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Find plugins and themes more easily than ever

Posted September 24, 2014, in Plugins.

We are happy to announce we have completed beta testing of the new plugin and theme directory, and it is now available at plugins.movabletype.org.

Plugin directory home page

Plugin developers, please make sure your plugins and themes are registered in the directory by signing in or creating an account and then visiting the plugin and theme registration page.

If you have any questions, problems or other feedback, please e-mail us at webmaster@movabletype.org.

This directory has admittedly been a long time coming, so we would like to share some of the considerations we made to best serve the global Movable Type community.

Regional challenges

The CMS market for Movable Type is very strong in Japan, and from those dedicated developers comes a majority of the new plugins developed today. This presents a challenge in spreading the word about new and innovative plugins to both the English speaking and Japanese markets when plugins are often written and documented in one language.

To address the language issues, we have:

  • Created localized websites (English and Japanese) powered by the same Movable Type installation. When a plugin or theme is submitted to the directory, an entry is created for both languages, and they are linked to alert us when an update is made to one or the other.
  • Translated all the Japanese plugin descriptions to English.
  • Added an indication (Japanese only) in the English directory for plugins that are not entirely in English. Many of these plugins are still useful and functional, whereas others will need further translation to be used in English. In those cases, we hope being aware the plugin exists will be a large step forward from before. Then much development work can be saved by not reinventing the wheel, but only needing to translate.

Version challenges

Movable Type has enjoyed more than a decade long history and has spent many years as a world leading platform. Naturally, not every developer creating plugins in 2002 is still doing so in 2014. But Movable Type, having been built on a well thought out and robust framework, still can use many plugins that were developed years ago. We now have hundreds of plugins in various states of development and which work on varying versions of Movable Type. As a consequence, it had become difficult for users to discern whether a given plugin would work on a specific version of Movable Type.

Further, and partly because of these issues and that Movable Type itself is so stable and robust, many installations in use today are still using older versions of Movable Type. We would love for everyone to upgrade to the latest version, but we also recognize cost and other factors prevent some users from being able to upgrade immediately. We also recognize we must earn your trust and your business. We are therefore supporting the community as best we can, even those who haven’t upgraded yet. Your support has helped make Movable Type what it is today, and we thank you.

To help you find what you need, we have:

  • Added prominent version compatibility tags to every plugin that reflect the best of our collective knowledge: 4.35.05.15.26.0
  • Added a prominent tag to indicate the plugin has been tested on the stated compatible versions of Movable Type and is known to function correctly: Verified
  • Enabled commenting so users can publicly share their experiences with a plugin or theme and report the functionality status on a given version of the plugin and of Movable Type.

Development workflow

Almost all plugins that we know about and are under development today are hosted on Github. To streamline the plugin maintenance process as much as possible, we have integrated the directory with Github to an extent. Developers can submit new plugins by providing the repository URL, which establishes a link in our system to Github. This allows us to prefill some information upfront, but more importantly, allows us to see when updates are made and automatically update the information in the directory.

Search

We have implemented the new plugin and theme directory’s search functions using the Data API, which gives us more flexibility to implement features.

For example, we make it easy to find plugins that are compatible with specific versions of Movable Type by providing version buttons at the top of any search results. Simply click a version to filter the list.

Plugin directory search results

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