Let's Talk about Improving Vanilla's Addons
There's been a bit of a mega conversation going on amongst some of the vips in Vanilla's community. Besides exposing a bit of a UX bug in our conversation emails there's been some good discussion. I'm putting my response here because I want things out in the open.
So let's face it. There are a lot of addons on the Addons site that just don't work. There are several reasons why this is the case. Maybe a plugin was developed by an inexperienced developer. Maybe someone developed against an old version of Vanilla. I'm not casting judgment here it happens. But the fact of the matter is that addons that don't work or of low-quality are bad for Vanilla.
This is an important point. Vanilla has grown a lot in the past years and we have to start working towards more quality in the addons on this site. At the very least we need to give people that come to the addons site more information about an addon before they try and go installing it.
Here's the thing though. We here at Vanilla HQ can't go through everyone's addons and make sure they work. What we can do is give better tools on the addons site and give some better guidance on addon development in general. Here are some thoughts on that front.
Keeping Addons Current
I want to move from addons being approved/unapproved to being "works with". Rather than having us approve addons we'll have the community say whether an addon works or doesn't work with certain versions of Vanilla.
Using the above information we will mark plugins as abandoned if they stop working with newer versions of Vanilla. Addon authors have a responsibility to fix their addons, but if they aren't notified then it's really not their fault.
Abandoned plugins will be removed from the addon site. This means that the addon will be gone and someone else that wants to pick it up can re-upload it and start maintaining it themselves. This is a bit of a clunky workflow so I'm not sure if I'm decided on this. Philosophically though I'm not against changing the maintainer of an addon if the original author abandons it. As a courtesy the original author should be given credit for their work.
Using Gith(hub) to Develop Addons
I really want to start encouraging people to develop their addons on github. We totally know that github can be difficult to get into, but you are doing yourself a disservice by not learning how to use git. And yes, I even think theme developers should be getting into git.
Having your addon up on github allows others to collaborate with you and help fix issues. People can fork your repo and give you pull requests or you can even give other people commit access to make changes directly to your addon.
I think that you should create a seperate repository per addon you develop. This makes it easier for people to fork just your one addon. If you develop a lot of addons you can create one master repo that contains all of your addons as submodules.
If enough people start maintaining their addons through github then we can build some nifty tools into the addons site that will automatically grab updates directly from the repo.
I'm in favor of adding a simple five-star rating system to addons. There are a lot of addons and having some way to help people decide on which ones to install is becoming more important.
We are not interested in creating a site that allows people to sell commercial Vanilla addons. Changing our minds is in the realm of possibility, but is highly unlikely.
Vanilla 1 Addons
We'll most likely stop supporting Vanilla 1 addon downloads at some point.