Plugin of the Month: Toolbelt: A Multipurpose Plugin that Focuses on Privacy and Speed

We are back with another edition of the plugin of the month series and this time we are introducing a very essential plugin for all WordPress sites – Toolbelt. Toolbelt is a collection of simple addons that provide everyday functionality with privacy and speed. Developed by Ben Gillbanks, the plugin includes features like breadcrumbs, browser native lazy loading, a Portfolio custom post type, related posts with images, responsive video, static social sharing, and more.

A JetPack Inspired Plugin

Gillbanks is the owner of Pro Theme Design, a commercial WordPress theme shop, and has sold themes on for the past several years. He likes the idea of Jetpack and all of his commercial themes support it, but his longing to deliver more performant and sustainable sites drove him to create Toolbelt.

The plugin currently includes more than a dozen modules, offered in a format similar to Jetpack but with a dramatically simple management interface in the admin. All the modules are disabled by default so users can turn on only the ones they need. 

I built Toolbelt for myself. I was inspired by Jetpack with all its small modules, but I wanted something that was fast and private. I run a number of WordPress sites and use almost every module on at least one of my sites. The fact other people find Toolbelt useful is fantastic. I’m so pleased that it’s useful for other people and helps to make the web a little faster and more private.

-Ben Gillbanks(Developer, Toolbelt)

Although Toolbelt has taken a lot of code from both Jetpack plugin, Gillbanks made some intentional changes in favor of performance when loading the code for the modules such as: 

  • Doesn’t use jQuery or any other javascript framework. All javascript is vanilla js, and minified.
  • Only loads things when they are needed. JS and CSS are only loaded for activated modules.
  • There’s only one database option, and that’s an array that stores what modules are active.
  • Uses the minimum code possible. Less code means more speed, and fewer bugs.

How does the Toolbelt deal with Privacy?

Privacy is one of the most important aspects of Toolbelt. It does not phone out for any of its features, nor does the plugin share data with third parties or use standard social sharing JavaScripts. It also does not track usage or add any comments to the site’s HTML. However, the privacy choices built into Toolbelt may limit its ability to reproduce certain features that rely on third-party servers, such as visitor stats, downtime monitoring, and image CDN.

Toolbelt also has a cookie consent bar to build a method for having it allow an ‘accept’ and ‘decline’ option, so that tracking is only enabled when users press the accept button. This assists those who want to follow GDPR guidelines more strictly. Toolbelt doesn’t have any settings, besides what modules are active on the site, but Gillbanks has created a collection of actions and filters that allow developers to customize things for clients/ themes. The documentation is available on GitHub, where users can also submit issues and feature requests.

Blocks Available

Some of the Toolbelt modules include blocks to make working with the generated content easier. The available blocks are:

  • Contact Form – The simplest way to have people get in touch with you. Works with the spam module.
  • Post Categories – A category content list for magazine and newspaper themes.
  • Simple Slider – A fast, CSS powered slider. No JavaScript and easy to edit.
  • Projects Grid – to list a collection of projects. These can be filtered by project category.
  • Testimonials Grid – You can list a group of testimonials. 
  • Markdown – for those who like a simpler writing experience.
  • Sitemap – Easily list all posts, pages, Categories and Projects.
  • Star Rating – Rate things with a simple visual interface.
  • Breadcrumbs and Related posts – for full site editing.

Newest Feature

Recently, Ben Gillbanks noticed that the admin notices were getting unmanageable. So he has made an attempt to address this problem. With a few code additions to his Toolbelt plugin, he had a working solution to stop this issue: the Tidy Notifications module. The Tidy Notifications system in Toolbelt neatly tucks all admin notices under a bell icon in the admin toolbar. It also displays the number of notifications and makes the WordPress admin so clutter-free.

To Tidy your Notifications you should install the plugin and then go to the Toolbelt settings screen and enable the Tidy Notifications module. Below are the screenshots of all the modules available with the plugin.

Modules available
Modules available
Modules available
Modules available
Modules available


Toolbelt is a multi-purpose plugin that adds lots of functionality to your sites. All the features are built to be as minimal, and private, as possible whilst getting the job done to the best of their ability. So, if you want a multipurpose plugin that offers several of these features, go for Toolbelt. 

Also read: plugin of the Month May 2021Newsletter Glue

Also plugin of the Month April 2021 – SmartDocs

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