UPDATE: I posted a newer analysis in June 2012.
A lot harder than I thought, I can tell you that.
Requirements & Options
I did have a few 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 (though in the future a 3D one might be nice for special collections & archives)
Preferred options include:
- buttons or numbers to skip directly to a specific image
- left/right arrow navigation on hover
- caption text at the bottom of image
- variety of choices for animation
- shortcode to easily add into widget
I tested a lot of plugins (at least a dozen), many of which didn’t work. My guess is that many are dependent on its own version of jQuery and other js files that conflicted with the built-in WordPress one or incompatible with the newest WordPress in some other way.
- JJ NextGen JQuery Slider looked promising, but because NextGen messes with user permissions, it was conflicting with the user management plugin I had installed. I’m wondering now if I disable that part of the plugin whether it will work.
- DOP Slider works but isn’t ideal since there’s no captioning and the arrows weren’t showing up for me.
- WP jQuery Text and Image Slider works but is also not ideal since it has no captioning and would need styling done so it doesn’t put it into a frame.
- Nivo Slider for WordPress worked great. It would need a shortcode added (but that’s easy enough) and the buttons aren’t showing, which is obviously a bug, but we could probably fix it if we wanted them.
Many of the plugins are based on the jQuery Nivo Slider, which is free. Why not just use that? Well, we want our users to be able to add images themselves, and not rely on our team. The Nivo Slider developers offer a WordPress version, but it’s paid. It’s a fairly small amount though so I might recommend purchasing it instead of having to customize existing plugins, especially if it’s a one-time payment.