WordPress has come a long way from being just a blogging platform. Today, it’s one of the most popular content management systems, and it’s believed to be the essential building block behind a quarter of websites on the Internet. A huge part of its appeal is the practically unlimited functionality combined with incredible ease of use. WordPress is extensible through two channels: WordPress themes for the look and feel of the website, and plugins for adding functionalities to the core WordPress application. Today, we’ll look closer at developing WordPress plugins, useful tips and best practices. Let’s go!
Do Your Homework Before You Start Developing WordPress Plugins
To stay on the right track and end up with a plugin that people will actually want to use, make sure you have a solid strategy every time before you begin developing WordPress plugins. What problem will your plugin help solve? What functionality do you want to add? First of all, check if a similar plugin has already been developed, and if people need it to begin with. There’s no point in wasting countless hours of your time developing WordPress plugins no one will ever use.
Understanding WordPress Hooks
Understanding WordPress hooks is absolutely vital for developing WordPress plugins. WordPress hooks can be described as a way to mark a particular place, moment or event in the code where we want WordPress to do something. Hooks enable you to modify parts of a theme or a plugin without actually modifying the original code. It’s impossible to write a WordPress plugin without actions and filters, and action and filter hooks are the way for the plugin to “hook into” the rest of WordPress.
Debug As You Code
WordPress debugger will find every error that might be in your code, not just the fatal ones that crash the plugin. Debugger is turned off by default, so you’ll want to enable it by including this in the /wp-config.php file:
WordPress debugger will not only help you find code errors, but it will also turn on WordPress notices, which is important when developing WordPress plugins, because that’s how you’ll know if you’re using any deprecated functions. A deprecated function is a function that is no longer supported by WordPress, has been replaced by a new one, or is going to be replaced in the near future.
The Who, The What, And The Where Of Your Plugin
A very important thing when developing WordPress plugins is making sure the name of the plugin is unique. To be extra sure you will want to do a search in the WordPress Plugin repository. While not obligatory, it’s advised to keep the plugin inside the wp-content/plugins/ folder, whether it’s a single or multi-file plugin. Creating a “readme” file is another best practice you should consider sticking to, especially if you’re developing WordPress plugins for commercial use. Potential buyers are much more likely to purchase a plugin with an extensive description, how-to manual, installation instructions, and even some screenshots. Another great thing it will do for you is answer most of your buyers’ questions for you, which means you won’t have to spend hours replying to emails and handling customer support.