The Downside of the WordPress Plugin Directory

One of the most powerful and useful parts of WordPress and other popular CMS software offerings is the seemingly endless number of available plugins to extend functionality in nearly any way you like. WordPress provides the Plugin Directory, where developers can publish their open source plugins free of charge for other users to download and use at no cost. In fact, I’ve contributed to the Plugin Directory with a number of offerings over the years, including Document Gallery, Hello Simpsons Chalkboard Gag, and Prezi Embedder. But, with all this power does come a downside…

As a site owner planning to use one of these plugins, you either have to read every line of code from the plugins you are planning to to use (and understand the code enough to spot any possible security vulnerabilities), or you have to trust that the plugin developer has made the code secure. If the developer was careless, your site could quickly be compromised (hacked!).

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Second WordPress Plugin Goes Live

Prezi Logo
Logo © Prezi Inc. Used with permission.

It is now almost exactly 4 months since I released my first contribution to the WordPress community, the Document Gallery plugin. This new addition to my work, Prezi Embedder, was designed in order to support simple embedding of presentations designed on prezi.com in WordPress installations.

This plugin was designed out of frustration at the lack of support from the Prezi team for WordPress users. Their only official response to the issues with their embed code in WordPress installs is a link to this forum post, where users present some ways to hack together something that used to work. Recently, even the hacks mentioned in the post were disabled, making it impossible to natively embed Prezis.

After reaching this dead end, I also looked briefly for other plugins developed for this purpose. The one plugin I found only had partial support for the Prezi embed options and, in my testing of the plugin, did not handle any size other than the (tiny!) default embed size.

At this point, I gave up on any pre-existing solution and wrote the embed code into a very simple plugin and linked it to the Error: The id attribute provided does not look right. You entered id=. Error: You must, at minimum include an id attribute: [prezi id='<Prezi ID>'] shortcode. Though I initially wrote the plugin for my own use, I ended up submitting it for listing in the public WordPress Plugin Directory.

This release has had a slower pickup in downloads when compared to my first plugin (which hit 300 downloads in under two days), but that is to be expected given its more specific market. Even given this lower interest, it has still been downloaded 70 times in two days, which I am more than pleased with, especially given that it began as just a tool for my personal use.