I’d love the plugin, but don’t have time to read the terms of service

A shining example of how not to release a plugin for an open source platform?

In this case, the culprit is HP and the target is WordPress. After reading about HP’s new weblog printing plugin over at Mashable, I thought it would be great to have easy printing capabilities on this site. So I search around the HP’s Tabblo site for a bit and finally find a link to download the WordPress plugin.

Next stop…this. I’ve got to give them my email address and site location and agree to a bunch of terms and conditions in order to download a plugin for an free, open source software package that I originally received no-questions-asked?

I don’t even know if it will work. Is it compatible with my theme? How much hacking will be required? Does it jive with the other plugins?

Tell you what – I’ll save some folks the temptation of using the overpriced ink cartridges instead.

UPDATE: I took the leap of faith since someone from HP (?) was kind enough to respond. More in the comment thread…


Dave says:

The “service terms of use” are there because HP servers format the blog content and generate the printable output. The plug in calls the free print service, which is similar to calling the Google Maps service to generate a map on your webpage. Accepting terms of use is standard when integrating a service like this on a webpage or blog, but the way it’s presented could look like you are accepting it for the plug-in alone. Hopefully you will decide to give it a try. To see the plug-in in action, you can go to http://www.boingboing.net and click on “print posts”.

Michael Gracie says:

Thanks very much for that. I will.

Michael Gracie says:

Took a time out around lunch to pull down the plugin. The notes aren’t meant as complaints, primarily because the I have no bias for or against having printing capability here:

1) First and foremost, there should be a simple way to get back to the WordPress instructions once the download is complete. I closed that window, and I was left with a support button that directed to an email form, and some links to the forums and some more technical Tabblo details.

2) Installed the plugin, but found nothing in the way of signs of its existence in the WordPress control panel.

3) Proceeded to peruse the code, finding what I thought was the plugin function/button call in the sample sidebar template. I copied and pasted that section into my template’s sidebar.php file.

4) Got nothing. Then I went back to the code and realized I unzipped the entire package into my plugins folder, so the plugin itself was buried one directory below where it should have been. I corrected that, and then plugin was both discoverable in the admin panel and working on the sidebar.

5) I tested using the preview tool, on a single post. The function dumped clean pdf output onto my desktop. I’ve tossed the whole getup under the heading “Portability” at the bottom of the page, as I’m partial to links over buttons (and lunch is now over so I don’t have time to mess around with figuring out how to replace it).

Conclusion: decent, for those who like paper. I’m not one of those, but I’ll keep it there for a while – I owe the commentor from HP (?) at least that much for being so courteous.

ALSO: I did notice that the plugin limits output to the the latest posts, and there are no user selectable options for earlier content. I don’t think that is because of where I chose to place the function (the sidebar) versus embedded in content items (BoingBoing and Techcrunch). It looks like the plugin is limited to the 30 most recent posts.

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