Start installing them, though, and you’ll see most are garbage, some are almost perfect–but may very well not locate one that does all you need.
I have good news: WPMU found a weather widget for you.
The Best Weather Widget: wp-forecast
Let me get straight to the point: install the wp-forecast weather plugin, and you’ll never have to determine which weather features to compromise on again.
I avoided looking at plugin directory stats until after making my decision. I picked probably the most promising 7 plugins, and went from there. When I picked wp-forecast, I wasn’t too surprised to see it has:
- Matured to version 4.0
- Been downloaded almost 89,000 times.
- Existed in active development since 2007.
Why should you use wp-forecast?
The question really is, why shouldn’t you? Seriously, that’s how I approached this comparison. I made a set of 7 criteria, and the plugins with all the most “fails” in those criteria fell through the wayside. My criteria:
1. Bug free.
I looked for noticeable errors, also as errors thrown into my debug log. The only issue wp-forecast had would have been to throw several PHP Notices for undefined indexes. While I personally attempt to code so these notices don’t occur, they are about as fashionable as mosquitos–and they hurt a smaller amount (not at all.)
2. Display flexibility
Quite simply, where can the plugin display weather information? With wp-forecast, you can configure multiple widgets, each with their very own settings like city and display preferences. You can also easily display weather data in the template file or even in page content using a shortcode.
3. Display aesthetics
How nicely is weather information displayed? While other plugins managed to get simpler to change icon sets, wp-forecast looks good out of the box. With just a little time, you can easily get more icon sets and change styling via CSS. It really was easy–I just followed the directions.
4. Easy to configure
At first, the wp-forecast setting screen looks a bit intimidating. That’s just because you can find so many options. If you can spare more than 60 seconds to really read what options are there, you could possibly get wp-forecast ready to go for whatever cities you need.
5. Weather data options
What pieces of weather data do you need to display? wp-forecast can show you just about everything you might possibly want–especially if you configure it to pull data from Accuweather. You can even configure certain data to exhibit the current conditions, daily forecast, nightly forecast, or all three.
This involved me getting under the hood, considering some code. I didn’t spend a great deal of time, but wp-forecast was definitely among the best-built packages. That’s really saying something, since the plugin folder is full of subdirectories and files all over the place! There’s a lot to maintain tabs on in there, plus it still seems held together well after greater than 5 years in development.
Something to complain about
One minor negative cropped up for me personally here, because it did for nearly all of the plugins that stood a settings screen. wp-forecast chose to produce a new menu link in the sidebar (at the identical level as “Pages,” “Appearance,” “Plugins,” etc.) In my professional opinion, there’s no reason not to put wp-forecast settings as a subitem under “Settings.”
Like I said–I were required to complain about something–and this is nearly all I could find!
7. Weather data sources
I personally like to make use of the Wunderground site for my weather. wp-forecast doesn’t support Wunderground as a source. It does support AccuWeather, WeatherBug, and GoogleWeather. I have to admit–AccuWeather is pretty good. There were some good contenders supporting Weather Underground and OpenWeather.com, but those plugins couldn’t cut the mustard in other, more valuable areas.
Where do we range from here?
If you need an easy, attractive approach to display current weather conditions and forecast, wp-forecast is the choice you should make. If you want to tinker in WordPress and want more “control” over your weather, wp-forecast still delights, using its own API available to your Frankenstein-inspired coding experiments.
Unless you’re wedded to some weather information provider wp-forecast doesn’t support, there’s really no reason to install any other weather plugin. Just have it done!
- Lightning over Johannesburg photo: Derek Keats