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My client has asked me to build a WordPress plugin for them. Help! How do I learn to build WordPress plugins?

That's a common question we get from people who join OSTraining for the first time. They want to know about the skills they will need, and what kind of classes they should take.

I'm going to show you the skills needed for WordPress plugin development. I'll also give you links to start learning those skills.


Skills Needed for WordPress Plugin Development

Members are often surprised when we recommend that new WordPress developer sit through our beginner and site-building training. 

Unfortuantely, it is very common to find WordPress sites that were built by talented developers who had no WordPress knowledge. A good understanding of WordPress's user interface and key concepts is absolutely critical. Being a good designer is not enough. You need to know about plugins, post types, the media library, the Customizer, and more.

Here are the skills that will be useful for you as a new WordPress developer. You should know that an in-depth knowledge of WordPress is at least as important as any other skill. 

If you don't know WordPress yet, get started with this class: The Beginners Guide to WordPress. I also recommend this series of several courses: WordPress site building classes.

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Where to Learn Coding Skills

If you're new to PHP, check out this series of 5 classes.

If you're new to Javascript, check out the Introduction to Javascript, plus Introduction to jQuery. Any day now, you'll also have access to React Explained, a book about React, the Javascript library that is being used more and more in WordPress.


Where to Learn WordPress Development

Unlike Drupal, Joomla, Magento and other platforms, WordPress does not borrow very much from other systems. WordPress hasn't borrowed from frameworks such as Symfony, Zend or Laravel. WordPress is it's own framework!

To get the ball rolling, try the Why Should Developers Use WordPress? class. Topher explains why coders choose to use WordPress for their sites.

Next, I recommend taking How to Use the Developer Plugin in WordPress. This plugin is an essential tool for anyone who develop sites in WordPress.

At this point, you're ready for the main course. Dive into How to Develop WordPress Plugins. This is our core WordPress development class. These 25 videos guides you through a detailed WordPress plugin project. This class is a step-by-step guide to building your first WordPress plugin. In this series, you're going to build a to-do list plugin. The plugin will use a custom post type, a custom taxonomy and a shortcode for the output. As you build the plugin, you'll learn about the best practices for WordPress development, including how to follow the recommended coding standards. 

If you're ready to get deeper into PHP, try this class: How to Build a WordPress Widget. There are thousands of widgets you can use on your WordPress site. However, sometimes you just can't find one that fully meets your needs. In this class, Topher works through the process of creating a sidebar widget from scratch.

All-in-all, those four classes have dozens of videos with step-by-step instructions. Follow along with those four classes, and I promise you'll be prepared to start modifying and building your own WordPress plugins.


About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.