The WordPress.org plugin directory provides free access to over 45,000 plugins you can use on your WordPress site. There are also a number of both free and paid WordPress plugins available from various companies on the web. If you can't find an existing plugin that meets your needs, you can develop your own custom plugin.
- [Narrator] One of the main reasons why WordPress is so powerful and used for so many websites is because of its extensibility. One of the key elements of this extensibility is its Plugin API, which we'll deep dive into later. In this movie, I'd like to take a look at what Plugins are, what they can do for you and why they're great for WordPress administrators, developers and ultimately, for the end-users of these sites. So you can find the WordPress Plugin directory here at WordPress.org by clicking this menu item called the Plugins.
Here you can see it's called the Plugin Directory, but you'll also hear it referred to as the Plugin Repository or Repo or even just as the .org Repo. All of the Plugins you see here are distributed through WordPress, even though they are made by many independent developers, like maybe you. In order for a Plugin to be hosted and distributed here at WordPress.org, it has to be licensed under the same license that WordPress uses. And that's the GPL or General Public License. The nuances of software licensing can be a whole course of its own.
But for now, just know that what it means for you is that any Plugin you find here is Open Source. That means that you can download these. You can use them. You could even edit them if you wanted to. There are currently over 46,000 available here and you can also see how many times all of these Plugins have been downloaded. This initial Plugin directory shows us some featured Plugins. Such as jetpack, BuddyPress or bbPress. Without even clicking through to the Plugin details page, we get some basic information about each one.
Such as a description, who wrote the Plugin, how the Plugin is rated and how many active installs there are of this Plugin on the web. And even when the Plugin was last updated. This information is extremely helpful and important to look at when deciding which Plugins to use on your site. Let's go ahead and take a look at a Plugins detail page. I'm gonna use bbPress as an example. So here we get a lot of additional information about this Plugin. Looking at the description here, we can see that bbPress is a forum software.
If you need to add a forum, or bulletin board capability to your site, this is a Plugin that you could use to do that. Here we can see instructions for installation, request support for the Plugin, read the reviews and a whole lot more. And again, this is just one Plugin out of the 46,000 plus. I'm gonna go ahead and go back to the main Plugins directory. I'll click this link here to view popular Plugins. Each Plugin you see here addresses a specific problem or need. Like here's Contact Form 7, which is a Plugin that let's you add contact forms to your website.
Or there's WooCommerce if you need to have eCommerce capability on your site. Sometimes you'll find Plugins that appear to do similar things, so that's when it's important to get down into the specifics of a Plugin description and check the information provided on how recently the Plugin has been updated, what sort of a rating it gets, that sort of thing. For instance, I can tell you that WooCommerce is a great Plugin to use if you plan to sell and ship physical goods, like maybe t-shirts. But what if you want to sell digital products, like an e-book? In that case, you might look to a Plugin like Easy Digital Downloads.
It's perfect for selling non-physical goods. So, you can see that on the surface, two Plugins might seem to solve the same problem, in this case eCommerce, but you have to get into the details in order to determine which one is best to solve the problem that you have. In addition to the free Plugins available here at WordPress.org, you'll find Plugins available, both free and paid, all over the web. Easy Digital Downloads is a great example of this. The Plugin itself is free, but if you read through the Plugin features here, you can see that there are extensions available for things like making this Plugin work with our particular payment gateway or e-mail service.
And a lot of these extensions are paid. You might see other Plugins that have a free version available, but then charge if you want to access the Pro or Premium version. We saw that with Desktop Server. All in all, there are a lot of Plugins available for WordPress. Whether you're sourcing them directly from the WordPress Plugin Directory or from different companies on the web. The main point I want you to walk away with here, is that there are a ton of Plugins for WordPress in existence, ready to help you get the functionality you need on a WordPress site.
Of course, sometimes you won't be able to find the perfect Plugin. And that's where you have the ability to create your own custom Plugin, which is exactly what we'll look at doing in this course.
Curious what you can do with a plugin? Carrie covers some practical examples, including plugins for additional post types, custom taxonomies, and new admin features or layouts. Plus, get best practices for documenting and securing your plugin, and find out how to make your plugin accessible to others by internationalizing it or sharing it on WordPress.org.
- Setting up a local development environment
- Using plugins vs. themes
- Working with the Plugin API
- Documenting and securing your plugin
- Internationalizing plugins
- Hosting plugins in the WordPress repository