Let’s go for another round!
Tl;dr: the Weather Station plugin has a new owner and maintainer!
On June 1st 2023, Pierre announced in a previous blog post that it was time for him to step down from his role as original creator and sole maintainer of the Weather Station plugin. He explained that he was looking for someone to adopt the plugin as he no longer had enough time to maintain the plugin or develop the features he wanted to implement. With the launch of his web hosting business (called Hosterra), he came to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be able to find needed time for many years to come (if he could ever find any).
It may have come as a surprise to you, and even made you worry about the future of the plugin he created back in November 2015 and has been maintaining all this time.
Let’s cut the unbearable suspense! I’d like to inform you that the future of Weather Station is assured. Pierre has handed over the project leadership to me with his full support. My name is Jason Rouet and I’m thrilled to write this message to announce the news to the Weather Station community!
So, after Pierre’s announcement at the beginning of June, I didn’t immediately react. I thought that someone in the community would step in to help Pierre find a successor.
After a few weeks, I got in touch with Pierre to find out if he had found a suitable match to continue caring for his extension. I was surprised when he told me that he hadn’t found any serious candidates to continue his great work!
During our discussion, it was clear I had to do something: so I decided to take over the whole project. I am now the sole owner of the project, which includes the following: the plugin, the website, the official email inbox (yes, firstname.lastname@example.org is still working, you can reach me at this address), the mailchimp account for the newsletters, the domain names, the social media accounts and so on…
Pierre is truly inspirational, he maintained the plugin without seeking any financial contribution since November 14, 2015 (the date of the initial commit). Our approaches are very similar: I’m doing it because I love open source and want to give something back to the community.
For the context, Pierre and I knew each other. We’re both French, so we met at French WordCamp events like the WordCamp Paris in April 2023 and online via the French WordPress community slack. This obviously helped speed things up. And we dealt the transfer on June the 23rd 2023 in a really effective video call! 😃
This new playground opens up a whole new and exciting field of possibilities. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!
The next steps
As Pierre said in his last blog post, it’s been several years since the Weather Station plugin received a major update. The last version of the plugin was released March 25th 2021.
My priority is to work with him to gain access to the entire toolset. I’m updating access to the tools and familiarising myself with the system he’s put in place over the years.
Then, I migrated the codebase from SVN as a unique and primary control system. To a Github organisation with public repositories to have a more modern approach. SVN will remain the primary control system, as it’s the official one for the WordPress system (if you are curious about it, here is the oficial SVN repo of the plugin), but the working control system will now be Github.
In short, I’ll be using Git and GitHub with Subversion (SVN) Mirroring for the plugin development from now on.
And yes, the Github repository is already live. I fetched the SVN repository over the last weekend and finished the config this morning. From now on, you, the community, will have a more modern way of suggesting enhancements, reporting bugs, discussing new features ideas. Also, if you are a developer yourself, you’ll be able to suggest PRs to me directly! In the future, I can even consider sharing access to trusted developers, allowing them to push commits to the repo!
At the same time, Pierre and I agreed on hosting the domain names and the website on Hosterra. The website specifically needs some special attention as it was hosted on Pierre’s NAS for years. We now have a robust hosting solution on which I’ll be able to develop the website properly.
I’d like to express my gratitude to Pierre for providing these services at no cost for the coming year, giving me time to concentrate on the plugin without paying any money for it. To show my gratitude, I’ve added a link to his site in the footer.
To be fully transparent with you, a project like this does involve some annual costs: around a hundred euros for the 3 domain names associated with the project + around €300 for the cost of hosting the website. Nothing I couldn’t afford to pay for in the future, although obviously not having to pay for it makes me happier haha! 😁
This new hosting solution will also help tackle the poor performances, the website is not very fast presently and this is something I’ll work on in the coming days. In the long term, getting rid of Divi builder and relaunching the website with a block theme compatible with Gutenberg will be an exciting challenge!
I’m still unsure about the future of this site’s old forum, Github issues or Github discussions can be intimidating for a non-dev audience, but it’s a powerful tool that’s free and requires no maintenance. In addition, there’s also a support forum on the wordpress.org website, which is quite basic but functional. Let’s talk about it in the comments!
As you can see, I have lots of ideas and the desire to improve things without radically changing everything.
Rest assured, I’m not there to break things nor change habits overnight. My approach involves gradually implementing changes over time to improve the tools.
The next release date
I can see it coming: “when will the next version be available”? 😬
A minor version will be released in the coming days to confirm the change of ownership and prepare the plugin for the next versions.
Transitioning from Pierre, the founder of the plugin, to me will take some time. Also I would like to hear from the community to have an idea of what you really need. I’m thinking about sending a survey to the active users. Meanwhile, go to the Github repo, start a discussion or issues with your needs/ideas and this will give you a clearer idea of what could happen in the next version of the plugin.
- In the short term, the idea is to check that the plugin has no bugs and that it is compatible with the latest versions of WordPress.
- In the medium term, a major update will be to make the plugin fully compatible with the Gutenberg editor, to reduce reliance on widgets so that the plugin can be used on more recent sites.
- And there are also new devices to be compatible with, new ideas for features to be implemented, the admin interface of the plugin could be improved… Behind the scenes, the plugin code will have to be improved to make it more efficient and easier to maintain for years to come.
Also, I thought it is important to make it clear that the plugin will remain free.
For me, like for Pierre before, Weather Station will remain a side project, a hobby and a (high quality) sandbox for learning by developing it. Again, I’m fully transparent with you, this comes with a downside: my time is also limited. Although I’m committed to releasing new versions in the future and offering basic support, I won’t be committing to deadlines. To avoid repeating the same situation, I’ll focus on nurturing a genuine user community.
That’s all folks! The purpose of this first blog post was to introduce myself and my vision of the plugin’s future, and to tell you about the smooth transition which Pierre embraced. I hope my ideas for the coming weeks/months will help launch a new dynamic. Your feedback and comments are needed to get things moving in the right direction! 🤝
I’m expecting to read your messages in the coming days/weeks. For my part, I’m going to work on a few details to ensure a solid foundation for the next releases.
Dear weather enthusiast, before I leave you, I just wanted to say how grateful I am. It’s been an incredible adventure to develop this plugin, to listen to your comments, to implement your suggestions, to provide help when it was needed, to discover how you use Weather Station. An incredible adventure, but also some extremely gratifying moments. In the end, I’m pretty sure I had more pleasure than all of you combined!
I’m also very proud of the work we’ve done and I know that Jason is the best person to take up the torch and give Weather Station—and its community—everything it needs to be the reference plugin for meteorology and climatology.
Jason, I’m immensely grateful for the choice you’ve made, and for everything you’re going to do.
– Love you all!
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