Plugin Directory Refreshed — What It Means for Developers

Matt just announced on the WordPress Blog — and many of you have already noticed — a number of recent changes to the plugin directory, profiles, and the support forums. Now let’s go into detail all of the individual changes, and what it means for plugin developers.

Design refresh for plugin pages.

We’re glad to see so many of you use the plugin headers we launched in December. Now, we’ve provided a further refresh. We’ve made authors much more prominent and with bigger Gravatars and better placement, and cleaned up the styles for the ratings, support, and compatibility sections. There’s a great before-after shot in the announcement post.

Support is now integrated into your plugin page.

In the past, creating new support topics for plugins has been special, and not in a particularly good way. It had this specialness by overloading the tags in the support forums to indicate that a thread was about a particular plugin. No longer. We’ve promoted plugins up a notch and given them their own area.

So now, on your plugin pages, you’ll see a “Support” menu in the header, and you’ll see the topics for that plugin in that tab. You’ll also find a submission form at the bottom of that tab, to add new support topics specifically for your plugin. Topics about plugins made from here get a special sidebar with links to the plugin, to the plugin’s FAQ page, and to the list of Support Threads for that plugin.

While this section looks like it’s on the Plugin’s page, it’s not really. These support threads are actually in the same place they’ve always been, in the Support forums. What you’re seeing as far as the look and feel of that view of the support forums is just some clever trickery on our part. :)

Akismet, for example, will have it’s “support forums” at this URL: http://wordpress.org/support/plugin/akismet.

How to follow support threads for your plugins.

You may want to take advantage of this by subscribing to the RSS feed for your plugin: http://wordpress.org/support/rss/plugin/akismet. Email subscriptions are not available for these yet, but we will be adding them this week.

For plugin authors who have been using them, the old convenience views of plugin-committers and plugin-contributors are still there as well. (Committers are managed in on the Admin tab, while contributors are taken from readme.txt.) We’ll be exposing these links in more places, but you can use them with URLs similar to the following: http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-committer/Otto42 http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-contributor/Otto42. (RSS feeds exist for these as well.)

Support statistics are now shown to users.

You’ll notice a new area on the plugin page sidebar showing information about how many topics there are for your plugin, and how many of them have been marked as resolved. These are handy for users to see if questions are likely to get a response.

You have had the ability to mark plugin support threads as resolved for some time now. It’s now really easy — you can mark a thread as resolved while making a post with a simple checkbox. Note that the user who opened the thread can also mark threads as resolved and unresolved. Threads that are marked “Not a support question,” such as suggestions or feedback, are not counted toward these stats and do not need to be marked resolved.

Statistics will be based on a rolling two-month period, based on when the thread was opened. Currently, the statistics cover threads opened in the last two weeks, and will continue to increase until it reaches two months, to allow you some time to resolve existing threads.

Managing your forum with sticky topics.

You can now make threads “sticky”  threads to the top of your plugin’s support forum, just like the other forums on WordPress.org. (You’ll find a link “Stick topic to this plugin’s support forum” in the sidebar.) Threads marked as sticky will show at the top of your plugin’s Support tab. (They won’t be sticky on the regular forums.) We hope you find this handy for posting FAQs or other important information about your plugin.

A new section for developers.

Every plugin now has a Developers tab where you can find links for browsing the code in Subversion, the development log, and development versions. Here, you can now subscribe to get an email whenever a commit is made to a plugin repository, even if it isn’t yours. (You will of course continue to receive commits for your own plugins.)

Favoriting plugins.

As I’m sure you’ve now seen, plugins can now be favorited by logged-in users — and have been more than 2,000 times since we soft-launched this feature earlier in the week! When you favorite a plugin, it gets added to your profile. And if you’ve also rated that plugin, your rating gets shown.

We expect to do a lot more with all of this in the future — favorites, plugins, support, and profiles. Until next time, we hope you enjoy these changes as much as we do!

— written by Nacin, Otto, and Scott