Warning: this is a little bit of a rant.
Sometimes I wonder if WordPress plugins [sic] exist to make practitioners of the Apple School of Release Notes™ look good. Most of the time I’m lucky if I can find any indication of what might have changed in a plugin, despite the WordPress plugin upgrade UI leading me to believe this information is only a click away (right inside my own WordPress install, even).
The upgrade notice inside my WordPress install includes a link entitled “View version 2.2.5 Details” for the upgrade to Akismet 2.2.5, which sounds like it would provide details such as changes in this version:
Clicking on the aforementioned “Details” link shows this screen, where I find “useful” information like the latest version number, date last updated, number of downloads, and author and plugin webpages (as well as the oh-so-helpful installation instructions, should I not want to let WordPress install the upgrade automatically):
If I click on the “WordPress.org Plugin Page” link, I’m presented with the WordPress.org page for Akismet; surely that will tell me what’s new or changed in Akismet 2.25, right? Nope, this page looks suspiciously like the “Details” page I just left:
Finally, I click on the “Plugin homepage” link and arrive at Akismet.com. From there, I see options like “Download”, “FAQ”, “Development”, and “Blog”, and, since this is not my first go-round with an Akismet upgrade, I know that only “Blog” might contain information about this new version. Indeed, I’m in luck; New plugin version 2.2.5, currently the first post on blog.akismet.com, has some details.
Four clicks after I began (and four domains later), I have what it seemed like the very first click promised me (in fairness, I could have saved a click by going directly to the “Plugin homepage” instead of visiting the “WordPress.org Plugin Page” link, but I also saved a number of clicks by remembering that “Download”, “FAQ”, and “Development” wouldn’t contain information about changes in releases).
Frankly, this sucks. But guess what? It doesn’t have to suck; according to this Weblog Tools Collection post from nearly a month ago, WordPress supports a standard method of including a “Changelog” tab in both the WordPress.org page (the third screenshot above) and the WordPress “Details” view (the second screenshot) for plugins with upgrades available.
The fact that this great feature is available for WordPress plugins but hallmark plugins like Akismet (2.2.5 was released on July 13, nearly three weeks after the posts about the “Changelog” feature) aren’t using it sucks even more. To add to the irony, the WordPress.com page for Akismet lists “mdawaffe” as an Akismet author, and the Weblog Tools Collection post credits “mdawaffe” as one of the key contributors (implementors?) of the new “Changelog” feature on the WordPress end!
Please, Matt, Automattic, and Akismet, take up the mantle in this area; implement the Changelog in Akismet upgrades and lead by example, as a hallmark plugin should. Thank you.
voracious consumer of release notes