There have been a lot of references to “canonical plugins” over the past year, especially at WordCamps by Matt, but we haven’t really posted anything official about the idea, nor have we really made much progress beyond discussions about how awesome it would be to have canonical plugins and how good it would be for the community. But what are canonical plugins, you ask? Well, that’s one of the many things the core commit team has been talking about over the past few days, and everyone agrees that we need to prioritize this aspect of the project sooner rather than later. So, here’s a super high-level description of how we’re currently thinking about canonical plugins, which we’d like to use to initiate some focused community discussion on the topic.
Canonical plugins would be plugins that are community developed (multiple developers, not just one person) and address the most popular functionality requests with superlative execution. These plugins would be GPL and live in the WordPress.org repo, and would be developed in close connection with WordPress core. There would be a very strong relationship between core and these plugins that ensured that a) the plugin code would be secure and the best possible example of coding standards, and b) that new versions of WordPress would be tested against these plugins prior to release to ensure compatibility. There would be a screen within the Plugins section of the WordPress admin to feature these canonical plugins as a kind of Editor’s Choice or Verified guarantee. These plugins would be a true extension of core WordPress in terms of compatibility, security and support.
In order to have a system like this, each canonical plugin’s development community would probably need similar infrastructure to WordPress itself, including things like Trac, mailing lists, support forums, etc. These things will be worked out within the development community over the coming months, but in the meantime, we really need a better name for this. Many people have no idea what canon/canonical means (clearly, they are not Dr. Who fans!), and having to define the word distracts from discussing the core ideas behind the concept. So, we thought we’d do a community poll to see what people think we should call canonical plugins. We brainstormed a few dozen ideas yesterday and whittled it down to our top handful. Based on the definition of canonical plugins given above, which of these terms do you think best describes them? I’m including a short description of our thoughts on each.
Standard – Implies that these are the standard by which all other plugins should be judged, as well as the idea of them being the default plugins.
Core – Makes the close relationship to core WordPress development very clear, and has the implication of bundled plugins (even though we don’t need to actually bundle them now that the installer is right in the admin tool).
Premium – Identifies these officially-supported plugins as best-in-class and of the highest value, and could potentially disambiguate the word Premium as it is currently being used in the community (to refer to anything from commercial support to licensing terms to actual code quality).
Validated – Focuses on the fact that the code is reviewed for compatibility with core and for security.
Official – Makes it plain that these are the plugins officially endorsed by the core team as being the best at their functions.
Canonical – Maybe once people get used to it, canonical wouldn’t confuse so many people?
Cast your vote in the poll below to have your opinion considered during the decision-making process. And if you can think of a word that we haven’t listed here that you think is better, please submit it in the poll! The poll will remain open until 11:59pm UTC Thursday, December 10, 2009.