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WordPress Hooks

Your Guide to Understanding WordPress Hooks and Getting Started with them

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Last updated on October 13th, 2021 at 11:29 am

In WordPress, Hooks are a medium for making modifications or communicating with the other code at certain points or spots. They are, in fact, the base for them and even the plugins to interact with WordPress.

In this article, we will explain what are hooks and how should you use them.

Introductions to WordPress Hooks

There are two major types of WordPress Hooks:

  1. Actions
  2. Filters

The primary function of Actions is to add or change the way WordPress works. It works at a specific point in the plugins, themes or the WordPress core.

On the other hand, Filters enable the data to be changed during the execution of the WordPress plugins, themes or cores.
To understand the difference between the two in simpler words, the information that is received is taken by Actions, makes changes to it but does not returns anything at all. Whereas, when the Filters receive the information, it executes modifications and then returns it similarly.

Advantages of WordPress Hooks

Here are some of the basic advantages of the hooks in WordPress:

  1. It helps the user to customise the codes of the WordPress webpage they are working on.
  2. It helps the users make the otherwise complex changes easily by following few simple steps.
  3. It enables the easy development of the new plugins.
  4. The users can debug at a much faster pace using WordPress Hooks.
  5. Developing plugins becomes very easy after the in-depth knowledge about WordPress Hooks.
  6. In the theme development area, it also enables the user to develop the child theme and not affect the parent theme.
  7. The changes can be used and debugged
  8. Enabling and disabling the changes gets very easy and accessible.
  9. The use of WordPress Hooks does not require any changes to be done on the WordPress core, making sure that whatever changes are being made are not lost even if there is a WordPress update that has been carried out.

The Parameters in WordPress Hooks

While there is a high population of those working on WordPress, very few tend to use WordPress Hooks, even though there are wonderful features that hooks have. There are few parameters tartare indeed common that should be studied while working on WordPress. These include:

  • Name of the hook
  • Priority and arguments are given to function
  • Name of the function

How to name your WordPress Hooks?

Though you can’t modify the names of the hooks already present in the WordPress core, you certainly need to keep few things in mind while naming the hooks yourself.

Rule 1: While we discussed the two types of hooks, so while naming them. Actions need to have the moment of the call if the value needs to be in the filters. Let us understand these with some examples:

  • For actions according to position, wp_head is a good example.
  • For naming the filters, the_content is a good example for the same.

Rule 2: Apart from the value and the position, the names should be able to identify themselves with the help of a prefix. For example, a prefix Genesis_ would identify you are working for a Genesis framework.

Adding a self-explanatory prefix to the names takes care of two things:

  • It avoids any conflicts in the themes or plugins.
  • If someone is trying to use your plugins, it will be very easy for the third party to know their origin.

Rule 3: Dynamic names

When you have a lot of plugin options and would like others to use them, you can either use apply_filters().

Rule 4: Magic with the ALL

The ALL tag is a special tag that can be used as the name of the hook too. This helps in making sure that it can be used for every hook, both filters and actions.

How do WordPress Hooks work?

Let us understand the working of the Hook with a very simple example. Let’s compare processing a WordPress page to car assembling.

Manufacturing and assembling a car are two different things, out of which assembling is much easier. Like a car is created in an assembly line, the client and the server assemble the WordPress webpage.

The core of WordPress can be compared to the engine, chassis, and other powering essentials. When you need that extra spark in your wordless page, that is where plugins and themes come into the picture. Every station in the assembly line of the assembling of the car is like a hook.

How to add or remove the WordPress Hooks?

It is really simple to add and remove the WordPress Hooks. Here is a simple procedure that can be followed. For the actions, you need to know the name of the hook and also when it runs. For the filters, apart from the hook’s name, you should also know its value to get in return. And one final piece of information that you need is the name of the function.

Adding the Action WordPress Hooks
You need a hook and a function to add. The priority goes to the integer value, which is optional and ranges from 1-999. This determines the importance of order related to the functions which are attached to the particular hook. Higher the priority, later it would run, and the emphasis needs to be lower for earlier running.

Adding the Filter WordPress Hooks
The procedure to add is similar to that of the action hook. It is the function that separates an action hook from a filter hook. So, you need to make sure which hook are you working on. For action hooks, as they simply don’t return any value, all you need to do is run the code, and for a filter, you need the function_to_ as it returns the value.

How to unhook?

Knowing how to add the hooks is great, but you should also know how to unhook as a WordPress user. The simple is as easy as adding the hooks. All you need to do is use the function remove_ action or remove_filter along with the function, priority and name of the hook. However, the focus is optional but is very helpful when it comes to unhooking.

Examples of WordPress Hooks
There are over 200 hooks currently available in WordPress. Let us take a look at some of them:

  • Custom menu registration in the admin section
  • Changing the excerpt length
  • Hooks in the post publishing
  • Hooks for widget initialisation.

Conclusion
WordPress Hooks are the features that let you change the configuration of the WordPress site, which is otherwise set in default mode automatically. It also enables you to add or disable the functions without actually changing the core file.

While they can be divided into actions and filters, each of them has a specific function to perform. Action creates new files and folders modify the existing ones. Millions of hooks available can be embedded in WordPress. It is also possible to develop custom plugins using them. Easy to use with multiple functions, hooks are indeed the best things to talk about while working on WordPress webpages.

Moreover, WordPress Hooks are easy to understand and work on. With so much ease of deployment and creation, they help WordPress developers and website owners a lot.

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