Because I spend a lot of time training and teaching other developers, I thought I’d keep this page a resource for all of the tools and tricks that I very regularly use while I’m developing WordPress sites. There are plenty of other plugins I recommend once a site goes live (Yoast, Redirection, etc), but this list is more about development. Take what you need and leave the rest.
When it comes to debugging on a WP site, Query Monitor is the first (and often last) plugin that you need. It shows you pretty much everything you need to know- PHP errors, database queries, hooks, actions, filters, the template files being loaded, the WordPress global variables and main query, and so much more. 99% of the problems I have cleaning up a WP site are solved by loading Query Monitor and opening it up.
When I’m working on site that has different user roles- customers, staff members, administrators, etc- I always install User Switching for jumping quickly between different types of users. I never leave it enabled on a live site, really, but it’s great for developing anything involving different user roles.
Once you’ve moved a site from dev to live, you need to run Better Search Replace. Clean up any weird URLs, https issues, etc. This is the only plugin I trust when I’m doing big database stuff.
Even if you’re not setting up some external email server for your site (you probably should be though), I just like having this plugin enabled so I can track all recent calls to
WP Pusher (premium)
We use git repos for any custom plugins or themes, so WP Pusher is great for syncing your site to those repos. One click to pull the latest commits from your repository to your site.
This shouldn’t really be a surprise. As a contributor to Understrap, I’ve gotten to a place where it feels like a second language to me. But overall, being able to build websites with Bootstrap’s robust SASS and utility classes means I can move pretty dang quick.
LocalWP shines for spinning up sites quickly. I’ve probably tried every local hosting environment (and I still have a few that require something more robust, like MAMP Pro), and LocalWP has become the industry leader. Plus we do a lot of hosting on WP Engine, so it seamlessly allows you to pull sites down.
The best code editor is the one you’re already using, but switching to VS Code a few years ago felt great. The built-in git controls and terminal make this the most inclusive code editor by far.
I love coding standards. I love letting VS Code show me exactly where any issues are or pointing out PHP errors the minute I write them. There’s a bar along the right hand side of my code editor that uses red and yellow to let me know if my file is breaking the standards, and it’s basically a video game to me.
This sort of covers it. Last updated April 2022. Am I missing anything? Reach out and let me know.