More than 32% of the websites in the world have been built with WordPress. The CMS is popular with beginners as well as developers because of its convenient and open-source nature. As downloading its core files does not require any fee, many professionals and technology enthusiasts have joined its community easily. These people have enriched the platform by suggesting improvements to its core and develop new themes and plugins. In fact, WordPress custom plugin development has emerged as a separate field in itself. According to a report, there are over 50,000 plugins in the official directory of the CMS. This only goes to show that developing plugins can be a good career option. However, besides being a good coder, you need to plan well to execute a project successfully. The following tips will be helpful in planning the plugin development process and generating successful results.
1. Research Your Idea To Ascertain Its Viability
As mentioned earlier, there are more than 50,000 plugins available to the users of the CMS. There are numerous options for activating the same functionality. Why would someone choose your offering over another option? In order to create an effective product, it is essential to ascertain the viability of the idea behind the tool. Research your concept to assess whether anyone needs the solution or not. If yes, then what are the alternatives available to the users. There is no use in building a tool which has been already created by someone else. Once you have zeroed in on a good concept, draw an outline of the project to understand how you should be approaching it.
2. Identify The Versioning System You Will Use
Whether you converted PSD to WordPress or built a new interface, you will have used plugins to extend the website’s functionality. You must have noticed version details of the plugins you have installed. Usually, they are displayed in the following manner on a plugins directory page:
In the above image, 7.4.1 denotes the current version of the tool. Any further updates will create a new variant which will then be numbered as 7.4.2. You must choose a Version Control System for your project. WordPress uses the Subversion VCN which lets all developers access a single central repository. You must select a system which suits your project as well as your development team.
3. Identify The Points To Include In The Plugin’s Documentation
Documentation is a key aspect of WordPress custom plugin development. It provides end users with comprehensive information about the new tool. Imagine a scenario where you installed a solution but needed help in enabling a feature. Now, there is no material walking you through the process by detailing the necessary step. Chances are you will discard the product for an option which provides documented assistance. Identify the important points that you need to address in the support material supplied with your product. Make sure it addresses all key aspects of the tool. It will improve the user experience of the plugin and also enhance your reputation as an efficient developer.
4. Select Appropriate Tools For The Development Process
The choice of the tools will be critical to the smooth flow and ultimately the success of the project. You will need a powerful code editor with convenient features like syntax highlighting and auto-complete. Another option is to use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which will give you access to more tools in a single place. IDEs come with multi-language support, debugger, code sniffing, and many other features. Some of them also provide integration with SVN or GIT which will be helpful in versioning.
5. Be Careful While Selecting The Hooks
In WordPress, hooks are functions that can be applied to an action or a filter. Actions and filters are functions that can be modified to change the default functionality. Hooks are used by developers to make the core understand what functionality you want to enable with your custom tool. It is impossible to craft the code for a plugin without using hooks. It is, therefore, vital to know how to properly use hooks. There is extensive documentation about all actions and filters on the WordPress Codex. You must go through the documents to understand the hooks you will need for your project.
6. Do Not Release Your Plugin Without Extensive Testing
Testing is an integral and critical part of a software development project. Your plugin must undergo rigorous screening before it is released in the actual user environment. You must test the tool on multiple themes and also on a fresh installation of the CMS. it will also be pertinent to test its compatibility with different browser developer tools. Make sure that the solution works fine on all kinds of installations by testing it on older WordPress versions.
Plugins allow people to easily add new functionality to their interface. They are a prime example of the convenient nature of the open-source platform. Many users convert PSD to WordPress only to enjoy the convenience offered by pre-built plugins and themes.