Remora: Adding A Plug-in to Your WordPress Site

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in Thoughts on Wordpress | One Comment

So, what exactly is a “plug-in” and what is its raison d’etre?  And can it really be compared to a remora? Aren’t remoras those little fish that hitch a ride by glomming on a much larger host, like a shark?  Well, a bit of a reach on the metaphor front, but remoras do perform a valuable function. They vacuum those nasty parasites off of the sharkskin all while riding around the ocean in comfort, compliments of their much larger provider. I see plug-ins as remoras in that they attach to a host (theme), perform a function, like scouring your site for spam, all while racing around the internet on the back of a theme.

Basically, plug-ins are some type of customized function that can be attached to one’s theme. These functions can be of the aesthetic or workhorse variety or a combination of both. They can be the little sidekick that tumbles in all of your text or the more pedestrian form provider. Like Oz behind the curtain, plug-ins can help you with your social skills by providing networking, active streams and messages, they can scan your website for spam, or they can be the dazzling star that takes over and steals the show. And I have a question of my own, kind of like the old Zen koan about a tree falling in the forest: if a plug-in was out taking names in the ether, would anyone know?

How are plug-ins different from themes? A theme can be looked at like a “preset package”, kind of like a t.v. dinner, except on the web. Themes set the mood and ambience of the site. Some themes offer a limited menu of functions but scuttlebutt has it that WordPress themes are lean and svelte. The dinner is there and we’re having fat-free chicken and salad. Again. So there are some functions, but wouldn’t it be nice to add candlelight, fondue forks and some decadent dessert?

The best way to vet a plug-in is to peruse the stats, kind of like one does on yelp. Check to see if the last update on the plug-in was over two years ago. If so, this could be a bad omen, but maybe not. Look for star ratings (4+ only), comments and the amount of downloads. The usual stuff.

And since you ask, WordPress ”core” is the barebones code and files that you get when you download WordPress. Apparently, “core” can be changed by “core developers”, those mythical beings that toil anonymously, sweeping WordPress of any malicious intent. These are the ones you can thank for their dedication and vigilance for keeping these codes and files problem free.

With a tip of the hat to the “core developers”, back here in the real world, or at least the real world of this class assignment, the only code that we are allowed to edit is the config file.  Write this in indelible ink.

Since I have opted to go with a premium theme that comes a little more dressed up than your average free WordPress theme, I could be very happy just to kick back and marvel at what my slick new platform can do, no need really for plug-ins. I have picked a theme that specifically supports portfolios, “Port” by Themetrust, competent and elegantly uncomplicated, no histrionics for me. “Port” in particular, has a cool vibe and snazzy parallex that I would be hard pressed to duplicate. Let’s be honest, could not duplicate. So to plug-in or not, that is the question. Choose wisely and happy swimming!





1 Comment

  1. Bryan
    July 30, 2015

    Fantastic analogy!!! This great Anne!


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