10 Things WordPress Developers Should Know

This guest post was written by Ajay Thomas founder and CEO of WordPress agency Sweans. To learn more about Sweans, visit their website.

WordPress is an imperious tool that takes minutes to learn and ages to master. It powers millions of blogs and websites around the world. The capability to extend WordPress to meet just about any need is a dominant motivator for choosing WordPress over other alternatives.

A top WordPress professional should know some of the ins and outs about developing a WordPress website.


1. How to Use Action and Filter Hooks

Hooks refer to the places where a developer can add his own code or change what  WordPress is doing by default. These hooks are available in two forms: Action and filter.

An action is a hook initiated while WordPress is running and helps you cause a new action to occur. Actions can do things such as create a widget when WordPress initializes or Tweet when a new post is published.

Filter hooks help you modify data in WordPress before it is sent to the database. It customizes how excerpts get displayed or the addition of some custom code at the end of your post.

The significant difference between action and filter hooks is that when you are working with a filter you can receive some piece of data, however, at the end of your function you will have to return back that data. With action hooks, you cannot receive or modify data but you get a place where you can execute your code.

2. The WordPress Template Hierarchy

In WordPress, pages are sewed together from diverse template files. Each template file portrays a different part of the page, and together they make up all the content of your individual pages from the WordPress admin. This is probably best demonstrated by an example.

Suppose a user visits the page “http://yoursite.com/author/John.” First, WordPress will search for the template labeled author-John.php. If that file doesn’t exist, then it looks for author.php. It next looks for archive.php. Finally, if that is not found it uses index.php to render the page. Each time a user visits your page, WordPress moves up the template hierarchy until it finds a template file that matches. And this has everything to do with how these files are named.

3. Know Your .Gitattributes

If you use Git in your WordPress flow, you have to be aware of the special configuration file .gitattributes, which can radically clean up your themes and plugins for end users. .gitattributes is a Git configuration file that lets you configure path-specific settings, ie. for specific directories and files. These settings include cutting-edge features such as filtering the content of files before committing changes and configuring path-specific merge strategies. Every WordPress developer should know how to use these attributes accordingly.

4. Don’t Edit the Core

One of the basic guidelines of WordPress is that you should never set out to alter core files. When the WordPress core gets updated, the core installation is overwritten with new upgrades included in the discharge. The immense segments of the installation will simply quit working and even keep the overhauls from working, which will spoil the establishment if the core has been modified or chopped up. Messing with core files could easily introduce a loophole in WordPress’ security, allowing  hackers to take over the site. As a WordPress developer, you ought to stay clear of such practices.

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5. Keep Your Site Secure

A WordPress developer has to be aware of potential security threats, such as malware and SQL injections. There are lots of different methods for protecting your site against these attacks, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your plugins and themes consistently upgraded to the latest version.

6. Learn to Create Site-Specific Plugins

Site-specific plugins are useful when you want to make a change on your site that should persist if you were to ever switch themes. They are also useful when you want to edit or extend an existing plugin. So next time you want to make customizations, rather than just dropping code in your theme’s functions.php file, create a site specific plugin.

7. Enqueue Scripts and Styles

A WordPress site may have different plugins by different developers. If plugins are hooking script and linking HTML tags to include JS and CSS files, there arises a chance of having duplicates. Enqueueing refers to the CMS friendly way of adding scripts to WordPress sites. Instead of using scripts and linking HTML tags to include script and CSS files, it is recommended to use enqueueing scripts and styles.

If all of your plugins use the wp_enqueue_script() WordPress Function to hook the files, the duplication issue can be resolved. You should use the enqueue script function for WordPress themes also.

8. Don’t Develop Without Debugging

The primary thing you ought to do when developing a WordPress plugin is to enable debugging, and I recommend leaving it on until you complete writing the plugin code. If something isn’t right WordPress will notice and send an error message to you.

9. Choose the Right Hosting Provider

Often overlooked, web hosting is one of the most important components of a successful site. It can enhance your SEO, increase sales, keep your site secure and keep your site running fast. Make sure that the hosting provider you choose has an excellent customer support with an uptime track record.

10. Understand the WordPress Database

As a WordPress developer, you should have an understanding of  the core WordPress database tables. WordPress currently has 11 default core tables. Each table includes data for different sections and functionality of WordPress. By utilizing the tables, you can easily make changes in your passwords, disable plugins, and select themes directly from the database without having access to your admin panel.

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