Table of Contents
Updated: 5 December 2016
Let’s get straight to the real question: with so much hype and publicity around the launch, what chance does Cookbook stand on living up to their promises? I’d argue that they’ve got a tough road ahead of them, and based on what they’ve produced so far, in the amount of time they’ve been working on the plugin, I’m personally feeling more than a little skeptical. The biggest problem with this launch is the lackluster feature set, particularly considering how many delays they experienced.
That said, Cookbook came out yesterday, so I’m positive we’ll see a lot of development. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what version 1.0 of this plugin can do!
For other recipe plugin reviews and more in-depth information about the criteria I judge these recipe plugins on, see Should you switch to WP Ultimate Recipe? and Should you switch to WP Recipe Maker?
- Good for SEO
- Custom Post Type
- No Import Process
- No Degradation Plan
- Recipe Editor Load Delay
- Ease of Use
- User Experience
- Developer Friendly
To have competitive recipe cards on Google and Pinterest, it’s both safe and ideal to mark up your recipes using both formats. By doing so, you’re providing the format that Google prefers as well as the format that Pinterest prefers. 🙂
From a developer standpoint, CPTs are good. They allow us to better organize and associate information together. From a blogger standpoint, they can be a real pain because they’re displayed using shortcodes… but more on this later.
The plugin is beautiful and it’s even inheriting the font styles that are in my theme –meaning I don’t have to add custom styles! (I’ve heard some reports of others having unexpectedly large fonts.)
Even out-of-the-box print styles are nice. Cookbook uses a custom URL that opens a new page and will clearly support custom styles, albeit it doesn’t appear to do so, yet, so you can’t add an image or your link to the print page by default.
The placeholder in the edit screen has nice “edit” and “delete” buttons that I find very pretty. I bet a “copy” button would be really nice there, too, for moving the recipe around in your post.
Currently, Cookbook cannot import recipes from ANY other recipe plugins.
Think back to the days before EasyRecipe… you wrote a recipe, put it in your content, and all was good. Then, you ran into a problem here and a problem there – you needed to deactivate your recipe plugin. Only, when you did, you lost all of your recipes. Where did they go? You suddenly see a shortcode in your post, but no recipe, which is decidedly unhelpful.
So EasyRecipe came in and saved us, giving us a solution that worked even when the plugin was removed. Why, then, are we repeating past mistakes? Maybe because EasyRecipe was blogger friendly but not at all developer friend. Still, when a recipe plugin is deactivated, there needs to be some sort of immediate solution for recipe display continuance.
Based on their response to me, this doesn’t appear to be a priority currently, and it might not be one for you, either.
Just like WP Recipe Maker, the recipe editor has a minor load delay. Not a deal breaker, but I’m mentioning here simply because I’ve mentioned it there.
Ease of Use: how the blogger interacts with the plugin when inputting a recipe using their WordPress back end
The Cookbook plugin works remarkably like WP Recipe Maker, which means it’s similar to EasyRecipe and Meal Planner Pro in the sense that it’s an in-post pop-up recipe editor and should be familiar and easy to use. That said, if you’ve tried WPRM and didn’t like it, you’re not going to love this one, either. Bad news, though: you’re probably going to end up using one or the other, anyway, because recipe plugins are becoming increasingly outdated increasingly fast.
So, why is this a “con” instead of a “pro,” like in the WPRM article? It’s the other things:
- EasyRecipe conflict – posts with ER+ recipes won’t work with Cookbook, so even if you want to manually migrate some recipes over, you’ll have a more difficult time. This appears to only be a problem with certain versions, so updating to the latest, if you still have an active license, would work. Downgrading to ER free should work, too.
- Manually formatting lists – this means ingredients aren’t automatically formatted as a list, which is presumably to give us more control over affiliate links. This seems really short-sighted to me, though. Not only does it leave it up to the user to format all recipe lists exactly the same, it restricts dynamic (think: live, user-controlled) changes down the line; more on that soon.
- No featured image fallback – not only an SEO caveat, but yet another extra step we have to handle because the plugin isn’t smart enough to do it for us.
At first glance, this plugin does everything it needs to: shows readers, Google, and Pinterest your recipes! When we want to start providing even more power to the user, though, you’ll start noticing some nice-to-haves (and probably must-haves for some bloggers) are missing:
- No user-side serving size modification support – one repercussion of the rich formatting for ingredients and instructions.
- Also no imperial-metric conversions – leaves your international readers cursing. (Also a rich formatting repercussion.)
- No built-in “jump” or “print” buttons at top of post – unless you use this hack!
Here’s my stance on plugins: I buy them. They’re difficult to make, they’re challenging to maintain, and then they have to put up with support requests from me, and – as you can tell – I’m picky.
Cookbook better be a stellar plugin, then, to charge $69/yr PLUS import add-ons when other recipe plugins do more for less (and even free)! Or, more likely, other authors just need to raise their prices. 😉
When I submitted a support ticket, I heard back that same day. Many of my questions were along the line of, “why did you do this or that,” which received thoughtful answers that didn’t appear insultingly canned. I also spoke with Shay of Feast Design Co a few times about beta testing the plugin and while she was very responsive, it sounded like she didn’t have a hand in the development process, so I should have been in touch with WP Site Care. 🙂
Glancing at the code, there are some indications that Cookbook will be developer-friendly. At the moment, however, there is no documentation for the average user or for developers.
While Cookbook looks like it could be a great choice, as-is, it won’t stand up to user testing. Even long-term, if you want to have any kind of advanced, dynamic control, you’ll be missing out. I’d say you’re better off switching to WP Recipe Maker for the SEO benefits rather than waiting to see if Cookbook will improve to your standards. When they do, you can always ask for a WPRM import tool. 😉 BTW, want to learn more about WP Recipe Maker? Read about WPRM here.