WordPress Plugin Development – Beginner’s Guide

WordPress Plugin Development Beginners Guide Book Cover

WordPress Plugin Development Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Language English

Paperback 278 pages [191mm x 235mm]

Release date February 2009

ISBN 1847193595

ISBN 13 978-1-847193-59-9

Author Vladimir Prelovac

Order from Packt Publishing

Order from Amazon

Download all book plugins package (free)

Rapid development of the WordPress platform that we witnessed in past two years presented a challenge not only for potential WordPress plugin developers but for all users of WordPress who wanted to 'dig' under the hood a little and gain better understanding of WordPress inner workings. The reason being that no comprehensive guide existed that would incorporate all important areas of WordPress development, from hooks to plugin security.

So I gladly accepted the challenge from Packt Publishing to write a book on the matter and a year later, this book is available, both in paperback and in electronic (PDF) form.

About the book

The book consists of 8 chapters, six of which are dealing with development of actual plugins from scratch, some of them you may be already familiar with:

  • WP Digg This - Adds a Digg This button to each post.
  • Live Blogroll - Adds a recent posts popup for each blog in your blogroll.
  • WP Wall - Displays comments on the sidebar without reloading the page.
  • Snazzy Archives - Presents your site archives in a unique visual way.
  • Insights - Access your articles and Flickr images from within the WordPress edit page.
  • Post Types - Provides pre-defined post templates to quickly add a photo or a link to your blog.

Introductory chapter explains why engage in WordPress plugin development and shows the best tools for the job.

Final chapter deals with plugin localization, promotion, providing support and few other handy tips.

You can find the detailed information in the book's Table of Contents.

What you will learn from the book

  • Get to know the WordPress code base, WordPress's plug-in architecture, and the plug-in application programming interface (API) and learn how to hack it
  • Master the WordPress database and the API - access and manipulate data, handle user roles and permissions, posts, and so on
  • Hook into the rest of WordPress using actions and filters
  • Change the way your WordPress backend looks by customizing menus, submenus, and the plug-in admin panel
  • Integrate AJAX and jQuery into your plug-ins to dynamically generate content
  • Hook directly to WordPress edit pages and use AJAX to generate fast searches
  • Integrate your plug-in with WordPress panels and the tinyMCE editor
  • Access and work with third-party APIs like Flickr
  • Implement localization support for users of other languages
  • Maintain and manage your plug-in using SVN and publish it to the WordPress Plugin Repository
  • Handle security issues and make your plug-ins safer to use

Who this book is written for

Anyone who wishes to engage in WordPress development, from beginners to seasoned developers. The examples grow in complexity so that beginners are able to easily follow and for the veterans out there I have couple of handy tricks (security, optimization and general programming)  in every chapter.

Ideally you need to be familiar with basics of PHP. The book also utilizes jQuery - handy JavaScript framework - for handling live visual effects and Ajax.

Book Reviews

These are book reviews that I am aware of in chronological order.

The book is organized around the development of six plugins. With each chapter a new plugin is started, developed and explained. None of the plugins are simple so this really is a book for someone who actively wants to learn. Vladimir has clearly decided that you can get a ‘Hello World!’ plugin tutorial from anywhere so, while he does explain what you will need to develop plugins, for example, where you can get free tools, and does include the basic ‘Hello World’ skills in the first tutorial, he kicks off the book at a fast pace.

Read full review by Andrew Rickmann

If you are at all interested in WordPress plugin development, you should definitely get a copy of this well-written book.  I would even recommend this book for current WordPress plugin authors because I’m sure there are plenty of things in there that you don’t already know.  Personally I find that there are many best practices covered in this book that I have been neglecting in my own plugins.

Read full review by Thaya Kareeson

And the book is a valuable resource.  In just the first chapter I picked up a tidbit that fixed a troubling issue for me on a current project — so the book has already paid for itself!  Working you way through the chapters will build your understanding of how plugins are structures, and how they interface with the WordPress core functions.  It also builds an appreciation of how really robust a platform WordPress offers.  With libraries like jQuery, rss parsing functions, and other goodies there is a lot to work with.

Read full review by Randall Rode

Whether you are a hard-core web developer or a hobbyist, if you have working knowledge of PHP, HTML and WordPress, and if you want to develop your own WordPress plugin, this book is an excellent choice for you.

Read full review by Rajeev Edmonds

But this book convinced me WordPress can be extended to do just about anything I would want to do on the web. Once I had done the tour through Prelovac's examples, I found it much easier to start looking through the code of other publicly-available plug-ins and figuring out how they work as well.

Very useful.

Read full review by David Carr

Hats off to you Vladimir! I really used your book until the ears got all coffee stained (and yes, I printed out all 700 pages from the pdf!).

Having a plethora of usage examples of the major WordPress API commands has been a real time saver and a fantastic launching point for future WP projects.

I recommend this book to WordPress junkies or anyone with a bit of curiosity on how plugins work with wordpress.

Read full review by Andy 'CommentLuv' Bailey

The book walks step by step through the development of 6 real life WordPress plugins, covering the various issues that arise for each plugin and how to resolve them. Using real life examples makes it much easier to understand the concepts that Vladimir is teaching.

In my opinion, Vladimir has done a great job of choosing plugins which allow him to demonstrate all the things he needs to, without having to contrive situations just to demonstrate something. He weaves all the complex information together, giving you a little bit at time but building on it and reinforcing it later.

Read full review by Stephen Cronin

As a trainer and writer I could see that the difficulty and complexity of the plugins followed a nice progression through the book, and gradually took you into all the deep nooks and crevices of WordPress.

The book is thorough, extensive and clear. It contains useful code examples and the reasoning that explains how and why things work as they do. It shows you how to develop some very specific, useful plugins, while also giving you the tools to go off and do your own thing. A reference section points you to relevant mailing lists, podcasts and websites.

Read full review by Miraz Jordan

WordPress Plugin Development is a truly practical book that is designed to teach people how they can write enhancements for the WordPress platform using real live examples. Rather than just giving small snippets of code with no real understanding, this book offers the entire script, and a complete walk through for the entire process. If you are looking for a true hands-on approach to writing scripts and publishing WordPress plugins, then you should rest assured that WordPress Plugin Development will allow you to write your own WordPress enhancements in absolutely no time at all.

Read full review by Blog Traffic Exchange

On the whole, you can learn a lot from this book, whether you’re a beginner at WordPress plugin authoring or not. The breadth of WordPress plugin capabilities means that most experienced authors don’t know everything, so there’s almost certainly something here for you — but it starts simple, and within the first 30 pages you’ll already have a usable, practical plugin written.

Read full review by Joe Dolson

My conclusion first, for those in a rush: it is a great book. It’s really rich. For people knowing the basics of PHP and willing to give WordPress plugins a first shot, it should be a fantastic read. I wished I could have read something like this five years ago when I began coding plugins for WordPress :)

Read full review by Andrew Ozh

As an experienced WordPress plug-in developer, I was pessimistic at the start – there is already a wealth of documentation and detailed tutorials on the web, who would need a book? However with Vladimir being a well-respected WordPress plug-in developer, I was curious to see his approach on the subject, and you never know – I may learn a thing or two? (hint: I did!)... In summary, WordPress Plug-in Development (Beginner’s Guide) is perfect for anyone who is interested in extending the functionality of WordPress – it goes without saying that a little PHP knowledge is required, but that isn’t a show-stopper, you can learn whilst you “hack”!

Read full review by Lee Kelleher

If you wrote a review of the book contact me to have it listed here.

You and the book

If you want to take a more pro-active role with this book, both Packt Pub and Amazon have affiliate programs which allow you to write about the book on your blog or site and earn a referral bonus for everyone that buys the book through your site.

Finally if you are representing a WordPress information portal (or any other similar site) and you would like to review the book, please feel free to contact me so I can arrange a review copy for you.


  1. Surya
    Dec 30th, 2016 4:31 AM

    This is a fine book and perfect for those learning WordPress plugin development. It's a bit dated now so I think it would fantastic if an updated edition is published soon. WordPress is only gaining in popularity and there really aren't a good many project based books in the market now. The well known ones are a bit dry and somewhat more of a reference text to the codex. This book on the other hand, shows how things are done in a real world project.

    Will be eagerly waiting for a new edition.

  2. Dec 8th, 2016 2:33 AM

    do yo have this book in spanish , thank you .

  3. Jul 7th, 2016 9:09 AM

    Do you have any updated version ?

  4. Oct 1st, 2015 10:47 AM

    This book be good. Thanks for all your effort!

  5. Mar 5th, 2015 3:38 PM

    Although, it is an older book, it served as a base for me to get in to plugin development. I would suggest Vlad to make an updated version.

  6. Oct 1st, 2011 6:08 PM

    Well done Vlado. I dont know if this book is steel up to date but reason which i want to comment is that im amazed from the fact that someone from the Balkan has all this knowledge.
    Good luck and maybe one day you will find the source code for making the World better and safer place.

  7. Aug 18th, 2011 9:14 AM

    what are the pre requisites of this book in knowledge ?

  8. DM
    Jul 8th, 2011 3:57 PM

    Hi Vlad,

    As usual this book looks great! For your next project I would really love to know how to totally optimize my WordPress blogs according to the Firefox plugin called "YSlow" from Yahoo. It has all these recommendations that I don't know how to implement. I would be great if you could show us step by step on how to make those recommended changes to our WordPress blog/theme.

    I have added your blog as a "Favorite" to my browser!

    Thanks for all your effort!

  9. May 22nd, 2011 2:47 PM

    It seems like a nice book and i would like to give it a try but my worry is that, someone not fully grounded in PHP like me might not be able to understand it

  10. Feb 15th, 2011 10:22 AM

    I am looking for code example to post on my Blog.

  11. Jan 20th, 2011 7:55 PM

    This book be good. I am looking for books in developing WordPress plugins are all fit.

  12. Nov 30th, 2010 5:03 AM

    Hi Vladimir
    Do you have the book in French ?
    Thanks Vlad

    • Nov 30th, 2010 8:52 AM

      Not yet I am afraid.

      • Jan 15th, 2013 5:58 AM

        im looking to make the most of my site and i am curious for you to take a look at it to see where it stands for todays standards! according to what you know ! please let me know thanks !!

  13. Oct 14th, 2010 7:30 PM

    I'm read this book...very good tips & trick and i hope i can be build my blog powerful

  14. Jul 30th, 2010 5:42 AM

    I picked up a copy of your book , and am super happy with it. Very easy to understand the process from start to finish. I have been toying around with the first example you gave in the book , and working on some addons . You have just gained a new follower , lol .

  15. Dec 5th, 2009 12:50 PM

    I am just going to buy this book.. will post a review once I read through the book, sounds interesting to me, hope it won't disappoint me :)

  16. Martin Dunn
    Oct 15th, 2009 12:12 PM

    Hi Vlad, great book, using it at the moment to learn wordpress development. My only issue is that I have common across quite a few syntax errors in the code printed in the book, I could usual forgive this but i've found more than one. Might be worth checking it out for future prints of the book!

    • Oct 15th, 2009 1:03 PM

      Hi Martin

      I recommend to use plugin files which you can download freely from this page. Sometimes these mistakes slip into the printed edition, I did everything I could.

  17. Aug 11th, 2009 6:24 PM

    Great book Vlad ! I've already bought mine.

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