WordPress Plugin Development for Beginners

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WordPress plugins are a critical component of the WordPress platform, allowing you to easily extend functionality. A common question I often get asked is “What’s the best resource that covers WordPress plugin development for beginners?”.

Luckily, there’s a vast amount of high quality articles and tutorials for those getting started with WordPress development, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to round up some of the better resources to help you on your way.

I’ll start the list off with the official WordPress documentation, which is a great first step:

There’s a lot more than that, but you should definitely follow the official documentation, it’s constantly being updated.

The more comfortable with PHP you are the better, luckily SitePoint has the best collection of PHP news and learning materials on the web – which you can find here. SitePoint also has a huge collection of articles and tutorials on WordPress development, here’s a selection of the highlights to help get you started.


An Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development

Simon Codrington covers the basics of what you need to know about building your own WordPress plugins and best practices for WordPress plugin development.

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A Real World Example of WordPress Plugin Development

Simon Codrington revisits his article on an Introduction to Plugin Development with this real world example of WordPress Plugin Development.

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Publishing a Plugin to the WordPress Plugin Directory

Ben Shadle shares an inside look at the WordPress Plugin Directory submission process with instructions on adding your plugin.

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Developing for the WordPress.org Plugin Directory

In this article Narayan Prusty walks you through the basics needed to submit a plugin to the official WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

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The Ultimate WordPress Development Environment

Matt Geri explores the various modern development tools that can help take the headache and repetitiveness out of building WordPress sites on your computer.

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Demystifying the WordPress Hook System

In this tutorial, Agbonghama Collins will demystify the WordPress hook system, with some examples to help you better understand hooks, actions and filters.

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Alternative Ways of Triggering Events in WordPress

Following on from the article above, Agbonghama Collins covers alternative ways of triggering events in WordPress, and how to hook static and non-static class methods to actions and filters.

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WordPress Plugin Updates the Right Way

Jérémy Heleine explores how developers can easily handle WordPress plugin updates the right way.

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Preventing WordPress Plugin Incompatibilities

Firdaus Zahari shares a quick tip on how to prevent WordPress plugin incompatibilities by taking a defensive approach in plugin activation.

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Making Your WordPress Plugins Developer Friendly

Tim Carr demonstrates how to build robust plugins that allow other developers to modify and extend the code, without making changes to your core plugin.

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Making Your WordPress Plugins Even More Developer Friendly

Tim Carr explores how plugin developers can make their WordPress plugins developer friendly by providing useful and solid developer documentation.

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Speed up Development Using the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate – Part 1

In this article Firdaus Zahari takes a look into the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate to help you get you started, including an overview of the standard files and folders.

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The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate – Part 2: Developing a Plugin

In this article, Firdaus Zahari builds a real working plugin, using the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate. See how quickly you can get our plugin up and running!

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The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate – Part 3: The Last Steps

The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate is a great starting point for plugin development. In the last part of this series, we add our final touches to our plugin.

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Adding Ajax to Your WordPress Plugin

Using Ajax in your WordPress website is easier than you think. With jQuery on your side, you can submit data, as well as receive data, in your own plugins.

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An Introduction to the WordPress Filesystem API

In this article Narayan Prusty shows you the process of designing an admin page that writes and reads from our file system using the WordPress Filesystem API.

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In part 1 of a 3 part tutorial, Jérémy Heleine walks us through the creation of a WordPress carousel plugin using the WordPress Links Manager API.

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In part 2 of Building a WordPress Carousel Plugin, Jérémy covers how to properly link a CSS file to a web page within WordPress and style our elements.

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Jérémy Heleine walks us though the final part of his 3 part tutorial covering building a WordPress carousel plugin.

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Create a Most Shared Posts Plugin for WordPress

Narayan Prusty walks you through the steps to easily build your own Most Shared Posts plugin for WordPress, with clear code explanations.

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Building a WordPress User Login Counter Plugin

Agbonghama Collins shows you how to build a counter plugin that counts the times users login to a WordPress site with the stats displayed in the dashboard.

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Create a URL Shortener Plugin for WordPress

In this tutorial, Narayan Prusty will show you how to create your own URL shortener plugin for WordPress using Google’s URL Shortener API.

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Creating a Post Series Plugin for WordPress

In this tutorial, Narayan Prusty will show you how to create post series plugin. You can also integrate the same code into a theme and provide it as theme functionality.

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Build Your Own WordPress Contact Form Plugin in 5 Minutes

In this article Agbonghama Collins will walk through the steps required to build your own WordPress contact form plugin.

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Building Your Own Social Sharing Plugin for WordPress

In this article, Narayan Prusty demonstrates and shows you how you can easily build your own social sharing plugin for WordPress from scratch.

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Popular Paid Plugin Development Resources

If you’re looking for even more reading, there are a few paid resources by the following developers that are highly recommended:


I hope this helps you on your way to learning more about WordPress plugin development. If you’ve come across any other resources you’ve found helpful please share them in the comments below.

Originally published in the SitePoint WordPress Newsletter.

Chris BurgessChris Burgess
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Chris isn't afraid to admit it: he's a geek from way back, having worked in IT for more than 20 years. He co-founded a digital agency called Clickify, working with a great team of developers and marketers, and is also the WordPress Editor for SitePoint. Chris is passionate about keeping up-to-date with the latest web technologies and can be found at many of the tech events in Melbourne, Australia. For more details, check out his personal site at chrisburgess.com.au.

ChrisBpluginplugin developmentWordPressWordPress Plugin Developmentwordpress plugins
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