3 Questions To Ask Before You Install A Plugin

February 13, 2013

Web Design

3 Questions To Ask Before You Install A Plugin

Do you know what are plugins? Plugins are pieces of software codes that enable applications or programs to do things they could not do by themselves. Adobe Flash Player is one of the commonly used plugins, without this plugin you will not be able to view videos embedded into web pages. Many other plugins serve their own purposes; foreign language-alphabets, social media networking, etc. are some of the examples. There are plugins that can display documents related to Microsoft Office 2007 within your selected browser. Email programs use PGP plugins to ensure privacy and security of their users. Media players will also need plugins that enable them to play a particular media type. Sometimes plugins could be just routines; for example, Milkshape3d acts as a 3d model editor and let you add some new “save as (filetypes).”

Why plugins are excellent?

Plugins are very much portable and can easily be deployed. They are very small, but pack an enormous power. However, all these advantages depend on the plugin framework that you use. Coming to WordPress, the plugins are just awesome. They can improve SEO, save you a lot of time, and build up speed of your website and much more. They allow web developers and designers to build sites that are more sophisticated, quicker and better features too. The official plugin directory with WordPress is flooded with over 20,000 plugins and the volume of downloads exceed 330,000,000. These enormous numbers leave no doubt in one’s mind that plugins are an essential element of this WordPress ecosystem.

Problems that you may face while using plugins:

However, there is also a downside about using these plugins. Too much reliance of plugins could increasingly open up your site to a wide variety of potential risks. Many active plugins could make your site run sluggish and cause a delay in webpage response. The more number of plugins increases the chances of difficulties that you may face, but not all the difficulties arise out of it. Plugins that are poorly developed are the main culprits. You are most likely to face a decrease in speed, security vulnerabilities and other long-term risks whenever you use a plugin that is not being updated and is developed by a plugin author who uses sub-standard development practices. Speed decrease could occur when your plugin makes redundant requests to open source libraries. Plugins that make use of wp enqueue script avoid such redundant requests while loading JavaScript libraries. Adding some unneeded HTTP requests could also cut down on speed. Include site files only when they are needed. The associated CSS and the JavaScript files of your plugin may have been attached into wp_head and thus be requested by all the web pages. This can be avoided by adding these files conditionally only when you need that specific plugin function. Poorly developed plugins are potential invitations for security threats and could seriously affect your sites. A good plugin follows a set of best practices related to data sanitization and validation. A lack of such practices could result in XSS vulnerabilities and MySQL injections. When you rely over a long time on plugins that are discontinued from being developed will be stuck and exposed to risks. Most of the plugins are open source and free. When the popularity of such plugins fades away, the developer may lose interest in updating them or gradually slow down the updating process.

How good is my plugin?

You must look into many factors while picking a better plugin for your use. You can confirm about its credibility by looking into the plugin directory, its reviews and popularity as well. Make sure that your plugin is relevant and know the date of its publication. Do not just go for premium plugins without evaluating them. Keep visiting your plugin list and see changes that may have been updated therein. Check with the number of tickets that have been resolved and see the latest entry of a resolved ticket. The update frequency has to be checked and made sure that these changes have been validated as well. The popularity may not always show the credibility of your plugins, a less popular plugin built by a solid user could serve your purpose well. The ultimate goal should be to put your plugins into minimum usage but get a maximum result out of that.

This article is written by Satyes Mukherjee, a Creative Writer and retired Chartered Accountant from Kolkata, India. Visit author's website.
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About Souvik Banerjee

Web Developer and SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in open source web development. He is also the moderator of this blog (www.rswebsols.com)

View all posts by Souvik Banerjee

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One Response to “3 Questions To Ask Before You Install A Plugin”

  1. Fadi Says:

    The problem with Joomla plugins is that they are loaded on every page. Some bad plugins out there are even loaded on every page, including pages where they shouldn’t run (such as admin pages). Some Joomla plugins subtly insert some hidden links on the site.

    It is is very important to check the code of a plugin before installing it, especially if it was created by a fly-by-night company.

    Reply

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