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In WordPress: Creating Custom Widgets and Plugins with PHP, Drew Falkman teaches PHP developers how to create custom functionality for WordPress 2.0 through 3.0 using widgets and plugins. This course starts by installing and setting up WordPress 3.0 on both Mac and Windows, then provides an in-depth look at tasks related to these WordPress add-ons: installing and administering, building and customizing, creating editable options and database tables, working with posts and pages, and utilizing jQuery and AJAX. There are also tutorials dedicated to promoting a widget or plugin, adding security, and localizing the interface. Exercise files are included with the course.
So you might be asking yourself, "What's the difference between a plugin and a widget?" Well a widget will always be a plugin, but a plugin isn't always a widget. What I mean to say is a plugin is something that interacts in one way or another with WordPress. It may or may not be seen. For example, here are the plugins I have installed on my mmmstuff web site. The plugin Tweetly Updater posts an update to Twitter anytime I create or edit a blog entry. On the other hand, WordPress Stats allows me to see information about WordPress.
WordPress Stats is a plugin, but part of the plugin is that it has a widget built into it. So widgets use the plugin API, so they technically are plugins but widget's specific function are to work in these dashboard-like applications or to work on the front-end of the web site to perform different functions. So just remember, if you build a plugin it might be widget, or it might contain a widget within it; however, some plugins don't use widgets at all. Widgets are simply one of the tools available to WordPress plugin developers.
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