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Releasing and Promoting Your WordPress Plugin

How To Write a WordPress Plugin Series

This post was written as part of the How to Write a WordPress Plugin series.

After you have finished writing your awesome WordPress plugin, there are a few things to consider before releasing and promoting your WordPress plugin.

Prior to Release

Try to Follow the Standards

While it isn’t required to follow the WordPress coding standards, there are some things in there that will make your life easier. One of the more valuable tips in there is to never use shorthand PHP. The reason? Not everybody has shorthand PHP enabled.

So instead of:

<? /*your php code*/ ?>

You would have:

<?php /*your php code*/ ?>

Make Sure You Have Tested Your Plugin Thoroughly

Find some guinea pigs (er, testers) who would be willing to test your plugin. Technically competent testers are good, but you also want some testers who will represent the average user who knows nothing about programming languages.

It’ll be impossible to find every bug, but at least make an effort to put out a stable release.

Make Sure You Have a Readme File

Before you release a plugin into the wild, make sure you at the very least have a Readme file. This file should contain at the very minimum installation instructions for your plugin. For a stricter version of a readme file, check out the WordPress recommendations regarding a Readme file. There’s even a groovy Readme file validator.

Set Up a Dedicated WordPress Plugin Page

Ajay D’Souza wrote some recommendations regarding releasing WordPress themes. The advice he gives can also be applied to plugins to an extent.

Make sure you set up a dedicated WordPress Plugin page for your plugin. This page will be the URL that people will go to to find out everything about your plugin. This plugin page should contain the following at a minimum:

  • A brief description of your plugin.
  • The download location.
  • A list of features.
  • Install instructions.
  • Version history (Changelog).
  • Known bugs and/or conflicts.
  • Screenshots or a demo (or both).
  • Contact or support information (or comments enabled).

The above information will assist you in promoting your plugin, especially the description and feature portion.

Have a Good Folder Structure

I would argue to always include your plugin in a folder. Any files other than the main plugin file should be included in sub-directories. Make sure you zip, gzip, or rar your plugin folder that way it is as easy as possible for people to install your plugin.

Does Your Plugin Require Theme or File Manipulation?

If your plugin requires users to tweak theme settings and/or files, prepare for the onslaught of bug reports and users wanting assistance. I would argue that a good plugin requires absolutely no theme manipulation or file manipulation. An exception to this would be the plugins that add template tags to the WordPress core.

If your plugin does require theme or file manipulation, include detailed examples on your download page and possibly include some examples in your release.

Promoting Your Plugin

After you have your dedicated download page, it is time to start making plugin announcements so people will download your work. The time you spent on your description and features is crucial since you’ll be using these for your plugin promotion. Others who link to your plugin will be doing the same.

Promote at Weblog Tools Collection

A very good resource for promoting your plugin is the Weblog Tools Collection news section. Under their Plugin Releases section, you can give details regarding your new plugin.

Promote at the WordPress Plugin Database

The WordPress Plugin Database is another good resource for adding in your plugin. The process for adding your plugin isn’t the most straightforward, but there are detailed instructions.

Promote at the Official WordPress Plugin Repository

WordPress itself has offered to host your plugin. You have to meet several requirements before you will be allowed to add your plugin, however. Remember that any publicity is good publicity.

Promote Using Social Networking

Add your plugin to delicious, Digg, and Stumble Upon. Get your friends to help. If your plugin is good enough, the referrals will start coming in.

Promote On Your Own Blog

If your plugin is something that people will notice, use it on your blog. People may start asking what plugin you are using. Word of mouth is a powerful ally, especially in the blogosphere.

Conclusion

You can have the best plugin in the world, but if it isn’t released and promoted correctly, very few people will download it. Once you start the promotion process, it is important to listen to feature and bug requests, especially if your plugin is very young. If your plugin doesn’t work, or too many people have problems with it, people will be wary of downloading your plugin. It’s important to get those bugs fixed and the crucial features added in early. Most of these problems can be solved during testing, but some bugs just don’t seem to crop up until after the official release.

The End of the ‘How to Write a WordPress Plugin’ Series

Thank you for reading the final post in the plugin series. Hopefully this series proved beneficial to you and helped establish a foundation for you to write your own plugins. Thank you very much for reading.


  1. By SARAH posted on April 3, 2008 at 6:40 am
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    Its an great informative article. I really found this information very useful for my upcoming release as this will be my first release.

  2. By Josh posted on July 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm
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    Very informative and structure in a way that was easy to comprehend. Thanks for putting work into this. I will reference it often.

  3. By Shirley posted on October 4, 2008 at 10:32 pm
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    Thanks for the resource. We just released a plugin today and want to get it out there.

  4. By Scott Lenger posted on December 1, 2008 at 10:37 pm
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    Great series. I just created my first plugin, Liturgical Year Themes, and referenced your posts several times. It answers a lot of questions that weren’t addressed elsewhere.

  5. By Rune Jensen posted on August 5, 2009 at 10:56 am
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    Found the post on Google and I like it. We have made sure to follow your steps closely for our recently updated spam filter plugin, and are still working hard to promote it properly. Thanks for the content.

  6. By Allan Brown posted on September 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm
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    This article is just plain excellent. I have been dancing around the WordPress Codex for a few days and was totally confused until I came across this tutorial.

    I do have a question. How do I add a filter or action to just one page or page template in my theme? Do I somehow use the REQUEST_URI in an IF statement? I have seen other plug-ins tell a user to put “[This_Plug_In]” in a page to display the plug-in content. Can you point me to a good resource to help me with this?

    TIA

  7. By Admiyn posted on September 17, 2009 at 4:51 pm
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    Good tips
    I am going to promote my plugins in theses websites right now

  8. TrackbackAtypicaLife dot net » links for 2007-07-06  Nasıl Wordpress Eklentisi Yazılır ? by # YaMTaRKwatog Tech » Tutorial for WordPress Plugin WritingEssential Wordpress Plugin Development Resources, Tutorials and Guides : Speckyboy Design MagazineHow to Promote your Wordpress Plugins | Wordpress Arena