Lately I’ve been involved in a couple of WP dev projects that also involved some other professionals. Sadly, that proved an old theory of mine: most WP plugin “devs” don’t use Git.
While programming nowadays without any version control sounds like suicide, many so-called devs are sending ZIP files attached in e-mails or even via WhatsApp.
Let’s not talk about the hundreds of tools for testing, deployment or code linting made possible by using Git and repositories on GitHub, Gitlab or similars. Git also works as an important backup tool for coders, and helps organizing changes and the whole process.
In some cases, I taught some clients of mine the basics of using Github issues, so I didn’t need to read dozens of e-mails with descriptions or print screens. They suggest or report, and I can answer doing my job: coding.
Is coding for WP any different?
That’d be my first question for those devs. Sometimes, one gets the impression that coding for WP is “not really coding”.
Of course many clients think that our job is no more than putting up a couple of plugins, setting them up and done. Well, I prefer to avoid those clients, but their thinking is somewhat based on devs who are not actually developing.
For sure you can and you should use good base plugins like ACF, Elementor or WC. But while extending or implement new features for them, you should be coding in PHP just like any Laravel ou Symfony dev.
However, as WP offers pratically a new PHP dialect, some forget about usual coding practices, version control amongst them.
So, what is key for coding in WP?
Currently, you can either be a frontend or a backend programmer – you need version control. Also, you can either code locally or in a well-shaped server, but never in a shared hosting and FTP basis.
At least for the last 20 years, developing is a bit more than uploading files and packages. One must track the new practices in order to remain in an industry. And XAMPP and cPanel development is definitely not compatible with that. Also, for a dev dealing with WP these days some other competencies make sense:
- Git and version control
- Basics of NPM and asset management
- A good knowledge on PHP extensions
- Knowledge of PHP latest versions
- Docker and its containers
- Basics of MySQL query language
Without them, you incur in the risk of being just a “website maker”, not a developer. And believe me, I am not saying that as matter of diminish your work, but as a warning: anyone can simply put up a WP today… and that tends to become even easier.