The power of WordPress lies in its pluggable infrastructure. Unlike other content management applications which require you to edit the core code of the system to make changes, WordPress supports plugins. These smaller applications tie in to a rich API provided by WordPress that allows you to change just about everything about the application and customize it as needed.
The official plugin repository on WordPress.org is currently home to over 20,000 distinct plugins. Each one adds some new functionality to WordPress, giving you the ability to tweak content, change colors, adjust layouts, or integrate with external systems. This doesn’t even begin to cover the hundreds of premium plugins you can find online that provide even richer functionality.
Most WordPress developers will, at some point, be asked to create some kind of plugin for a client site. These client plugins can range from a shortcode manager to some kind of advertisement rotation engine to an API integration with a third-party customer management system. Instead of focusing on the what for your plugins, this tutorial will focus on the how. Namely, the three different ways you can structure a WordPress Plugin. [Read more...]