WordPress Hooks: What, Why and How

Every WordPress developer understands the value of hooks in the whole developmental process. What this basically does is allows the developers to attach and incorporate their code into the base code of WordPress, be it themes, plugins and the likes. This leaves you at a very advantageous position with respect to bringing in changes to specific sections of the content or the theme and the likes.

What are WordPress hooks?

Before we get into details about hooks, let us first have a clear idea of what WordPress hooks actually are. As we all know, any particular site in WordPress is formed of specifically designed codes. More often than not, this is undertaken by a skilled WordPress developer. But sometimes there might be requirements for making changes or inserting your own codes into the site. This is what leads us to the term ‘hooks’. Being a generic term, this is used to define those areas where you can make amends or add your own code or even change what WordPress does with the data input.

Why do we use hooks?

Now that we know what WordPress hooks are, we understand that these are absolutely essential to WordPress developers. Here at Templatetoaster WordPress website builder, let’s see some ideas that tell us why we actually should use hooks:

  • Since a lot of the core functions on the WordPress platform make use of actions and filters, hooks have the ability to technically change everything on WordPress.
  • Working with WordPress themes can be a difficult job. These WordPress hooks can target the themes and make changes to their behaviour and actions whenever required.
  • When you make changes to the code yourself, it is simpler in format and becomes easier for you to debug it and then use it accordingly.
  • It also becomes rather simple to work on the changes you have made on the site. This could mean enabling or disabling the different features. This is facilitated by the fact that each code forms a small segment or unit of the main code and changes can be brought about as and when necessary.
  • The changes you make to the code of the site can be made upgrade-proof such that you don’t face any issues in the work structure.

With a list of functions and advantages, it becomes clear how WordPress hooks benefit us.

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Types of hooks

Hooks refer to places where you can add your own code on the WordPress site. Now, there are two different kinds of hooks in this regard. These go by the names of actions and filters.

Action hook

First of all, let us understand what an action hook is. For starters, it comes into use when WordPress is already running. This allows you to undertake an action and makes amends to the code of the site. For instance, when someone on WordPress publishes a post on the site, a tweet could be sent immediately. This is done by the action hook.

Filter hook

A filter is a hook that helps you work on the data before it is submitted for publishing. The display of some excerpts from the post would be one such example. The Filter reference page includes topics like link Filters, Administrative filters, Blogroll filters and the likes.

Using A Hook Plugin

It might take a while for you to understand the whole idea behind using a hook plugin. But once you are through with it, hooks can create wonders! Before we learn how to use a hook plugin, here are some pieces of information that must be available with us.

  • Actions: What is the name of the hook? When does it run? What is the name of the function for the code?
  • Filters: What is the name of the hook? What value are you getting from the hook? What is the name of the function for the code?

Once we have the answers to these questions, we can go ahead with using Hook plugins.

How to hook into an action?

add_action( $hook, $function_to_add, $priority, $accepted_args );

  • Add_filter: The add_action comes with two different parameters: hook and the function.
  • Priority: The integration of priority is solely optional and its value ranges from 1 to 999. The higher the priority, the later the hook runs.
  • accepted_args: Finally, accepted_args is used generally to deal with a plural number of arguments.

How to hook into a filter?

add_filter( $tag, $function_to_add, $priority, $accepted_args );

The filter is similar to an action hook.

  • Add_filter: this comes with tag and the function to add. The function to add will have to return the value at the end of the function.
  • Priority: once again, a higher priority means the filter will be made to run later and a lower priority means an early action.
  • accepted_args: this is used when multiple arguments are put to work here.

How to add hooks to a WordPress theme?

We can add specific WordPress hooks to a theme to get better results out of it. For instance, if we want to add an action hook to a theme, we can define it by the add_action function. Now, that we have defined the hook, the next step involves executing the action. This can be achieved by the do_action function. These activities are mostly carried out by plugin developers. It is imperative that you know where to use the hooks. Wherever necessary, you can place the following code for bringing in necessary changes to the theme:

<?PHP do_action(“action hook name”); ?>

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For everyone developing on WordPress, hooks form an integral part of the coding process. With the freedom to make changes to the predefined code, actions and filters prove to be extremely useful. These also especially help plugin developers to make amends and add either new sections or new information for certain pages using the same layout. While it may take some time to get used to working with hooks, but once it is done, it can really aid all WordPress developers. And thus, care should be taken that the themes you choose for your WordPress website are hooks-friendly like the themes produced by TemplateToaster. This WordPress theme builder help you in harnessing the real value out of hooks!