Miniature Plugin Review: Event Espresso

So I recently decided to look into Event Espresso as a solution for a client’s event calendar needs, and I thought I’d share my impressions with you. 1

First of all, Event Espresso is not so much a calendar plugin as an events plugin. It gives you the ability to create events with fairly robust pricing and attendee features. Here’s the features list:

  • Attendee Management
  • Attendee Profiles
  • Authorize.net Payment Gateway
  • Confirmation Emails
  • Customizable Events
  • Event Calendar
  • Event Categories
  • Event Management
  • Event Registration
  • Invoices
  • Manual Registration
  • Multiple Payment Options
  • Multiple Pricing Options
  • PayPal Payment Gateway
  • Promotion Codes
  • Social Media Addon
  • WYSIWYG Event Editor

The plugin is developed primarily by Seth Shoultes. There is a free lite version of the plugin, as well as a pro version (priced at $59.95 for a single use license, or $199.95 for 5 licenses). In case you’re wondering, yes, the plugin is GPLv2. Also, non-profits can get discounts by applying using this form. The client in question is a non-profit, and it was a painless process to apply on their behalf and get the discount. Since they don’t offer specifics of discount amounts on the website, I won’t tell you how much the discount was, but I will say it was substantial.

As far as cleanliness of code, I don’t have many complaints. There are some errors that show up when you’ve got debug on (mostly undefined indexes), and some questionable instances of reinventing the wheel (sometimes the plugin uses normal shortcodes, and other times it uses custom shortcodes like this:

{ESPRESSO_EVENTS}

In these cases, I’m not sure why the plugin does not use shortcodes; the code seems like it would support them.

Anyhow, The plugin makes rather generous efforts to allow customization without preventing simple upgrades. The quality of the code I’ve run into is generally good and decently well documented. I had a few issues which I fixed painlessly (and sent back to Seth so they could be included in later versions).

That’s not to say I have no problems with the plugin. The biggest problem is that the plugin does not utilize custom post types; I think this is a pretty obvious use case for custom post types. However, Seth did mention that this is something they’re working on for future events.

The only other problem I have (although, I understand the reason behind it) is the extra database tables. I used the free version first, then the pro version, so I don’t know how much the tables overlap, but both versions Event Espresso combined added at least 15 tables to the database. I’m willing to forgive the plugin for this, though, since it does pretty well something I didn’t want to have to build from scratch.

The overall reaction is positive. If you need an events manager and $60 to spend, I do recommend using the plugin. I did quite a bit of research on plugins of this type, and can say with conviction that this is the best events management plugin available today.

If you do use Event Espresso, go with the pro version. It’s worlds better than the free version. I’m interested to see what the future brings from Seth and Event Espresso.

Notes:

  1. Disclaimer: In no way do I receive any compensation from or related to the development of Event Espresso. Nor have I been asked to review the plugin by anybody directly or indirectly connected to Event Espresso.

Kansas boy transplanted to DC. English major transplanted to web development. Lover of things.

7 Comments

  1. Devin · September 30, 2010

    Thanks for the solid review John. I’m interested in hearing what features made you pick this plugin over something like GigPress, and what the other plugins you reviewed were.

    There was a healthy discussion happening in WP Tavern about this subject (http://www.wptavern.com/forum/plugins-hacks/1620-events-management-custom-post-type-plugin.html). Hopefully a really nice option using custom post type will come out in the near future.

    • John P. Bloch · September 30, 2010

      Hi Devin,

      Thanks for stopping by! To be honest, I didn’t even know about GigPress until now. Having looked into it, there are two reasons I’d still pick Event Espresso for the project I’m using it in: First, on-site registration, and second, the calendar module. There’s an example here: http://eventespresso.com/woothemes/calendar/ I needed both of those things, and (from what I can tell) GigPress does neither. I may have to do a quick overview of GigPress too, though.

      The other plugins I looked at were Events Registration (http://edgetechweb.com/), which is basically a less powerful version of Event Espresso with really bad UX, and Events Calendar. I don’t have any huge problems with Events Calendar, but it did not fit my needs.

      There’s been word of another Event Management plugin that’s in the works for WordCamp websites to use, but I don’t know anything about it specifically.

  2. Rachel Eichorn · November 22, 2010

    Hi John, I am wondering if you know of an events module that can automatically create a membership for a user that registered for an event?

  3. Elaine · August 10, 2011

    Hi John

    What is your feedback in terms of the plugin’s SEO capability?

    I love the forward thinking of the plugin with mobile ticketing etc. But on comparison with Events Manager I noticed that it lacked SEO Permalinks.

    As you have actually implemented the plugin I would be interested in your experience of it.

    Kind regards

    Elaine

    • John P. Bloch · August 10, 2011

      SEO capability? I think it’s a non-issue. The question I would ask is “why should that be a concern?” If the events are popular and people want to go to them, they will find the event listing without SEO optimized URLs; if not, the problem is bigger than SEO.

      Then again, I think of anybody who tells people to care about anything other than quality content as the internet equivalent of snake oil salesmen, so take my opinions with a grain of salt in this area.

  4. George · November 20, 2011

    Hi John,
    There’s another plugin that seems about as powerful as Esspresso. That’s Event Manager Pro at http://wp-events-plugin.com/events-manager-pro/. (there’s a free version too).
    Esspresson and this seem to be very similar in the wordpress space. I am not technically great and most of the documentaion for both seems to assume a bit of knowledge, and while both of these products seem to do much the same thing to me, I’m wondering if you would have some thoughts by way of a comparative review.
    Cheers,
    George.

  5. Duncan · November 22, 2011

    The biggest difference I can see with EE and EMP is the integration with PayPal and the like, As I understand it EE integrates fully with Paypal Pro allowing on site transactions while EMP only supports Paypal standard. I’m going to be using one of these for a client very soon so if there’s anything else I’ve missed feel free to shoot me down in flames…..