I have been looking at a lot of plugins lately, as you can see from my posts. I have noticed something about most of the plugins I look at that is very annoying. I was thinking about posting this today, when I checked my RSS reader and found the post from Ma.tt about there being 4000 plugins in the directory as of today. He then posts on the WordPress Blog that today is Thank a Plugin Developer Day. Well, I do thank them. But I also have a bone to pick.
WordPress requires MySQL v. 4.0 or better and PHP v. 4.3 or better to run. They deliberately did not use version 5 of either in order to allow more people use the software. This is a good thing, it has helped spread the use of WordPress over all corners of the web, as blogs and as CMS.
Then there are the plugins, and some themes for that matter. Programmers, especially hobbyiests, like using the latest thing. Updated langauges and software call to programmers seductively, tempting them with more gadgets and easier ways to do things. I have no problem with this, I like things being easier and faster when possible myself.
What this results in is plugins that are developed and tested one MySQL 5 and/or PHP 5. Which means they may, or may not (bet on not), work well on version 4 of either. This is also all right. Sometimes you just can’t do what you want with the older version, or it takes much more overhead that makes it impractical. It will mean less people can use your plugin, but there are still thousands that can. And eventually most places will upgrade.
What I do not like, and think is incredibly stupid, is the huge number of plugin developers that do not say what versions of PHP and MySQL are required to run their plugin. So someone will install it on their site, try to run it, and have errors. So they go to the developer and ask for help. The developer will spend time and effort trying to figure out the problem, until he asks, or it is mentioned, what version of PHP is on the server. Then it is “Oh, it won’t run on version 4.”
Developers, please. You have the front page of the directory page for your plugin, you have a FAQ section on the page, most of you have websites that are linked from the page. Someplace on these pages, or on all, you could easily mention what versions of PHP and MySQL are required. It will save you, and your users, so much time and trouble.
That won’t make any difference, but it felt good to say. And thank you developers, I do appreciate your efforts. I like playing with your producopts.