WordPress for Web Developers!

 

I’ve recently been  studying the ‘nuts and bolts’ of creating custom themes and plugins in WordPress. It’s  in my nature to want to know how things work ‘under the hood’. I remember getting in big  trouble as a child for taking things apart (and not being able to put them back together) !

WordPress is still characterised by many  as   ‘a Blogging Platform’ however it is in fact so customisable, it can serve as a fully fledged Content Management System (CMS). You can add and remove custom  fields to posts, create custom taxonomies and set up the Edit screens accordingly. You can choose from menus based on Pages, on Posts or  define your navigation via a simple drag and drop interface.

From a Web Developers perspective WordPress  handles all the boring but vital stuff that you don’t want to get wrong…  Security, Internationalisation,  upgrades, archive navigation, ‘pretty URLs’  re-writing , media uploads, setting and retrieving options in the database, ‘content management’ and all the SQL queries, customisation, organisation ( taxonomies) and user admin ( capabilities)… the list goes on and on and you get all this for free !

WordPress provides a complete Web based environment for content creation and management. Once configured WordPress can be used to make new pages with out any knowledge of HTML or CSS coding. There are many other CMS platforms, some developers create their own, effectively  tying their clients to a proprietry platform that no one else will know how to support. Part of the beauty of using WordPress is the sheer size of the community behind it. People who create themes and plugins and contribute to the core code all help to make a rock solid product that through its ease of use and ubiquity is becoming more and more the ‘go to’ Web design solution.

Designers and Developers are starting to turn to WordPress   even if there is no specific requirement to enable non technical  end users the ability to  modify their content. The availability of Themes and Plugins enables a very rapid turn around of Web sites, providing plenty of customisabilty and design choices, but again using tried and trusted building blocks.

I have always been more interested in learning ‘how things works’, I am fascinated by conquering the understanding of the logic and structure behind complex but beautiful solutions . I love to sit down and read a book about JavaScript for example and then I can write JavaScript code. The problem is that knowing ‘how to code’ does not then lead intuitively to creating  great web pages or useful applications. Similarly, I have learned how to use Photoshop , but really a  PSD Web page mock up is becoming less of a requirement  these days for a variety of reasons.

There are many plugins that let you modify pretty much anything in WP. I really believe it’s worth the  effort learning how to use the PHP functions and tags that comprise the WordPress core and its API’s as well though. Having this understanding  means one can create custom  template files and provides the developer with  tools and  building blocks that can be used to turbo-boost productivity. Projects can be more rapidly assembled and more easily maintained. There is complete customisability where required via a  well documented and stable set of API’s. ‘Hacking’ WordPress is also a great way to get practical experience of Web coding and see how others have written code.

Knowledge of the ‘guts’ of WP and use of front end, combined with some Web Coding skills, support from the WordPress community  and a bit of creativity leads the developer ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ IMHO ! It’s also great fun 😉

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