Roles And Capabilities In Plain English

August 31st, 2009

This morning, I read a refreshing post by Justin Tadlock on his personal blog which does a wonderful job explaining the roles and capabilities system in WordPress. See, Justin is working on a fancy new plugin which will make creating new roles and assigning capabilities to those roles easy as 1-2-3. It’s a good thing to know how a system works before you tinker around with it. While I know there is a Codex article dedicated to roles and capabilities, the way Justin explained the system illuminated a number of light bulbs in my head. It all makes sense to me now and it doesn’t seem as overly complex as I originally thought. Please give the article a read for yourself and not only provide Justin with some feedback, but I’m wondering if his explanation helped anyone else?




  1. rightidea says:

    Are you aware of the two programs which, in conjunction with each already bring tremendously capable role management and capability to WordPress? I have been using them for quite a while in tandem. Role Manager by Thomas Schneider creates new roles and assigns specific capabilities for non-standard WordPress Roles. Role Scoper by Kevin Behrens allows you to create specific permissions for users and/or groups on specific posts, pages, categories etc. I Use Role Scoper to restrict viewing and editing permissions to only myself and a few selected others for limiting access to certain information.

    It sounds like Justin is combining these two existing sets of plugin features into a singe, possibly more user friendly interface with this plugin. Bravo!

    • Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

      The plugin will definitely be combining some of the ideas currently presented in other user/role/capability/permissions plugins. Not to say anything bad about the other plugins, but nothing I’ve used has worked just like I wanted it to. Some work completely outside of the role/cap system. Others don’t play nice with the WP admin interface. And, others are just too complicated.

      The main goal of the plugin is to behave like it doesn’t exist at all. When you install it, you should think of it as just another part of WordPress.

      One great thing that I think will set my upcoming plugin apart is its components system. Basically, the plugin will ship with a set of default components, which can be activated or deactivated at will. This does three important things:

      * Allows users to use only what they want or need.
      * Allows me to extend it with more components in future versions without rewriting a bunch of code.
      * Allows other plugin developers to easily extend it with new components (payment gateways and subscriber/member options is the first things that come to mind).

  2. John Myrstad (7 comments.) says:

    O`Reilly or PACKT should call Justin. He`s a great tech writer, making it easy to understand without compromising depth.

    I have tested the alpha of the plugin and its pretty easy to use if you have a basic understanding of WordPress roles.

    • Jeffro (20 comments.) says:

      I think what Justin did in his post is great because with the type of plugin he is creating, if the end users of the plugin don’t understand the roles/caps system in WordPress, then it won’t matter how easy the plugin is to use, folks will find difficulty using it. Also, as Justin mentions, it would be pretty dangerous to assign a role with more capabilities than yourself if you’re an admin and users should know that going in.

  3. Garry (1 comments.) says:

    The main goal of the plugin is to behave like it doesn’t exist at all. When you install it, you should think of it as just another part of WordPress. Nice post.

  4. CG says:

    Role Scoper is too confusing… there needs to be a more user friendly version of this… I hope JTs version is user/dumby friendly.

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