Announcing the new WordPress Plugin Directory

The Meta team is very happy to announce the launch of the all-new WordPress Plugin Directory!

First announced as an Open Beta at WordCamp Europe 2016 , this latest evolution features a range of improvements, both internal and tangible:

  • A new back-end based on WordPress, to replace the old bbPress engine.
  • Refactored API code, also open source.
  • A complete visual redesign and open-source theme.
  • A completely open-source codebase.
  • A vastly improved search engine.

Developers and testers running early versions of WordPress 4.8 have already been using the new API for a while now, and many in the #meta community have been testing and contributing to the new directory’s development.

For those of you seeing the new directory for the first time, here are some of its features in detail that will interest both plugin developers and users:

The search engine has been totally replaced. Searches now return the most relevant results based on a combination of many factors including version compatibility, recency, and popularity, in conjunction with text relevancy. This means that obsolete and unsupported plugins – while still available – are less prominent in search results than those in active development and use.

Search results in the old directory, left, and the new directory, right.

The most important information about each plugin is shown up front, rather than on separate tabs. The description, screenshots, and FAQs are all visible together, with a simple scroll, without flipping to a separate tab. Important metadata like versions and ratings are shown in a sidebar, much like before, but we’ve simplified the page with a 2-column layout, removing extraneous navigation from the old 3rd column.

Plugin details in the old directory, left, and the new page, right.

We have also revised accessibility across the new design, with improved text sizes and contrast, and better markup for screen readers. The new design is responsive and works well on mobile and desktop devices with a wide range of sizes.

Behind the scenes, the entire back end of the web site and API has been replaced with an open source WordPress plugin. The old directory was built on bbPress with a collection of ageing, closed-source plugins. It was antiquated and difficult to maintain. The new directory uses the best practices of modern WordPress development; and, since it’s entirely open source, can be maintained and improved by a much wider community.

It’s been a long road, so it’s very exciting to finally launch the new Plugin Directory. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their time and energy to the project, especially @obenland, @mapk, @dd32, and @gibrown, whose enthusiastic efforts made everything look easy.

The new directory has been built with future maintainability and iterative enhancement in mind. We’re looking forward to hearing feedback from the whole WordPress community, and making regular improvements and additions. Bug reports and specific enhancement requests can be made in Trac. The best place for questions and general discussion is the #meta channel on Slack.