New WordPress Plugin: Cron Jobs Alternative

If you hate cron jobs or haven’t figured out how they work, here’s some good news. David Pankhurst developed a new WordPress plugin that really makes it easy to set cron jobs.

A cron job is a time-based scheduling service in a Unix operating systems.

If you want some program or code to start at a pre-defined time, you just enter the program name (or php page name) and the time or frequency it should be executed.
A little software program which runs constantly in the background of the server checks every minute to see if any of the scheduled jobs need to be executed. If so, it executes them.

Each line of a cron file represents a job and follows a particular format as a series of fields, separated by spaces and/or tabs. Each field can have a single value or a series of values.

cron jobs on unix

Here’s what these fields mean (simplified):

# +—————- minute (0 – 59)
# | +————- hour (0 – 23)
# | | +———- day of month (1 – 31)
# | | | +——- month (1 – 12)
# | | | | +—- day of week (0 – 6) (Sunday=0 or 7)
# | | | | |
* * * * * command to be executed

But hosts present the information to be entered in different ways, which makes it more difficult to use cron jobs.

standard cron jobs

Some hosts even don’t allow cron jobs.

So, that’s why David came up with an alternative: a ‘cron job’-like plugin.
Very easy to install and use. In the ‘Manage’ tab you just specify what you want to be executed and when.

cron jobs utopia

That’s it!

To have this plugin work properly, your theme MUST have the function wp_footer included in it, like this:
<?php wp_footer(); ?>
</body>
(most newer themes already have this in footer.php or possibly index.php).

Also, be aware that this plugin does NOT setup a cron job. Instead, it uses your blog page views to do the timing, in other words, it won’t work until someone requests to see a page from your blog.
For this reason, times are approximate and not exact, and if your blog gets few visits, the timing will be affected. If you need precise timing, it is best to use a systems timer like cron.
Checking URLs frequently (or many URL’s) can affect blog performance. This plugin prevents you checking a URL more often than once every 5 minutes.

Now, let me emphasize that I do NOT use this plugin. I’m quite familiar with setting up cron jobs so I use them.
But I know from experience, that it can be hard to set these crons up. That’s where this plugin may come in handy.
You can download it at Cron Job Plugin.

If you use this plugin, please let me know how you’re doing.
Post your comments below.




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