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Deprecating plugin functions and hooks (and what we did in WooCommmerce)

Sometimes code needs to change; without doing so you can end up with a non-consistent, bloated mess. When changing things such as functions and hooks however, you do have to consider backwards compatibility so that code which relies on the old things doesn’t just stop breaking without explanation.

In WooCommerce major releases we often have to deal with this problem – in this post I’ll explain how to deprecate code, and how we dealt with it whilst developing 2.1.

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Using the new Credit Card form in WooCommerce 2.1

WooCommerce 2.1 includes a standardised credit card form which payment gateway plugins can now utilise for a consistent UI.

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Using the jQuery Payment script (built by Stripe) inputs are formatted as you type which also helps prevent user error.

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RE: The WooCommerce ecosystem

Last week at WordSesh there was a session all about the WooCommerce ecosystem. If you missed it, you can view it below:

Coen Jacobs also voiced his thoughts after being disconnected (#fail).

Unfortunately, as a developer-hermit I didn’t take part in this session, but I would like to give my thoughts anyway so here goes 🙂

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Apps I use during my daily workflow

I think it’s great to see what tools other people in your industry use day to day. You can learn new techniques, discover new apps, and improve your own workflow by looking. Coen Jacobs recently shared his setup, so I thought it would be good to share mine too. Even though pretty much we do the same thing, we’re both pretty different when it comes to workflow.

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Tweaking the donation monitization model

Most developers agree the donation model isn’t great (giving the plugin away for free and requesting, not requiring, a small donation as a sign of support).

Arguably the best alternative is freemium model (where you have a free plugin and build premium functionality plugins around it) which is growing in popularity and is used by plugins such as WooCommerce and EDD.

Freemium may not be suitable for all plugins however, as some may not have many features which you can make premium, or you may just want to avoid the burden of supporting users who’ve purchased a premium product (who’s expectations for support may be far greater).

One of my plugins, Download Monitor, has always been donation based and free on WordPress.org. Although there is space for a few premium extensions, I’ve not had the capacity nor will to build them yet. When I rewrote the core plugin however, I did take out a feature I deemed to be bloat and made it separate – but not premium, as I thought users would react badly to a previously core feature being made paid-for after an update. Instead I made it “pay what you want”.

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Plugin installation techniques; activation, deactivation and uninstall

If you are building a complex plugin, or one which needs it’s own database tables, you’ll likely be installing all kinds of things during activation or first run. Uninstalling your data however may be an after thought.

In this post I’ll explain techniques you can use to install and remove your data to keep things tidy, should the user decide they no longer want your plugin.