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WordPress Plugins Development: A Detailed Tutorial

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What is WordPress?

WordPress is a popular Content Management System that has changed the entire face of the Internet. It has been prospering with surge of new ideas through open source movement. WordPress, basically a blogging platform that enables itself to be embedded into forums, job boards, etc.

What is a Plugin?

Plugin adds new features by using function hooks and enhances the functionality of the blogs. A WordPress plug-in is basically a program containing one or more functions, which are written in PHP language. These programs are written to add and enable certain features in WordPress. This program would be executed or simply worked by accessing Plug-in Application programming Interface or API.

Can I Contribute?

When you get a chance to surge your idea to create a new Plug-in, how do you feel? Of course, I feel great! And a good news is that we can create and develop the WordPress Plug-ins. Though it does not need proficiency or hard core programming knowledge of web scripting languages, in fact all you need is to know its function, usage and learn and understand the minimal requirements to develop one.

How can I develop this Plugin?

Let us go through simple steps that could guide you create a new one.
1. The first stage is the pre-development stage, where you need to make certain things ready. As the first step, you need to allocate some space, where the plug-in is going to be stored. So, access the directory of ‘wp-content’ and open its sub-directory ‘plug-ins’, then create a new directory with the name of the new plug-in.

2. All you need is to create a single PHP file in it. This filename should be same as the directory name assigned, of course without extension. For example, create ‘WP_Plugin’ folder and ‘WP_Plugin.php’ file.

3. Next is the crucial stage, where you need to code according to the function or task to be fulfilled after activating your plug-in. Now you got to write the code for WordPress Plug-in Hooks.

4. Create new Hook, which is a combination of Actions and Filters. Actions are the tasks triggered or called by specific events. The plug-in that you develop would respond to the events, which result from the execution of the PHP functions. Filters can be understood as the functions, where the data required would be passed through certain points while execution. It is simply a function that supplies the requested data by the browser from the server.

5. The first part of the code is the information about plug-in in terms of header. This header is recognized by WordPress to ensure that this plug-in exists for relevant usage. It is a way to activate your plug-in, associating WordPress.

6. You have to handle two kinds of data here. First one is the actual data or content and another one is the ‘setup information’, how the data to be stored.

7. Before coding the php file, there is something you need to know regarding the considerations from the WordPress.

8. The next step is to create a database and add the data to the database of WordPress.

9. Once the coding is done, you need to save it. Remember to place all the JavaScript files and images in terms of CSS files to be added, whichever were used in your coding.

10. First write a PHP function to create the tables according to the data to be stored.

11. When your plugin is activated, the WordPress should call this function.

12. WordPress plugins are flexible in terms of customization and enhancement of the functionality and quality of the functions, without restarting from scratch. Optionally, you can also write an upgrade function, which helps to fulfill the need of different table structure in the new versions of plug-ins.

13. Now, add up the administrative menus. For this you need to create an options page. Generally, the top-level or main menus consist of Settings, Presentation, Plug-ins, Write and Users. To create these menus, you need to use add_menu_page() function.

14. Once the top-level menus are created, and then create the corresponding sub-menus according to the need. To create them, use the function, add_submenu_page().

Wish you a great WordPress plug-in!

Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works in PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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