I love finding hidden functions

My primary occupation is developing on WordPress and it’s pretty much a full time activity, so if you’re like me, getting your hands dirty in code, I’m sure this has happened to you at least once: finding a function you didn’t know about, that instantly simplifies an otherwise tedious or repetitive task.

It happened to me about two years ago, when I discovered the marvels of wp_list_pluck. If you’re wondering what it does: it grabs a particular property from a multi-dimensional array or an array of objects, and stacks the result of this computation in an array of its own. Pretty neat, definitely a nice time saver.

It has happened to me just today while I was taking care of some escaping in a theme we’re building. Escaping is quite possibly the single most important thing you can do in a theme beside design, certainly more than making it chock-full of features that will likely end up unused.

If you’re new to the subject and you’re not sold yet on the concept, I suggest you take a look at this video from Computerphile, and while you’re at it spend some more time on their channel, since it’s worth every second of it.

Anyway, the function I’ve discovered today is called wp_kses_post, and it automatically filters a string of text allowing only the HTML tags that are permitted in a post’s content.

Before that, when a simple esc_html wouldn’t do it, I used to spend a good minute writing the following (or a variation of it):

wp_kses( $string, array(
	'a' => array(
		'href' => array(),
		'title' => array()
	),
	'br' => array(),
	'em' => array(),
	'strong' => array(),
)

which, long story short, is a more precise way of not allowing evil script tags where they shouldn’t be.

WordPress core has more to offer than you might know, so don’t be afraid to check it out and experiment with it, and also remember to always escape your output.

It’s ok not to know

To be honest I’ve never been much of a blogger, but over time an idea grew in my mind, unconsciously, that I didn’t have much to say either, that I didn’t have in me good enough ideas to contribute to the discussion, whatever topic the discussion might be about.

Which is plain wrong, as many would tell you. I know that now, yet I feel like struggling at the idea of publishing something that’s going to be read by strangers.

Yet, here I am, willing to make a step forward, and attempt to push something out of my mind in the wild making use of the tool I develop on pretty much every day, that is WordPress.

What the WordPress community has taught me in the last couple of years or so, is that anyone can add something, that anyone’s opinion counts, and that it’s the sum of the little and just apparently insignificant in the grand scheme of things contributions that actually makes the difference.

There’s a Jacob Riis quote that pretty much sums it up, much more eloquently that I’m able to do.

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

That is the very same quote that San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich has made sure it would be written on the walls of their training facility.

Today, someone in the WordPress Italian Community slack has linked to a video that put this concept back in the WordPress context, with the basic idea that it’s ok not to know, yet that shouldn’t stop anyone to have their say, to experiment, and to give their own contribution, albeit small.

Here it is!