TaxoPress: What it's Like to Overhaul a Legacy Plugin

TaxoPress: What it’s Like to Overhaul a Legacy Plugin

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Building TaxoPress

Earlier this year, we took over running Simple Tags, an old WordPress plugin that had 80,000 users, but hadn’t been updated in a long time.

We saw a need in WordPress for one plugin that can manage all the taxonomies on your site. A plugin like that would be incredibly useful in organizing large sites.

On the surface, these deals always look attractive for developers. We get a large existing userbase at an affordable price. And hopefully those users can become customers and we can build a business.

The reality is more rocky.

These old plugins often need a LOT of work. It’s similar to buying an old house and going through the remodeling process. You never really know what you’re getting into.

The original Simple Tags had many useful features, but the interface made them hard to find and use. Our first goal was to give this old house a new coat of paint.


A timeline of all the changes to TaxoPress

  • January: We agree to take over the plugin.
  • February: We give the plugin a new name, “TaxoPress” so it can support more taxonomies than just “Tags”.
  • March: A major clean-up of the interface.
  • April: TaxoPress can now manage any taxonomy, not just Tags.
  • May: A Pro version of TaxoPress so we can make some money to fund all this work!
  • June: The “Terms Display” and “Terms for Current Posts” features get a big overhaul.
  • July: The “Related Posts” feature gets major improvements.
  • August: The “Auto Links” feature gets updated.
  • September: The “Auto Terms” feature is now much easier to use.
  • October: The final key feature, “Suggest Terms” is ready for TaxoPress users!

I’m writing this in early November and we’re finally taking a pause after all the rapid developments. Here’s how TaxoPress looks now after all that work:


A summary of the TaxoPress project

First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to Olawale Adesina who was the lead developer on all these changes. He lead us through 25 releases and over 300 Github issues. This just wouldn’t have been possible without his ideas, abilities, and hard work.

It might be a while before we take on a renovation project of this size again. These old plugins can have a lot of code issues, simply because they were built using the standards of 12 or 13 years ago. Plus, with the old plugins, you find that users have leveraged them in all sorts of crazy ways, so you often need to build in extra layers of backwards compatibility.

Still, the renovations are complete and we’re ready to move in with new features. I’m excited to see what we can build with TaxoPress in 2022. If you haven’t seen the new version yet, head over to WordPress.org and try TaxoPress.