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How to get a plugin into the WordPress Directory

How to get a plugin into the WordPress Directory

Posted 20th August, 2019 by Sarah

You can find thousands of WordPress plugins all over the web. However, the first stop most people make whenever they’re looking for a new plugin is almost always the same – the official WordPress Plugin Directory.

Since it’s such a key place for finding WordPress plugins, the logic goes that you should try and publish your own plugins there. While work is involved to submit a plugin to WordPress, those that make it into the directory have a greater chance of success than if they were hosted elsewhere.

In this article, we’ll go over all the main reasons why you should publish your plugins on the official WordPress plugin directory. Then we’ll give you a brief overview of the guidelines your plugins need to meet to be accepted, and how the process works.

Why you should list plugins through the official channels

The official WordPress Plugin Directory is home to more than 50,000 plugins. It’s because of this that many people make WordPress.org their first port of call when looking for a plugin to do a certain job.

Some of the most popular WordPress plugins, such as Akismet and JetPack have been downloaded more than 100 million times. All of this exposure doesn’t come from the official WordPress directory alone of course, but it’s a pretty big factor – especially when you consider that they’re both ‘featured plugins’:

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Aside from exposure, there are several other benefits to getting your plugin accepted to the official WordPress.org directory. For one, there are strict guidelines for plugin developers, so you can assume any tool included will at the very least adhere to basic security practices.

What’s more, WordPress provides you with:

A built-in method to help you manage user support tickets…

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Download and usage statistics...

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User reviews, which may also be just the thing to drive more downloads...

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Keep in mind, though – the WordPress directory only hosts free plugins. If you want to offer a premium tool, you can do so elsewhere and maintain a free version of it within the WordPress Plugin Directory. This can be a powerful strategy for finding new customers, as they’ll essentially get a free and unrestricted trial before making a decision on whether to open their wallet.

Just to give you an idea of how much business the WordPress directory can drive to you, take a look at the example of ThemeIsle. They’re a popular plugin and theme developer, and saw sales drop by about 50 per cent – equal to about $35K per month – after a product was temporarily unlisted. This shows both the reach of the directory, and how seriously the team take review guidelines.

A quick overview of the Plugin Review Team guidelines

As we mentioned before, there’s a strict set of guidelines that you’ll need to follow whenever you submit a plugin to WordPress. Going over all of them in depth would require us to write a short novel. So, instead, let’s offer a quick overview of what they are and what they mean for you in practical terms:

Your code and all third-party assets need to be compatible with the GNU General Public License.

  • You’re responsible for making sure you have any licenses your code might require. The code itself should be readable by humans – in other words, it shouldn’t look like gibberish.

  • The plugin shouldn’t include any ‘trial’ features.

  • You need to ask for user consent if you want to track activity.

  • The plugin shouldn’t perform any illegal actions.

  • Whenever possible, your code should prioritise using built-in WordPress functions for efficiency’s sake.

  • Your plugin shouldn’t hijack the WordPress admin.

  • You need to include a detailed readme file, which will earn you a lot of brownie points with the review team.

Overall, the plugin guidelines aren’t as focused on ensuring your product is useful, but that it follows good coding practices. For example, you’re freely able to develop a plugin that translates English to pig Latin, as long as it meets all the guidelines.

How the WordPress plugin directory approval process works (2 steps)

The hard part about submitting a plugin to WordPress is making sure it complies with the guidelines. However, once you have this under control, the actual uploading and approval process is quite simple. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell.

Step #1: Sign up to WordPress.org and upload your plugin

To upload a plugin, you’ll need a WordPress.org account, which shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to create. Once you’re logged in, go to the Add your plugin page, where you’ll need to indicate its name, provide a description, and a URL after the file is up.

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Step #2: Wait for your plugin to complete the review process

The plugin review process should take around two weeks, according to the developer handbook, but it can be longer. Given that the team is made up entirely of volunteers, if staffing levels drop, this can extend the turnaround time. Usually however, the process does fall within that time frame. Unfortunately, if you’re at this stage, the only thing you can do is wait.

If you’ve handled everything correctly so far, your plugin should be due for approval soon. Once you get the thumbs-up, you’ll be able to access a dedicated subversion (SVN) repository for your plugin.

This repository is where you’ll carry out any changes to your plugin, as well as submit updates. The changes you make there will reflect on the public-facing page – i.e what users will see when they browse the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Categories: WordPress, Blogging

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