WordCamp Vancouver 2016

Do it in code!

A guide to creating a custom site structure plugin in WordPress.

Presented by:

Peter Hebert

Rex Rana Design and Development Ltd.

What is site structure?

  • Post Types
  • Metaboxes and Fields
  • Taxonomy
  • Menus
  • Permalink Structure

Why a custom plugin?

  • Functionality should live in code, not the database
  • Themes for presentation, plugins for functionality
  • Manage code in version control system (git, svn)
  • Code Portability / Deployment
    • dev / staging / production
    • re-use for multiple websites / different clients

Our Sample Plugin

We'll create a Film listing (like IMDB)

  • Custom Post Type: Film
  • Custom Taxonomy: Genre
  • Metabox: Film Info
  • Fields: Release Date, Duration, Director


WordPress core functionality

  • Not easy to use — you have to do all the heavy lifting
    • CRUD functions (create, read, update and delete)
    • Callback functions with HTML to display fields in admin
    • Sanitization / validation of input
    • nonces
  • It's a lot to remember — time could be better spent

Thankfully, there’s a better way!

Many tools exist for simplifying the creation of site structure:

  • Plugins (Advanced Custom Fields, Pods, etc.)
    • Most have an export to code functionality
  • Developer libraries: CMB2, Custom Meta Boxes
  • Code Generators: GenerateWP, WP-CLI scaffold command

GUI-based structure plugins

Create your structure in the admin, then export to code.

Developer library: CMB2


  • Toolkit for building metaboxes, custom fields, and forms
  • Takes care of all the hard stuff for you
  • Declare metaboxes and fields using arrays of parameters
  • 32 field types included, with API to declare your own
  • Use on Post Types, Options Pages, User Profiles
    • even on the front end of your site

Developer library: Custom Meta Boxes


  • Framework for easily adding custom fields
  • works similarly to CMB2 (parameter arrays)
  • (seems to) only work on post edit pages
  • fork of original CMB (predecessor to CMB2)
  • 20 field types included, plus repeater field
  • features a basic 12 column grid system to align fields

Code Generators: GenerateWP


  • Form-based wizards for generating code compliant with WordPress coding standards
  • Select a tool, fill in the form, generate the code
  • Copy ready-to-use code directly to your plugin.

Code Generators: WP-CLI 'scaffold'


Command within WordPress command-line interface (CLI)

  • Generates starter code for themes, plugins, unit tests, post types and taxonomy.
  • Limited - cannot specify advanced parameters, only gives minimal config with defaults
  • Provides a quick start-off point

WP-CLI Scaffolding Examples

Run commands from within site directory

'Film' post type

wp scaffold post-type film --label=Film --textdomain=structure \
--dashicon=editor-video --plugin=my-custom-structure

'Genre' taxonomy

wp scaffold taxonomy genre --post_types=film --label=Genre \
--textdomain=structure --plugin=my-custom-structure

Putting it all together

  • If using ACF or CMB2 :
    • Install plugin in normal way, or:
    • Download to a subdirectory, include in your plugin's main PHP file
  • Create separate PHP files for each of: Post Types, Taxonomy, Metaboxes/Fields
    • include these files in your main plugin PHP file
    • this makes items easier to find, comment out or remove

Developer library includes

Advanced Custom Fields

if( file_exists( dirname(__FILE__).'/lib/advanced-custom-fields/acf.php' ) ) {
include_once( 'lib/advanced-custom-fields/acf.php' );


if( file_exists( dirname(__FILE__).'/lib/cmb2/init.php' ) ) {
    include_once( 'lib/cmb2/init.php' );

Includes for declaring structure


/* using WordPress core functionality */
/* using ACF */
/* using CMB2  */


Thank You

Permalink: slides.rexrana.com/wcyvr2016

Find us online

Rex Rana
Peter Hebert
Rex Rana