The New Plugins Overview & How To Add Icons

The new plugins overview page is probably one of the coolest visible new features in WordPress 4.0. In a lightning-fast (for WordPress standards), 7-week sprint, ticket #28785 moved from an idea and a wireframe to a full new implementation for the plugins overview screen in WordPress. The new plugin overview bears quite some resemblance to the new themes overview, and is set to not only feature additional plugin information in a structured way, but plugin icons as well.

Interested as I was in this new plugins screen, I implemented the patch in my local environment. And, for testing the icons, I mocked up and implemented the icons for Admin Columns, as no other plugins featured icons yet. And, I must say, the result was absolutely stunning.


The new overview with “Plugin Cards” in WordPress 4.0 is sweet.

The new plugins overview with the icons allows you to get a full view of the most important aspects of a plugin, important meta data such as whether it works with your current WordPress version, while allowing the plugin author to focus attention on his or her plugin with a prominent plugin icon.

Few plugins have implemented them yet, but as soon as WordPress 4.0 is released, I’m sure the tidal wave of new icons will arrive soon enough.

A few days ago, a minor update along the same lines, that received much less attention, was made to the plugin search: icons are now displayed by default. The overview is not nearly as slick as the one in WordPress 4.0, but it offers opportunities all the same. The flat overview of raw plugin data suddenly offers plugin authors a possibility to stand out. There’s suddenly a new way to attract attention to your plugin on major search keywords.

Now, I believe this is a development that shouldn’t be underestimated. The newly introduced icons give plugin authors a great way to attract attention to their plugin, even though it might not be listed as the top plugin for a certain keyphrase. Especially if the decision is made to enlarge the icons on, authors can exert more influence on users trying to decide between competing plugins offering a similar set of features.

How to add icons to your own plugin?

If you’re a plugin author, you’re most likely very eager to add icons to your WordPress plugin yourself, and have them displayed in WordPress 4.0 as soon as it’s released. Well, luckily, that’s quite easily done.

  1. Create an 128×128 or 256×256 (for retina support) icon for your plugin.
  2. Save them as icon-128x128.jpg (or png) and icon-256x256.jpg, respectively, in the assets folder of your repository.
  3. Commit the changes through SVN.

I’m using Versions, a great Mac app for SVN version control.

But wait, there’s more!

What’s even cooler, is that the plugin icons in WordPress 4.0 support SVG! So, instead of uploading JPGs or PNGs, you can also simply upload an SVG file called icon.svg. It has prevalence over the JPG and PNG icons, which means that if you’ve added icon.svg, it will always be displayed in the plugin overview, even if you’ve also added icon-128x128.jpg or icon-256x256.jpg.

All in all, this is a pretty cool new feature, which you can easily implement for your own plugin. So, plugin authors, it’s time to open up Illustrator once more!

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