Developer's Guide To Creating WordPress Plugins


WordPress is used by lots of individuals worldwide for creating, managing, and updating websites. In the WordPress operations and uses, plugins play a big role.

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With the help of plugins, the users can easily add desired functions and features to their website. For all these things, there is a big plugin library provided by WordPress where you can find plugins for everything.

In case you are not satisfied with any plugin and want to build your own, it can be possible as well. You can follow the professional’s guide on WordPress plugin development and create one as you want. Plugin development can be challenging, but anyone can do it with proper knowledge and proper guidance. Here, you can get more details about WordPress plugin development.

Why Do You Need To Develop Your Own Plugin?

While creating a website with WordPress, plugins are the only sources by which the users can create a fully functional website. With the installation and usage of specific plugins, you can make the website working as you want. The selection of the right plugin can help you provide several customization opportunities. If you are searching for a plugin, you can check out the WordPress plugin directory.

In case you don’t find any plugin that can fulfill your objective or perform the desired function, you should choose the option of plugin development. You can develop a plugin with proper guidance. Before start working on the development, you should understand some basics, such as – how it interacts with WordPress core and system.

How Does A Plugin Work?

If you want to develop a WordPress website plugin, you should know some basic terminology and related technical facts. The most important fact that you should know is the hooks. Hooks work like the medium of connection between plugin and WordPress. With the use of hooks, you can differentiate the plugin’s actions and functions.

The main example of hooks is wp_loaded. It is a hook that triggers when website operations reach a specific level, and you need to function the plugin with some new operations. There are two major variants of hooks available, such as –

  •       Actions
  •       Filters

With a detailed guide on WordPress plugin development, you can gather fully explained information about these two terms and their functioning.  

Things To Keep In Mind Before Developing A WordPress Plugin

Some people start developing the plugin and face problems at the time of upload or publish. The main reason behind the problems is the lack of knowledge. You should not make such a mistake and read WordPress’s guidelines for plugin development and status. These guidelines can help you to understand what kind of plugin you can create for a WordPress website. If you create a plugin without focusing on these guidelines, it may not be compatible with all themes or websites.

Plugin Name

Firstly, you have to decide the name of your plugin. While choosing a plugin name, you should try to make sure it defines the plugin’s functions and operations. Along with it, you should not forget to check out the names of plugins with similarities. You can find or decide a name by adding some prefixes to the plugin’s functionality. Try to choose a unique prefix here.

Security

The most important element is security. All individuals need to make sure they are developing a fully secure plugin only. WordPress's plugin handbook be beneficial here. It will help you figure out how to create an impressive plugin with proper code security. Lack of plugin security or code safety can lead to some major issues for the website owners and users. You should not ignore the security aspect.

Plugin Structure

Before you start developing the WordPress plugin, you should structure the complete setup. It can help you prepare everything, such as – how many files or folders a plugin will contain; it is available in one folder or numerous. Based on the complete structure, you can think smartly and without any confusion while choosing the framework. It also provides an easy understanding of plugin work and functioning to other developers.

Coding Standards

WordPress is serving for many years and has a big community as well. There are some specific coding standards set by the community. You should go through these coding standards properly, by which you can eliminate the chances of coding errors. Working as per the coding standards can help you create a plugin’s code file that can understand by anyone.

These are some key facts that you should keep in mind before proceeding with WordPress plugin development.

Guide On WordPress Plugin Development – A Complete Step By Step Guide

After paying attention to all the previously mentioned details and take all required precautions, you are ready to develop a WordPress plugin. Here’s the complete process for plugin development.

Step 1: Set Up A Staging Site

For the plugin development, you need to use a staging site. In case you don’t have such a thing, you should create it first. It is also considered a development environment. It is a specific website that is not available for public access. Mainly, the staging site is only used by professionals for the development of software and other related purposes.

With the help of a staging site, you can easily develop and test a WordPress plugin. As a result, you don’t need to do any experiments or testing on the live site. Using a publicly live site for development testing can create problems in the operations and functions that become barriers for the visitors.

Step 2: Create A New Plugin File

After creating the staging site, you can proceed with the plugin development process. Here, you need to proceed by creating a specific folder to keep it live. If you focus on the backend, you can find all plugins are available at the same location in the file directory of cPanel, /wp-content/plugins/. You have to access this directory path and create a folder for the new plugin by choosing a name, for example – My Plugin. Now, you have to add a PHP file in the folder with the following information.  

?php

/**

* Plugin Name: My Plugin

* Plugin URI: https://www.mywebsite.com/

* Description: The first plugin I have created.

* Version: 1.0

* Author: Your Name

* Author URI: http://yourwebsite.com/

**/

You can consider these details as the metadata for the plugin that will work as a profile. In the WordPress plugin directory, these details will appear to describe the plugin. Now, you can open the website’s dashboard and see your plugin’s name and other details in the Plugin tab.

For now, your plugin is an empty file that cannot be used for any functionality. You can add a readme file to the plugin folder that contains complete information about the plugin directory and its pages. The name of this file should be readme.txt.

Step 3: Add Your Code

Now, you have to proceed with adding code. With the help of coding, you can add functionalities to the plugin and keep it working. There are not any kind of limits available regarding the functionalities. All you have to do is add codes for every functionality you want to add. Here, we are going to discuss facts and processes regarding the development of a plugin for changing the error message on the wrong login attempt. The use of a plugin will show the real reason behind the error instead of a default message.

Firstly, you have to access the my-plugin.php file in any file editor application. Here, you need to add some codes.

function mg_no_wordpress_errors(){

return 'There is an issue!';

}

add_filter( 'login_errors', 'mg_no_wordpress_erors' );

In this code, “mg_no_wordpress_errors” defines the new function of your plugin. Here, MG is the prefix that provides uniqueness in the name. This particular coding can be used for special strings that allow displaying our error message instead of the default one “There is an issue”. With it, you can see the availability of a hook named “login_errors”. This particular hook triggers when the login attempt will fail from the users’ end, not from the WordPress system. In these conditions, the “no_wordpress_errors” function will run by the filters.

After pasting the complete coding, you should save the file, and the plugin starts functioning accordingly. It will help you understand how to set up or create a plugin. You can create any plugin function with the coding you want. During all these operations, you should try to use your imagination as much as possible.

Step 4: Plugin Testing

Before publishing or sharing the plugin publicly, you should not forget to run a proper test. It can be useful in ensuring that you have a fully functional plugin that can work without any kind of problem. To test the plugin, all you need to do is try to use the plugin’s feature or functionality.

If we talk about our example, you should log out WordPress dashboard and try to log in to it with the wrong details. In case your plugin is working, you can see your specified message. In the case of failure, it will not show any message or reason.

In the condition of failure, you have to check out the coding in the PHP file again and try to spot bugs if any available. As for now, in our example, you can notice that the spelling of errors is wrong in the previous coding. Here, you need to fix that particular mistake by replacing the following line in the my-plugin.php file.

add_filter( 'login_errors', 'mg_no_wordpress_errors' );

After making all these changes, you can save the file and consider plugin testing once again. This time, you will get results as per the function you set.

Step 5: Share The Plugin

After all these things, your plugin is ready to install and active on the live WordPress websites. For sharing and installing plugins on a website, you can use the option of the compressed folder as a zip file. Wherever you want to use the plugin, you need to upload that particular zip file only.

With it, you need to focus on organizing host sources as well. Without a plugin host, you cannot keep it working or share it with others. The most common option that numerous developers select is the WordPress plugin directory. In case you want to submit your plugin here, you have to follow some restrictions. You can also find numerous other sources for sharing your plugin publicly and make it available for all users.

Final Words

It is the complete guide on WordPress plugin development. By following these instructions and guidelines, you can create a WordPress plugin with ease. You can create and use plugins for any kind of functionality and operations on the WordPress website.