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Best Tips for WordPress Plugin Development

If you are using or ever used WordPress, then you already are aware of the power of plugins. However, using plugins and building a site are both different things. If you are beginning to develop a WordPress plugin, you might not know where to begin. Don’t get overwhelmed because building your own plugin is easier than you expect. You just need to gain a deep understanding of this concept like how it is created and works as this is the key step in the process.

Once you nail down the core concept of plugin development, building and installing it becomes quite easy. Companies and developers providing WordPress development services are earning huge profits by offering this service to their clients. If you are on the fruitful journey of developing a plugin, then you need to gain complete know-how of this concept. In this post, we have thoroughly explained the WordPress plugin development concept plus all the essential elements and the way each work. We will walk you through a detailed tutorial for building your plugin. Let’s get going!

How do WordPress plugins work? What are the best practices to develop one?

Whether you are developing a WordPress schema plugin or another sort of plugin, to create your own, it is vital to understand how it works. First, know that it operates using hooks which act as a bridge for a code to interact with others. Hooks are further divided into two categories i.e. filters and actions. Let us understand each along with other essential components in plugin development in the below section.

  • Filters: This accepts single or multiple variables and sends them back after going through the changes. Filters let you modify the displayed content.
  • Actions: Actions help users add or alter the functionality of the plugin. Those functions are attached to the action which executes once it is triggered.
  • Shortcodes: Shortcodes allow users to build and display custom functionality easily to their site visitors. It can be placed in landing pages and posts via the editor in widgets and menus, and others.
  • Widgets: Widgets are another method of enabling plugin functionality. You can create a widget by simply expanding the WP_Widget class.

These are all the elements that are used to make a plugin. Now we will learn to create it.

Selecting a plugin name

You need to come up with your plugin name which should not only be relevant but also unique. You can do some good research and check the plugin directory of WordPress. This will ensure that you don’t pick a duplicate name. Please keep a note that the official name of your plugin should be the same in the PHP file and its folder. Make sure you select a plugin name that can be abbreviated easily to form a unique identifier.

Plugin folder and PHP file creation

You need to create a home for your plugin to live. So, after deciding on the official name of your plugin, the next thing you will do is create a folder for it. To start this process, go to the wp-content/plugins folder in your WordPress. Now form a new folder and name it which you have decided for your plugin. Use hyphens to separate words. Depending on the complexity of your plugin, it might contain multiple files or a single PHP. For example, you will create separate files for CSS, languages, and more.

Addition of file header

After creating the main file for your plugin, you will now add the file header. You will put the details inside the file like the name of the plugin, its URL, its description, version, license, your name, etc. If your plugin directory has many PHP files, then you need to ensure that you only add the header. The header must include your official plugin name. You can also utilize the space to add details about the version, author, license, etc. Once you do it, save the changes. Now your plugin should be added to your WordPress website. To check the status, go to the admin dashboard and click the plugins. You will be able to see your plugin itemized on the screen.

Adding functions via programming

Now you have set up a basic outline for your plugin, but there are more things to do from here. You need to program your plugin with the help of elements (discussed above). Make sure you form different files for the plugin. For example, setting up separate files for images, CSS, JavaScript, etc. This is not necessary, but things will be easier for future reference, especially when your plugin performs multiple tasks. If you end up having several files, you can compress them in a folder prior to site upload.

Packing together the plugin folder

As discussed earlier, once you add a PHP file to the directory of WordPress plugins, your plugin will automatically get added to your website. But when you write the plugin code and your PHP file, you will be required to use code or text editor. This proves to be the most valuable tool in the entire WordPress plugin development process. Convert your plugin into .zip format before uploading it to your WordPress site. Once you are thorough with adding all the codes, you can compress the folder by simply right-clicking on it and pressing compress.

Activating and running the plugin on the WordPress site

Once you have created your plugin, you can move ahead with the final and most amusing part i.e. running it on your WordPress website. You can upload the file via the plugin’s directory.

Parting thoughts

Plugins are powerful, they can add extra functionality to your WordPress site. If you create your own plugin by following the above steps, you can save yourself from relying on a developer or a company that offers such services.

At this point, you must have gained a fair understanding of how a plugin is developed and how it works. We hope this post helped you with what you were looking for. If you feel we have missed out something, please provide your valuable feedback in the below section.