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Plugins Site Update: The Old Is New Again

December 13th, 2011

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback since last week’s announcement about the plugins site’s unfortunate tumble into oblivion, and I’d like to address a few of the most important concerns that have surfaced since.

“Could you make the old backup available for posterity?”

Yes. We can — and have. Over the weekend, we restored the most recent backup we had, and the original site is now living at archive.plugins.jquery.com; you should be able to browse through everything that’s there to your heart’s content. We also applied the most recent user information we had, so if you had an account on the old site at any point in the last year, it should still work. However, the site is closed to new user registrations. If you really need a new account, please get in touch with me personally and I can get that straightened out for you. We’ve also set up a redirect, so that if you should encounter any links to plugins.jquery.com in your browsing, you’ll (hopefully) end up at the corresponding page in the archive.

Just get a backup from the Wayback Machine!

While the Internet Archive has cached versions of content that was updated more recently than last October, we just don’t have the people-power to re-create the lost posts manually in the new archive site. If you have an account, you can feel free to add “new” or old plugins, or update existing ones, should you desire to. However, this archive will not be indexed by search engines.

If you hate CMS-es so much, what’s with WordPress?

We’re in the middle of a network-wide redesign, and WordPress offers us a valuable set of tools when it comes to theming, searching, and serving a group of sites. Our new motto, however, is pull requests, not passwords; we’re implementing theming, documentation, plugins, and more in such a way that contribution will not actually require an account on our CMS at all. As I outlined in the initial post, the plugin submission process will only involve adding a post-receive hook to your repository. In the event of a similar catastrophe, we’re made sure we’ll be able to replay the entire plugin contribution history and get the site back up to speed right away. Our goal is to leverage the WordPress features we find useful without it serving as a barrier to entry or as the canonical warehouse of content. If you are of the mind that WordPress is always a bad idea, no matter what, no matter how, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion, but at this point, it’s not particularly beneficial to the conversation.

Git(Hub) is hard

The new plugins site will serve as an index of plugins, with a simple “download” button right on each plugin’s page. You will not have to just browse around GitHub looking for jQuery plugins. If you don’t know git and only ever want to download jQuery plugins, you don’t have to learn it. However, if you want to submit plugins, you’ll have to be using some sort of source control that you can at least mirror in git. This is by design: it can be really easy to build a jQuery plugin, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily fit for public consumption. Requiring the use of source control and package.json are passive mechanisms that will help ensure that plugins which proliferate are authored by developers who have met a reasonable baseline (and aren’t selling batteries). We’re only targeting GitHub support for launch, but we’d like to add support for other services as well. We are actively avoiding the use of GitHub-specific features that would force us to limit the site to GithHub users permanently.

It’s A Conspiracy!

Some have called into question the veracity of my account, and that’s understandable, given the timing and circumstances. But believe me, the last thing I wanted to do after spending a day manually pruning spam from the directory was turn around and cause a gigantic headache for thousands of people, including myself and my colleagues. I hope the re-launching of the last backup at least partially allays these concerns. Additionally, we’re starting off with GitHub simply because it has a very broad user base already, and it has been incredibly positive for us since we shifted to it for development of jQuery Core, UI, and Mobile.

Thanks again for bearing with us during this transition.