Why You Might Consider Adding Development Hours to Your Changelog

Jean Galea, who is a member of the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook, recently shared a plugin with an interesting changelog. It’s called Bulk Delete and is developed by Sudar Muthu, a developer based in Bangalore, India. The changelog not only shows which bugs have been fixed or features that were added, it also displays the amount of time spent on each release.

Bulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.org
Bulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.org

Due to some personal things going in his life, Muthu began to track how much time he was investing in his side projects. “This happened because I got married and suddenly the amount of free time that I used to have in my life started to dry up. I wanted to find out which pet projects are taking up the majority of my free time,” Muthu Told the Tavern. In April of 2012, he wrote about the initiative and started adding the metrics to the changelog of Bulk Delete.

Bulk Delete Settings Page
Bulk Delete Settings Page

Some plugin authors have funded development of their plugin by having users pay for specific features. Muthu doesn’t get paid to work on Bulk Delete but he has started to sell commercial addons for it.

A Different Approach to Getting Free Support

One of the things Muthu has noticed is how users approach him to receive free support. “After I started adding the amount of time I am spending on different plugins in the changelog, the way people interact in the support forum seems to have changed a bit. I felt that they were able to understand the amount of time I am investing in developing and supporting a free plugin,” Muthu said.

I asked if he thinks this is something other plugin authors should consider implementing. “Each developer has their own preference but I guess if possible, I would like plugin authors to do this. It seems people like it and it will also let people know how much time an author spends in developing and maintaining a free plugin,” Muthu said.

I Think It’s a Great Idea

As someone who investigates the changelog for every plugin update, I’ve seen my share of them. However, I’ve yet to see one that is as detailed and informative as Bulk Delete. Showing the amount of time each version takes to develop gives users a perspective of the time and effort required to maintain a plugin. We generally hear how much time is involved, but rarely get to see how much.

Would you like to see this type of information added to the changelog of more plugins? Will seeing the amount of time change the way you approach the author to receive support? Sound off in the comments.

13 Comments


  1. I’m not sure how I’d even go about tracking such a stat. It might take me 10 minutes to code something, but I’ll often be thinking about it off and on to come up with solutions at all hours of the day. Plus, I maintain I don’t know how many plugins/themes. Sometimes, 3 hours of work for one project will result in 5 minutes of work on another project that uses some of the same code. I also often jump from project to project while I’m working. I don’t see it as a realistic stat I could track.

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    1. Good points. I also thought about how do plugin authors track the time spent just merging pull requests which fix bugs or add features but is code they didn’t write. You could merge in 5-10 request, ship a new version in 15 minutes or something.

      It seems like tracking time is a lot easier when you have one thing to track instead of multiple ideas, plugins, and code to execute.

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    2. Even a ballpark approximation would be handy. If nothing else, it shows the relative investment/weight of different features.

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  2. I’m actually debating doing this. The next update for our free plugin has a significant amount of resources invested into it and I think it’s important to that the user has access to that info. It’s like watching that show “How it’s Made.”. You gain a better understanding, and perhaps, respect a little more of what actually goes into making whatever it is their showing, and the same could apply to free plugins.

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  3. I seriously don’t think x amount of time has any value.

    Let’s say Akismet has an issue and some of us look at it to fix it.

    Nick Haskins, Jeff Chandler, A random Theme author, Tooth fairy, Me and so forth.

    We will all spend different amounts of times to fix the Akismet issue.

    I have never EVER looked at the Akismet plugin’s code. All I do is get the key, put it on my admin dashboard, and activate the plugin (those three things, not in that order, is the most I done with Akismet).

    Now ppl who are working on Akismet itself. They will be able to fix the issue a lot faster than any of us.

    I am assuming Nick Haskins has never worked on Akismet, Before his comment above I never heard of him (Sorry Nick).

    Quality of Work has value, Quanity of time you spend on whatever has no value.

    Not saying authors don’t do good work, they do. Still, you can spend a million more hours, that will not convince me to click the DONATE button or buy the PRO version of theme/plugin any faster.

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    1. “Before his comment above I never heard of him (Sorry Nick).”

      Hey no worries! I like to remain hidden and sneaky. :)

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  4. What is this supposed to accomplish anyhow? I seriously doubt it will encourage donations and it is just something else us plugin developers would have to worry about. If I am supplying a free plugin for you to use then this ain’t the Burger King line. You don’t get it your way, you get it my way, or your don’t get the SOB at all!

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      1. For most features I want for my site, I have MANY plugins I can use. So I do see the my way or the highway thing he is saying.

        What if I see you at a WordCamp. I could buy you dinner, or a beer as a thank you. If I ever buy you dinner (as a thank you), I guarantee you that you will gain a few tonnes in weight and will be the best meal of your life.

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  5. It’s not just about the hours though – Sudar lists solved issues, adds classifications. I noted this a while back – https://twitter.com/kelter/status/478983307884236801 It’s nice from a user perspective to see specifically what’s changed. And so much better than barely listing anything, or worse, using the the change log as a place for marketing hype ;) Yep I’m looking at the “What’s New” under Pandora’s iOS app.

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  6. it’s great to see developers educating others to the work that has gone into a plugin. Educating clients has it’s rewards.

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  7. I’m not sure how many users actually check the change log before upgrading. Personally I do it about 50% of the time.

    Secondly, I’m not even sure how I can track the number of hours I actually put into a plugin development. I’ve been working on a new version of Contextual Related Posts which should be out this week, but I can’t tell you that I worked X hours on this.

    I don’t think adding this to the Changelog would help reduce or change the support requests and/or influence donations. If a user has a question, they will ask with no regards to how much time the author put into the plugin or theme.

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  8. I personally check the changelog for every single update and I quite like the idea of developers including the time it took them. If it helps users realise just how much time and effort goes into a free plugin then perhaps they will stop demanding new features and instant support like children. Encouraging/suggesting new features and looking for support is to be expected and encouraged, but a lot of users just don’t have enough respect for plugin authors and expect the service of a premium product for free.

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