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DX Plugin Base

The DX Plugin Base plugin outlines the best practices through existing code snippets in order to make it easier for you to create your own WordPress plugin.

The plugin is ready to go - you can install it and it will simply work! Feel free to fork it away, remove and alter existing snippets and fine tune it in order to make it all yours.

Check out our intro video as well:

DX Plugin Base Video

You could also use specific snippets and copy them over to your new plugin - just like a snippet library of helper functions for you to use. It's up to you.

When in doubt, always check the syntax and complete function reference at

Included Features and Snippets

Enqueueing JavaScript

JavaScript could be added both at the frontend of your WordPress website, and the backend (your WordPress admin dashboard). Depending on your preference, you should attach your JavaScript callback to the hook responsible for the frontend inclusions, or the backend once.

For frontend:

    add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', array( $this, 'dx_add_JS' ) );

This would add the dx_add_JS function do the hook responsible for adding scripts to the frontend. Your function can later add JS files like that:

	public function dx_add_JS() {
		wp_enqueue_script( 'jquery' );
		// load custom JSes and put them in footer
		wp_register_script( 'samplescript', plugins_url( '/js/samplescript.js' , __FILE__ ), array('jquery'), '1.0', true );
		wp_enqueue_script( 'samplescript' );

And for backend:

    add_action( 'admin_enqueue_scripts', array( $this, 'dx_add_admin_JS' ) );

Calling a function for your backend is similar:

	public function dx_add_admin_JS( $hook ) {
		wp_enqueue_script( 'jquery' );
		wp_register_script( 'samplescript-admin', plugins_url( '/js/samplescript-admin.js' , __FILE__ ), array('jquery'), '1.0', true );
		wp_enqueue_script( 'samplescript-admin' );

You can also use the $hook argument in order to identify which is the current screen, and display context-specific content this way.

Enqueueing CSS

Styling your WordPress project could require both admin updates (for plugin settings pages or general dashboard overhaul) or frontend updates for your components (and overrides on top of the existing WordPress theme).

In order to accomplish that, you need to enqueue your style callback functions to the frontend or backend hooks.

Similarly to the JS enqueueing process, the same hooks are used for adding your styles: wp_enqueue_scripts for the frontend, and admin_enqueue_scripts for the backend, example:

    add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', array( $this, 'dx_add_CSS' ) );
    add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', array( $this, 'dx_add_CSS' ) );

Then, you can call the wp_enqueue_style function within your callback method in order to load the style in question:

   	public function dx_add_admin_CSS( $hook ) {
		wp_register_style( 'samplestyle-admin', plugins_url( '/css/samplestyle-admin.css', __FILE__ ), array(), '1.0', 'screen' );
		wp_enqueue_style( 'samplestyle-admin' );	
		if( 'toplevel_page_dx-plugin-base' === $hook ) {
			wp_register_style('dx_help_page',  plugins_url( '/help-page.css', __FILE__ ) );

We have also used the $hook argument available for the admin callbacks, that allows you to easily enqueue a style only in certain admin pages.

Registering Menu Pages

There are several ways to register menu pages, the main one requires hooking your callback to admin_menu first:

	add_action( 'admin_menu', array( $this, 'dx_admin_pages_callback' ) );

Then you can add top level or submenu pages to your dashboard menu:

	public function dx_admin_pages_callback() {
		add_menu_page(__( "Plugin Base Admin", 'dxbase' ), __( "Plugin Base Admin", 'dxbase' ), 'edit_themes', 'dx-plugin-base', array( $this, 'dx_plugin_base' ) );		
		add_submenu_page( 'dx-plugin-base', __( "Base Subpage", 'dxbase' ), __( "Base Subpage", 'dxbase' ), 'edit_themes', 'dx-base-subpage', array( $this, 'dx_plugin_subpage' ) );
		add_submenu_page( 'dx-plugin-base', __( "Remote Subpage", 'dxbase' ), __( "Remote Subpage", 'dxbase' ), 'edit_themes', 'dx-remote-subpage', array( $this, 'dx_plugin_side_access_page' ) );

It's up to you what would you hook exactly and what would be the capabilities required for your users, but that's the sample syntax that you'd need. Each of those pages is defined via a callback at the end of the function parameters list, that could either be plain HTML/PHP, or loading an external file including your logic:

	// Earlier in your plugin header
	define( 'DXP_PATH_INCLUDES', dirname( __FILE__ ) . '/inc' );
	// A class method for the callback
	public function dx_plugin_side_access_page() {
		include_once( DXP_PATH_INCLUDES . '/remote-page-template.php' );

Registering Post Types

Creating new content types in WordPress is fairly easy - it requires registering new post types for each data collection. Since it's a global action that's used across the entire site, we need to register it with the init hook:

		add_action( 'init', array( $this, dx_custom_post_types_callback' ), 5 );

The function responsible for the registration has plenty of options to play with, in terms of labels, capabilities, visibility control and so forth. An example is:

	public function dx_custom_post_types_callback() {
		register_post_type( 'pluginbase', array(
			'labels' => array(
				'name' => __("Base Items", 'dxbase'),
				'singular_name' => __("Base Item", 'dxbase'),
				'add_new' => _x("Add New", 'pluginbase', 'dxbase' ),
				'add_new_item' => __("Add New Base Item", 'dxbase' ),
				'edit_item' => __("Edit Base Item", 'dxbase' ),
				'new_item' => __("New Base Item", 'dxbase' ),
				'view_item' => __("View Base Item", 'dxbase' ),
				'search_items' => __("Search Base Items", 'dxbase' ),
				'not_found' =>  __("No base items found", 'dxbase' ),
				'not_found_in_trash' => __("No base items found in Trash", 'dxbase' ),
			'description' => __("Base Items for the demo", 'dxbase'),
			'public' => true,
			'publicly_queryable' => true,
			'query_var' => true,
			'rewrite' => true,
			'exclude_from_search' => true,
			'show_ui' => true,
			'show_in_menu' => true,
			'menu_position' => 40, 
			'supports' => array(
			'taxonomies' => array( 'post_tag' )

The base item here is a random name for your entry type, which may as well be a Product, House or something else.

Registering Taxonomies

Grouping content entries by criteria is possible with Categories and Tags in a default WordPress install. We can create other Custom Taxonomy entries for things such as Cities, Colors, Number of Bedrooms or other enumerable and classifiable entries.

We should hook them up at an init hook as well:

    add_action( 'init', array( $this, 'dx_custom_taxonomies_callback' ), 6 );

Then, our callback is registering the custom taxonomy and binds it so a custom post type:

	public function dx_custom_taxonomies_callback() {
		register_taxonomy( 'pluginbase_taxonomy', 'pluginbase', array(
			'hierarchical' => true,
			'labels' => array(
				'name' => _x( "Base Item Taxonomies", 'taxonomy general name', 'dxbase' ),
				'singular_name' => _x( "Base Item Taxonomy", 'taxonomy singular name', 'dxbase' ),
				'search_items' =>  __( "Search Taxonomies", 'dxbase' ),
				'popular_items' => __( "Popular Taxonomies", 'dxbase' ),
				'all_items' => __( "All Taxonomies", 'dxbase' ),
				'parent_item' => null,
				'parent_item_colon' => null,
				'edit_item' => __( "Edit Base Item Taxonomy", 'dxbase' ), 
				'update_item' => __( "Update Base Item Taxonomy", 'dxbase' ),
				'add_new_item' => __( "Add New Base Item Taxonomy", 'dxbase' ),
				'new_item_name' => __( "New Base Item Taxonomy Name", 'dxbase' ),
				'separate_items_with_commas' => __( "Separate Base Item taxonomies with commas", 'dxbase' ),
				'add_or_remove_items' => __( "Add or remove Base Item taxonomy", 'dxbase' ),
				'choose_from_most_used' => __( "Choose from the most used Base Item taxonomies", 'dxbase' )
			'show_ui' => true,
			'query_var' => true,
			'rewrite' => true,
		register_taxonomy_for_object_type( 'pluginbase_taxonomy', 'pluginbase' );

Adding Meta Boxes

Your existing or custom Post types can display additional boxes on the Add/Edit admin screen that allows for displaying data or embedding custom forms for additional data - such as Price, Address or something else.

You can register those as Custom Fields added to Meta Boxes - sections visible in the Add/Edit Posts screen. There's an add_meta_boxes hook to start with:

	add_action( 'add_meta_boxes', array( $this, 'dx_meta_boxes_callback' ) );

Our callback method will register the metaboxes that we need, attached to a specific post type and listed in the respective position:

	public function dx_meta_boxes_callback() {
		// register side box
		        __( "DX Side Box", 'dxbase' ),
		        array( $this, 'dx_side_meta_box' ),
		        'pluginbase', // leave empty quotes as '' if you want it on all custom post add/edit screens
		// register bottom box
		    	__( "DX Bottom Box", 'dxbase' ), 
		    	array( $this, 'dx_bottom_meta_box' ),
		    	'' // leave empty quotes as '' if you want it on all custom post add/edit screens or add a post type slug

The callback of our add_meta_box call includes everything that is to be displayed in our new admin section - which could be some informative message or input fields:

	public function dx_side_meta_box( $post, $metabox) {
		_e("<p>Side meta content here</p>", 'dxbase');
		// Add some test data here - a custom field, that is
		$dx_test_input = '';
		if ( ! empty ( $post ) ) {
			// Read the database record if we've saved that before
			$dx_test_input = get_post_meta( $post->ID, 'dx_test_input', true );
		<label for="dx-test-input"><?php _e( 'Test Custom Field', 'dxbase' ); ?></label>
		<input type="text" id="dx-test-input" name="dx_test_input" value="<?php echo $dx_test_input; ?>" />

Our side metabox includes a test input field that is fetched from the database and displayed (if an existing value is available). Other than that, we could save our post and get those data populated in the WordPress database.

Storing custom field (post meta) values

When saving a post, the save_post action is being called:

	add_action( 'save_post', array( $this, 'dx_save_sample_field' ) );

We can hook there and verify our custom fields, and store them in the _postmeta database table for the current post entry ID. The default fields are stored by default, but we need to handle our custom entries:

	public function dx_save_sample_field( $post_id ) {
		// Avoid autosaves
		if( defined( 'DOING_AUTOSAVE' ) && DOING_AUTOSAVE ) {

		$slug = 'pluginbase'; // our post type slug that we're handling
		// If this isn't a 'book' post, don't update it.
		if ( ! isset( $_POST['post_type'] ) || $slug != $_POST['post_type'] ) {
		// If the custom field is found, update the postmeta record
		// Also, filter the HTML just to be safe
		if ( isset( $_POST['dx_test_input']  ) ) {
			update_post_meta( $post_id, 'dx_test_input',  esc_html( $_POST['dx_test_input'] ) );

Making your plugin translatable (i18n)

The WordPress Plugin Handbook has a great resource on How to Internationalize Your Plugin, including the list of functions you need to use for your literals, numbers, translating your plugin and including the internationalization capabilities to its core.

At DX Plugin Base we load the text domain with the load_plugin_textdomain function attached to the plugins_loaded hook:

    add_action( 'plugins_loaded', array( $this, 'dx_add_textdomain' ) );
    	public function dx_add_textdomain() {
		load_plugin_textdomain( 'dxbase', false, dirname( plugin_basename( __FILE__ ) ) . '/lang/' );

We define the dxbase text domain that makes it easier to bundle the entire plugin, generate a .po file and translate it accordingly. You can easily replace all dxbase instances across the plugin with your text domain, and generate the translatable file as per the Plugin Handbook article.

Creating a Settings Page

We all hope for the arrival of the Fields API, but until then the best practices are to follow the Settings API guidelines.

DX Plugin Base provides a dx-plugin-settings.class.php sample class that registers sections and fields accordingly, and a inc/base-page-template.php template including the settings registered in the class.

You can follow the same model and introduce your own logic there, building additional templates according to your requirements.

Creating a Custom Widget

Widgets are one of the main components used by WordPress websites. You can build custom widgets, drag tem inside of a widget area (and create new sidebars accordingly), and all of that comes with a handy UI screen under Appearance - Widgets and Customizer.

A custom widget is available in inc/dx-sample-widget.class.php and registered in the main plugin file:

   add_action( 'widgets_init', array( $this, 'dx_sample_widget' ) );
    public function dx_sample_widget() {
	    include_once DXP_PATH_INCLUDES . '/dx-sample-widget.class.php';

Creating a Custom Shortcode

Shortcodes are bits of code that you can insert in your posts or pages and they would be resolved to whatever is being generated by PHP. You can loop posts, build column interfaces, or introduce other bits of complex markup or dynamic code that would simplify the work for your users (and improve the UX accordingly).

A shortcode callback is added to the init hook and registered with the add_shortcode function:

    add_shortcode( 'dxsampcode', array( $this, 'dx_sample_shortcode_body' ) );

The shortcode callback can interact with WordPress and all underlying APIs and return HTML as a result. You can pass various arguments:

   [sample_shortcode arg1="first" arg2="second"]content[/sample_shortcode]

Arguments are available in the $attr array - the first argument of the callback, and a $content is also provided if you wrap a chunk of text with your shortcode opening and closing tags.

	 * Returns the content of the sample shortcode, like [dxsamplcode]
	 * @param array $attr arguments passed to array, like [dxsamcode attr1="one" attr2="two"]
	 * @param string $content optional, could be used for a content to be wrapped, such as [dxsamcode]somecontnet[/dxsamcode]
	public function dx_sample_shortcode_body( $attr, $content = null ) {
		 * Manage the attributes and the content as per your request and return the result
		return __( 'Sample Output', 'dxbase');

Fetching AJAX Data Remotely

Check out the inc/remote-page-template.php sample template fetching data with js/samplescript-admin.js interacting with DX_Plugin_Base::store_ajax_value.

That's It!

It's live on - - and ready for an automatic install from the WordPress admin.

Learn how to build custom post types and taxonomies, add metaboxes, include external JS/CSS files properly and much more.


Plugin Framework for rapid WordPress Plugin development!






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