A brief intro…
Past few weeks I’ve been extremely busy designing a Property Investment site for a client. The primary requirement was a custom CMS (Content Management System) – which I had to build from scratch. While it drove me over the edge at times overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable as well as an educational journey for me. Since this is a site that caters to foreign investors, one of the requirements was a Currency Conversion Calculator which could be embedded in any of the articles thus providing the visitors an opportunity to get an idea of the property prices in their native currencies, without having to leave the page. At first I sought the easy way out – i.e. I searched far & wide for a currency calculator service that’d allow me to convert between almost any of the world currencies. Unfortunately the free ones out there are really pathetic and the my client wasn’t willing to shell out any $$ for a paid service. That got me down to designing one on my own. I’ve been dabbling in AJAX for a while now and find the whole idea of RIA (Rich Internet Application) really attractive. So I decided to walk the AJAX way and came up with this cool-tool. Once done with the main project, I was so satisfied with the result that I thought it’d be a really good idea to convert it into a sidebar widget for WordPress. So here I am, with curreX – the Ajax based Currency Converter for WordPress.
- The widget is very simple and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It accepts a currency value (integer or decimal) and a source & destination currency and gives you the converted rate once you hit the Convert button.
- It employs an AJAX back-end, i.e. the conversions are performed without having to refresh the whole page, making the tool really lightweight & fast. Looks cool too.
- Performs client-side validation of the amount entered – thus cutting out chances of entering an erroneous value and crashing the calc. midway while performing a conversion.
- WordPress 2.x
- WordPress Sidebar Widgets Plugin in case you’re using WordPress 2.1.x or below. This is not required, if you’ve WordPress 2.2.x installed.
curreX (99.5 KiB, 6,163 downloads)
Installation couldn’t get any easier. Once downloaded, simply…
- Unzip the archive.
- Copy the extracted folder named curreX into your WordPress plug-ins folder.
- Activate the plug-in from the Plug-in Manager in WordPress.
- Visit the Sidebar Widgets page under Presentation menu to drag & drop the widget onto any sidebar you desire.
For those who’re using curreX with non-widget-enabled themes, you should insert the function
< ? show_currex( default_from, default_to, decimal_places, type, title ); ?>
in an appropriate place. For further details on this function & it’s parameters, refer to the FAQs section of the readme.txt bundled in the distribution.
A live demonstration of this can be found under the Coding section of my blog. Though the implementation of the demo is slightly different (it’s hard-coded into in a page), it should give you an idea on what the widget can do.
Showcase (the widget in action)
- Hua-Hin Live – A customised version of the plug-in can be seen in action in the property list pages, once you’ve searched for properties
- Version 0.9 (2008-06-22)
- The structure of the
show_currex()function (for non widget-enabled themes) has changed slightly too – to support embedding of the flash widget.
- Version 0.8 (2008-06-19)
- Fixed some minor CSS issues. Now the look & feel of the widget can be modified in its entirety through the accompanying CSS file.
- Version 0.7 (2008-05-16)
- Added the functionality to display curreX in non-widget-enabled themes too (by popular demand). Till version 0.6, this plug-in could only be used in the form of a widget with widget-enabled themes.
- Version 0.6 (2008-05-11)
- This is a complete port to jQuery. Decided to finalise on one ajax library and jQuery emerged the winner. No more Protoculous for me.
- Split out the styling into a separate CSS file. Anyone with even a bit of CSS knowledge, can now easily alter the looks of the widget without having to touch the core code file(s).
- Implemented BlockUI – a jQuery plugin that blocks the widget interface while performing a currency conversion routine (ajax based).
- Included a HELP option, that leads directly to the Chaos-Lab Forums (curreX Subforum)
- Version 0.5 (2007-09-21)
- Minor fix – but at the same time a major one from the perspective of functionality. The back-end URL for fetching conversion data from Yahoo! Finance had changed from finance.yahoo.com to download.finance.yahoo.com. This caused the plug-in to generate a message saying “Error contacting Yahoo! Finance” and not work at all. Thanks to Lia Johnston for pointing me to the correct URL.
- Version 0.4 (2007-03-15)
- Fixed a minor bug that caused incorrect version reporting in WordPress plug-ins management panel.
- Version 0.3 (2007-03-15)
- Bundled prototype.js library along with the distribution instead of relying on a theme to have it. This way the latest version of prototype can always be bundled along with.
- Made some minor changes in the layout for smoother functionality & improvement of looks.
- Renamed a bunch of plug-in related variables to avoid name collision with other plug-ins.
- Version 0.2 (2007-03-05)
- Fine tuned the widget. Now the currency unit values are written off an array instead of the ungainly manual approach that was being used earlier on. This reduced the file-size of the main plug-in considerably despite adding new code.
- Added the configuration section. One can now set the default currency units to be displayed when the widget loads (from & to).
- Added a Decimal Place option, which defines the number of decimal places to show in the converted result.
I offer support for my plug-ins via the Chaos Laboratory Support Forum only. I will NOT respond to support queries left in the comment section below and, in most cases, will also not publish them. Of course, if you’d like to say something nice or helpful, then feel free to leave a comment!
If you find this plug-in useful, please consider making a donation towards further development of this useful little utility.
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