IT GOES WITHOUT saying that plugins are different from themes, but they have a lot in common. You could say that when you’re adding functionality to your theme by adding code to the functions.php template file, you’re actually writing a plugin.
But there is a huge difference. Themes are there to display the WordPress site, using the tools available. Plugins, on the other hand, are used when you need to extend the WordPress functionality with additional features. You should remember that because bloating your theme’s functions.php with features isn’t always the best way to go.
In this chapter, you’ll look at plugins from a slightly different standpoint than you did in the themes chapters. The reason for this is simple: Your plugin can do anything. It is basically a way for you to add whatever functionality you want; compare that to doing funky stuff with a select few template tags, and you see the difference.
With plugins, it is not a matter of what you can do, it is more a question of why you would want to do it. With that in mind, treat this chapter as an introduction to a whole new world.
Anyone who’s been using and working with WordPress for an extended period of time knows that plugins can be great. They’re potential solutions to massive problems that usually would take days or even weeks to solve, and possibly cost a lot of money if you’re not programmatically inclined yourself. Thanks to the vast number of ...