Thursday, June 07, 2007

WordPress Plugin Limbo

I've spent a lot of my spare time this last week taking a closer look at WordPress . For those who aren't sure WordPress is an open source blogging application. It's very easy to install (as far as web applications go) and many hosting solutions allow you to install it using fantastico (or similar). Anyway I'm involved in a project and we are considering WordPress. We need it to do more than a typical personal blog. So I've been looking at the range of available plugins to see if we can match all our desired functionality to available plugins.

WordPress has a terrific architecture for using plugins and for skinning your blog. Quite simply you put new skins in a themes folder and new plugins in the plugin folder. These themes and plugins will then appear in the appropriate page of the WordPress administrator . Selecting a theme changes the look of your blog. Activating a plugin makes that plugins functionality available.

But there is a catch. Because of the rapid uptake and development of WordPress plugins developed to work with WP 2.1 may not work with WP 2.2. In fact the world of WordPress plugins is littered with plugins that were developed and tested with WP 1.5 and haven't seen any further development since. I think part of the reason for this problem is that when you discover WordPress it's hard not to get a bit excited and one way to channel that excitement is plugin development. But then you're interest moves elsewhere. I mean web development is full of exciting potential (at least it seems that way to me). It's a bit like being a kid in a candy shop. So then a new version of WordPress is released and your wonderful plugin has a bug. It seems that most plugin developers inevitably get sick of supporting their marvelous plugins. The process for the plugin user goes something like this : we see a great plugin, we see it worked in a previous version, we see we need the new WordPress functions, we discover the plugin doesn't work in the current version, we don't have time to find and fix the bug ourselves, we await an update to the plugin or a new plugin with the required functionality. Process repeats. Welcome to WordPress Plugin Limbo.

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