Chapter 3. Using WordPress Plugins

Plugins are awesome! If you didn’t know, now you know! Plugins can help you deploy a full-blown web application with little to no knowledge of actual code. Whether you are using a free plugin, premium plugin, or building your own, plugins can extend WordPress to give you the functionality your application requires.

As we mentioned earlier, the great advantage of open source software is that members of the community are invested in improving WordPress and often build plugins to achieve a desired feature. The definition of a plugin provided in the WordPress Codex is “a program, or a set of one or more functions, written in the PHP scripting language, that adds a specific set of features or services to the WordPress weblog, which can be seamlessly integrated with the weblog using access points and methods provided by the WordPress Plugin Application Program Interface (API).” Plugins allow you to turn your site into anything you can think of, from a basic blog to an ecommerce site to a social network to a mobile iOS and Android app.

There are a couple of plugins that come standard with any new WordPress installation: Hello Dolly and Akismet. If you didn’t know, the Hello Dolly plugin adds a random lyric from the song “Hello Dolly” (from the musical of the same name) to the top of your dashboard on each page load. It’s not useful, but it’s a good way to see how to structure your own plugins. The Akismet plugin integrates with Akismet.com to automatically ...

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