/** * @article My first WordPress plugin * * @since May 19, 2010 * @package Wordpress * * In which I praise the book * Professional WordPress (and even * more so, its followup Professional * WordPress Plugin Development) for * helping me get my first plugin * released. * * @tags open source, * WordPress books * @comments 2 comments * */
I recently got my first WordPress plugin indexed in the wordpress.org repository. It’s a piddling little widget, nothing too impressive, but the process itself was very satisfying, and one that got me appreciating in a much more direct way all the work that all the thousands of contributors put into this open source project.
First of all, I’ve been working in WordPress for several years. I’ve hacked core (gasp) where I’ve had to, I’ve patched new functions onto any number of themes and plugins, and I’ve designed and coded countless custom themes. But this was my first time building my own plugin from scratch. The available codex documentation on how to structure a plugin file and how to submit it for consideration was just so spotty that it was too intimidating for me to try and figure out without a good reason to dive in.
I have the new book Professional WordPress, just released by Wrox, to thank for that. Thankfully, the authors of this book took a entire chapter to explain the entire process step-by-step… I spent a Sunday afternoon following along, going back and forth between the code I was writing to hack up the events listing on my wife’s site and Brad Williams’s explanations of the proper structure for registering action hooks and structuring readme files, and came out of it with a fairly functional plugin listed in the offical repository. Not so painful after all.
Of course that’s just the first step. Watching the daily downloads add up (just over 150 so far), fixing bugs and trying to anticipate useful features, pushing out updates, is a really interesting process for me. Its actually very different than the live work I do, where “the client” has a face and for the most part I’m only responsible for satisfying his requirements and impressing his circle of friends. Pushing out a tool, supporting it, and trying to make it useful, is a very different process than building a one-off website. I’m hoping I can find a chance to take on a bigger plugin project sometime soon.
But anyways, it got me thinking about the plugins I use all the time, and all the work that goes into developing and maintaining them. Thinking when I get a few bucks extra, I’ll donate a few dollars to each of their authors. But in the meantime, here they are:
My favorite plugins
Dagon Design Formmailer
Without a doubt, the most full-featured contact form I’ve ever seen. I’ve used this one dozens of times, any time a site needs a little more finesse in a contact form or registration form.
All in One SEO Plugin
Its really made for beginners, and some of the ui features really bug me, but I consider this an essential finishing touch for most websites. Just for the fact that you can control meta keywords and description individually for each post/page, its pretty much indispensable for most SEO-conscious clients, and there are a few extra nice touches in it as well.
It has half a million downloads to date. Need I say more? This plugin, even in its free version, actually makes a better e-commerce site than any other free shopping cart software out there, and its easy to style and add on to.
Viper’s Video Quicktags
I like this one a lot. Makes the process of embedding video easy and painless, even for the most technophobic clients.
… and of course there are plenty I’ve never seen or tried. I wouldn’t even imagine myself to be authoritative, these are just a few of my favorites…