So, a few weeks ago this handy book showed up on my doorstep: WordPress Plugin Development (Beginner’s Guide), by Vladimir Prelovac (author of the WP Wall, Theme Test Drive, and Smart YouTube WordPress plugins, among many others). Vladimir being a highly active WordPress plugin developer, it’s unsurprising that the basic premise behind the book is to learn by doing. Essentially, the book takes you on a step-by-step walkthrough of several of Vladimir’s WordPress plugins, constructing each aspect of the plugins separately and explaining the process.

Not a bad way to get a handle on WordPress plugin authoring. There may be a better way to approach the subject, but I can’t honestly say that I know what it might be.

The fact is, WordPress plugins are incredibly powerful and cover an enormous breadth of possibilities. As the guide indicates, the WordPress plugin API (Application Programming Interface) is essentially a WordPress-specific method of accessing the entirety of the PHP (Hypertext PreProcessing) programming language. If you can do something with PHP, you can probably do it in a WordPress plugin.

The book has a basic assumption that you’re already fairly sophisticated in your use of PHP programming. Rather than hold your hands through PHP logic, the important information provided in this book is about how to make use of the WordPress specific functions which will allow your script to tie to WordPress — and the key information that plugin authors need to be responsible for the security of their own scripts.

This is an extremely important piece of information, and can’t be emphasized enough. Probably the biggest flaw in this book is that plugin security isn’t highlighted sufficiently. It’s not that the book doesn’t state clearly that plugin authors need to take care of security, but it doesn’t do it on every single page in six-inch bold type….

But I digress.

On the whole, you can learn a lot from this book, whether you’re a beginner at WordPress plugin authoring or not. The breadth of WordPress plugin capabilities means that most experienced authors don’t know everything, so there’s almost certainly something here for you — but it starts simple, and within the first 30 pages you’ll already have a usable, practical plugin written.