CPT-onomies: Using Custom Post Types as Taxonomies

By February 1, 2012CPT-onomies, WordPress

If you’ve ever used a WordPress custom post type or taxonomy, you know that they can be powerful tools for creating and organizing content. But what if I told you that you could take these features a step further and create relationships between your post types, using your post titles to assign taxonomy relationships?

Introducing “CPT-onomies: Using Custom Post Types as Taxonomies“:

Humble beginnings

When I was first building http://eng.ua.edu, I knew that custom post types would play a huge role (and basically take over my life). With numerous post types, I wanted to establish a dynamic “People” directory that would connect each person to the “Departments” they worked for, the “Buildings” they worked in, the “Capstone Engineers” they were featured in (our research magazine), and any other content available.

In came custom taxonomies. I created taxonomies that “mirrored” each custom post type (using the post title as terms) and, voila, a dynamic and easily filtered people directory was born! But while managing the “Buildings” taxonomy was easy (buildings don’t exactly come and go on a daily basis), imagine managing a list of 200+ people and having to make sure the “People” taxonomy always matched the “People” custom post type. It’s more than just managing the titles, you have to make sure the slugs match too! Let’s just say that system didn’t last long.

From Idea to Plugin

While the premise of being able to use custom post types as taxonomies, and not having to duplicate information, was always the root of the project, “CPT-onomies” has taken several forms. At first, it wasn’t even a plugin, it was in my theme. When it progressed to a plugin, it was just for personal use and was very rough around the edges, using all kinds of WordPress hacks in a devil-may-care manner. To give me some credit, I had only been using WordPress for a few months and was on a strict redesign schedule. “Behind the scenes” was not a high priority.

But the website launched, my WordPress skills grew, and before I knew it I was saying things like “I bet I’m not the only one who could use this setup” and “This system of using custom post types as taxonomies would make a great plugin”. Little did I know how much fun I would have over the next few weeks.

Developing CPT-onomies

It wasn’t until I started development that I came up with the idea to hook into WordPress core and register the custom post type taxonomies as actual taxonomies. Once this decision was made, the project grew tenfold but, boy, was it worth it. Not only did it make the plugin stronger but it kept the user from having to learn or implement new code. That, in itself, was worth every minute of development. Tack on an extensive custom post type manager, so the user can manage their custom post types within the admin, and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful plugin. Is CPT-onomy an official WordPress term? No. It’s just a fun word I made up. =)

Using CPT-onomies

One of the best features of the CPT-onomies plugin is that you don’t have to create CPT-onomies to put the plugin to good use. Featuring a full-fledged interface, CPT-onomies allows you to create custom post types, and manage them, without touching one line of code! If you’re already using a plugin, or theme, that creates custom post types, don’t worry, CPT-onomies is all-inclusive. Any registered custom post type can be used as a CPT-onomy.

Learn more about CPT-onomies or download CPT-onomies. Refer to the plugin’s support forums or my CPT-onomies section if you ever need any help. If you can’t find what you need, or come across any bugs, please let me know.

I hope you enjoy using CPT-onomies as much as I enjoyed bringing it to life.

About Rachel Carden

Rachel Carden is a High Ed Web Developer with a fondness for WordPress. She's also a puzzle fiend who gets way too excited about programming and problem solving. And you thought you were a nerd.