A Comprehensive Guideline On Developing A WordPress Plugin 

A Comprehensive Guideline On Developing A WordPress Plugin

Introduction of WordPress CMS (Content Management System) has undoubtedly changed the face of internet. With open source CMS solutions holding a strong presence in the software and web development arena, more and more online entrepreneurs are switching to WordPress for meeting their website design and development requirements. Having evolved from a mere blogging platform to a full-fledged website development tool, WordPress has worked wonders for launching web forums, classic websites and job portals. Thanks to the easy availability of WordPress plugins, it has become feasible to incorporate a range of features and functionalities into WordPress powered websites and blogs. If you too are a developer and want to create an outstanding plugin then you’ve reached the right post. Here, I’ll be offering you a stepwise guideline on developing a fully-functional WordPress plugin.

WordPress plugin development


What exactly is a WordPress Plugin?

A WordPress plugin is basically a program or a set of multiple functions written in PHP scripting language, which allows you to add a specific kind of feature or service into a WordPress powered blog or website. You can use a WordPress plugin for introducing any kind of changes, ranging from the simple tweaks in the header to some major makeovers such as triggering emails that need to be sent, modifying the working of log-in functionality and a lot more. Some other remarkable tasks that can be efficiently undertaken with the help of a WordPress plugin include: creation of custom post types, addition of new tables in the database, automatic linking of content folder to a ‘CDN (Content Delivery Network) server such as Amazon S3 etc.

Why to develop WordPress plugins when you have many available for free or at a low price?

Although WordPress CMS offers you an easy access to a rich set of free and paid/premium plugins that allow you to customize the look and feel of your site/blog, there are situations when you can’t find a suitable plugin for adding/extending the site/blog’s functionality. Since it’s quite easy to create and install WordPress plugins, a majority of WordPress users have chosen to develop custom plugins for meeting their specific requirements in the best manner.

Some key points to remember before delving into WordPress Plugin Development

  • Plugin Name – As the very step, you need to settle down for a suitable name for the WordPress plugin you plan to develop. Make sure to do a detailed search regarding the plugin name that you propose to give your newly created plugin. You can choose to include multiple words within your WordPress plugin name.
  • Plugin Files – A plugin is basically stored in its folder that’s available under the wp-content/plugins/ within the WordPress installation. That means, if you choose to name your WordPress plugin as new-plugin then the PHP File name for the same would be new-plugin.php. Here, the significance of using a unique name for the WordPress plugin is realized.
  • Home Page – If after having developed a new WordPress plugin, you intend to share it with the global WordPress community, then having a dedicated home page for the plugin would be a nice move. You may include the plugin’s home page for allowing users to download the plugin, report bugs and also announcing the latest updates introduced to the plugin.
  • Readme file – Readme files serve as a handy information repository for users and developers who intend to know more about your new WordPress plugin. The readme files offer detailed updates that have been done to the plugin in the previous years.

And now, let me walk you through the steps involved with development of a WordPress plugin

Step 1 – Create a folder, followed by creating a single file with one line content

For this, all you need to do is simply navigate to the wp-content/plugins folder and create a new folder called amazingplugin. Within this folder, create a file and name it as amazingplugin.php. Now, open the file in text editor and paste the below code snippet into it:

Step 2 – Structure the plugin

If the main focus of your plugin is on the man class, then choose to put the respective class in the main plugin file, followed by adding multiple files for other major functionalities that need to be achieved via the plugin. On the contrary, if the sole aim of your WordPress plugin is to enhance the back end via custom controls then you can opt for creating the usual CSS and JavaScript folders that can be used for storing the related files. Having a look at the structure of popular WP plugins like Akismet and WP-PageNavi for getting a clearer picture.

Step 3 – Pay attention to naming the functions, classes etc.

Make sure to exercise caution while naming the plugin, its functions, classes etc. Avoid using names that are too generic because they might clash with a variety of other plugins that are already available in the WordPress plugin repository. Use unique prefixes to prevent any chances for matching someone else’s plugin naming scheme.

Step 4 – Use filters and actions in the right format.

Filters and actions are tow bits of code that come by default with the WordPress API. These allow developers to update several bits of code via the WordPress admin panel. Talking about a filter, you can choose to create one for changing the $the_content which represents the variable that has been set for storing the entire content of the WordPress blog post. For the plugin, you need to shorten the length of characters that need to go into the excerpt. Moreover, when it comes to using actions, you can apply them whenever you intend to edit or update a page’s content. Unlike filters, the actions don’t work on bits of data and hence you need to know the areas in the templates where you’ll be including them.

Step 5 – Installing and running the plugin

Once you’ve completed the process of creating the plugin, opt for accessing your WordPress adminsitration panel and browse through all plug-ins that have been recently installed. You can choose to place a call to the below function for ensuring that your plugin is disabled and PHP doesn’t throw an unmanageable error:

WordPress plugin development

Wrapping it all up

So that was all about creating your own unique WordPress plugin. Hope you’d have followed the steps covered above and would adhere to them in your forthcoming WordPress plugin development projects.

About the Author

As a web developer by professional and a writer by hobby, Edward Jones is currently working for OSSMedia Ltd.- A renowned Web Development Services Company. Apart from working as a full-time WordPress developer, Edward loves writing articles/blogs on WordPress, Magento, Drupal and Joomla development tips & tricks. If you want to hire professionally qualified Hire WordPress Programmer then simply get in touch with Edward.

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