[wp-hackers] support for custoim post types + custom feilds

Ash Goodman ash at thinkinginvain.com
Tue Jun 22 04:20:50 UTC 2010

>So, I'm guessing corporate sites don't use WP Super Cache (or any other
>caching plugin) because it's a plugin, right?

Citing an exception does not disprove the rule. Citing one example out
of 10,000 as a means of disregarding my statement isn't just poor
debating skills, its irrational. I thought this was a place for
discussion. Or is it only a place for discussion when that discussion
doesn't challenge your views?

I would have thought we all have the right to be heard and voice our
opinions without our opinions being subjected to sarcasm and

nuff said - onto the meat of the debate:

> Summarizing what I've read so far:
> Plugins are for hobbyists. Serious sites don't trust them.
> Themes are ok, because [unlike plugins?!] their code can be reviewed.

Nope that's not it at all.

Let me try to explain what I am saying.

1) What type of WordPress user am I referring to?

I am referring to corporate, government/ 'mission critical' sites
where unpredictable behavior or site breakage is *not* an option.
These sites don't tend to use off the shelf themes, they either hire
someone to build them one from scratch or hire someone to modify one
for them.

Like it or not WordPress has outgrown it's usage as *just* a blogging
platform. More sites today are built as CMS then blogs today. Along
with this growth has come a change in the WordPress userbase. Its not
just for hobbyist bloggers anymore. Now it's used in all sorts of
environments by people who are not qualified to detect one good plugin
amongst the 1000's available.

I am not saying most plugins are bad, not at all. I am saying that the
average end user is not equipped to tell between the good and the bad.
In such circumstances blanket assumptions get made. Corporate and
government clients have neither the inclination nor the resources to
become experts. So the end result: plugins = bad is the assumption
most arrive at after a few breakage experiences. Like it or not, right
or not the baby with the bathwater approach is the way these types of
clients think. They just don't get the 'case by case' mentality
required to use plugins.

Like it or not, the average user of WordPress today has no idea what
constitutes a good plugin and what doesn't. Many of them even think
the current "it works/it's broken' rating system in the repo is
'official' and provides some kind of guarantee.

9 out of 10 times a WordPress site breaks (in my experience) it's due
to a plugin either being poorly written or with conflicting javascript
libraries of other plugins.

2) What do I think about plugins?

Plugins are brilliant, they are a part of WordPress that makes it
great. They are a tremendous resource for innovation, experimentation,
education and community involvement.

However, because of this, when plugins are taken as a whole, they are
unreliable and not 'corporate ready'.

Yes there are exceptions, but I'll bet if you take 10 developers and
ask them to cite 10 plugins they would recommend to their corporate
clients as stable/reliable plugins (regardless of function) all 10
would have a different list. Even we developers cannot always agree
what plugins are reliable. (Note: I am discussing reliability NOT

3) So what's the problem exactly?

Plugins can introduce script conflicts, site breakage, security holes,
and unpredictable behavior. None of this is acceptable within a
corporate or government website.

Yes, so can themes. But the users I am referring to have *paid*
someone a lot of money to build a theme. They are not downloading and
installing themes from the repository.

This segment of the WordPress user base is quite large and growing
larger everyday.

Plugins also suffer from abandonment. For whatever reason, be it lack
of time, other interests or what have you plugins can, at any time, be
abandoned. The average end user does not know how to edit code or
manage a plugin themselves. Nor do they expect to have to.

The end result is suddenly a  core feature of your site stops working
because the developer stopped developing it.

4) What exactly am I suggesting

Nothing new really. Nothing others haven't already suggested. Plugins
would probably be better labeled as 'community plugins' with a clearly
stated disclaimer indicating they are not, in any way, guaranteed. The
'it works/its broken' compatibility rating system needs to be clearly
marked as a community effort and not some sort of official stamp of
reliability as many end users assume it is. Yes a lot of end users do
think this, it's a commonly held assumption that I have to correct
with almost every client I deal with.

I think Core plugins are a good solution. When I said that support for
custom post types + custom feilds should be core and not a plugin, I
had not yet thought through all  of the implications of core plugins.
I have since had a couple of conversations about core plugins with
other readers of this list (you know who you are) and agree that core
plugins could be the solution.

Some functionality is commonplace enough and has high enough demand
that an official solution would be welcome. Assuming core plugins meet
the following criteria I think the corporate and government users
would be happy to use them:

1) Guaranteed by WordPress to work with WordPress
2) Guaranteed by WordPress to be well maintained and updated and *not*
subject to abandonment
3) Guaranteed by WordPress not to introduce security holes or
instabilities insofar as the WordPress software and other core plugins
are concerned.
4) Guaranteed by WordPress to be updated in tandem with WordPress so
that when a new version of WordPress is released core plugins are
guaranteed to continue working.

They key word here when talking about corporate or government users is
'official'. They are looking for official solutions, they do not trust
community efforts - yes we all know that that is how WordPress is
built, but *they* generally speaking don't know or understand that,
and as a rule, they shouldn't have to.

What should become a core plugin? I would say that's open to debate
(and hopefully rational debate). But at a start we could look at
plugins that have gained traction, that have become popular. Start
using community plugins as the test bed for new functionality.

They do not necessarily need to be bundled with WordPress. In fact, if
keeping WordPress light weight is a goal I could see some
functionality being taken out of core and rebuilt as a core plugin.
For example the featured image or new menu management system.

This could have the added benefit of allowing new functionality to be
added to WordPress outside of the normal release cycle while still
allowing that functionality to be 'trusted'. Not saying it's a good
idea to release things outside of the release cycle, just saying it's
a possibility.

Of course all of this is moot if the target market for WordPress is
developers only. But if WordPress is serious about spurring further
growth of its user base it's going to have to accept that the needs
and expectations of said users are changing and will continue to do

Should core plugins be a replacement for community plugins? No!
Community plugins are a vital part of WordPress and I would never want
to see them removed. But there is no reason the two types of plugins
cannot and should not coexist.

What makes me qualified to hold an opinion on this?

1) I use WordPress
2) I 'own' WordPress, as do we all
3) I am able to think and formulate opinions
4) WordPress is meant to be about community involvement, I would
expect that to extend to this list as well.
5) I have been using WordPress for more than 5 years
6) I have been hacking WordPress, be it just for layouts or for
functionality for the last 4 years.
7) I develop with WordPress professionally and have done so for the
last 4 years, in fact, for the last two years my company has built
sites exclusively with WordPress, I actually turn away business that
is not WordPress
8) I have built, through my company, more than 50 sites on WordPress
in the last 2 years. My clients include everyone from a work at home
mother of 5, to government agencies, to all kinds of corporate clients
to SME's to 'Mom n Pop' businesses. All of them have had problems with
plugins. On average I get 3-4 emails a year per client of the 'Help my
site if broken variety'. In 90% of cases its down to a plugin they
recently installed or updated.

Thanks for listening


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