Plugins are definitely an important part of the appeal of WordPress. They enable you to add new functionality to your website in a matter of minutes, without having to actually write a single line of code. It’s no wonder that so many developers decide to start developing premium plugins in addition to developing WordPress themes to earn some extra cash on the side. If you’re considering joining the world of WordPress plugin development, check out these simple guidelines and best practices first.
WordPress Plugin Development Starts With Research
Even before you write a single line of code, make sure you do you homework. WordPress plugin development is an effective way to enhance the functionality of your theme, but spending hours coding your weather plugin for a photography WordPress theme may be a waste of your time. Consider your target audience and the actual demand. Has a similar plugin already been developed? Will you be using it in a single theme, all your themes, or just sell to other developers? Do you have enough time to offer support to users?
Use Consistent And Clear Coding Standards
To make your own life a lot easier, you will want to follow the best coding practices and use consistent coding standards. While messy code doesn’t always affect the plugin’s performance, you will thank yourself when you or another developer decide to update the code later on. Simple things like indenting, consistent spacing, informative variable names and brief comments are a great way to start.
Debug, Debug, Debug
Just like with the WordPress theme development, you will want to turn debugging on when developing your plugins as well. Debugging is turned off by default, but you can fix that quite easily: simply add this line of code in your /wp-config.php:
This way, WordPress will warn you every time something goes wrong, but it will also point to any deprecated functions future versions of WordPress won’t support. Even though some of the mistakes may not bring your plugin down, it’s best to correct all of them to ensure seamless performance and perfect compatibility with all themes and other plugins.
It’s Easier Than You Think
WordPress plugin development isn’t just about the plugins. Remember, you’re building your reputation in the development community. If you follow the best coding practices and use the coding standards issued by WordPress, you will save yourself from tons of headache down the road. Doing your research, enabling the WordPress debugger, and discarding or replacing deprecated functions will help you develop an outstanding plugin people will actually want to pay for.