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Build a PHP plugin#

By default, plugins are compiled automatically just by copying them into the WordPress wp-content/plugins directory. This automatic compilation has a few disadvantages:

  • plugin is compiled every time the application gets started (time penalty).
  • you need to have source code of the plugin on the server (security).
  • eventual code errors are revealed upon starting the application (reliability).

In order to avoid those issues, plugins can be pre-compiled during the deployment process. A single WordPress plugin or the plugins directory is then defined as a PHP class library project (below) which is then referenced by the application (see overview). Application can have references to one or more plugin projects.

Sample project:

Plugin source files#

Sources of the plugin complies with the regular WordPress codex. See Writing a Plugin for more details. Put the plugin source files in an empty folder.

Following is a file structure for the basic WordPress Hello Dolly plugin.

┬ MyHelloDollyPlugin
└┬ hello.php
 └ readme.txt

Name or location of the folder are both not relevant.

Note, the plugin must contain the standard plugin metadata. The main source file needs to specify following minimal metadata at the top of the file:


Plugin Name: Hello Dolly
Version: 1.7.2

Plugin project file#

In order to compile the plugin, create a project file in the plugin folder.

┬ MyHelloDollyPlugin
└┬ hello.php
 ├ MyHelloDollyPlugin.msbuildproj  <---
 └ readme.txt

By default, the name of the project file represents the plugin's id. Id, or slug id is the identifier of the plugin within WordPress.

Project file is an XML file with the following content:


<Project Sdk="PeachPied.WordPress.Build.Plugin/5.8.1-preview11">


For most cases, the project file does not specify anything else as all the properties are defined by default in the Sdk. In case a build property or a build item needs to be altered, add it to your project file.

Note the project file specifies a version after the slash, i.e. "/5.8.1-preview11". This corresponds to the version of PeachPied.WordPress.* packages which should be identical across all your application.

Build the plugin#

In order to build the plugin, run dotnet build command:

dotnet build

The process will build the plugin project. Eventual warnings will be outputed. Any error in the code will cause the build to fail.

If the process is run for the first time, it will first download the project Sdk and dependency packages (it means it requires an Internet connection).

Add plugin to the application#

Assuming you have ASP.NET Core Application (called app) with WordPress (see quick start). Adding plugins to the application is equivalent to adding project references or package references.

Either add project reference to the plugin in Visual Studio IDE, or on command line, or edit the application's project file:


  <ProjectReference Include="../MyHelloDollyPlugin/MyHelloDollyPlugin.msbuildproj" />

Note, the plugin is referenced by the application and it still needs to be activated in WordPress dashboard.

Package the plugin#

Plugin can be packed into a standard NuGet package. Run dotnet pack command to create NuGet package:

dotnet pack

Package (.nupkg) can be pushed into a NuGet feed. It is recommended to push packages to private feeds, or at least pack packages with a unique prefixed package identifier (i.e. MyName.MyWpPlugins.MyHelloDollyPlugin).

Add package reference to the application#

Once plugin is packed and available on a NuGet feed, it can be referenced as a package reference. Either add package reference to the plugin in Visual Studio IDE, or on command line, or edit the application's project file:

  <PackageReference Include="MyHelloDollyPlugin" Version="1.7.2" />

Debugging the plugin#

not yet documented