What is your favorite plugin directory and why?


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #1

We’ve got people from all walks of web life in here, so I’m curious to hear some good (and bad) examples of plugin directories. There will be at least one plugin directory built for Discourse plugins, so maybe we can help the developers out with a bit of the prep-work by detailing our likes and dislikes for this type of service.

Here’s a short list of plugin directories you might have an opinion about:


Is there a list of active plugins?
Discourse App Store?
(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #2

WordPress Plugins

Pros

  • Adding new plugins is painless (speaking from friends’ experience, not my own). Follow some guidelines, upload a zip and you get a branch set up for you.
  • Nice presentation of plugins, with just enough room for that personal touch.
  • Each plugin gets its own micro-forum. Works great for a low to medium volume for support tickets and feature requests.
  • Same as above, the micro-forum is also used for reviews. Each review can receive comments and the reviewer may return to make edits at any time.
  • The “Broken/Works” feature is a great idea, although sadly not used enough.

Cons

  • Advanced search could be a lot better. E.g. “Exclude plugins not updated since…”
  • Forum doesn’t have proper e-mail notifications, so some plugin authors forget to check in on their plugin’s topics.
  • Uses SVN
  • Bad search
  • Plugin info is prone to getting messy due to overload of additional pages.

WIP


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #3

Jekyll Plugins

I love the simplicity of it, and I believe this is one of the (few) right ways to use Git submodules.

Pros

  • Doesn’t rely on a scripted web front-end. GitHub takes care of plugin submission.
  • Plugin authors get to use their own repositories.
  • Ranks by “Most forked” and “Most watched” instead of ratings, which some might consider a more useful metric.

Cons

  • Lacking recurring updates to keep submodules up to date.
  • Doesn’t show date for “Added” and “Last Updated”.

(Dave McClure) #4

One other approach to consider is the ‘app store’ / package management angle. A la Chrome extensions, etc. Integrate the directory into discourse itself so that the plugin can be rated / reviewed / installed / enabled / disabled from within the admin interface


(Rikki Tooley) #5

The WordPress plugin directory is horrible, reviews and help threads are in this terrible forum which needs a separate login, search is crap and when you actually find a plugin the layout is confusing with a lot of details duplicated under different titles. Also, uploading a zip isn’t a simple thing for most users.

The other bad thing about WP plugins is the extra, unguided configuration step all plugins need.

The only good way to install WP plugins is via search from each within your own dashboard, which provides a real one click experience but omits the forum functionality.

I think the most important thing for Discourse is to allow for many different plugin stores to exist, perhaps a standard api for directories could be defined along with a mechanism for each site to keep up to date.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #6

Well, I would take most of that for granted in any modern web app, at least the install/enable/disable part, which works pretty well within WordPress. I’m more concerned with how the plugins are organized, maintained and updated.

What separate login? It’s all wordpress.org.

I agree the search is crap (in good WordPress tradition) and the quality of the writeup does vary a lot.

What has been your experience with the zip upload? What made it difficult?

Huh? Like you said yourself, most WP plugins can be effortlessly installed through the WP dashboard itself. Even if you do it by download-to-upload, it’s pretty painless imo. Only a small fraction of WP plugins require extra configuration, and that’s usually due to their features being so advanced that you shouldn’t be messing around with it anyhow if you don’t have some idea of what you’re doing.

I wholeheartedly agree, and I’ve written some of my thoughts about it here. Feel free to add to it. I’d like to reserve this thread for experiences and comments relating to other, existing plugin directories.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #7

I ran into a new directory which I think would suit Discourse very well as a first-take:

http://directory.middlemanapp.com

It runs on the static site generator Middleman (which I know at least @eviltrout is a fan of) and the complete source is available on GitHub. As it stands it’s already a great way to start collecting user plugins in one place.

To add a plugin you simply edit a YAML file and add your plugin to the list, so long as it fulfils some simple criteria. Some might prefer individual files like they do for Homebrew formulas, but for the first 50 or so plugins this method should scale just fine.

Nice future additions would include:

  • More GitHub tie-ins like Stars/Watchers/Forks + latest changes
  • Rankings for the above
  • Pages generated for each plugin.

(Michael - DiscourseHosting.com) #8

To be honest, I don’t see that much difference with our current static list ?

If the plugin metadata proposal takes off, I’d be much easier to write a very small app where people can submit Github links. The app would then read the metadata from the repo and display it. Add a Javascript filter and we’re done.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #9

Correct. As long as the GitHub tie-ins and dynamic ranking is missing it’s nothing more than a fancy list. I agree that establishing a simple standard for plugin metadata is the way to go.

Btw if you wanna make that page a tad fancier for cheap, consider adding one of these: