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New Policy Changes in WordPress Plugin Directory

If you are a plugin developer, then you should know that the Plugin Directory had a recent policy change regarding the notice displayed for old / un-updated plugins. Instead of a time-based warning, it is now a version-based warning.

 

Old Plugin Warning Example
Old Plugin Warning Example

 

Old WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugin Directory has several mechanisms to ensure compatibility with newer WordPress versions and to encourage developers to upgrade and maintain their plugins. Old plugins are excluded from search results — this way only plugins that have been updated recently get displayed and promoted in the Plugin Directory.

In addition, when navigating directly to a plugin page, there is a notice saying that the plugin hasn’t been updated for a while and it may no longer be maintained or supported. This way the user can choose whether to use the plugin at his risk or try to find better alternatives.

From a plugin developer’s point-of-view, the plugin needs to be maintained and updated constantly and regularly to be presented on the Plugin Directory. Otherwise, the plugin will be displayed with a warning and excluded from the search results.

 

Policy Change: Time-Based Notice vs. Version-Based Notice

In the old Plugin Directory, the notice was based on the Last Updated field – a time-based warning. The new notice is now based on the Tested up to field in the readme file – which is a version-based warning.

Note that plugin developers don’t ncessecarily need to release a new version to update the “Tested up to” field. It can be done by changing the “Tested up to” field in the readme file. Even though it may be a quick task for developers, this information provides peace of mind to users and helps encourage them to update to the latest version.

 

Plugin Meta
Plugin Meta

 

Up until now, if a plugin hadn’t been updated for over 2 years, it had the following warning in the plugin page’s header:

The old time based warning
The old time-based warning

 

Currently, if a plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress, the following warning will be displayed:

The new version based warning
The new version-based warning

 

The Policy Change Meaning

This policy change has a big impact on plugin developers. In the past developers had 2 years before the warning appeared, but now they will have to update their plugin once every year at the very least, as WordPress has 3 major version releases each year. You can say that its a bad change for developers, unless they keep their plugins updated.

On the other hand, the change is very good the users and the entire WordPress industry alike, because it guarantees that more plugins will be updated to keep their ranking while ensuring compitability with latest WordPress versions.

Rami Yushuvaev

I'm an entrepreneur, a web developer and a blogger. I’ve contributed code to each and every release since WordPress 2.8. I'm the Hebrew GTE responsible for the translation and the release of WordPress Hebrew version. The founder GenerateWP.com and several other WordPress related projects. I work mainly with Israeli startups, providing plugin development services.

11 Comments:

  • Collins Agbonghama

    Thanks Rami for sharing this info.

    Reply

  • Anton Ukhanev

    > if a plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress, the following warning will be displayed:

    So, everything tested with WP 2.0 + is fine, then? Unlikely.

    Reply

    • Rami Yushuvaev

      Anton, plugins can set Requires at least (minimum WordPress version) and Tested up to (maximum WordPress version), those are two different settings.

      The notice based on the Tested up to. See our Plugin Readme file Generator for more information.

      Reply

      • Anton Ukhanev

        Rami, yes, I know; that’s not at all what I’m saying. I’m saying that if the plugin indicates that it was “Tested up to” WP 2.0, then, with the current version of WP being 4.9.4, the warning will not be displayed, because 4.9.4 is within 3 major versions ahead of 2.0.

        Reply

        • Alex

          You know that WordPress does not use several, right. 4.9 is a major release. Even though 5.0 is supposed to include Gutenberg, it’s equally a major release.

          Romantic Versioning. #RemVer

        • Anton Ukhanev

          Well aware. However, in Romantic Versioning, the first number also represents the major version, with the second (and later) being the minor. So, my point is just as valid.

        • Anton Ukhanev

          Otherwise, it’s just 49 and not 4.9 😀

  • Gary Jones

    So, set Tested up to as 9.9, and then you’re done for a while…

    Reply

    • Rami Yushuvaev

      haha, that’s a nice idea, but I haven’t testes that..

      The logic say’s it should work, but I’m sure the core team will close this loophole.

      Reply

    • Maor

      That, or you could easily write up a script that pulls in all of your plugins, fixes the “Tested up to” tag, commits and pushes the changes. I still think the previous way was more reliable and indicative of whether a plugin is actively maintained. It could also be a combination of a bunch of parameters, such as support threads resolved, commits to the repo, etc.

      Reply

  • Riyaz

    For us, who doesn’t have much time to do these task on any WordPress update comes, broken my heart.

    I was loving the old policy and was updating plugin when any new changes I made.

    Anyway Thanks Rami

    Reply

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