An Escrow System for WordPress Plugins

Over on Grand Strand Bloggers, I want to try out this plugin that automatically makes digest posts. That is perfect for what we want to do. However, the plugin I”m trying to use is really half-baked and appears abandoned. I’d think about adding to this with our needs at GSB if there was a way to do so.

That plugin also uses the WordPress cron functionality. I have installed on several blogs the WP-Crontrol plugin to give better access to this system. However, it seems like WP has had API drift that makes it no longer work right. I can see the cron jobs but no longer edit them or execute them like I used to be able to. I’d also be willing to work on that one too.

Is there a formal process for taking over abandoned WP plugins? Suppose I have a patch to submit and the original developer is no longer involved or completely incommunicado. Can someone from eventually give me access to SVN or commit patches for me? Or do I have to take their code, fork it and just work from there? It would probably be nicer to do it down the path of the original plugin, so that everyone’s automatic updaters allow them to get the newer versions. Still, anything is better than nothing.

3 Replies to “An Escrow System for WordPress Plugins”

  1. He says in the FAQ he wants patches against the SVN. I’d dive on in. If he doesn’t do anything with your patches, that’s when you decide if you want to fork or keep your updates for yourself (assuming the license permits). See the Digest Post WordPress Plugin FAQ.

    One thing I’ll mention: You’ve got a lot of code in AmigoFish for handling weird feeds. You might want to leverage some of that. Maybe do the digests in Rails and call it from WordPress.

  2. The protocol that I seem to have seen in place for abandon-ware is to create a new plugin, keep the name in a somewhat similar vein so that it is obvious that the two plugins are related, and then heavily credit the previous author. Of course, you want to make all appropriate efforts to get in touch with the original author first, but you knew that already.

  3. This is all highly speculative because at this point I haven’t touched the code, much less tried to contact the author. The point I’m trying to get to is that once you put in any sort of automatic upgrade process, like WP has for plugins now or that Firefox has for add-ons, the harm done by a fork is much greater. The people with the old one installed don’t get those updates and will have to figure out which installed plugins have been superceded and need to be uninstalled, a new one located and reinstalled. It’s an extra burden, where taking over the keys to the old one and continuing work means the installed base gets the new code.

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