An Overview of and Introduction to Pods CMS for WordPress

Posted: January 04, 2010 Comments(29)

NOTE: This tutorial series is extremely out of date, please see

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I mention Pods a lot. As defined by its creators:

Pods is a CMS framework for WordPress. It’s a plugin that sits on top of WordPress, allowing you to add and display your own content types.

Calling Pods a ‘plugin’ is an understatement. It’s one of those WordPress plugins that does so much more than provide some functionality to work with that makes your life a bit easier or makes WordPress that much more useful. Pods has changed the way I work with WordPress. Pods has allowed me to truly use WordPress as the content management system it was born to be. While a ton of great stuff is happening in the core, Pods is giving us what we need to work with today, and it’s spectacular.

Over the next few months, I plan to divulge all I know about Pods in a series of tutorials and articles meant to act as my own personal user guide for Pods. Pods is a big enough system where you can actually work with it in your own style, and I think I’ve done that to an extent. Pods has an entire level of author features that I don’t particularly make use of simply because I prefer to get my hands even dirtier than Pods requires.

An introduction to Pods

Pods Logo

As it is defined, Pods is a content management plugin for WordPress. Many people may wonder why a plugin is needed to make WordPress a content management system, doesn’t it do that already? Absolutely, but out of the box, WordPress specifically caters to a few types of content; Posts, Pages, Media, Comments, and Links. WordPress does a ton more (such as categories, tags, users, etc.), but as far as the average user is concerned, those are the major content types you’re able to work with. Themes bring all that managed content together to share with the world, and plugins build on top of that even more.

Many plugins exist to provide you with a new type of content to manage, most often a specific type of content aimed at achieving a specific goal. That’s awesome, and helps tons of people to make that change they’re looking to update on their site. Pods, however, thinks about things in a different way.

Pods provides a platform on which to build your own content types to manage, all the while providing some really advanced functionality having to do with that content. From the User Guide, a Pod is a group of input fields. You can add and arrange any number of the various available input fields to any number of Pods, essentially creating your own custom CMS for each website you build in WordPress.

Finding the happy medium between WordPress core and Pods

So if WordPress is a CMS, and Pods is a plugin that acts as a CMS framework for WordPress, how (and why) can you use them at the same time?

While you can technically accomplish the same functionality with an out-of-the-box copy of WordPress using a crazy blend of nested Pages, categorized Posts, and a ton of Custom Fields, Pods helps abstract that desired ‘next level’ of functionality you’re looking for as a WordPress developer.

Trying to explain what Custom Fields are and how to use them to a client isn’t something I look fondly upon. While it’s super for developers, to the rest of the world it’s terribly bulky and unintuitive. I think Custom Fields are an awesome available resource for plugin developers, but they’re one of those things better left unseen to the novice user. Pods brings the ability to work with custom pieces of data to the client, all the while giving developers a terrific extended platform to build upon. If you find yourself repeatedly using custom fields within your WordPress sites, especially for clients, you’re probably ready for Pods.

The Pods CMS Series on MBN

This article is the first in a series for Monday By Noon dedicated to Pods CMS.

  1. An Overview of and Introduction to Pods CMS for WordPress
  2. Pods Basics: Installation and Setup
  3. Pods Basics: Pulling Pods Data to your Theme
  4. Pods UI: The Latest and Greatest Addition to Pods
  5. How to use Pick Columns (Relationships) in Pods
  6. The Last of the Pods Basics: Pagination and Sorting

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  1. I am SO glad you’re writing this series. I’m just starting a project that needs to use PODS, and the learning curve has been a little… steep.

    Along with your own posts here, it would be awesome if you could link to any other tutorials/posts/videos/whatever you have found helpful.

    OH – AND….

    For those of you needing additional content types, but don’t need the extensive database capabilities of PODS, the “More Fields” plugin is a really good middle-ground solution. Much less complicated than PODS- doesn’t do as much, but if it does what you need, you’ll save ALOT of time.

  2. I just wanted to drop a line and say thanks for this great series of articles. I have been a little hesitant to try Pods because of a perceived steep learning curve but this made it quite approachable and I was able to jump in quickly.


  3. Thanks for the explanation and great introduction. Off to read the rest of the series. I would like to use Pods to do a series of reviews of certain items, I think it might be ideal.

  4. Surely its overkill, you can make up all sorts of extra things out of the box with WordPress custom taxonomies, as many other people have said before WordPress is a CMS already. Just my 2 cents

  5. Thanks a lot for this overview , I found it in the Getting Started Guide in .

    I submit a “small patch” to be grateful for your work: I think when you say “client” in the last part, you mean “customer” … don’t you ?!? Or maybe I missed the meaning … in that case … don’t apply this patch 🙂

    Thanks again

  6. Voted on wpvote. You’ve done a great job with this series!

    As for future articles I would love to see User Generated Content with Pods and integration with the default WordPress User Management. I tried this a couple of weeks before without much success and implemented what I needed with default WP posts in a certain category because I was in a bit of a hurry.

  7. @Christian Antohe: Thanks for the vote! Also thanks very much for the article idea. I did have something planned along those lines, but didn’t think to integrate WordPress accounts. Consider it in the works! I will make a note to send you an email when it’s been published.

  8. […] and some contact information. My plans are to stick with WordPress for now and read up on using Pods from Jonathan Christopher. Although I would love to explore Expression Engine and Textpattern, I really want to get this […]

  9. Hi Jonathan
    Thank you for this explanation, I started reading the blurb on the podcms website and it looked like it was going to take a while just to get an understanding. Thankfully I found your link, I now have a better idea of what pods are and I can see it could be a great tool for developing some brilliant websites using CMS features.


  10. Tried searching a bit for the answer but is this going to conflict or work with the functionality for custom content types in WordPress 3.0?

  11. There won’t be a conflict no, but it should change the way you use Pods. Custom Post Types are just that, custom Posts. Pods provides an entirely new level of functionality via complex relationships and more. Stay tuned for an article explaining my stance soon!

  12. […] I wanted to use a redesign as an excuse to learn a few things as well. I was dying for a reason to integrate Typekit into something, and I thought this would be perfect. As of now, I am serving up Museo and Calluna designed by Jos Buivenga. I also am sporting some of the Pictos icons from Drew Wilson, the Dribbble plugin from Dave Rupert, and Pods integration with some help from Jonathan Christopher. […]

  13. Hello, I’m a designer, and am having a new-to-me development team building my re-designed site for my design studio. It’s a 5 page site (as far as templates), showcasing work in a portfolio setting. The dev team is suggesting a custom WordPress themed site that will be built to my design, and then using PODS for part of the CMS.

    I was curious if you would have any reservations with this combination. Future integration? Compatibility? Cross platform support? Frequency of PODS updates for WP?

    As I’m not a developer, much of your article is beyond my comprehension.

    Any thoughts would be welcome!

    Thank you,

  14. […] it was the first project I’ve done that is largely powered by Pods CMS. Thanks to the help of Jonathan Christopher’s excellent articles on Pods, I was able to quickly jump in and produce a technical site with an elegant admin which is a breeze […]

  15. […] story actually,  I had used PODS on a slew of projects and after reading jchristopher’s monday-by-noon articles and after groking pods’s (pod’s ?) power  its became sort of my go to plug-in whenever […]

  16. Hi there,

    Been looking for something like PODs since I got disgusted with Drupal and switched to WordPress.

    Can I apply categories and tags to my custom POD? Are there functions for searching my POD tables that act similar to the WordPress category and tag type searches?


  17. Yes, you can apply taxonomies to your Pods via a Pick column. WordPress functions haven’t been directly ported to Pods, but the same result is totally achievable using Pods methods.

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