Central plugin repository - possible testing and monetization?

(Adam Davis) #1

Continuing the discussion from User based plugins:

I would like to see Discourse.org, the mothership, the corporation (what are we going to refer to it as anyway?) take control of the situation from the get-go.

Much like Apple performs some minimal testing of apps before they enter the app store, I’d like to see Discourse take the most popular plugins that it isn’t going to integrate into the core, and keep and maintain a known good working repository of plugins, allowing the authors to update them, and possibly even monetizing them for both discourse and the plugin authors. Like Wordpress, the forum will keep track of updates and allow the forum owner to update them to the latest version with a few simple clicks.

This way forum admins can have a list to select from that they know won’t break the forum, and could even allow very trusted users and moderators to install plugins and make them available for users who want them.

It could also solve a problem plugin developers currently have with the GPL nature of the forum - there’s no incentive to release an awesome plugin. If there’s a clear need, someone will likely bang something out that barely crosses the finish line, but we’re not going to see a bevy of plugins that wow, astound, and make people want to get out their credit card.

I’ve yet to see even a good plugin that hit all the high notes. The stock market plugin and flash games plugins on some forums have terrible bugs which don’t break the forum, but make the games or function less enjoyable, to the point where few people participate.

I don’t necessarily want to turn discourse into “land of a thousand zynga clones” but I believe there’s an opportunity there for Discourse to really take the lead in making plugins a first class feature so that we can have tradewars, superbowl squares, stock market apps, host secret santas, and so forth without causing forum administrators so much anguish with bad plugins and forum administration nightmares.

Need a roadmap for post-1.0 development
Big Picture Features Poll
(Pekka Gaiser) #2

Seconded. I’d love to see Discourse take an active interest in the Plugin ecosystem, and reward quality. An Open Source project is invariably going to attract a lot of garbage code. Not necessarily because the contributors are lazy or incompetent, but also for so many other practical reasons. Product reviews will be one way to recognize and reward quality; the possibility to sell directly through some kind of a Discourse-moderated marketplace another.

One project that integrates plugins with standalone installations very nicely is Concrete 5, the company behind the PHP-based Open Source CMS of the same name (which by the way has become my favourite CMS ever, it’s pretty nice and clean behind the scenes, too).

The product is fully Open Source and can be downloaded and installed on your own web space. You can optionally connect it to the Concrete 5 Marketplace. When you log in to the Marketplace from a CMS installation, you can shop add-ons and themes. When you purchase something (there is the option of free products, too), the license is automatically connected to the site you’re coming from, and automatically installed there if you want to.

The great thing about this is that it’s completely optional - you can download and install extensions the traditional way, too, they’re just Zip files full of code. But it’s so convenient, you’ll find yourself connecting your projects to the marketplace in no time.

As far as I’m concerned, the more Apple-style dictatorial a possible Discourse marketplace would be, the better, for the sake of a good quality (or at least, okay quality) plugin base…

(Adam Davis) #3

YES! While I despise the closed nature of the devices and marketplace, given that Discourse is GPL this is not even an issue.

What I love about the marketplace is

  • I know the app is unlikely to harm my device, and is very likely to “work”
  • I can see reviews and screenshots prior to buying which increases my confidence
  • A few clicks to buy and install
  • Updates have at least a few words of info
  • Clear ownership and support channels

Even Wordpress isn’t quite there yet. Yes, there are 50 google analytics plugins, and 2-3 are in the top hundred, but out of those 2-3 are they compatible with my installation, do others praise or decry them, is the developer active, or was it released a year ago and never updated? Does it require additional services?

Not only that, but even if Discourse is forked, and even if another company starts developing it at a rate as fast or faster than Discourse, the marketplace would still set it apart, and create a barrier of entry to any bad competition. Competition in general isn’t a bad thing, but giving people both a method and motive for putting their work into the main mothership rather than external efforts will be good in general.

(Jarrod Nettles) #4

Yes. Having Discourse installs automatically connect to a centralized store of available plugins for free/sales - you’ll see an ecosystem blow up overnight. One click purchase and install will make Discourse king.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #5

(I don’t remember how I got here, but I might as well comment now)

The WordPress repo is nice, but I think the Ubuntu-model takes it one step further. In Ubuntu, users can choose between an assortment of different repositories to retrieve updates from.

Another example of this is the NetBeans IDE, which allowed users to toggle various pre-connected plugin repositories on/off.

(Juffin) #6

how this is going to benefit code quality and stability?
i say keep to the wordpress model.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #7

The WordPress community hasn’t actually been doing a stellar job of keeping code quality and stability high. I think the WordPress plugin landscape would be a better, safer place if they allowed for more competition.

Say for instance if @michaeld’s DiscourseHosting decided to create their own small repo of carefully curated plugins for their users. I would have higher trust for the plugins in this small repo than I would for one out of the many thousands in the “official repo”, as it is highly unlikely that all those plugins would have been carefully reviewed.

If the Discourse developers were to be the benevolent rulers of some “plugin central”, I actually wouldn’t want that to be a repository, I’d want it to be more like an aggragator, like what [Ohloh.net][1] is for GitHub, Sourceforge, BitBucket, GoogleCode and others.

This site could host everything from reviews to discussions much like WPORG does, but it wouldn’t host
the plugins. That would be up to a select number of trusted repositories, one of which could very well be managed by the Discourse devs, but there should be others in the mix.
[1]: http://www.ohloh.net/

What is your favorite plugin directory and why?
(Erick Guan) #8

GitLab may be a good choice too, thus we can get the mirror from other provider. And totally control over plugin code and its distribution.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #9

Yeah, that could work. Mirroring would mean more hassle for the plugin developers, but some standardised scripts could mitigate that issue by a large margin. And a single repository means just one API, meaning tighter integration with other discourse.org site features.