Book Review: WordPress 3 Plugin Development Essentials

July 11, 2011

Topics: Reviews, WordPress.

WordPress 3 Plugin Development Essentials

by Brian Bondari and Everett Griffiths

Read more about this book at Packt Publishing » or Buy it at Amazon

At root, this book is an excellent overview of the techniques and issues which will be encountered by any developer — however experienced — when they are authorizing a plug-in using the WordPress plug-in API in WordPress 3. In particular, I appreciated the emphasis on organization and coding best practices. I’ve worked with plenty of plug-ins, and there’s a lot of ugly, unmaintainable code out there. (And I’ve written some of it, too!) The fact that anybody looking to develop a plug-in who uses this book as a major reference will also get a guide to some best practices in writing software is a definite bonus.

The authors are very realistic about the limitations and benefits of the WordPress plug-in system. They observe that WordPress has a great deal of flexibility when it comes to coding style and organization — and the result is that there’s a low resistance to entry. Great for beginners, but it does mean that trusting the code you find is something you shouldn’t do blindly. Clearly the authors want to emphasize that anybody looking to begin developing plug-ins should give some significant thought to the sustainability and quality of their work. Kudos to them!

The book doesn’t cover an enormous number of different API functions, but it does give a good overview of the key hooks that are needed to get started programming for WordPress. Given the scope of what can be done in WordPress, it’s really a better solution to solidly introduce some of the core techniques rather than try and cram a huge number of concepts down the throats of their readers.

I found the systematic approach taken by the book to be extremely effective — I appreciated that the book intentionally had the reader introduce common errors into their plug-ins. Having encountered most of those issues by accident somewhere along the line, it’s tremendously valuable to already have been made aware of some key elements.

I do think that this is a good book, and very worthwhile for the beginning plug-in developer. There are a few additional areas which I would have liked to have seen covered, however.

Although the book is very thorough in addressing programming best practices, it doesn’t address the quality of output code at all. Valid HTML, consistent use of elements, semantics, and accessibility are all issues which deserve a significant mention in the programming of a WordPress extension — however easily the plug-in can be maintained, if it doesn’t produce high-quality output, this can be a major disadvantage for the plug-in. It is very dissatisfying to install a plug-in which does exactly what you need it to, but produces output which can’t easily be styled or doesn’t meet the standards required for your web site.

Nonetheless, there are no other issues which I felt were truly missed — the book is well-written, thorough, and methodical. I can highly recommend it to anybody looking to start authoring WordPress plug-ins.

Note: although this review was not paid, I was provided with a free review copy by Packt publishing in exchange for the review. It was definitely a worthwhile trade!

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7 Comments to “Book Review: WordPress 3 Plugin Development Essentials”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thought on this book. Is there a joomla plugin development book that you would recommend?

  2. I am going to get this book, I have tried a few times to edit existing WordPress plugins but always struggled to fully understand them. I hope after reading this book I might stand a bit more of a chance and maybe even write one of my own.

    Thanks again

    Kevin

  3. I’ve been attempting to learn how to make my own WP plugins for a couple of weeks now, and have decided that I really need to get a physical book to help me. Thanks for the review, this book has jumped to the top of my list.

  4. Nice sharing your thoughts about the book. Knowing the thoughts of others makes me understand a lot about the topic. Thanks a lot sir Brian.

  5. Brian,
    Does this book address anything from the plugin user’s viewpoint? I am am wondering if it would be helpful to read this book in order to know what to look for when using a plugin written by someone else.

  6. Hey great review for the book but I must mention that you have not taken one aspect: the SEO factor as many times plugins we develop are not SEO friendly. Can you share with me if this book sees the SEO viewpoint of plugins as all of us know the importance of SEO.

    Thanks,
    Bhrat

  7. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for taking the time to write a good review.

    I have recently strated using the WordPress platform for a couple of blogs. One stand alone and the other linked into my web site. I am looking to learn to develop on the platform and insights like this are very helpful.

    Thank you.

    Simon