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To WordPress Plugin Authors – Add Changelogs

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The lack of changelogs in a lot of WordPress plugins is something that’s bothered me for a while, and I wasn’t the only one. I’m very wary of upgrading plugins, and when I see that a plugin needs to be upgraded in my WordPress dashboard, I’d like to know exactly what’s being changed. It might be a major security fix, it might be a minor bug, it might not be a necessary update at all. Changelogs give this information to end users about changes from version to version.

Well, there’s some good news for all of you who like to check out the changelogs before upgrading plugins, but it’ll require some action on behalf of the plugin authors. There is now a standardized way of adding changelog information to the plugin’s readme.txt file. To plugin authors wondering how to do this, read this post on Peter Westwood’s blog. This information will then be displayed on a dedicated “Changelog” tab on the plugin’s page on the plugin repository.

I know themes aren’t usually updated as often as plugins are, but I’m wondering if it would be difficult to implement something similar for WordPress themes hosted in the official theme directory. Anyone have any thoughts about changelogs for themes too?


Leland Fiegel was the original founder of ThemeLab. He is a web developer who loves WordPress and blogging.

  • Jeffro

    Thanks for helping to spread the word Leland. I’ve put the request of adding the changelog to the theme repository into the Dev IRC channel to see what they think.

  • Leland

    @Jeffro: Thanks for that. I’m not sure if it would be practical or not, but maybe there could be readme.txt files for themes as well. As of now, I believe the repository grabs all the information (name, description, tags, etc.) from the style.css files.

  • Jeffro

    Hey Leland, the following is from the dev chat in IRC which may help answer your question if there will ever be a Readme.txt file for themes as there is for plugins. Doesn’t look like it.

    [20:41] do themes in on even use a readme.txt?
    [20:41] I think all of the info you get from a theme comes from it’s style.css
    [20:42] so unless you want to maintain the changelog in the css file there may need to be bigger updates to the way themes are handled
    [20:43] as far as I am aware the themes part doesn’t even include an svn repo. you just upload a .zip
    [20:43] oh, i think you’re right sivel (readme.txt)
    [20:44] yeah…pretty sure I am
    [20:44] and there is a svn backend for themes. users just aren’t given commit access.
    [20:44] well that sounds like fun
    [20:44] zip is forced so a script can check for required theme hooks, encrypted referral links, etc.
    [20:45] could proabaly do that with a nice pre-commit hook
    [20:46] ;)
    [20:47] meh, requires users know svn
    [20:47] theme authors tend to me designers rather than coders
    [20:47] *to be

  • Leland

    @Jeffro: Oh well. Thanks for following up though.

  • Andy Bailey

    thanks for reminding me! I added a changelog to the last update to commentluv but I need to update it to make sure it displays on it’s own tab at the repository listing.

    another one for the to-do list!

  • Leland

    @Andy Bailey: No problem. Glad to see authors of some of the more popular plugins (such as commentluv) take part.