If you ever considered WordPress theme development as a way of earning some extra cash on the side, learning what WordPress hooks are and what they do is one of the most important steps on your way towards developing a successful theme. Even if you don’t plan on selling themes, and you just want to tweak and customize an existing one to meet all your needs, WordPress hooks can help you do some amazing things.
What Are WordPress Hooks?
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. This is a great solution for end-users, as you won’t lose the custom functionality when you update the theme or the plugin. If you’re a developer, including hooks in your theme or plugin will enable other developers to add new functions or modify existing ones easily, which will definitely boost the appeal of your code.
Actions Vs. Filters
There are two types of WordPress hooks: action hooks and filter hooks. Action hooks allow you to add additional code without modifying the original code. Another way to think of actions is as a place where one piece of code takes a break and lets other code run. The end result of an action hook is usually some kind of an output, such as a message at the end of each post. The most obvious examples of action hooks, however, are wp_head() and wp_footer() found in every WordPress theme that enable you to add content to your theme without affecting the original theme code.
Filter hooks, on the other hand, are used to modify the output. WordPress will basically take the content and run in through a function (called filter) before outputting it. For example, WordPress takes each post title through the title filter, giving your plugin or theme a chance to modify the way the title looks.
Whether you need to add a custom banner, display an ad in the header, or even disable WordPress from automatically saving post drafts, you can do it by using WordPress hooks without having to modify the core files. The possibilities are practically endless, and we’ve just scratched the surface with this post. Now that you know what WordPress hooks are and what they do, get your hands dirty and try it yourself.