An Overview of and Introduction to Pods CMS for WordPress

NOTE: This tutorial series is extremely out of date, please see http://pods.io/tutorials/

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