A new, major update for GD Rating System Pro is in development, and this upcoming version 4.0 will be the most important update since the plugin was first released, and it will introduce some breaking changes.
All the upcoming changes can be broken into 3 categories. And, considering the scope of the update, there is a longer timeline planned to include a lot of testing.
Over the past 4 years, since the 1.0 was released, plugin overall performance was excellent, but, there are limitations that were imposed by the initial and compact database schema plugin used. The plugin had 5 database tables, and some data was not optimally stored. That does affect performance, but the various cache methods improved some of the less efficient queries. The database schema was largely inspired by WordPress’s own schema, but if I have learned anything, that is not always a good idea.
New database schema will keep the existing tables as is (mostly) and will add 3 new tables and additional columns to one of the original tables. The benefits of this change include:
- Faster queries for getting data from the database.
- Improved data structure for the rating items and rating log entries.
- Massive improvements to the rating lists based queries with no more joins made to non-indexed columns.
- Massive improvements to the period and aggregation based queries ith simplified queries and no more joins to non-indexed columns.
- Ability to write more complex queries in the future for better and more targetted results.
- Ability to finally deliver one of the most requested features: addon for exporting data for analysis purposes.
But, since the old data format is not compatible after you update to new plugin version, you will need to run the upgrade tool that will convert old data to new format. This operation is destructive, and data stored in plugins own metatable will be gone after the upgrade, so you should make a full backup and test the process on the dev server. Also, to make sure that all is done correctly, the plugin will be switched into maintenance mode, and will not allow any new ratings.
New Features and Updates
Updated and New free and premium Addons
Many addons will get new versions. Code Builder, Multi Ratings, myCred Integration, and User Reviews will all get major new updates that will require the plugin 4.0 version. They have to be updated along with the plugin.
And, there are two new addons coming. One will be a free addon for advanced voting limiting allowing you to set daily, weekly, monthly or yearly limits for voting. And, the second will be a premium plugin for exporting data into CSV and PDF format. Export can be rating item based, user activity or log-based with several possible export scenarios.
This is a huge update, and it requires a lot of testing along the way. Currently, the upgrade process is mostly done, with some work required for some rating methods. The plan is to release first Beta version for testing purposes before the end of the year, and few more beta versions during January of 2020. Stable 4.0 along with a bunch of updated addons and new addons can be expected in the first half of February 2020.
The free plugin version will be also updated to version 3.0. Due to the number of changes needed, Free version 3.0 will be based on the Pro 4.0 version with features stripped down. Free version 3.0 will be released a week or two after Pro 4.0 is released.
Few more things
This new version should not impact any existing code, but during the testing phase, I would appreciate all reports about any issues you might run into. And, if you have any suggestions, let me know. The plugin has a lot of things on the roadmap that will be coming after 4.0, but, suggestions are always welcome.