There have been a number of cool inventions and tools released over the past few years. Frontend web developers are enjoying the control granted with open source plugins, scripts, libraries, and other similar release packs. WordPress is a great CMS because it provides a large collection of free themes and plugins to build around. And the userbase has been growing like crazy for years.
I feel there are not enough resources out there for truly dynamic WordPress developers. In this article I want to showcase a number of tools and resources which are perfect for WP devs. Many components are themes or initial templates which can expedite your development time. Check out the list and see if you can find value in any of these free open source tools.
The nifty WP codex documentation has it's own set of rewards and setbacks. In certain instances I find myself visiting QueryPosts in reference to newer functions or parameters. This is basically a giant library of WordPress documentation which is much simpler to understand. Plus you can look at direct examples and copies of the codes.
All of the function names are displayed in a single line coupled with the parameters and location within the script. So you may be looking for the function get_users() because you want to find the original placement in source code. Well this page has the original source copied over, along with a direct link to the WP Github repo. Using this link we can determine the get_users() function resides in /wp-includes/user.php at line #662. A really cool webapp for those interested in WordPress development.
The Twitter Bootstrap framework has become ever-so-popular these past couple years. Open source development over frontend interfaces has become an area of focus for newcomers. And I feel this idea carries over nicely into WordPress Bootstrap, a free open source theme which is coded using the Bootstrap framework.
According to their webpage the entire theme was built on Bones which is another very helpful theme resource. But it should become obvious that the additions via WP Bootstrap are much more helpful. It comes complete with default Bootstrap shortcodes for many of the common page components and features. Plus it uses two(2) dynamic sidebars which you can swap or hide from within the admin panel. Definitely worth checking out if you have some knowledge with using Bootstrap.
Although Roots does not have such a straightforward name, this is another free WordPress theme built on Twitter Bootstrap. The base foundation is running over HTML5 Boilerplate which is currently one of my favorite development tools. Provided that this template is really easy to customize, it can be an easier choice than WP Bootstrap.
You can find the Roots framework hosted on Github and download a full copy as well. I have only tried it out a few times and from my experience the Roots theme is a good teaching tool. Developers who are not super familiar with themes could start editing Roots and learn many new ideas within just a couple days. Not to mention the fantastic documentation which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your knowledgebase.
The HTML5 Blank WP theme is another free open source template for building your own ideas. Developers may prefer this over any other similar tool or resource, simply because of the plain HTML template codes. This is a great theme for coders who just want to quickly implement their ideas over basic CSS resets and a typical WP file structure.
This is obviously not a production-level theme and you cannot run this on your website alone. Well you can, but it would look pretty bland as you can tell from the live demo. But the purpose of this theme is to provide a grounding framework for developers to quickly churn out brand new WP themes without creating each new file from scratch. And starting with the latest Twenty Twelve/Twenty Eleven/Twenty Ten themes can be even more of a hassle.
WordPress Widget & Plugin Boilerplate
I have saved the best for last with this set of boilerplate templates for WP developers. Tom McFarlin has released a great collection of free boilerplate templates on Github which target both WordPress plugins and widgets. These are very simple PHP files which require a standard structure to operate properly, and this will save hours of time in the long run.
You can check out the Widget Boilerplate and the Plugin Boilerplate which both have a similar file structure. Most of these objects will need a stylesheet or a JS script for the admin panel. Everything has been included and focused around the WordPress API. One of my favorite pieces to the Plugin template is a handy list of all the actions and filters you may choose. Read up more on Tom's related blog post where he discusses the release of his boilerplate on Github. Anybody who is serious about learning plugin development should dig around in these codes.
Not everybody has a need for WordPress and it may not always be the #1 choice for every web project. However I do feel that the developers have come a long way since the initial release. Plus the company has gained a tremendous following of users and developers from around the world. This leads to greater prosperity among plugins and free themes for new users just getting started.
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