If you have been navigating the WordPress plugin ecosystem for years, you may instinctively know how to examine and compare two or more plugins’ details pages to select the right solution for your needs. This task can be a big hurdle for newcomers to the platform. The prospect of narrowing down the right plugin from a directory of more than 59,000 can be daunting.
The team behind rtCamp, a 125-person agency and a WordPress VIP Gold agency partner, has launched a new tool called WordPress Plugin Compare Project (WPPC) to help users extend WordPress with the right plugins for their needs. WPPC lets users search for plugins to compare and customize each selection displayed on the chart:
The chart displays the age of the plugin, when it was last updated, author, current version, required WP version, required PHP version, and tested up to WP version. It also shows important stats for ratings, total downloads, active installs, support requests and support score. Plugin data is refreshed twice per day, so it’s always up to date.
Several major plugin categories where multiple plugins are competing against one another are good candidates for comparison using the WPPC tool, including e-commerce, SEO, analytics, social sharing, performance, block libraries, forms, and security, to name a few. Plug in a few of the top contenders and it’s easier to see at a glance how they compare in terms of popularity, maintenance, and support.
The comparisons can also be linked. For example, the block collection plugin comparison above and the forms plugin comparison below is available on the WPPC website. The comparison URL includes each of the four plugin slugs and the tool pulls up the chart on demand. That makes it easy to text or email someone who needs help selecting a plugin for a project.
rtCamp plans to expand the capabilities of the WPPC tool to include the following:
After testing the tool, I found the search to be a little buggy. Searching plugins by name or slug sometimes doesn’t work correctly. Overall, it’s very easy to use and amazing how it pulls in all the plugins’ details into the comparison table automatically. Additional columns could be helpful in certain categories where there are more than four decent plugin options.
One feature that would be useful is the ability to filter the search to only show plugins that offer blocks or support the block editor. This could also work as one of the parameters in the comparison table. One of the most frustrating things about searching the WordPress Plugin Directory is sorting through to see which results support blocks. While you can browse block-enabled plugins, there’s no easy way to search for block-enabled plugins only.
rtCamp is aiming to raise the bar for free plugins hosted on WordPress.org with the WPPC tool. If it becomes more popular, plugin authors may feel more pressure to compete in their listings by providing more active maintenance and support. It also quickly identifies which plugins have been around the longest. Since WordPress.org is the primary distribution channel for many plugin businesses, a tool like this can quickly highlight any glaring deficiency in a product if its creators are not consistent with updates and support. These are important considerations when selecting a mission-critical tool, like forms or e-commerce, in a business or non-profit’s suite of plugins.
I think WP Hive does it better and they have been providing comparison support for years for now https://wphive.com/compare
Results from WP Hive are more detailed and have much more factors included. The only thing this new one has better is comparing more than 2 plugins together.
Hi Saif, indeed what WP Hive is doing is great and useful. I found their comparison inclined more towards the performance aspects than overall plugin statistics. Thanks for sharing though.
Very nice idea and completely agree with your assessment, especially the buggy search. I really wish WCAG compliance was a requirement of the plugin library so that could be added to the comparison.
Hi Stephen & Sarah, thank you for your detail review and the feedback. We are looking into the glitch you have highlighted. Also noted about WCAG compliance as one of the parameter for plugin comparison. We will definitely see what can be done to have it covered 🙂
Definitely, it could (probably will) have more columns.
It could also be useful if they compare performance (website, DB), weight (installation, DB) and security (previous attacks – qtd – and severity – avg).
And accept “author” as a filter too. Devs should shine more.
It can become a essential tool for WP.
Hi Ricardo, we have noted your suggestions. We are going to add more comparison parameters in the future and I see what you have mentioned will be good additions. Thank you for your feedback 🙂
One aspect that doesn’t really come through well though is when Support is provided outside of the Support Forums. I provide a lot of support in GitHub Issues that isn’t reflected in those Support Scores. I’m curious how they are actually scoring support, when there are Support Forums that are sufficiently old they become locked and you can’t mark them as resolved even though a later fix might have resolved them.
That’s a great point. Some of us no longer go into the WP support forums. They are a nightmare to use. I haven’t commented in them for a long time. Probably several years.
I was put into the naughty list for providing support on a plugin I am familiar with or was it because I suggested an alternative free plugin (available from wordpress.org) to the one that no longer worked which had not been supported for several years or it was the time I provided a patch for a plugin bug.. or it could have been some other reason. The mods became activistic: only a plugin’s author can offer help and thou must not list related issues under someone else’s support thread. I refuse to entertain a support forum where all my support requests and offers of support are put into a moderation queue, which is where they seem to stay.
Some of us, when we have a bug to report or a patch to offer, go directly to a plugin developer’s own website or GitHub pages.
Any metric of support activity should include support offered outside the official WP support forums.
Hi Tim, first of all thank you for taking out some time to check the tool and sharing your views. Currently the tool is relying on the data available & provided by wp.org api. I do see what you mean for the stats around support requests. However the thing is, each plugin may not have associated GitHub repository. Some authors may host it on Gitlab, some on Bitbucket or something else. If we decide to include the data outside of wp.org then we need to check the authenticity as well as the relation between the plugin hosted on wp.org and the external version control system.
The concept is nice, but I tried a few search queries and it did not work as intended. It definitely needs more polish.
Hi Grzegorz, thanks for giving it a try & sharing your feedback. We are going to continue building on top of what we all see currently. Cheers!
Thanks for sharing this informative detailed review and the feedback, I am going to use this comparison and implement it.
Glad that you liked it. Thanks Evan!
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
WordPress Tavern is a website about all things WordPress. We cover news and events, write plugin and theme reviews, and talk about key issues within the WordPress ecosystem…
© All Rights Reserved. Powered by WordPress, hosted by Pressable