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Ranting on WordPress Plugin Development

Justin Shattuck, who is currently working on some plug-ins for WordPress, has released a rant on how many plug-ins are just too complex.

I’ve noticed, recently, plugins are not as simple as I, personally would like to see. Plugins seem to have crazy amounts of options and configuration settings. Multiple tags and some are even extremely difficult to integrate. Even for those of us who are savvy with application development, specifically: PHP, MySQL, Ruby, XHTML and CSS; it can be a pain.

I for one agree with him. I also think that any plug-in that makes me edit files, other than inserting a tag or simple statement in a page is too much work, has not been developed properly, and, really, as such is just a hack job, and not a full plug-in. So while simplicity is key, that doesn’t mean under develop. What it means is making sure that the users of the plug-in can install, implement, and use the tool quickly and easily. I also find that the documentation that goes with plug-ins is horrible. I would love to see plug-in makers taking it upon themselves to spend a bit more time in that respect as well, especially if you are going to have more than just the option of turning the plug-in on or off.

Justin then goes on to ask for people’s thoughts on what directions he should take with an upcoming plug-in, wanting to know how option crazy we want things to be.

Makes me wonder if there should be some sort of limitation on the amount of option menus or sub-options and whatnot that WordPress allows plug-ins. As much as I love to see WordPress extended beyond its original intention, I still think simplicity is key for 99% of the bloggers out there.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

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Comments

  1. Ajay D'Souza ) says: 11/29/2006

    I’ve always tried to ensure that my plugins are as easy to use as possible.

    Most of them are easily configurable from within WP-Admin itself.

    One problem I face is documentation.

    Reply

  2. Richard says: 11/29/2006

    The plug-in which I have developed has remained as simple as possible. I think ease of use is the main reason for plug-ins in the first place anyway!

    I’d rather see less complaining about the state of plug-ins and more action instead!

    Reply

  3. Glenn says: 11/29/2006

    For my two cents I think the less file editing needed the better. Put the options into an option page, it’s not too difficult to do, although as you say, menu clutter becomes a problem.

    What I’d like to see is a sort of plugin framework. Maybe a base class to extend off with some standard functions (add filter, show option page, etc) I’ve been working on something like that for my plugins, but it would be nice to have some kind of standard.

    Reply

  4. Choco says: 11/30/2006

    Makes me wonder if there should be some sort of limitation on the amount of option menus or sub-options and whatnot that WordPress allows plug-ins. , I still think simplicity is key for 99% of the bloggers out there.

    Plugins are not part of WordPress itself. They are “OPTIONAL” extentions made by everyone who feels like it. Thus the “As much as I love to see WordPress extended beyond its original intention” argument is a void point.

    However, if you meant that WordPress should start limiting its “extention” options your asking for a less flexible and lesser open WordPress. Especially since its optional and you could choose not to take plugins (!) this is really a bad idea.

    If probloggers can take the advantage of a lesser well developed plugin while awaiting improvement of that plugin its pure gain! Problogger aren’t part of the 99% and want specific extra tools. It makes much business sense to not start acting like an emperor on these issues. Or to put it in Richards words, build an plugin who does what you want here yourself :)

    I do support simpel and effective plugins though (don’t get me wrong on that one), but I think true good developers make the extra effort for documentation and simplicity anyway. You simply can’t force bad developers to act like good ones, its free development remember..

    Reply

  5. Anne Helmond says: 12/1/2006

    I have been using widgets and plugins for a little while now and I love them.
    I have been experiencing some problems with configuring some though. I am currently documenting my problems for my thesis which will deal with software constraints in WordPress http://www.annehelmond.nl/tag/wordpress

    I don’t mind a wide array of options as long as the documentation is good. I am semi tech-savvy and I strongly dislike documentation such as “adjust the php on the correct page”. Which page did you say? I think there is a strong correlation with the development of the themes. Some plugins seem to mess up the theme or the other way round, some themes don’t adjust well to plugins.
    Isn’t it possible to come up with a solution that automatically adjust the plugin to your page’s CSS?

    Reply

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