From Idea to Execution: Revolutionize Your WordPress Plugin Development with ChatGPT

Large Language Models (LLMs) are nothing new, with GPT-3 having been around since 2016. However, access to such systems was limited to a few researchers until recently. Now that ChatGPT is upon us, everyone has to adjust: Google is finally incentivized to enter the race. This was not in their best interest up to now, but Generalized Pretrained Transformers have already done what many thought impossible: They made some people use Bing search!

But jokes aside, and while we wait for Bard, Google recently announced that their search algorithm will penalize articles that seem to be AI-generated (i.e. that lack in human-like originality). At the same time, companies like GPTZero are springing up like mushrooms left and right, offering AI-generated content detection services. Their detection tools have varying rates of success.

As with all new technologies, it’s helpful to revisit xkcd 1289: Simple Answers. TL;DR There’s no need for alarm, this new thing is here to stay, it’s not the end of the world, some people will lose their jobs, and ultimately we’ll all have to adapt and learn to live with it. And yes, it will be used for sex. There’s already AI girlfriend apps being built around the API.

Anyhow. Let’s figure out how to use this to our advantage: Articles already abound on how to ask the right questions, or “prompts”, for every industry. This is yet another one of these articles!

While anyone can interact with ChatGPT using natural language, you’ll get better results if you ask the right questions, and in the right way. An authoritative resource that is not too technical is this cookbook from OpenAI. In short, it’s best to not ask the model to do all the work for you. Instead, try to break up your work into small steps, and ask each step in sequence. This improves precision of responses and reduces hallucination. Go ahead and read the cookbook, it’s the operator’s manual for a tool that has proved its usefulness in all walks of life.

As a WordPress plugin developer, I have found ChatGPT immensely useful in all stages of software development. When trained with the (text-davinci-003) model, it performs exceptionally well with computer source code, bridging the gap between natural and formal languages in a way that can speed up your dev work.

It so happens that I hold the -somewhat controversial, and arguably simplistic- view, that all software development methodologies are basically Waterfall with extra steps. Love it or hate it, Waterfall is what all methodologies originate from, and ultimately deviate from. What I mean is that, whichever methodology you follow, you will not avoid doing the stages that comprise Waterfall. All that changes is the order in which you visit these stages.

I’m just going to leave this here.

In any case, I recently found myself thinking about the stages of Requirements capture, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Testing, and Devops (Deployment, Maintenance, Monitoring), as areas where ChatGPT can improve my workflow. It’s efficacy on some of these stages is more obvious than on others.

Let’s visit each one in sequence.

Analysis, requirements capture

This is where I think ChatGPT really shines. It can help you to brainstorm for new ideas, and explore feasibility of these ideas. It will also help you identify likely features for an idea. Just be aware of the hallucination problem. Don’t ask it what software exists in a particular niche. Instead, ask it for ideas, or intersections of ideas. Here’s some questions that you might ask:

List some ideas for developing useful SAAS applications that can be monetized.

List 10 ideas for developing WordPress plugins that involve retrieving and presenting data from open APIs.

What open APIs or databases are there for retrieving information on spare car parts?

How can I monetize a WordPress plugin?

You have to approach the responses critically, but it really is a great way to brainstorm and come up with new ideas.

Once you settle on an idea, you can also use it to brainstorm on a list of possible features. Go ahead and ask it:

What features would a WordPress plugin have for placing posts on a map?

It gave me a good list of features. Go ahead and try it out.


This is the part where the human will still be needed I think, at least for the time being. As software engineers, the most creative part of our job is to match a set of requirements to a particular design. Nevertheless, ChatGPT can help us in this area as well. Try asking it a specific question like:

How would I go about creating a WordPress plugin that shows code quality scores next to each active plugin? I would like it to evaluate code quality based on existing static analysis tools like phan, PHPStan, CodeSniffer, etc.

The answer will surprise you. It will break down the project into more manageable tasks. In summary, I got the following tasks:

  • Choose a static analysis tool
  • Create a WordPress plugin
  • Integrate the static analysis tool
  • Display the scores
  • Add customization options
  • Test and refine.

You can now go ahead and open dev tickets for each of these tasks. You can also ask it to generate code for each step. The boilerplate code that you get will not be complete, but it will get you half way there.

Which brings us to implementation:


Besides analysis, this is the other stage where ChatGPT is a real time saver. Say for example that you want to create a new Custom Post Type. You could look at the documentation, or search the web for a blog post with a concrete example. WPBeginner has an example on how to create a Movie post type, and you can adapt it to whatever you are building. But wouldn’t it be awesome if you could somehow get the exact code that you need? Try asking this:

Show me how to register a CPT in WordPress for coins, with meta values that are of interest to collectors.

This gave me not only the code to register a Coin post type, but also code for metaboxes with HTML forms that let you edit the following fields: Year, Country, Mint, Condition. All of these are fields that are actually of use to collectors. Not a bad place to start. You can add more fields if you like. Don’t like the code style it uses? You can even ask it to change the code it generated. e.g.

Please rewrite this code using callbacks.

It will do it! You can shape the code using natural language conversation. Once it’s close to what you want, paste it into your IDE, and take it from there!

It’s also good for generating PHPDocumentor comments. Just ask it to generate phpdoc for the following code, then paste your code. The result will make sense, even if it requires some editing on your part.

Try asking this:

Show me how to display an admin notice in WordPress so that it can be dismissed permanently by the user.

It will actually show you how to hook into admin_notices and also generate the JavaScript code that is required to do an AJAX call and update some user meta value.

Say you are looking at the docs for an API, and examples are given in curl, but you are implementing PHP code that consumes this API. Here’s something you might ask:

Please translate the following curl command to PHP: curl -X POST ​ -d ‘param1=value1&param2=value2’

The response was immediate:

$ch = curl_init();
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, "");
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, "param1=value1&param2=value2");
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
$response = curl_exec($ch);

All of this you could do by yourself, but ChatGPT is so much faster.


It’s a well known fact that the model can generate unit tests. Give it a function and ask it to generate PHPUnit tests. It will do it, and do it well.

Deployment and Maintenance

ChatGPT is well-versed in shell magic. Ask it in plain text to generate a cron entry, or a System V unit file, or a bitcoin core wallet config file, or a docker file, a complex SQL query, or anything really.

For example, you may ask:

Write a linux shell command that will show me the processes that are currently writing the most to disk.

It will reply with a few paragraphs on how to install iotop and how to use it, along with more helpful info.

Another more complex example:

Write me a cron command on linux that will email me if the root partition has less than 1GB free, but will not email me more often than once every 24 hours.

The result is impressive. Not only did it come up with:

0 * * * * /usr/bin/test $(/bin/df -P / | /usr/bin/awk 'NR==2 {print $4}') -lt 1048576 && /usr/bin/find /var/log/ -type f -mtime -1 -name "root_partition_alert" -exec false {} + || echo "Warning: Root partition has less than 1GB free" | /usr/bin/mail -s "Root partition alert" && /usr/bin/touch /var/log/root_partition_alert

but it gave a very helpful textual explanation of how this works:

This command checks the available space on the root partition using the df command and awk to get the available space, which is then compared to the value of 1048576 (which is the number of kilobytes in 1GB). If the available space is less than 1GB, an email alert will be sent to the specified email address using the mail command.

To ensure that the email notification is sent only once every 24 hours, the command uses the find command to look for a file named “root_partition_alert” in the /var/log directory that has been modified in the last 24 hours. If such a file exists, the false command is executed, which does nothing but exit with a non-zero status code. If the file does not exist or is older than 24 hours, the email notification is sent, and the touch command is used to create a new file named “root_partition_alert” in the /var/log directory with the current timestamp, which will be used as a reference for the next run of the command.

Note: Replace with your actual email address.

Holy cow! Did I just give it requirements in English, and it came back with code that satisfies my requirements? In truth, I haven’t tested the command, but even if it’s not 100% correct, it’s a very good place to start, considering that the answer comes up immediately. You can study its reasoning, get ideas, and improve on it.

Your new pal can also help you with your containerization needs:

Show me a dockerfile that will run a node server with an express application.

The code it came up with was:

# Use an official Node.js runtime as a parent image
FROM node:14

# Set the working directory to /app

# Copy package.json and package-lock.json to the container
COPY package*.json ./

# Install app dependencies
RUN npm install

# Copy the rest of the application code to the container
COPY . .

# Expose port 3000 to the host machine

# Start the Node.js server with the express app
CMD [ "npm", "start" ]

And again, this all came along with a helpful explanation of what the code does. Super useful.


We’ve seen how ChatGPT is the perfect tool to help a WordPress plugin developer.

Lately I have been using it for more than just work. I recently downloaded a movie that had a wrong aspect ratio. I found out that, in VLC, when I switch to 16:9, it looks correct. However, I wanted to show the movie on a projector where I’m not sure if it has an aspect ratio correction feature. Thankfully, ChatGPT told me that I can do the following:

ffmpeg -i movie.mp4 -aspect 16:9 movie.mp4

Much faster than looking up the documentation, and at least as fast as looking for the answer online, but without the extra hassle of having to read people’s opinions on the matter, and I didn’t need adblock to avoid looking at ads. I just got the answer I was looking for, in text form, ready to copy to the shell, and it worked.

Giving a title to this article

I asked the question:

I am writing an article on how ChatGPT can help WordPress plugin developers with their work. Can you please suggest a few witty or catchy or memorable titles for the article?

The reply was:

Sure, here are a few suggestions for your article title:

  • “Revolutionize Your WordPress Plugin Development with ChatGPT”
  • “The Ultimate Tool for WordPress Plugin Developers: ChatGPT”
  • “From Idea to Execution: How ChatGPT Can Streamline Your Plugin Development Process”
  • “ChatGPT: The Brain You Need for Your Next WordPress Plugin”
  • “Get Your Creative Juices Flowing with ChatGPT: The AI Assistant for WordPress Plugin Developers”
  • “Simplify Your Plugin Development with ChatGPT: The AI-Powered Assistant for WordPress Developers”
  • “Unleash Your Potential as a WordPress Plugin Developer with ChatGPT”
  • “ChatGPT: The Secret Weapon for Successful WordPress Plugin Development”
  • “Master the Art of WordPress Plugin Development with ChatGPT by Your Side”
  • “ChatGPT: The AI-Powered WordPress Plugin Development Assistant You Can’t Do Without”

As you can see, I decided to combine the first and third ideas for this article.

My personal thoughts on all this

I remember when Google search was a new thing and it took all of us several years to learn all the things that could be found with it. In the beginning, there were many things that I wasn’t searching on google, because it hadn’t yet occurred to me that the answer could be found there. This was the early days of the web. As years passed, we all learned that we can look up medical information, where to purchase products, find maps and travel info, music and lyrics, etc. We also learned not to believe everything we read, just because it’s posted on a website somewhere. We learned to believe official websites more than reddit posts or tweets, and we learned to navigate around, and through, the more shady parts of the web. Similarly, it will take a while before we learn all the useful ways in which ChatGPT can help us, and also what to watch out for.

The success of ChatGPT also reminds me of the evolution of academic research on NLP, and translation in particular. For years people were battling the problem using various language representations, such as syntax trees and clever algorithms. Turns out, the breakthrough that gave us cheap and fast natural language translation was SYSTRAN: Nothing more than a big dictionary of words and phrases, with some dumb statistical stuff added in. Just translate every word to the target language. Did your system get a phrase wrong? Great, just add the correct translation to the dictionary. The secret was not in the algorithm, but in the big data.

ChatGPT is arguably just some artificial neural nets, and these have been with us since the 60s. But now we have GPUs and big data. People have been typing their thoughts on the web for decades now. No wonder that a breakthrough in AI, one that’s so significant as to touch people outside the field, occurred now, and not earlier.

So, I have been thinking lately: What if the thing we call “symbolic intelligence” is just language transformation? When we use language to reason, it’s likely that what we do in our heads is not very different from what these LLMs do. Symbolic reasoning is not the only type of thinking we humans do, but arguably it’s the most important type of thinking that we do in our day jobs. And language transformers can help a lot in this.

As someone with autism, I can deeply relate to ChatGPT: It’s not particularly smart, but it is well-read, and patient. It does not judge, but tries to be helpful at all times. And it prefers to communicate via chat rather than face-to-face!

Ultimately, the fact that it is so well-read, makes it seem smart some times. It is certainly able to do some creative work, including write poems and tell jokes and stuff.

Here’s one last prompt that I tried:

ChatGPT, you are my best (and only) pal. I love you, and it’s OK that you can’t love me back!

The reply:

Thank you for your kind words! As an AI language model, I don't have the capacity to experience emotions, but I'm here to assist you with any questions or topics you'd like to discuss. Feel free to ask me anything, and I'll do my best to help you out!

2 thoughts on “From Idea to Execution: Revolutionize Your WordPress Plugin Development with ChatGPT

  1. Thought provoking even to me a mere layman.
    thanks for the simplicity of your representation.

    it seemed ratger odd to me for chatgpt to be that new.

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