(This post is geared more towards PHP authors and fans of WordPress, so if you’re not into that sort of thing, why not go look at some pictures of cats instead?)
So, I upgraded to the latest 2.7-bleeding edge version of WordPress on my blog today, and discovered a new feature that I had missed in my earlier readings. There was a new menu item on the Plugins menu:
Yes, it appears that WordPress now has plugin installation built into it. Similar to the Plugin Upgrade feature introduced in 2.5, 2.7 will be able to download and install plugins directly from WordPress.org’s plugin directory.
Naturally, I had to try this out, so read on if you want to see what it looks like…
The new plugin install screen has several ways to find plugins, including all the normal plugin lists from the WordPress Plugin Directory. It also has a pretty good search as well as a fairly large tag cloud at the bottom, if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for.
Tip for plugin developers: Now might be a good time to look closer at those readme.txt files you’ve been making for the plugin directory, and be sure that you’ve got everything nice and neat. Especially think about tags and keywords… People have to find your plugin somehow.
Choosing the plugin is just a matter of finding it and then clicking the Install link. When you do, you get to see more info about it first, before installing it.
Note the “Install Now” button in the top right corner. Also note that only the description shows up, note of the other normal tabs. I don’t know if this is going to change or not, but nevertheless, plugin authors should consider that their descriptions will be getting more visibility this way.
Installation is much the same as upgrading, except it’s now in a thickbox. Yes, upgrading now happens in a nice thickbox too, using this same interface. The description screen is also smart enough to detect when you already have a plugin install and have the latest version of it, and tell you “Latest Update Installed” instead of “Install Now” and such.
After activating, it all goes back to normal. The resulting plugin gets its own subdirectory in the plugins directory, and all is well.
Important note for plugin authors: This sort of thing was already critical for upgrading, but now installing makes it even more so. Your main plugin’s PHP file and readme.txt file must be in the root of the SVN! You cannot package it up yourself as a ZIP file or anything like that. If it can’t find the plugin’s PHP file after downloading it, then your plugin won’t show up, it won’t be activated, and it generally won’t work for anybody.