One of the things I’ve noticed since using WordPress is that after you install a number of plugins, it becomes clear that there is no standard for where to place the plugin configuration link. Sometimes, the configuration link for a plugin shows up in the dashboard while other times, the link appears within the Manage panel. To top things off, many of the plugins provide links to their specific settings in the Settings panel. How much time do you think you have wasted so far by always searching for a particular plugins settings page?
Over the weekend, I happened to come across a post written by Andrew Rickmann which showcased an idea to create a configure link next next to the usual Activate/Deactivate Edit links found within the Plugin Management panel.
Andrew’s point of view is that, instead of adding top level menu items to the WordPress administration panels, it would be far easier to click on a configure link that would open up a sliding panel which would present anywhere from 1-5 configurable settings. Not only does this idea make configuring plugins faster, but it makes browsing the WordPress administration panel much easier as the top level navigation system is not filled with links. On top of that, the configure link makes complete sense to be located next to the Deactivate/Edit links. In doing so, configuration options are in a predictable location.
In my opinion, here are a couple of reasons why we are not seeing something like this already being used. Number one, WordPress is open source meaning anytime you try to implement anything close to a standard, it probably won’t work. People will come up with their own solutions to the problem which is one of the beauties of Open Source but can also be a contributing problem. Secondly, this was brought up over two years ago. You can see the initial forum thread here and the post on the WP-Hackers Mailing List from Owen here. Considering we have gone two years without any move towards a solution such as the one Andrew suggested, perhaps we will always be at the mercy as to where plugin authors place their configuration links.
Plugin authors can bring up the fact that they provide directions within their readme files that indicate where to find the configuration page. While they may help in the short term, that doesn’t solve the root of the overall problem. Andrew’s idea is something that can be implemented by plugin authors right now. In terms of something like this being added to the core, according to Andrew, the process is so simple, it probably doesn’t need to be added.
Where do you stand on this issue? Would you like to see more plugin authors implement Andrew’s idea into their own plugin or is there a better alternative?