Plugins are a great way to enhance the natural power of WordPress. By developing plugins, you become part of a thriving community that brings much needed function and utility to hundred of thousands of WordPress sites everywhere. Whether you are a plugin expert, or just starting to understand the complexity and dynamic ability of plugins, these tools will help you create plugins that can become businesses!
1. PhpStorm – IDE
PhpStorm is a great asset for WordPress plugin developers because it has a built-in WordPress module that includes plugin skeletons, development environment configuration for WordPress, WordPress code style, Hooks support, and the ability to search on WordPress.org right from the editor itself! It is even cross-platform available for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.
Here’s a great post that explains how to use PhpStorm with WordPress.
This is a handy tool, especially for beginners that need some help to generate plugin’s readme files without syntax mistakes. These tools narrow it down to essentials and the generator creates an outline with everything that you need. This file generator will ensure that your readme file is organized, and it won’t cost an arm and a leg to do it. Simply fill in the form, click “Update Code”, and copy the code to your project!
3. Prepros – LESS / SASS Precompiler
Prepos is the essential tool when it comes precompiling and build automation. Prepos lets you compile LESS, SASS and other styling formats with CSS prefixing (auto-prefixer that automatically prefixes CSS for cross browser compatibility).
Prepos is also great for minimizing bandwidth reduction, file concentration and even image optimization to reduce load times! Prepos prides itself on being simple and powerful, and we certainly found that to be true! It’s also a cross-platform app that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Josh Pollock created this great post explaining how beneficial Prepos is for WordPress development.
In my opinion, it has the best balance of features, ease of use, and light system resource consumption. If you have to do more complex automation you should look at Gulp.
4. Chrome Developer Tools – Real-Time Client Side Editing
For a list of good tricks and tips to try with DevTools, check out this post!
5. Tortoise SVN & Cornerstone – SVN Version Controls to Commit the Code to the WP repository
Subversion is a highly important aspect of WordPress development. It is mandatory to use SVN as a type of version control because the WordPress.org only works with SVN. SVN is also especially useful when you are trying to reverse changes made to several folders.
Tortoise SVN is a great subversion client for Windows with a GUI that gives you control but doesn’t complicate things with command lines. It’s easy to use and powerful, and it has a variety of features which include all commands are available directly from Windows Explorer, only commands that make sense are displayed, status of files are seen directly in windows explorer, descriptive dialogs, and allows moving files by right-dragging them into Windows Explorer.
Now if you have a Mac, Cornerstone is your subversion solution. Like Tortoise SVN, Cornerstone focuses on making version control simple but extremely useful. With Cornerstone, advanced operations such as branching and merging are made easy.
Here is a great article explaining how to use SVN for your newly developed plugin!
These tools will give your plugin development a great start, but I would also love to know your favorite WordPress plugin development tools. Feel free to leave a comment.