Matt Cromwell Avatar
A walkthrough of my experiment building a WordPress plugin completely with AI. It’s made me a believer.
Can you really build a WordPress plugin with AI? An icon with the letters AI in the middle with computer wires coming out of it. Profile image of Matt Cromwell in the bottom right.

Haven’t we all been experimenting with all kinds of AI lately? I sure have, and the potential is really exciting overall.

But if you’re a WordPress product owner, then the question that is really burning in your brain is “Can I really build a WordPress plugin with AI?”

I wholly subscribe to the recent adage about AI usage that many have been saying:

“AI is not going to replace humans,
but humans who use AI will replace those that don’t.”

Lots of people, not sure the source of this one

So I wanted to test this hypothesis a bit. I wanted to see if I could build something that I’ve never built or tried to build before completely from scratch with AI, and that it not only worked but it would be better than I would have done on my own, and completed quicker than I would have done on my own.

So here’s a quick walkthrough of me showing a plugin I’ve built that I’m calling “Posts Calendar View”. Watch the video, then keep reading below for links and my takeaways from the experience.

Can AI Build a WordPress Plugin? Absolutely.

If you want to see all the nitty gritty details of my whole interaction with chatGPT in building this plugin, you can review it in this public chat here:

If you’re interested in how I grab the user color scheme and apply those colors to the UI, here’s the GIST I made:

Here’s a few of my takeaways from the experience:

A beginner can do it, but it’s super basic

My prompt was extremely basic, I simply told it what I wanted the plugin to do:

“I need a plugin that will display all my posts in the WordPress admin in a calendar view.”

That’s a prompt many beginners could use. But they would then need the knowledge and/or confidence to copy/paste that code into a file, add the php extension, then either create a zip or FTP it up to their plugins folder. So all of that next part isn’t the easiest of things for an absolute beginner.

Nevertheless, they could do that in chatGPT and send that over to a basic WordPress developer and start running.

Knowing code and WordPress conventions make it far more useful

I haven’t done actual PHP or Javascript code in many years now. But I know my way around decently. When chatGPT gave me code, I knew what to do with it, where to put it, how to tweak it just enough to get the results I wanted. That makes all the difference.

And I learned all of those things through years of online documentation and trial and error. I really wonder what new developers will learn through AI. Will they learn faster and better than I did through my online docs and manual experiences?

This code isn’t shippable

I purposely haven’t pushed this to a public repo, because it’s ugly and messy, and not well documented and probably still full of security holes. Taking this from a functional prototype to an actual plugin that I’d be proud of on the WordPress Plugin Directory would require a real plugin dev to polish it a lot.

But that doesn’t mean some people won’t absolutely do this. I do fear for the future of plugins on the Plugin Directory, or the auditing task the Plugin Review Team has.

Balancing Professonalism with Execution

Lastly, even though I wouldn’t personally ship this code, I also wouldn’t want a developer or our internal StellarWP dev team to spend weeks polishing this. I think the ability for chatGPT to create functional plugins as prototypes should mean that real, solid, reliable products should be able to be shipped faster.

What are you Building with AI?

This is just my experience but I’d love to hear from you in the comments below what you’ve been building with AI.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *