Releasing your plugin to the world

You’ve written the next Hello Dolly and you want the world to know about it use it. What should you do?

1. Test once and test again

With any luck, your plugin will be used by lots of people in many different situations and hosting environments. You’ll want to make sure you’ve tested your plugin to make sure it works in any situation and doesn’t frustrate your users.

2. Write great documentation

A readme.txt file is the best place to start, as it’s a standard reference point for all plugins. You’ll want to make sure you include:

  • A concise description of what your plugin actually does. If it does a lot, it might be better as two plugins.
  • Installation instructions, especially if there’s special configuration to be done.
  • Directions on how to get support, and what you do and don’t support.

2. Push out a first version to

The plugins directory is the easiest way for potential users to download and install your plugin. WordPress’ integration with the plugin directory means your plugin can be updated by the user in a couple of couple of clicks.

When you’re ready to push your first version, you’ll want to sign up for a spot. After a short time your request should be approved and you’ll be granted a Subversion repository to commit your code to. The site has good documentation for making your first Subversion commits and the overall process.

If you’re a partner or a Cloud Hosting client, we’d love to hear what you’ve come up with. If it could be useful to other clients, we’ll add it to our VIP Shared Plugins repository and offer some help maintaining it.

3. Embrace open source

Open source is one of the most powerful ideas of our time because it empowers collaboration across borders. By encouraging contributions, you’re allowing others to love your code as much as you do.

Github has arguably become the easiest way to get others involved with your project. Let it be a new feature, a bug fix, or a simple typo correction, contributions are only a pull request away. We love it when your code is on Github too because it makes it easy for us to contribute improvements back. Github has a great documentation portal and even an interactive demo if you’ve never used Git before.

Bitbucket is an alternative to Github with similar features. If you’re a Subversion die-hard, the plugins directory has an associated Trac instance.

4. Listen to your users

You’ll often find that your users put your code through many more test cases than you could’ve imagined. This can be tremendously valuable feedback if you facilitate the interactions well.

Releasing your code through means your plugin automatically has a support forum. Use it! Subscribe to receive new posts by email, and respond to your users in a timely manner. They just want to love your plugin as much as you do.

Andrew Spittle, a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, has a couple good posts on providing support: “Avoiding Easy” and “The Speed of Support.” Jetpack also has a post you can point to about writing great bug reports.

5. Regularly push new versions

The best plugins are the ones that keep iterating over time, pushing small changes along the way. Don’t let your hard work go stale by waiting too long to update.

6. Rinse and repeat

Like in other parts of life, the best things come from patience and hard work.

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