Plugin Development Strategies and Maintenance
Strategies are the steps which we follow during the plugin development process. Below are some of the steps to be undertaken so that the process becomes more effective as well as faster.
Planning is the blue-print of a process. Before we directly go to the development of a plugin, we plan the road-map as well as the strategies we will be following. It includes all the processes from naming of the plugin to the features we will be providing.
Boilerplate is a simple yet effective, standardized, organized and object-oriented foundation for building high-quality WordPress Plugins. From http://wppb.me/, a zip can be generated which includes a standard files & folder structure with everything well documented. It is based on OOP so code becomes more efficient as well.
Use a Unique Prefix for Everything
Prefixing function names, class names, global variables, option names, database tables and more. Prefix is something what makes all the functions, classes and global variables unique. Good prefixing means standard coding as well as risk free coding. We all know there are thousands of plugins in WordPress repository where there is high risk of conflict. So prefixing takes that risk out of the equation.
Define Constants for File Paths and URLs
Using constants makes coding a lot easier. If we use constant then we don’t have to write file paths, urls or versions time and again. We can define constants for urls, versions or paths and once these are defined, then we can use those variables wherever we want without writing the same paths or urls again and again. Below is the example of it:
define( 'NB_FILE_PATH', __FILE__ );
define( 'NB_BASE_PATH', dirname( __FILE__ ) );
define( 'NB_VERSION', '3.0.0' );
define( 'NB_POST_TYPE', 'post-type-slug' );
Organize Your Plugin Into Multiple Files
Organizing plugin into multiple files make code clean and more clear. It also makes debugging a lot easier as codes are divided into multiple files. For example:
include NB_BASE_PATH . '/inc/plugin-functions.php';
Do Not Reinvent the Wheel
The term notifies of using the already built and core functions that WordPress has provided instead of building own custom functions. Using core functions makes development lot easier, faster as well as maintains compatibility. For example: ‘Settings API’.
Unit testing means testing smallest testable parts of an application, called units. While product is on development process, all the modules should be developed one by one as planned and along with that unit testing (module testing) should be done in parallel manner.
Make Pro First But Release Free
It is said that “Destruction is easier and faster than construction”. So similar is the case is with the plugin. If pro version is made first then it would be far easier to create free version. Because for free version, cutting of the features from the already made pro version is a faster process than adding on the features on free version to create the pro one.
Use Hooks Properly
Hooks make WordPress more & more flexible. If we use hooks properly then customization becomes easier. For example, we can easily add more options and that is because of hook.
$options = array(
'color' => __( 'Color', 'team-manager'),
'grey' => __( 'Grey scale', 'team-manager'),
$options = apply_filters( 'team_manager_photo_color_options', $options );
Maintenance is the process and activities done once the product (specially free version plugin) is live.
Versioning is the timely update of the plugin with new features. It not only makes the existing product users exciting but also helps in driving new users towards the product. With versioning product also becomes more and more better.
Support Policy & documentation
Strong support policy for product’s promotion as well as user trust. Users can be anyone, so support policy of the product should be strong as well. If support is strong then it helps in gaining more user’s trust and promotion will be better as well. Also, a clear documentation for product should be done so that no one gets confused on how to use the product.
Translate Your Plugin
Translating the product helps in internationalization. More and more translation of the product means the scope of the product reaching to more and more users. While development, product should be translate ready and after it is live it should be translated gradually.
Requirement Study After Launching Free
Studying the general user’s requirement to add the features on pro or for next version. Studying user’s support question as well as features request also helps in adding those features in pro version of the plugin. So, we should timely study them.
Updating Your Plugin
Plugin should be timely updated with the latest version of WordPress. It not only clears the compatibility doubt but also shows that plugin is improving with each version.
Use Social Media
Social media can be used for product promotion. Using social media helps to reach to the mass as well as to more and more users. It is really useful for product’s promotion.
So, these are some of the points which can be undertaken to develop products at pace with maximum quality and low risks also maintaining them after taken live.