Anatomy Of A WordPress Plugin: The Basics

WordPressThroughout this Anatomy Of A WordPress series I am going to be running through a number of the functions I use a lot and other items required when developing plugins. But, for the first post, it is probably best to start at the very beginning.

When creating a WordPress plugin, the first thing to do is to create the folder in which the files are to be stored. When doing so it is best to pick a name which is going to be unique; I am also typically giving them a name which will group all of my plugins together.

All of the plugins I have created so far have azurecurve at the start of the name. e.g.

azurecurve-rss-suffix

Within the file create a php file of the same name with the php suffix:

azurecurve-rss-suffix.php

Open the file and enter the php tags, between which all php code will be entered, at the top and bottom:

<?php
?>

The final part of what I regard as the basics, is to add the file header, which contains the meta-information describing what the plugin is and who created it, between the php tags:

/*
Plugin Name: < Name of the plugin (e.g. azurecurve RSS Suffix)>
Plugin URI: < URI of the plugins homepage (e.g. http://development.azurecurve.co.uk/plugins/rss-suffix)>
Description: <Shortdescription of the plugin (e.g. Add a suffix to rss entries)>
Version: <Version Number (e.g. 1.0.0)>
Author: <Name of the plugins author (e.g. azurecurve)>
Author URI: <URI of the plugins author (e.g. http://development.azurecurve.co.uk)>
License: <A short license slug (e.g. GPLv2)>

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.

The full copy of the GNU General Public License is available here: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt
*/

Of the above file header, only the Plugin Name is required to use the plugin on a WordPress site; the Version should be structured consistently between versions (e.g. 1.0.0 -> 1.0.1 -> 1.0.2 -> 1.1.0 -> etc.)

One final point when creating your plugin file; the file must be saved using UTF-8 encoding. This is the standard of Notepad++ which is my favourite tool when writing html or php.

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