In light of the recent conversations about the Unsplash plugin’s CDN, several extensions have popped up this week for disabling it. By default, the plugin serves images from the CDN but saves copies to the WordPress media library in case the plugin is disabled or removed. The plugin does not currently have an option to change this.
Disable Unsplash CDN is the first to be published to the WordPress.org directory for changing the plugin’s default behavior. There are no options or settings – activating it turns it on. Xaver Birsak, a prolific WordPress plugin author, created it to help users who may experience slower page speed caused by the Unsplash CDN.
“I’ve followed the release of the official Unsplash plugin as well the strange one-star rating from Matt Mullenweg which is think is not appropriate,” Birsak said. “The problem he mentioned was, in addition to the Unsplash license, the fact that images are being served from Unsplash (Imgix) servers. I don’t think that this is totally unnecessary from Unsplash as a CDN can serve images much quicker in most cases. For some users this is maybe not the case.”
Birsak was referencing Matt Mullenweg’s recent one-star review of the Unsplash plugin, which drew the ire of many plugin developers whose ability to monetize their products can hinge on getting decent reviews. The review called the plugin “sketchy” and called into question the practice of making the CDN the default:
It’s unclear why they want you to use their CDN and make that the default, it’s probably to support their new advertising business model and get analytics for it. Running a CDN is expensive, and if you’re not paying for it then you are the product. I would not be surprised if Unsplash hotlinked images broke at some point in the future.
If you want a CDN, you should run one for your entire site, not just certain images from a single source — in fact having multiple CDNs running at the same time could slow down your site because of the additional DNS lookups.
Birsak said he checked the plugin and found a simple solution for bypassing the hotlinking, which only requires a few lines of code.
“Since it’s so easy, and others may find it useful, I released this plugin,” Birsak said. “Nowadays with GDPR and the invalidation of the Privacy Shield people are more likely to be concerned about sending data to third party services. So disabling the CDN should at least be an option.”
WordPress developer Tom Nowell also created a quick plugin to disable Unsplash’s CDN, which is now available on GitHub.
“I don’t have qualms with Unsplash themselves but I did miss having the option to choose for myself,” Nowell said regarding the plugin’s CDN default. “Rather than argue to add it, I spent a little time and built the plugin, it’s only small so didn’t take much time. As for the CDN, it’s nice to save bandwidth, though for local development it’s always faster to switch
This article was written by Sarah Gooding and originally published on WordPress Tavern.