10 Ways to Learn WordPress Hooks

FeatTenHookResources
Reading Time: 9 mins

WordPress Hooks are hard. We always hear the word “hooks” being thrown around and it’s one of those things that make sense, but then it doesn’t.

I’m sure that there may even people reading this right now, and not entirely sure what I mean by hooks. That’s okay. Before I go on with this post, they look like this. These are two examples I pulled from the Twenty Fifteen Theme in functions.php.

Line 142 of functions.php in Twenty Fifteen.

Line 142 of functions.php in Twenty Fifteen, it’s an action hook.

Line 310 of functions.php in Twenty Fifteen.

Line 310 of functions.php in Twenty Fifteen, it’s a filter hook.

 

Still confused? No worries, it took me a while too. In fact, I can’t say that I completely know all there is to know about WordPress hooks even now, even after writing, “The WordPress Hooks Firing Sequence“. WordPress is the kind of thing that the goal isn’t to learn it all, but to learn it in levels for your purposes. It’s such a deep system, deeper than most people imagine, and I’ve found that once I’ve obtained an understanding of one concept, there is always more to learn. Each concept I learn serves as a foundation for what I learn next.

Hooks didn’t click for me until about a year ago. I too, was copying and pasting various solutions offered by the all knowing Google or Stack Overflow into my WordPress theme. I hadn’t truly understood what was happening when I dropped these snippets of PHP in and the world that would open once that understanding happened.

As much as I’d like to sit here and try to explain what hooks are, if there’s one thing I can say from experience, is that understanding comes in layers. In other words, there is no one mind blowing resource that is suddenly going to make it click. Or maybe it will, depends on the person I guess. For me, however, it took several readings, videos, and diving into WordPress code before the ah hah moment hit.

Knowing that it took a combination of resources and methods for me to learn WordPress hooks, I’d like to pass them onto you. These resources will hopefully bring that fuzzy definition of hooks into focus, even if it’s in layers. In addition to these 10 resources, I’d like to share 2 methods that worked for me. Everyone learns differently and at their own pace, but perhaps sharing my experience will help someone along.

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The WordPress Hooks Firing Sequence!

hooksFeatList
Reading Time: 25 mins

All right, so big questions for WordPress hooks. What hooks exist for use? And what is the WordPress hooks firing sequence?

As in, what order do WordPress hooks fire within their actual context?

There are two resources, the WP Hook Database by Adam Brown and WordPress’ Code Reference to search for hooks. These two are great, but for someone still testing the waters in learning these concepts, it’s pretty overwhelming. Just imagine someone trying to learn the English language and you hand them the English dictionary.

What is all this? There’s just so much here, how do I know what words to use? How much of this do I need? Where do I even begin? And of course, alphabetical order isn’t going to help unless you converse in alphabetical order, right?

The same can be said for the above mentioned resources for hooks. They’re handy if you’re already familiar with hooks and/or if you have a true understanding of how WordPress builds itself in the background.

And so I thought to myself, maybe if I knew what hooks happen all the time in WordPress’ routine processing, and in what order, that might be a good starting point. A piece of the dictionary versus the whole doggone thing. Turns out I’m not the only person thinking this way. There doesn’t seem to be a unified and updated resource to the hook sequence, their definitions, and which ones happen depending on their environment.

So, I figured, if I had this resource, then I can start learning the language effectively – as in, the language of WordPress hooks. If said resource doesn’t exist – maybe it’s time I make one.

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WordPress Generated Classes and Why You Need Them

featCssClasses
Reading Time: 6 mins

Ever hear of WordPress generated classes? Know where they are and what they do?

Odds are, if you are a past version of me, you might be removing them without realizing. You might also be underestimating why keeping them is important.

Whether you’re building a site with Sass, integrating a framework like Foundation 5, or building a custom theme from scratch, you will need these classes.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you. Current me has learned from past me. Okay – I’ll stop saying that because I’m confusing myself…

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Accessible Links by the Handbook

Tutorial Difficulty Level: Beginner

Writing something
Reading Time: 8 mins

WordPress has this handy theme review handbook. On my quest to learning about accessibility, the requirements in this handbook seemed the next logical step. Since accessible links have been an overwhelming topic for me, learning requirements first give me a head start in addition to learning about making links accessible via context.

The handbook has three required rules for accessible links:

  1. Keyboard Navigation: Visible focus states
  2. Link Text: Screen reader text
  3. Skip Links

We’ll go over all three in this post. This post is on the lengthy side, but it’s all pretty easy to pick up. What’s difficult is making these techniques a habit in your everyday coding. That, I think, is what takes practice. This post also assumes you’re familiar with basic Css and comfortable with minor edits in theme template files.

Time to dive into our WordPress themes!

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An Intro to Accessible Links

Tutorial Difficulty Level: Beginner

FeatLinksIntro
Reading Time: 5 mins

I confess. I reached a point in my learning accessibility journey that I became overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. My intention was to start a few posts about links, but there is just so much about accessible links, I didn’t even know where to start. I became discouraged.

Here I am again though, and I’m back on it! I’ve decided that I can’t tell you everything there is to know about accessible links in one post. I can, however, at least introduce the concept and offer resources to wonderful people that have written great things already.

In this post, I’m going to focus on why accessible links matter, how to know if our links are accessible and what we can do right now in our text-editors. Text-editor changes are what’s helping me ease into the concept of accessible links – hopefully it will be helpful to you as well.

Those wonderful people and resources will be sprinkled throughout for those eager to dive into making the most accessible links ever!

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