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#1 2015-08-11 00:31:55

maverick
Member
From: Southeastern Michigan, USA
Registered: 2005-01-14
Posts: 960
Website

Ability to install plugins from Github

Background:

Recently I’ve been on a project that needed capabilities beyond Textpattern. Symphony CMS was chosen. Symphony has a number of similarities to Textpattern including the lean core / extension (plugin) model.

Like Textpattern, Symphony is hosted at Github, and can be installed using git.

Like many Textpattern plugins, many Symphony extensions are hosted at Github. Unlike Textpattern, Symphony’s design keeps things like pages, css, and extensions in files rather than the database. This allows Symphony extensions to be installed using git’s clone command or it’s submodule feature. The submodule feature can be a really nice way to handle extensions.

Obviously using Github’s submodules would not work as an install option with a standard Textpattern installation, but it did make me consider whether there was an easy way to install a plugin from Github.

I debated whether this was best suggested as a feature request or a plugin idea. I chose feature request because

  1. Most Txp installs use at least one plugin.
  2. We have discussed a more automated plugin installation experience over the years and
  3. We have talked about how to use Textpattern.org to help power that experience.
  4. rah_plugin_installer, and mem_plugin_installer aside, nothing much has ever come of it, and Textpattern.org seems to struggle.
  5. I realize not every plugin is on Github. But many are, and
  6. Github is the official home of Textpattern these days.

Proposal:

That the plugin panel be extended to interact with Github repositories, allowing us to enter the repository url to pull the plugin into Textpattern. This will create an ongoing connection to notify us when an update is available, and click a simple “Update” button to pull in the update.

Bonus Feature:

IF possible, the plugin panel could have a browse feature that was aware of any repository on Github tagged as a Txp Plugin.

An example at SymphonyExtensions shows they even have a level of version compatibility built into the extension repositories.

Last edited by maverick (2015-08-11 00:39:10)

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#2 2015-08-11 03:52:41

maverick
Member
From: Southeastern Michigan, USA
Registered: 2005-01-14
Posts: 960
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

I see that WordPress has a plugin that does something similar

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#3 2015-08-27 11:08:25

Destry
Moderator
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

I can imagine a nice centralized repository for plugins resulting from something like this — not just links to them, as .org provides, but the whole ball of wax, with .txt and compressed file options. It also provides an easy way for users to supply bug reports and so forth.

There will likely be two gripes to consider:

First, trusting Github to be around long enough for it to be worthwhile (cloud stuff is ephemeral, after all). I’d guess it will be around a while due to it’s popularity with so many audience types (writers, designers, devs…), and industry types (gov, edu, org, non-profit…) — unlike something like, say, Dribbble, which targets graphic designers only, or Medium, which targets… um, “writers” only. They are still running, but their limited audience might mean they’re more volatile as a long-term platform.

Second, there seems to be a fair amount of concern from devs (at least wet) about giving Github SE hits instead of the project. This is a valid concern too, of course, but considering the code base and now user docs reside on Github, does it really matter? I don’t think so. For one thing, a symbiotic relationship with Github helps ensure Github will stick around longer. Also, all the back linking to the Txp project from github is just as good for brand awareness as the links we might point that way. For example, if every plugin on Github provides a link to it’s support forum thread (as it should), then you’ve just balanced the scales with each plugin in the repo. Github isn’t a parasite at the point, it’s helpful protozoa in Textpattern’s physiology.


The text persuades, the *notes prove。

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#4 2015-08-27 11:59:24

maverick
Member
From: Southeastern Michigan, USA
Registered: 2005-01-14
Posts: 960
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

Perhaps there is a win-win option for those not on GitHub. Create a remote plugin install/update api in Textpattern so anyone could develop a plugin loader/download for their favorite repository – bitbucket, personal server, etc., and have the equivalent of a GitHub plugin baked in by default. That way if GitHub goes away some day, it would be easy to change over. In the meantime the source of the largest repository of Textpattern plugins – all on the same home as Textpattern – are at hand.

In a mild(?) case of OCD, I’ve been forking all the plugins I find to help keep track of what’s available, and in case the plugin author would disappear off of GitHub.

As of right now I have found 194 Textpattern plugins repositories. There are a few more actual plugins than the repo number – I’m still learning Git, so when I imported Manfre’s and Dale’s plugin repos from BitBucket, the multiple plugins under each person came as a single repo rather than individual plugin repos on the GitHub side.

Some are deprecated or abandoned. A few are multiple versions of the same plugin that several people uploaded independently of each other and modified.

Even if we wanted to continue Textpattern.org as a central clearing house, we can tie back into GitHub in a manner similar to SymphonyExtensions.com. Using feeds from GitHub, plugin versions, updates, and CMS version to plugin version compatibility is shown. I’ve found their approach to be really useful when working with Symphony.

Last edited by maverick (2015-08-27 12:06:06)

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#5 2015-08-27 12:27:05

ruud
Developer emeritus
From: a galaxy far far away
Registered: 2006-06-04
Posts: 5,068
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Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

maverick wrote #294386:

As of right now I have found 194 Textpattern plugins repositories.

Correct URL: https://github.com/MST-Textpattern

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#6 2015-08-27 12:59:14

maverick
Member
From: Southeastern Michigan, USA
Registered: 2005-01-14
Posts: 960
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

ruud wrote #294388:

Correct URL: https://github.com/MST-Textpattern

Thanks Ruud.

Another GitHub lesson. The link I posted apparently only works for those who are on one of my teams.

Since GitHub has no real organizational options for repos, I created an organization and moved all of my Textpattern repos to it. I then created teams as pseudo categories. All my Textpattern plugins are under a team.

The link l posted was MST-Textpattern/teams/textpattern-plugins/repositories, but apparently I am unable to expose that link for public consumption. I was hoping it would work and make a nice quick link to just Textpattern plugins for people

Sorry!

Last edited by maverick (2015-08-27 13:00:17)

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#7 2015-08-27 13:12:52

philwareham
Core designer
From: Farnham, Surrey, UK
Registered: 2009-06-11
Posts: 3,160
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

Destry wrote #294383:

…but considering the code base and now user docs reside on Github, does it really matter?

While it’s true that the new (under-development) user docs are hosted on GitHub’s servers, they are actually accessed via http://docs.textpattern.io – so that doesn’t dilute our project at all really. It’s no different from hosting on something like GoDaddy albeit you can delve into the underlying code if desired.

I’m a fully paid-up supporter and flag-waver for GitHub.

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#8 2015-08-27 13:37:12

Destry
Moderator
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

philwareham wrote #294391:

While it’s true that the new (under-development) user docs are hosted on GitHub’s servers, they are actually accessed via http://docs.textpattern.io – so that doesn’t dilute our project at all really.

The specific point, I think, was SE juice, as opposed to distribution, per se. So whether it’s on Github or your domain, it’s still not .com, and thus not helping SE rankings. I think that’s what Robert’s perspective is. (Personally, worrying about ranking isn’t something to worry about at all if the content is good.)

Btw, how is it that URLs at textpattern.io can be reached from a .com URL?

For example, this link…
docs.textpattern.com/development/plugin-template-help (.com)

seems to redirect to the .io equivalent…
docs.textpattern.io/development/plugin-template-help

Does that mean we should be using .com links instead when sharing or pointing to user docs?

Last edited by Destry (2015-08-27 13:40:34)


The text persuades, the *notes prove。

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#9 2015-08-27 13:43:28

Destry
Moderator
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,142
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

maverick wrote #294386:

As of right now I have found 194 Textpattern plugins repositories

Nice. Thank you. I was wondering if there was a comprehensive list somewhere of plugins on Github.


The text persuades, the *notes prove。

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#10 2015-08-27 15:50:51

philwareham
Core designer
From: Farnham, Surrey, UK
Registered: 2009-06-11
Posts: 3,160
Website

Re: Ability to install plugins from Github

Destry wrote #294392:

The specific point, I think, was SE juice, as opposed to distribution, per se. So whether it’s on Github or your domain, it’s still not .com, and thus not helping SE rankings. I think that’s what Robert’s perspective is. (Personally, worrying about ranking isn’t something to worry about at all if the content is good.)

I want to eventually move everything to the textpattern.io domain if the community and devs agree, then give that domain to the foundation or whatever eventually governs us (i.e., not Dean Allen).

Btw, how is it that URLs at textpattern.io can be reached from a .com URL?

I assume Robert has put some sort of redirect in place that does this. He gave me some tips on how to repoint the forum without breaking all the old links, so I think he is on board with this strategy.

Does that mean we should be using .com links instead when sharing or pointing to user docs?

No. Please continue using the .io suffix.

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