Real quick start for WP plugin development.
Why WordPress Plugins?
A WordPress plugin can be a single PHP file or a complex collection of PHP, CSS, JS and images all used together to add new or enhanced functionality to the WordPress core.
Since almost everything you can put in a plugin you can also just dump into a functions.php file in your theme directory, why should you bother building a plugin? Here are a few reasons I find important:
- Plugins are focused pieces of code structured to accomplish one task. The very nature of a plugin makes it easy to maintain.
- Because of the modular nature of a plugin, it makes your code instantly reusable on other projects (Depending on your code ownership agreements with your clients, of course.)
- If over time it grows into a truly helpful collection of code, having it in a plugin allows you to release it to the public quickly and easily.
- Having large chunks of functionality split into plugins makes changes to the PHP and related files easier to make later.
I think WordPress plugins should be especially important to anyone running a web application that could benefit from direct integration into the WordPress platform. This could include a WordPress sidebar widget that pulls information from your website, a shortcode for quickly embedding your site content in WordPress posts, etc.