How To Build a WordPress Plugin – Frequently Asked Questions

In about a week, I’m going to be hosting the first course in my How To Build a WordPress Plugin live workshop over on Envato. I covered the details in a previous post. Since the post has gone live, I’ve received a number of emails, tweets, and comments about the course so I wanted provide somewhat of a Building a WordPress Plugin FAQ.

For the record, this page will be a growing record of questions that I’ve received about the course so bookmark it, check it out, and feel free to leave comments.

I’ll do what I can to keep this page as current as possible.

How To Build a WordPress Plugin

For those of you who are just finding out about the course, you can find all you need to know on my original post, but I also did some off the cuff QA with my team over at 8BIT to give a little bit more information about the course:

It answers a few questions, sure, but if you’re still on the fence about the course, I’ve covered some additional information below.

WordPress Plugin FAQ

There’s many more questions to answer so I’ve done by best to answer every question that I’ve received thus far. As I mentioned, I’ll do what I can to keep this page as current as possible, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. What software do I need?

Though I’ll be hosting the course using a Mac and my preferred editors, we’re going to walk through all of this material in the first lesson.

In fact, if you’re taking the course, you’ll be invited to our Basecamp discussion where I’ve already shared some of the software that you need to get started and setup regardless of if you’re using a Mac or Windows.

The first lesson is going to be all about configuring the environment and I’m going to take my time explaining it all as well as walking through each step so we should all be on the same page.

Even still, if you get confused, there will be a time for questions and answers at the end, so we should get all of our bases covered.

2. Do I need to know PHP?

Yes and no. If you’re a comfortable enough with functions, strings, and variables then you should be fine. We’re going to be working with classes – that is, object-oriented techniques – during the course, but I’m going to make sure that I explain everything in great detail so that we aren’t “flying blind.”

My goal for the course if for you guys to walk away not only better equipped to write WordPress plugins, but to have a bit of a deeper understanding of good WordPress programming principles in general, too.

3. Do I need to know JavaScript?

The short answer is no.

I have no plans for us to incorporate JavaScript as of now. Though I do reserve the right to change to the lessons later in the course, it won’t be anything drastic nor will it consist of anything that I won’t walk everyone through in great detail.

If we do incorporate JavaScript, it will be such a minuscule amount that it won’t be anything to be by which to be intimidated.

4. What happens if I miss a course?

If you’ve paid for the course, but can’t make it to a lesson, no worries! All of the recorded lessons and resources will be made available shortly after the lesson has aired.

5. What are we building?

You’ll see :). Ultimately, it’s going to be something that walks us through the following topics:

  • Writing object-oriented WordPress plugins
  • Using some of the WordPress API functions such as add_meta_box and wp_remote_get
  • We’re going to talk about good file organization and documentation
  • We’re also going to talk about data sanitization and validation

By the end of the course, you will have a fully developed plugin that’s in a state ready for publication into the WordPress plugin repository. This doesn’t mean that I suggest submitting it, though – after all, everyone (myself included) will have built the same plugin.

The purpose is to provide a complete product so that you can fully grasp the process.

Don’t Panic!

Don't Panic

Ultimately, learning something new – especially in programming – can be an intimidating task. The purpose of this course is to be fun, is to be educational (obviously), but it’s going to be set at a pace that’s comfortable.

It’s not college or university and we’re not going to be moving at breakneck speeds. Instead, my goal is to make sure that you guys walk away better equipped than entering into it at a pace that’s comfortable for all of us.

If you have any other questions, leave ‘em in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

4 Comments

Nice work, Tom. Good to have a point of reference to send people with FAQs to :)

Hi Tom, super excited for this course!

1. I would like to see a little bit of JavaScript shown just to show how to interact with the WordPress database for saving or changing data on the front end. You mentioned you might not cover using JavaScript but I hope you do!

2. Will you show how to create a custom page in the WordPress admin panel where we can add options for our plugin and have anything edited/changed on that page be saved to the database and reflected on the front end of the website?

    1. We may do some, but not likely. We’re going to be covering a lot of stuff and I don’t want to overwhelm others with that information. It’s likely that this won’t be my last course, so keep an eye out and we’ll see if we can’t do that in the next course.

    2. We won’t be creating pages in the workshop, but we will be creating meta boxes on the post pages that allow us to introduce our own custom option.

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