordPress in general: For as wildly popular as it is it seems there are an amazing number of plugins that are updated a handful of times and then abandoned forever. Having a little toolbar above the text area to make it easy for folks to add emphasis to their comments seems like one of those things that every blogging package shouldn’t be without. The folks behind ExpressionEngine considered it important enough that they put out their own plugin for their platform and made sure it was updated as necessary for each new release. There are alternatives available from other folks if you want them, but the basic functionality was made available by the folks putting out the software so you didn’t have to worry if it was going to work with the latest release.
The folks at WordPress don’t have an official plugin for this purpose so you’re left to search their plugin database to find one. This can be a lesson in futility as the search function built into WordPress is stunningly limited in what it searches compared to every other blogging package I’ve used. I tried half a dozen different search terms and got entirely different results each time most of which haven’t been updated in over a year and were several releases behind the current version of WordPress. I eventually gave up and resorted to doing a Google Search instead. Once you find a plugin that might fit the bill you have to see if it’ll work with your version of WordPress and whatever Theme you’re using on your site. SEB hasn’t had a Comment Preview function for a long time simply because none of the preview plugins I found worked with any of the themes I’ve used. Again, that’s a feature you’d expect would be part of the core package but it’s not.
Let me be clear that I understand a lot of these plugins are being written and maintained for free by people who probably have better things to do with their time which gives a certain advantage to platforms, like ExpressionEngine, where folks often charge for their plugins in exchange for them being continually updated. After all you get what you pay for, but that said both of the functions I mentioned should have been part of the core package eons ago in WP’s development along with things such as Subscribing to Comments. Given the large number of developers doing WP plugins you’d think there’d be at least one example of each of these that’s continually updated, but if there is I’ve been unable to find it.
All of which is a long-winded rant to say that I have managed to stumble across a plugin that handles both the comment toolbar and a comment preview function in one package that has actually been updated within the last year (back in May). It’s called jQuery Comment Preview and I’ve installed it on SEB where it appears to work just fine both on the front end and in the admin section. So test it out and let me know what you think or if it gives you any problems. With any luck this one will continue to be updated and once I’m back on my feet job-wise I’ll send off a donation to try and ensure it continues to be updated.