Basically, plugins are the PHP scripts which alter your website. Bits or even lots of code can be added to your WordPress to extend and expand the functionalities of your website without having to manage the core code.
The great thing about them is they let you add features to your website and stay intact, even if you upgrade your WordPress install or switch to a different theme. Developing a plugin on your own is not that tough and you can solve tons of problems. Copying the whole code and additional features to your theme’s functions.php is good, but it may be lost when you update or change your theme. So, installing a plugin is a great way to try new things and good way to go if you need to implement cross-theme functions. And, if you’re not interested in spending your time learning plugin development from scratch, you can always hire WordPress Plugin Development Service for getting developed a specific plugin as per your website’s requirements.
Creating a New Plugin
The first thing to do is create a new folder to store your new plugin. Go to wp-contents/plugins/ and create new folder, for instance my-facebook-tags. Remember, whatever you name your plugin’s folder is going to be your plugin’s slug.
The plugin slug has to be unique throughout the WordPress plugin repository if you wish to make it publicly available meaning that no other plugin developed by anybody should have this slug.
How Plugins Work
Let’s take a moment to understand how plugins work before we continue. Plugins offer functionalities with hooks, so learning how they work is important. For example, do you remember those little diaries where the first sentence was something like: I am a diary of _________. The empty space is where you put the actual name.
Themes are needed to add wp_head() function to the header file. This function allows us to output something in the head section of the site’s page, which is what we need exactly!
And, the last thing that you should know is that technically a hooked function is executed when apply_filters() or do_action() function is executed.
The Right Hook For The Right Plot
So, now that you learned how to add things to the head of your websites, it’s time to learn about inserting elements to other parts of your website.
If you wish to execute an action whenever WordPress does something, you’re looking for a hook. But, what about integrating Google analytics tracking on each page of your website? It should be done in the footer. May be themes explain something similar to wp_head()? Indeed they do. By using wp_footer() function, you can output your code at the bottom of the website’s page.
Getting Started With Filters
Filters are similar to hooks, but they let you modify data before it is being used instead of performing an additional action.
Suppose there is an error message despite your plugin, and you just want to modify it. There is indeed a filter for that purpose called ‘login_errors’ that lets you modify the messages and stuff.
Actions and filters both are used for almost everything in the plugin, therefore I recommend you to go deep and familiarize yourself with their mechanism.
Creating Plugin Setting Page
Many plugins call for few options that user can set. Suppose you want to disable facebook tags on some posts or disable the author’s email, both can be executed using these options.
There are actually number of ways to go for creating option for yourself. And, the best trick to use is object oriented approach, but I’d rather prefer a simpler approach for creating option pages for beginners.
There are lots and lots of things that you can do with plugins and many ways to create them, I always suggest everyone to experiment. Feel free to do whatever you like as long as you’re not developing product for distribution. Give your 100% efforts to research hooks that can help to make things work the way you want and add functionalities.
Good Luck with creating your own plugins!!!