ThemeReview.co Expands Services to Include Plugin Reviews

photo credit: pollas - cc
photo credit: pollascc

ThemeReview.co partners Emil Uzelac and Justin Tadlock announced over the weekend that the service is expanding to include plugin reviews. The professional theme review service launched at the beginning of January and has been growing steadily, thanks in part to strategic recommendations from Envato and StudioPress.

Uzelac and Tadlock are both senior reviewers at WordPress.org, and Tadlock is also a prolific plugin developer and co-author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development. The two are currently testing the waters in branching out into plugin reviews and will only be accepting a limited number of customers until they’ve nailed down a definitive pricing structure.

“People have been asking about plugin reviews since day 1,” Tadlock told the Tavern. “It’s something we’ve both been thinking about. Therefore, we decided to do a soft launch of the service. We need to get a few reviews under our belt to standardize our service, so to speak.”

ThemeReview.co will be using WordPress Coding Standards as the basic criteria for plugin reviews. However, plugin architecture is less rigorously regulated than theme code.

“Obviously, there’s no standard set of guidelines like we have with themes,” Tadlock said.

“I don’t think you could create those guidelines. Plugins are so vastly different that there’s no way to know what we’ll be reviewing from one plugin to the next. However, some things we’ve done with theme reviews will carry over into plugins such as using standard WordPress APIs, validating/sanitizing data, and licensing.”

If you’re in the WordPress code quality review business, then plugin developers are a vast market you would be remiss to leave untapped. If you take WordPress.org as an example, themes make up roughly 10% of listings (~3,000) as compared to plugins (~37,000). Outside of WordPress.org’s small selection of extensions, there are thousands more products, both commercial and free.

So far, the theme review aspect of the business has been moderately successful. “We’ve made more than Theme Hybrid, my first foray into a professional WordPress service, did in it’s first few months,” Tadlock said. “However, we’re not quite at that point of where Emil and I could do this full time yet.”

As plugins are the very close cousin of themes, their addition is a natural pivot for the theme review duo. Plugin products have also increasingly become a larger portion of the profits for theme development shops, such as WooThemes and iThemes.

“I’m actually more excited about plugin reviews because it’s a bit like venturing out into the Wild West,” Tadlock said.

While respected plugin developers such as Pippin Williamson have offered contract assistance in helping plugin authors review and improve their work, no business has tackled plugin code reviews as one of its primary services. ThemeReview.co will be the first to attempt to standardize this process. For the time being, the company will provide custom quotes for reviews, based on the amount and complexity of the code.

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9 Comments


  1. Thanks for posting this, Sarah. I’ve done a few plugin reviews privately in the past, so I feel pretty confident that our service will be well worth it for plugin authors.

    The biggest issue with reviewing plugins is that there’s no standard way to set them up like themes. So, you have to spend a little time before beginning the review to familiarize yourself with how it all works. With themes, you know how things work out of the gate.

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  2. Getting your code reviewed by somebody else is a great way to improve the quality. And improved quality is something that is definitely needed in plugins.

    While I agree that plugin code reviews are different from theme code reviews, I find the statement odd that creating guidelines for this type of review is difficult or even impossible.

    WordPress.com VIP has been reviewing both theme and plugin code for years, and there are established guidelines that cover both.

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    1. It’s not impossible to create some guidelines around good coding practices and using WordPress standards. Those are not generally plugin specific though. You’re probably taking what I said out of context, which was meant to be a comparison with how theme guidelines are done. With themes, there’s an extremely strict set of things that all themes must follow. You must have a style.css. You must have an index.php. You must use this function to show posts (and you must show posts). In general, all themes are going to be very much alike. That’s just not the case with plugins.

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      1. I agree that it’s rare to have two plugins that are as similar to each other as themes are. However that’s not really an issue.

        There are a bunch of APIs that only plugins (should) use, and there is a right way to use each of them. So creating guidelines specific to plugins is as simple as assembling all the usage guidelines for the different APIs.

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      2. I still think you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. It’s no biggie because we’re saying the same thing, just in different ways.

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  3. Playing Devil’s advocate/with all due respect…

    Isn’t it FREE to just upload a theme/plugin to the WP Directory? No matter how “complicated” the code is, something big like JetPack to something as small as the earth hour plugin.

    If there is a local WP Community to the author’s location, couldn’t the author talk about plugin via a meetup meeting?

    What about just giving it away to testers? I tested about 12 plugins in 2013 & 2014. I got the full version of the plugins. It was fun testing things. I gave the authors feedback. Just like WordPress 4.2 is in beta testing right now and many people downloaded it and testing it.

    Good Luck to Justin and Emil.

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      1. Emil,

        There are so many paid services revolving around WordPress, I find it amazing things survive when there is usually a “free” version of that service.

        I thank every Theme/Plugin author of every theme/plugin I have used and currently use on my own and other websites. I can’t always donate $49.95. However I have thanked them in other ways.

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