WordPress Developer Toolbox

  • Tomas Antal
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  • 20/11/2017
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  • 16
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  • 2

If you are thinking about becoming a plugin and theme developer or just want to build custom solutions, you will need tools that will make your life as a WordPress developer easier. We collected all the must have plugins, starter themes and tools that we use in our development workflow. Let’s get started!


Advanced Custom FieldsFREEPRO

The number one tool for every WordPress developer has to be ACF plugin. Working with the WordPress Metadata and Settings API can get really boring, especially if you want to add several custom fields to your post types. This is where ACF comes into the picture. It allows you to add custom fields easily. Don’t forget to check out the ACF plugins that add even more features to this truly amazing plugin.



Creating Custom Post Types in WordPress is more complicated than it should be. The CPT UI plugin solves this issue and allows you to create custom post types with a fantastic and easy to use interface.

It’s super useful for fast prototyping and can be used in production as well. The great thing is that you can export the generated php code and insert it into your plugin or theme.



If you like developing your themes with Bootstrap 4, SASS and Gulp than this starter theme might be the one for you. It combines all these useful tools with the Underscores starter theme to get you started in no time.



Template engines are awesome. If you have ever used a framework or CMS with a template language such as Twig, Liquid or Jinja you know what I am talking about. It’s a whole new world and believe me when I say it’s beautiful. Timber is an awesome plugin that allows you to develop your themes with the Twig template language. This way you can separate the business logic and presentation. Your template files will be easier to read and work with.

Just take a look at the following code snippet:

{% extends "base.twig" %}
{% block content %}
    <div class="container">
        <article class="post-type" id="post-{{ post.ID }}">
            <section class="article-content">
                <h1 class="article-title">{{ post.title }}</h1>
                <p class="my-author">
                	<span>Written by</span> {{ post.author.name }} 
                {{ post.content }}
{% endblock %}

How awesome is this?


Trellis + Bedrock + Sage

Developing for WordPress can become cumbersome when it comes to complex websites. The folks at roots.io provide everything you need for a good start. The Trellis development environment, the Bedrock project boilerplate and the Sage starter theme will make things hell of a lot easier. A combination of these tools can improve your development tremendously.



The WP CLI is the command line tool that can really speed up your development. You will need PHP to be installed on your system to use it. With WP CLI it is super easy to download, install, configure and manage a WordPress website. Check out the full list of available commands.


Debug Bar

The Debug Bar plugin adds a debug menu bar for your WordPress installation. It will provide you useful information about the queries used on the page, the caching, PHP and MySQL information and a bunch of other useful stuff. Don’t forget to have these values set to true in your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );
define( 'SAVEQUERIES', true );


Theme Check

The Theme Review Team takes the theme quality very seriously. If you plan to release your theme on the WordPress theme directory you really should check if it is up to the spec of the latest standards. If you create premium themes and want to sell on an online marketplace such as Envato, you will need to check their guidelines as well.


Query monitor

It is always a good practice to have the Query Monitor plugin activated when you develop your theme or plugin. It will show you the slow and duplicate queries, and the ones that had an error. In addition you can separate the queries by specific theme or plugin and it works well with AJAX calls and the REST API.



GenerateWP is an awesome website that lets you generate the PHP code required to create custom post types, custom taxonomies, shortcodes, menu items, sidebars, the WP_Query class and many other things. Unfortunately to generate code for advanced stuff like widgets and meta boxes you will need to have a premium subscription.


Duplicator FREEPRO

I am sure you know how important it is to have regular backups of your and your client’s websites. Many organizations offer automated backup and professional maintenance for the WordPress platform.  But you might not want to pay for these services. With the free version of the Duplicator plugin you can create backups and move complete websites with ease. In addition, the PRO version offers scheduled backups to many cloud service providers.


WordPress Plugin Boilerplate

If you develop plugins with OOP principles you are going to love this one. The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate will give you an awesome starter point with clear instructions for your plugin development. It is actively developed on GitHub.



If you have only developed your projects on XAMPP so far I urge you to try a Vagrant based option. Varying Vagrant Vagrants and VCCW are both designed for WordPress. Vagrant allows your development environment to be configured specifically for your needs and can be easily shared with a team. Both VVV and VCCW comes up with a configuration file that makes setting up your development environment easier than ever.


Feel like something is missing? Add your must have tools in the comments section.


23/11/2017: 00:19

Timber looks awesome. What if I want to integrate it with Bootstrap?

30/11/2017: 01:54

Hi Mark,

I haven’t found a starter theme that uses Bootstrap and Timber yet. However, you could try to integrate the Timber Starter Theme and Understrap. Both of them are based on the ‘_s’ theme.

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