WordPress theme development is a major element of the WordPress community and we’ve covered it extensively in our previous posts. However, there’s another vitally important niche you might be interested in – we’re talking about WordPress plugin development. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or you’ve been in the industry for some time now, chances are, you’ll find something in this list of our favorite tips that might shed a new light on the world of WordPress plugins.
WordPress Plugin Development Rule 01: Have A Plan
Before you even touch the keyboard, you need to be clear on what you’re trying to achieve. Are you developing a WordPress plugin just to practice your coding skills, or for personal, non-commercial use? Or, are you developing a plugin you’re planning to sell? These questions are important as they’ll affect how seriously you need to take issues such as coding standards, updates, security, support and documentation.
You’ll also want to check whether a similar WordPress plugin has already been developed, especially if you want to develop a premium plugin. What problem are you solving? What are the features your potential buyers are looking for that no other plugin offers? Look what’s already out there and find an opening for something new.
WordPress Plugin Development Rule 02: Prefix Your Functions
While this might sound like an obvious one, many developers learn this one the hard way when working on their first WordPress plugin. When WordPress initializes a plugin, PHP loads the functions from the plugin into the WordPress execution space. This is where every function from all the plugins are stored, which means there is no separation of functions for individual WordPress plugins, and each function has to have a unique name. In order to avoid name collisions, make it a habit to prefix your functions. For example, instead of copy_file(), we would use avathemes_copy_file().
WordPress Plugin Development Rule 03: Comment Your Code!
Even though you might not think there’s a need to comment every single function or variable you code, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache down the road if you make sure your code is well-commented. Not only will you be able to update, tweak and optimize your plugin later on (which is especially important if you’re working on a premium WordPress plugin), but other developers using your plugin will have a much better understanding what it does and how to customize it to suit their particular needs. This, in turn, will mean less emails from your buyers asking for help and more time to do what you actually love doing – coding!