How to approach object-oriented programming with WordPress

I gave a talk on object-oriented programming with WordPress at WordCamp Miami 2019. This is the companion article that I wrote for it. If you’re just looking for the slides, click here.

You’re a WordPress developer who wants to use object-oriented programming in their next project. You’re already familiar with concepts like inheritance. The issue is that you’re not sure how to apply those concepts to design classes that feel useful.

This isn’t something to feel ashamed about! In fact, it’s a common problem when trying to use object-oriented programming with WordPress. It’s hard to know how to design classes that work well with WordPress. (That’s why this site has so many articles dedicated to that topic.)

But why is this so hard to do? Well, there are a few things going on. And together they create this situation that makes using object-oriented programming with WordPress complicated.

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Designing a system: WordPress admin pages

In a previous article, we saw how to design a class to represent a WordPress admin page. The article was an excellent resource for anyone looking to design a class to solve that specific type of problem. But it was only a starting point.

For example, we used the settings API to handle forms. But the settings API doesn’t quite do the job for every use cases. For those other cases, you’re going to need to manage the submission of a form yourself.

But to handle these different use cases, we’re going to need a more solid foundation. So we’re going to take the work that we did to design our admin page class, and we’re going to take it one step further. We’re going to design a whole system for WordPress admin pages.

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2018 in review: A challenging year

We’re almost at the end of 2018 and, like everyone else, I l do a review of my year. It’s been a few years that I do it now. My first review was for 2012-2015. I’ve done one for 2016 and 2017 since then.

As usual, I’d like to open up by talking about why I do these years in review. If this is the first time that you read one of them, you should know that I write them mostly for myself. I find it useful to have a historical record of what I was thinking during the year. So it’s important to write it while it’s still relatively fresh.

I also do this so that I can be transparent with you. I live a pretty non-standard life. I don’t want people to think that it’s just all sunshine and rainbows. It’s useful to see that there are always tradeoffs and that it’s not for everyone.

And finally, it’s a way for me to also keep track of my progress. Progress towards what? As I’ll talk about later, the answer to this question isn’t as clear to me as it was the previous years.

But again, that’s the goal of doing these reviews. I love documentaries where you can see how someone’s experiences shaped their path through life. It’s always my hope that these reviews also help you reflect on your own as well.

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Introduction to WordPress acceptance testing

As a WordPress developer, the topic of testing isn’t something that we hear about that often. And, if we do hear about it, it’s more often than not just one specific type of testing: unit testing. (That’s even the one that I’ve thought first!) In fact, it’s not uncommon to associate testing with unit testing because of this.

But software testing is an enormous field. There are a lot of different types of testing. While they might not all be as useful as unit testing, they still all serve a specific purpose.

That said, there are other types of testing that are as useful (or almost as useful!) as unit testing. Acceptance testing is one of them. It’s especially useful if you’re a plugin or theme developer.

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Introduction to the command-line interface

Someone once asked me, “What’s the thing that used to scare you the most as a developer?” And, without even hesitating, I answered, “Linux and the command-line interface.” We both laughed at the answer.

That’s because I’m hardly the only one to think this. There are few things early in your career as a developer that you’ll dread touching more than a command-line interface. And, even later in your career, you might still try to avoid it at all costs.

That’s why there are so many developer tools that are nothing more than abstractions over the command-line. We’d rather pay and use these tools than have to deal with a command-line interface. This isn’t a bad thing per say either.

If you get the job done faster with those tools and are more comfortable with them, you should use them. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be comfortable with a command-line interface either. There are situations (like when you’re connecting to a server) where you won’t have access to your favourite tool, but you’ll have access to a command-line interface.

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How do you start unit testing existing WordPress code?

A lot of us have heard about unit testing. Out of all the different types of testing (and there are a few!), it’s probably the better-known one. It’s also the most common form of testing used with WordPress.

In the past, we’ve looked at how unit testing works with WordPress. That said, knowing how unit testing works is one thing. This knowledge doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to get started with it in your projects.

Some of us work with existing code bases. It could be a plugin, a theme or a whole WordPress site. How do you take the fundamentals of unit testing and apply them in that context?

This is a tricky question to answer, but it’s also an important one. Most of us will not start using unit testing in a vacuum. We’re going to start using it with one of those existing code bases.

This brings with it its own unique sets of challenges. It also means that you need to have a strategy for them. This will help make this transition smoother for you.

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Continuous deployment to the WordPress directory with CircleCI

Note: This article focuses on how to continuously deploy a plugin using CircleCI. But you can also use everything discussed here with a theme as well.

As developers, we all have our preferred tools and distinct way of working. That’s why it’s not uncommon for us to write about it or create scripts to set up our work computers. But the one tool that most of us tend to agree on is using git for version control.

That said, if you’ve ever had a plugin or theme on the WordPress directory, you know that it doesn’t use git. It uses subversion. That’s a problem for a lot of us because we don’t want to have to deal with both.

While there are a lot of resources out there to deal with this problem, it also presents us with an opportunity. We can use this problem to build a continuous deployment workflow for the WordPress directory. This will allow us to not worry about this aspect of WordPress plugin development anymore.

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PHP reflection API fundamentals

Do you ever take the time to read the code of your favourite PHP framework or library? If you have, there’s a good chance that you might have seen them use PHP’s reflection API. And, if you don’t read other people’s code, you should start doing it! (It’s a great learning tool.)

Now, let’s get back to the reflection API. This is an API that gets used quite a lot by framework and library developers. But the funny thing is that it’s almost never talked about when you’re looking at resources to learn PHP. (Or even advanced PHP resources for that matter.)

This is unfortunate. That’s because PHP’s reflection API serves a unique and important purpose. That’s why developers that build our frameworks and libraries use it so much.

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Designing entities using WordPress custom post types

Custom post types are one the most powerful features of WordPress. You can use them to save any type of data that you want in the wp_posts table. Most plugins that build complex features on top of WordPress (e.g. WooCommerce) rely on them.

But custom post types aren’t just useful for developing new features on top of WordPress. They also allow us to rethink how we use object-oriented programming with WordPress. And, as we’ll see, this is an important step in your journey learning object-oriented programming with WordPress.

That’s because having a different view of custom post types will expand your object-oriented design horizons. They’ll help you build new types of classes that you might not have considered before. And this can be a game-changer when creating larger object-oriented plugins or themes.

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Getting started with continuous integration and WordPress

I gave an introduction to continuous integration with WordPress at WordCamp San Diego 2018. This is the companion article that I wrote for it. If you’re just looking for the slides, click here.

Writing high-quality WordPress code is hard to do. It requires constant effort on our part and good self-awareness to know when we slipped up. But, if your business has any sort of success (which we all want!), you’re going to work with more and more people. And many of them are likely to touch with your code.

This is going to put a strain on your development processes. It becomes harder to maintain a certain level of code quality. And you’re no longer the only person making code changes. You’re now part of a team, and you need a way to standardize all of the things you once did on your own.

That’s goal of continuous integration. It lets you automate your different development workflows. This ensures that the quality of your code stays consistent.

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