Working on a Wordpress Plugin

It’s been a long time since I’ve written any serious code, but that doesn’t keep me from dabbling every now and again. Of course, I always find myself on the steepest part of the learning curve when I come around to engaging with a new compiler, debugger, language or environment. Since I do it rarely, I tend to forget everything I learned the last time and usually end up changing something major between forays – language, environment, libraries or something – it’s new every time. That’s OK, but it takes a lot of time and energy to simply catch up let alone move forward.

My latest trial is creating, (more like changing and adding) code written in PHP. Specifically, I’m making a cut at taking over a now unsupported plugin in Wordpress. As with most languages and environments, that means I have to ramp in several domains. PHP, SQL and Wordpress, primarily, but there’s a bunch of smaller stuff too.

The plugin I’m working on is a branch of Now Reading Reloaded which itself is a branch of the original Now Reading plugin. The authors of both decided that they didn’t have time to continue to enhance them. After spending about a week getting my head into the process, I don’t blame them.

Now Reading Reloaded allows me to track and comment on books I read and lets me keep a virtual library that I can access and share on my blog (see the widget on the left with all the pretty book covers or the Library link in the menu for the full list). For the most part, it works well. I have made some modifications to it in the past, but minor, visual ones primarily. What I want to do is make some functional modifications that require changes deep in the guts of the code.

Wordpress is conceptually simple and PHP is pretty straightforward (it’s a scripting language, though, and therefore its is always a bit funky). SQL is SQL, arcane as always, but totally standardized. Put them all together, though, and it’s somewhat dizzying, at least for a newbie at it like me. The structure of Wordpress plugins is regimented, but is too complex to allow one to just dip a toe in the water. I’m going to have to do a deep dive if I’m going to pull this off.

Here goes . . .


  1. Hey Will, I’ll be interested in your thoughts after you’ve thrashed through it a bit. I used to believe that WordPress would be the dominant CMS platform due to ease of use, but with templates being created with unique functionality and as plugins begin to conflict with each other it seems like it gets right back to needing to be a full time IT professional to get it all to work.

    1. John,

      WordPress *tries* to make sure plugins don’t stomp on each other, but the
      whole system is a bit loosey-goosey about it. It certainly seems possible to
      diligently write well-behaving plugins, but it’s also easy to write badly
      behaving ones.

      I’ll tell you what I learn.

  2. I heard you would be at the Speaking From Experience at Champlain College in April and looked you up. I am a Champlain grad and I now work at a Vermont web development company where I’ve begun moving all client corporate websites over to WordPress. I have about 4 years experience developing themes and plugins for WordPress and I absolutely love the platform, it gets better with every version!

    1. Hey Andrew,

      Hope to see you at the Champlain event. WordPress is great. I’m anxious to
      learn more. Thanks for the encouragement.

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