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WordPress Extend Plugins: I Love Thee

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December 21st, 2007
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WordPress, WordPress WishList

I have to admit, I love WordPress Extend Plugins. My first experience with the service came in April of this year when I released Ajax Edit Comments. I was mainly drawn to the service because of the promise of added publicity and the ease of tracking statistics.

My plugin crossing the 10,000 mark is a testament in itself to how WP Extend (and the WP community) helps promote plugins.

Once you get used to it, WP Extend is an easy and powerful tool for launching (and maintaining) a plugin. Sure the SVN takes a little bit of getting used to, but numerous people have written great tutorials on how to get your plugin listed (Windows, Linux, Mac?).

And since WordPress 2.3, WordPress users are automatically notified when a plugin listed at WP Extend is updated. It can’t get any better than that. Or, can it?

I love you WP Extend Plugins, but I have several suggestions on how to make the service even more enjoyable.

Featured Plugins? Forever?

As much as I love you WP Extend, forever is not in my vocabulary. I can’t remember the last time I saw the featured plugins change. I think there’s some room to shake things up a bit and feature something new from time to time.

I know being listed in the featured section doesn’t guarantee more downloads, but a change in scenery would help keep things fresh.

Please Give the Newer Plugins a Chance for Most Popular

Plugins such as Sidebar Widgets, Google Sitemaps, or Akismet have been around for a while. Could the newer kids on the block have a shot at this popularity contest?

How about showing popularity relative to points in time, such as monthly?

How About Related Plugins?

Another suggestion I have is to show related plugins in addition to the awesome feature of showing what else was downloaded.

For example, for All in One SEO Pack, you can see the other plugins that were downloaded in addition to the SEO plugin. However, looking at the list reveals no related plugins.

In the case of SEO Pack, I think it would be great to see other SEO related plugins as well.

Could I Please Have Sort Options Within Tags?

The post tag currently has the most plugins for any tag. Right now it’s being sorted by most recently updated, which is fine. But I see growing pains as tags become more populated. It would be awesome if there was a sort option for most popular, most highly rated, and perhaps alphabetic.

Since the “most highly rated” suggestion can easily be gamed, I suggest the date of addition, ratings, and downloads be placed into an algorithm that determines the highest rated plugins.

Can I Please Change My Plugin’s Homepage URL?

I’ve run into a situation where my plugin’s homepage changed. I unfortunately cannot change this, not even in the coveted readme file. Could I please have an option in the readme file to specify my plugin’s homepage URL?

And Recommendations for Plugin Authors

WordPress Extend Plugins is a great tool, but only if you use it to its maximum potential. If you happen to have a FAQ, screenshots, installation instructions, or other information, please have this all listed on WP Extend instead of having a link directing users back to another website.

If you take the time to post the screenshots, FAQ, and other information on WP Extend, you’ll get more downloads. I promise. You’ll still get a lot of website traffic, especially if your users need help.

WP Extend Plugins should ideally be self-sustaining, so please make it more convenient for those browsing the directory and have as much information listed as possible so the user can make an educated download decision.

Conclusion

Matt and his Automattic team have done wonders with WP Extend. It’s helped plugins authors like me list their plugins with ease.

Please take my suggestions with a grain of salt as they come solely from my observations over the past year. If WP Extend Plugins implements just one of my suggestions, I will fall over myself in bliss.

If you are a user of WP Extend (plugin author or plugin seeker), please feel free to weigh in on my suggestions and perhaps add some of your own.

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Comments

  1. Jeffro2pt0 (164 comments.) says:

    I agree with most of your suggestions Ron. I think it would be a bit more refreshing to see the top block changed to the newest plugins versus the Featured plugins. That way, that block is constantly changing and it doesn’t look so boring all the time.

    I think the ability to see what other plugins were downloaded while looking at a specific plugin would be rather nifty. It reminds me of the Amazon store when it tells me that the people who purchased one thing, also purchased these other things. Setting up something like this may help expose more obscure plugins to the public. If that couldn’t be done, at the very least I’d like to see an area showcasing related plugins.

    Since the majority of things within the Extend Plugins area deal with tags, I think it would only be natural if we had a way to sort and re-organize the tags to suit our needs.

    As for changing plugin details, I’m just wondering, is this what you mean by the AUTHOR text showing the HTML for the link to your page? That author bit has been screwed up for quite some time.

    The only thing I can say is that, I hope every plugin author uses the Extend Plugin system as their home base versus sticking something up on their own website. Sure, I wouldn’t mind them doing both, just as long as the Extend area is synchronized with their own web page.

    Browsing and relying on the Extend Plugins area of WordPress.org is so much easier on the end user to keep tabs on plugins rather then, having to go to each individual plugin authors site.

  2. Andrew (31 comments.) says:

    I have only just started using it, had a little trouble with svn but I think I have it now. I have as a result stopped hosting the download file on my own site and added a link back to Extend.

    I am still trying to get the hang of how and where version information should go on Extend though. it isn’t clear to me whether, if I had a versions section, it will appear as part of the description, or as a header in its own right.

  3. Pchere (2 comments.) says:

    WordPress Extend is truly an amazig service. I am also getting used to SVN and it is a wonderful feature.
    Ronald – To change plugin url you can add this to readme.txt where all plugin data is listed.
    Plugin URI: pluginurl.com

  4. GaMerZ (24 comments.) says:

    I think I did suggest that they should rotate the featured plugin every week because it is ALWAYS the same.

  5. Iva (11 comments.) says:

    My cents, as I’m not a developer, just an user….rotation is needed, I always get disappointed when I don’t see it change, I expect to see a proof of quality for some of the plugins widely used.

    I think one of Lester’s plugins should be in the next rotation. There are people here, like me, who were using them back when we were all on B2 and when they had different names!

    Wordtube should be featured too…perfect plugin, solves so many problems and makes everything easier.

    Also Andy Staines’ download counter, one of the best plugins ever which didn’t receive absolutely any attention anywhere…

  6. Ronald Huereca (7 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the comments/suggestions all.

    @Pchere,
    I’ll have to try that. I searched for something like that, but unfortunately didn’t turn up anything. Thank you.

    @Andrew,
    Are you using the SVN on a Mac? I’ve found it to be much more painful than on Windows. I’m on the lookout for a good tutorial for WP Extend, but I have yet to find one that’s user friendly.

    @Jeff,
    Yes, the author field is a pain too, but you just can’t include HTML in that field unfortunately. It looks like it takes it from your initial lines from your main PHP plugin file. I think Pchere solved my problem with the Plugin URL changing, so I’ll try that out soon.

    @Iva,
    Yes, it would be nice for useful (albeit, less popular) plugins to be featured in the featured section. There’s a lot of potential for this section, but since it hasn’t changed in so long, I’ve become blind to what’s on there.

  7. GaMerZ (24 comments.) says:

    @Iva,
    Thanks for the very kind compliments and thank you for supporting my plugins =D

  8. Michael (1 comments.) says:

    I have a suggestion for the extension authors. I see that many authors include their own copies of AJAX JavaScript files which are already included in the WordPress package. This is just a waste of space and resources in my opinion.

  9. Ronald Huereca (7 comments.) says:

    Michael,

    You bring up a good point, but I can see a few reasons why plugin authors would include their own file.

    1. The ones included in WordPress may be outdated.
    2. They aren’t included in all versions. For example, jQuery has only been packaged with WordPress since 2.2. If your plugin is compatible with 2.1 and above, it would make sense for an author to include a JavaScript file.

  10. Anirudh (4 comments.) says:

    There can be plenty of enhancements to the extend pages and better updating apart from the current svn and tag based system, but so far the extend serves its purpose but cross referencing tags and recommending other plugins would be great.

  11. Thomas Clausen (3 comments.) says:

    Another issue with tags is here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/ It would be nice if they were sorted alphabetically…

  12. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    I agree with you about the lack of Readme Documentation that some authors do. Usually when I see a plugin say “forever”, in my mind, that means “this plugin works as is, no support, or future versions will be released, this just happened to work for me at that particular time I wrote it” kind of thing.

    Personally I think, if someones gonna take the time to post a plugin publically like that, they should take the time to support it, take screenshots, put in a decient FAQ, and readme documentation. I really see a lot of developers fail at this. you’ll have that with WP plugin developers though, I’m still using several plugins myself that haven’t been updated since WP 1.5 was released, ugh, but still work. I think the author disappears off the face of the earth or something, but you’ll have that I suppose.

    main problem with WP plugins nowadays though, you’ll have 50 plugins that do the exact same thing, like for instance that “share this” plugin that has like 50 different names for the exact same plugin, and then my favorite plugin of all time, the amazon wishlist plugin, disappeared off the face of the earth, so I agree they really needed to get the plugins system a bit more organized..

  13. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    and whats with that gravatar.com site. half the time my gravatar never shows up, or shows up with that “G”. I’ve had nothing but trouble with that service.



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