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9 Best Practices For A WordPress Plugin Development Project

2020-02-11 by Sam Fitzgerald

WordPress is one of the most powerful content management systems these days powering 35% of all the websites globally. This CMS platform is famous owing to its ease of use and flexibility. Even a nontechnical guy can make a website using the WordPress platform. With the help of Plugins, anyone can enhance the functionalities of their websites.

 

WordPress offers a plethora of plugins for almost all types of functionalities. There are thousands of plugins in WordPress but only a few are successful. Why do most of the WordPress plugins fail to succeed? One of the best reasons is developers don’t follow the best practices of plugin development while creating their plugin.

 

In this blog, I am going to share with you some of the best plugins development best practices that each developer and business owner should know when they perform WordPress customization. So, here we go:

 

 

1. Have the right strategy for custom plugin development

You have to know the perfect strategy for your custom plugin development. In addition to this, the way you organize your source code majorly depends on the complexity of your WordPress plugin. If your plugin has low interaction with the Core files of WordPress, there is less work required unless you foresee this expanding significantly later on.

 

In addition to this, large WordPress plugins with lots of groupable code benefit greatly from the separate style sheets, script files and use of classes in keeping the source code well organized and will make the long term plugin maintenance of the WordPress plugin easier.

 

2. Namespace Your WordPress Plugin

You are required to the namespace (prefix) all the functions, files, classes and variables with the name of your plugin. Otherwise, it’ll cause serious conflicts with other themes and plugins. Here, I am not talking about the namespaces feature of PHP (you can still use this function too, but it is not so common), but here we mean prefixing all your variables and functions like $my_plugin_my_variable or my_plugin_some_function(). In case you have a longer name of your plugin, you can use the shorter version, for instance, “the_plugin would become tp".

 

3. Use Clear and Consistent Coding Standards

 

You have to follow consistent as well as a consistent standard of coding. For example, what you prefer:

 

 function parsefile($imagedata,$file){

if(!in_array($imagedata['mime'], array('image/jpeg','image/png','image/gif'))){

  $result['error']='Your image must be a jpeg, png or gif!';

  }elseif(($file['size']>200000)){

  $result['error']='Your image was '.$file['size'].' bytes! It must not exceed '.MAX_UPLOAD_SIZE.' bytes.';

  }

  return $result;

}

 

Or

 

/*

processes the uploaded image, checking against file type and file size

*/

function parse_file($image_data, $file){

 

  if(!in_array($image_data['mime'], unserialize(TYPE_WHITELIST))){

  

    $result['error'] = 'Your image must be a jpeg, png or gif!';

    

  }elseif(($file['size'] > MAX_UPLOAD_SIZE)){

  

    $result['error'] = 'Your image was ' . $file['size'] . ' bytes! It must not exceed ' . MAX_UPLOAD_SIZE . ' bytes.';

    

  }

    

  return $result;

 

}

 

There are various simple things like indenting, consistent spacing, succinct comments, and informative variable naming are a good place to start. That is the main difference in the examples above. In addition to this, WordPress has an impressive guide to coding standards. If your source code will be easier to edit, understand, and debug.

 

4. White Screen of Death, Must!

You have to render WSoD when any user directly accesses your .php files using your URL. Do you want to know why? The reason is simple if your file comprises some operations related to I/O eventually it will be triggered and may cause unexpected behavior on the later stage.

 

By following the below-mentioned snippet, you can prevent them easily from accessing your crucial files directly and make sure that your plugin folders and files will be executed within the WordPress environment only.

 

if( !defined ('ABSPATH')) { exit; }

 

 

5. User Roles or Capabilities

WordPress offers its users a plethora of roles by which they could get a stronghold on their data and data files. Each role is clearly distinguished from another role with particular skills which are known as ‘Capabilities’.

 

The roles define the responsibilities of users and capabilities. When you update or delete the data, you can check for the current capability of the users as this can offer an additional security layer to the WordPress plugin, verifying that you can execute any specific task.

 

Current_user_can () is a pretty handy function in this regard. This function lets you restrict access to your source code for all the users lacking the needed capabilities. You can consider an example where you have to show the link which is created by your plugin to only the website administrator and no one else. In addition to this, you can easily make sure that no one other than administrators can view your custom link by using the below mentioned snippet:

 

     My custom plugin link in WP admin

 

By default, the ‘manage_links’ capability is only offered to the website administrator, therefore this piece of source code will effectively hide this link from all the users at the backend with non-admin access.

 

6. Extensible Plugin Development Approach

Have you ever come across any WordPress plugin that you want to personalize but can find no other means to do so except you hack the source code? Do you find you can not see any action or filter hooks which are provided by the custom Wordpress developer to extend the capabilities of your plugin?

 

In order to make sure that your WordPress plugin is up to the standard, you should provide action or filter hooks in order to allow other people to extend the capabilities of plugins as per their needs.

 

 

7. Use Nonces for Form & Verification of URL

It is crucial to understand that when a URL or form is posted back to WordPress, that it’s your site that generated it and not any malicious or third party agent. If you want to take care of this aspect of WordPress website security, most of the web app developers use nonces. A nonce means a number used once.

 

Here we have taken an example and generated a nonce field using wp_nonce_field which is included in our form as a hidden field:

wp_nonce_field('my_nonce', 'my_nonce_submit');

 

As it is now a hidden field in the form, it will come back when the form is actually submitted. Then, we can check that the nonce is valid by using wp_verify_nonce:

 

wp_verify_nonce($_POST['my_nonce_submit'], 'my_nonce') )

 

It will return true in case the nonce verifies.

 

For a URL (links in emails, browser URLs), you can also create a nonced URL with wp_nonce_url:

 

$nonced_url = wp_nonce_url('http://my_site.com?action=register&id=123456', 'register_nonce');

That would create a url like this...

 

http://MySite.com?action=register&id=123456&_wpnonce=250d696dc6

 

Where you can send in a confirmation email of the registration. In addition to this, you can check the incoming URL for a nonce with the same ID using the function of check_admin_referer and then proceed with this verification if it is true.

 

8. Input Sanitization in WordPress

The Sanitizing data is crucial if you deal with user input otherwise you expose your WordPress site to Cross-Site Scripting also known as XSS, and various other harmful effects. Although WordPress takes care of these tasks by offering an apprentice function for the users, the sanitize *() class of the helper functions. In addition to this, it is super kind to us and makes sure that user input is effectively sanitized before passing this on to the database which is a commonly used function that is provided by this class is sanitize_text_field. In most of the instances using WP_KSES and related functions may be a good idea because you can clean HTML easily whereas keeping anything relevant to your present requirement.

 

 

9. You Should Access Web Services Intelligently

The internet is full of different kinds of web services that provide us everything starting from stock quotes to the latest tweets from Twitter to weather forecasts. One of the most efficient ways for a WordPress plugin to access any remote data is to use HTTP API that will handle your custom request in background, using the efficiency of the 5 possible remote methods that expose the PHP. It is like a one-stop destination for access to web service.

 

It uses the wp_remote_get method (which is a wrapper function of the HTTP class) in order to get a page body:

$page_data = wp_remote_get('http://site.com/page');

if($page_data['response']['code'] == 200){

  $body = $page_data['body']; 

}

 

Same with wp_remote_post to login:

 

$args = array(

  'login' => 'login_name',

  'password' => 'my_password'

  );

 

$response = wp_remote_post('http://site.com/login', $args);

 

 

Why Should You Customize Your WordPress Plugin?

 

Extends the functionality of the Website

Many owners of the website will probably want to customize the look & feel of the site to look for any changes in the functionality of their WordPress website. That is why it is done under the conditions of the application in order to complete the Wordpress plugins to its right, help the application. These amazing plugins help to add desired functionality and features to the website. Support for custom user plugins needs to be more precise, meaning that the owner of the website wants to. Custom WordPress plug-in development makes sense for a service to essentially choose a website. Therefore, if you choose Wordpress development services, you should customize your plugin as per your needs.

 

 

Creates Backlinks

There are sites that build against backlinks on links that are considered a barrier to search engine result pages. The number indicates popular quality backlinks to the site for search engines. Backlinks for tomorrow are tied in place of WordPress plug-ins to their largest and most excellent place to generate and operate out of their own accord, being blamed, which wins profits on the other side of manufacturer status.

 

Increased Security

Website security is one of the most crucial factors to keep hackers and cyber thieves from accessing sensitive information on the website. Get the best of custom through the option to increase power security, especially the development of the company's position in order to make the best WordPress plugin which is the plugin developed by most produces, and satisfaction can be out of security threats and protects.

 

Speeds the Website

Do you know increasing the loading speed website can prevent the loss of approximately 7% of possible conversions? For businesses, having a good website is a very crucial factor for success. A slow-loading website can irritate its visitors. There are many plugins that can speed up the WordPress site.

 

Let’s Wrap Up:

So, here you saw various best practices of custom WordPress plugin development. If you are a business owner and want to have your own WP plugin, then make sure you hire a good Wordpress development company that follows these best practices in their WordPress plugin development project. A good plugin not only adds many functionalities and functions to your site but also enhances its search engine visibility to a greater extent.

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