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Distribution Checklist

Alex R. Young

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programming opensource

Distribution Checklist

Posted by Alex R. Young on .
Featured

programming opensource

Distribution Checklist

Posted by Alex R. Young on .

As you might know, I review a lot of jQuery, Node, and CommonJS plugins
and libraries. This isn't always as easy as it seems, because these
projects come in all kinds of different states of preparedness.

If you're planning on releasing a jQuery plugin, or another open source
JavaScript project, here's a few things that you might like to consider.
This is from my perspective as a journalist writing about your work.

Packaging

The README should include:

  • At least one sentence explaining what the project does
  • The license
  • The author
  • Relevant URLs: author's URL, company, documentation
  • Dependencies
  • Examples on how to quickly test out the project
  • Your preferred method to communication for suggestions, bug reports

Please make it clear what your project's license is. This might not
matter to you, but it does to companies who want to build on your work,
or to contributors who want to improve it.

I estimate that 70% of the jQuery plugins I review don't make the
author's name clear. Can you believe that? Are people embarrassed about
their work? The only way I can usually find the author's name is through
the GitHub/Google Code/etc. profile that their project links to. And
this doesn't always include their actual name.

Distribution

If something is on GitHub, I'm likely to write about it. Google Code is
like a foreign land to me, but it's OK too.

If your project is on another system that most journalists aren't
familiar with, make sure the README is prominent or you have a clear
site for the project.

If you expect to simply link to a compressed archive of your project...
I'm likely to only write about it if I'm short of material (and it
doesn't suck).

I know jQuery's site has listings for projects, but this isn't
sufficient for a well-rounded plugin. Have some pride in your work! Go
all out with blog posts, READMEs, the works.

Tests

We recently linked to a post about writing jQuery plugins
properly
.
When reviewing a project I can't always go over the code to check it's
well-written. I take a casual look, with more detail if it's short, but
it's not always easy to gauge the quality.

One thing I do believe is you should write unit tests. We might be
deploying to a particular version of jQuery, so we'd like an easy way of
testing your plugin before inserting it into our app and doing
functional testing. Or... I might just need a way of checking the plugin
actually works before posting here (I've found some stinkers).

Whatever the reason, consider distributing your work with unit tests
that other people can run. Include instructions for running them. Even
if your plugin isn't the best quality code, tests can only help.