If you do a quick Google search for, “without a plugin”, you’ll find a gazillion results for how to accomplish simple to complex tasks for WordPress without the need of a plugin.
With so many articles about not using WordPress plugins, it just begs the question: “What’s wrong with WordPress plugins in the first place?”
I personally love my installed plugins. I have 25 installed on my personal blog, and I couldn’t live without a single one of them. If you venture off to Jeff Chandler’s site, he has 31 installed. Are we freakin’ nuts, or what?
So what’s the deal with all these “without a plugin” posts? I mean, you don’t see plugin authors posting, “How to accomplish ‘xyz’ without a WordPress theme” do you?
Okay, I’m slightly kidding, but this question needs to be asked: “What benefit is there to integrating a plugin into a theme?”
Does the theme load faster? Will there be support for the extra functionality? Will the plugin be better integrated as far as appearance?
Granted, there are many good reasons to integrate some plugin functionality as part of a WordPress theme (breadcrumbs anybody?).
The problem I foresee cropping up, however, is the user becoming too reliant on the theme for functionality that a WordPress plugin should ideally provide. As a result, that user may be ‘locked in’ to using the theme, whereas others can easily change out their theme without sacrificing functionality (if you’re like me, you go through 2-3 themes a year).
An argument for plugin integration is that of WordPress frameworks. Since frameworks typically rely on child themes for the appearance, the user doesn’t need to change the theme; The user is afforded the functionality of built-in plugins, and the flexibility of changing out themes.
An Exercise for the Reader
Okay, you’ve heard my spill on plugin integration. As an exercise for the reader, please consider the following and join me in the comments section:
- What types of plugins should be built into themes?
- What benefits do built-in plugins provide for you?
- How far should theme frameworks go to limit the need for plugins?
And lastly, are plugins evil?