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One of the main reasons why WordPress is so powerful and so well used is because of its extensibility. One of the key elements of its extensibility is its Plugin API. So let's take a look at what plugins are, what they can do for you, and why they are great for WordPress administrators, for developers, and ultimately for the end users of these web sites. The WordPress Plugin Directory is located at WordPress.org/extend/plugins. All of the plugins here are distributed through WordPress themselves, though they are made by independent developers like yourselves, and they are downloaded through the GNU public license, which means they're all open source.
So you can download these. You can use them. You can even edit them if you want to. And as you can see here, there are 11,000 plugins available on this web site that have been downloaded quite a few times. Some of the featured plugins you can see: WordPress.com Stats, which gives you statistics on who is viewing what posts, and pages, and things like that in a very intuitive way; BuddyPress is a great tool; Super Cache for caching your web site, helping for performance; and this Twitter Widget.
Let's go into one of these, like BuddyPress. So you can see for the plugin, we can look at the Description. It tells you what it is. Basically, what BuddyPress is is it's the ability to add some social networking into your blog or into your web site quickly and easily. Again, you do this at one click of a button, create some settings, and you are off in running. If there is any installation, it will tell you a little bit about how to do that, beyond the normal. There is an FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions, Screenshots, so if you want to see what it looks like.
You can see it's very much like Facebook-esque thing, integrated right within your web site. Then there is Other Notes, history of changes, and then maybe some statistics about it, how often it's downloaded. Here you can see we have a version number. It will tell you compatibilities of which version of WordPress it works well with, and sometimes you will even find the ability to make donations. Another one that I like is Recent Tweets, and there is quite a few out there like this. Recent Tweets is actually a widget plugin.
So you can see this is what it looks like on a user's web site. It just shows the most recent tweets that the owner of this blog made. Here is the configuration aspect of it that a site owner can use. So they can give it a Title, Recent Tweets. They put their Twitter username, so that it can go out and grab that information, how many tweets you want to show, if you want the Follow Me link and if you want to have a link for the Recent Tweets plugin. In addition to all of these plugins available at the WordPress Plugin Directory, there are also companies out there that are selling these plugins.
You can see Broken Link Checker, Events Manager; these are all located at wpplugins.com. So it's a little application store that you can download these and install them right into your WordPress. There are some larger ones that are independently distributed, like shop, located at shopplugin.net. This is a full ecommerce system that you can plug right into your WordPress installation. So all in all, there are a lot of plugins available to plug into WordPress. The WordPress.org Plugin Directory provides you access to a lot of different tools, and like I said earlier, all of these plugins are open source.
So you can plug these directly into your web site, and you can also access them, and modify them if you want to. So it's always a good start, whenever you develop plugins, to take a look here first and see what's available.
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