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My WordPress plug-in: Lessons learned from a release gone wrong

zdnet.com | Jun. 17, 2015 | 9 min read

My mea-culpa article about how my big Seamless Donations plugin update blew up when it encountered the WordPress repository. Cautionary tale. Sigh.

30 votes   Flag
Donna Cavalier

This was a good read. Painful lesson, for sure, but sharing the experience is helpful to others.

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Mickey Kay

Confused. You say you crashed 10,000 to 70,000 sites, but the plugin is listed on wordpress.org as having 10,000+ installs (rounds by 1000). Are there other installs you know of?

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David Gewirtz

10000 active installs, 70000 downloads. No idea how many are impacted, but hoping for as few as possible. My (hopeful) guess is that the difference are those who downloaded but aren't running now (and therefore, hopefully, aren't experiencing issues). But I don't know exactly how "active installs" is calculated. Do sites check in to WordPress.org with "active_plugins" on a regular basis or is that number calculated in some other way. Always been curious about that, but never enough to dig in and find out.

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Tom Harrigan

updates also count as a download, so if a user downloads 10 versions of a plugin over time, thats 10 downloads toward the total, even though its only 1 install.

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David Gewirtz

Did not know that. Thanks!

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Eric Karkovack

Amazing to think about the amount of responsibility you took on with the plugin.

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David Gewirtz

It's worth it. It's been a long time since I've directly encountered users and Web site operators trying to do things (I've been mostly writing and blogging). So it's interesting to see where their pain points are and where their blind spots are, and try to help. I think it's a good, instructive activity for anyone who normally sits backs and renders opinions. Bit of a wake-up call.

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Ajay D'Souza

Totally feel your pain! I sent out an update to my plugin Top 10 a couple of months ago and went off to bed. Woke up the next morning and noticed that the upgrade had completely crashed every single site it ran on and was upgraded on. Thankfully I was able to roll back the upgrade and also release a quick fix. A good lesson to learn. I had a few unhappy users but a lot of them were patient while I fixed the issue and pushed an update.

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