If you want to start development work on WordPress and its plugins, you need a list of resources and software that will aid you. In this tutorial, I've put together everything I think you might need from start to finish. This will include:
- Browsers of choice;
- Plugins for the browsers;
- Hosting suggestions for WordPress websites;
- Useful WordPress plugins;
- Other Assorted links.
So let's get started.
Browsers to Choose for Development - Desktop
As of this writing, Chrome has a 60% market share, so you have to assume that your viewers are using Chrome. But it's by no means a monopoly. Though low, Internet Explorer (yes, IE!), Firefox, and Edge, all experience significant usage. Firefox for example, is around 10% and that's not small. So for your WordPress development work, you should have at least the following:
- Safari (for Mac)
Mobile Browsers for WordPress Development
Mobile browsing is now just as prevalent as the desktop (perhaps more!). And here is where the script changes considerably. Chrome is still the dominant browser, but due to the prevalence of iOS in the mobile market, Safari commands a 20% share of mobile browser usage.
Finally, another up and coming browser in the mobile space is called "UC Browser". While a lot of people in the west haven't heard of it, it's hugely popular in the east in countries like India and China, where it easily surpasses Safari for a commanding 25% chunk of the market.
So if you're developing a site for a global audience, you absolutely need to have the following browsers for mobile testing:
- UC Browser
Browser Developer Plugins
Both Chrome and Firefox have support for many plugins that will help you in your WordPress development. Here are a few:
- FireFTP is a great little tool for quick access to your WordPress installations via FTP. Unfortunately, this plugin is only available for Firefox.
- If you have Chrome, I suggest you use WinSCP. It's convenient and simple to set up.
- The User Agent Switcher is awesome for testing your site response to various browser agents. Available for Chrome and Firefox.
In addition, you can check how your site will look on a mobile screen by using Chrome's in-built tools for the job.
WordPress Developer Plugins
WordPress has a wide range of plugins that make development easy. Here are some of the useful ones you'll find yourself using constantly:
- The Theme Switcha plugin allows you to test out different themes on your client's website.
- The Jetpack plugin for WordPress is a wonder. It's a swiss army knife that allows you to do a roll a whole bunch of plugins into one.
- The WP File Manager allows you to access files on your WordPress installation even without an FTP plugin.
- User Switching makes it easy for you to change users with the click of a button. This useful plugin lets you test security frameworks, by presenting you with the interface that another user would see!
- The "Debug Bar" lets you view error information, and other variables like cache, SQL queries etc. These are very useful when troubleshooting a site and trying to fix a broken installation.
Making a Child Theme
One of the most valuable things a WordPress developer should know is how to make a child theme. This will allow you to safely make changes to a client's website, without worrying about doing any permanent damage. It also ensures that your changes will not be overridden by every theme update that comes along!
This list of resources, should get you quickly started with WordPress development. If you feel that there are some others that you can't do without, let us know in the comments!