How to Install WordPress Plugins and Themes from GitHub

How to Install WordPress Plugins and Themes from GitHub

While most of the people go to the WordPress Plugin Directory to download free plugins, it is not the only place where you find plugins. GitHub is a project hosting service, which hosts many WordPress projects as well. Though it is not that easy to find and install WordPress themes and plugins via GitHub, it is still a straightforward process.

In this article, you’ll learn how to search and install WordPress plugins and themes from GitHub.

Before we move further, let’s take a look at what GitHub is.

GitHub is an open source, code hosting service provider. It offers private as well as free repositories on the same account. As of April 2017, it has more than 20 million users and 57 million repositories. Amongst the open source developers, it is the most popular project hosting service.

How to search WordPress themes and plugins on GitHub?

The problem with GitHub when it comes to WordPress is, it hosts a wide range of projects that are not related to WordPress. Which makes it difficult to find what you need. Sometimes even searching for terms like “plugin” and “WordPress” won’t fetch you accurate results.

Though you can search via Google, GitHub plugin search is an advanced search plugin for finding WordPress plugins. It connects to Plugins > Add New in the backend of your site.

How to Install WordPress Plugins and Themes from GitHub?

Before installing any theme or plugin, make sure that you’re able to receive updates for it. Installing a plugin or theme is easy once you find the file you’re looking for.

Type in the name of the plugin that you’re looking for.

GitHub search bar

After that, click on ‘Clone or download’ button and then on ‘Download zip.’

download plugin from GitHub

Once you’ve downloaded the zip file, head over to your WordPress admin area and go to Plugins » Add New. You’ll have to manually upload the plugin.

upload plugin

After uploading the file, click on ‘Install Now.’ Once the installation is done, activate the plugin and you’re good to go.

How to get updates for themes and plugins installed from GitHub?

If you download a plugin or a theme from wordpress.org, it’ll automatically look for a newer version based on the plugin/theme readme file. But, if you’ve downloaded it from GitHub, it does not show automatic updates. With a little extra effort, you can receive updates directly from GitHub.

Some plugin and themes have the code included which enables you to receive automatic updates. If your plugin or theme does not have the code, you’ll have to install GitHub Updater plugin. Whether you have the code already or you download GitHub Updater, you will have to contact the plugin/theme developer and ask them when they’re going to release a new version.

Risks of using plugins from GitHub

There are some risks associated with downloading and installing plugins from GitHub. Getting regular updates is not the only thing that you have to ensure, ensuring that you trust the developer is also important.

Inexperienced developers from where you download themes/plugins could leave holes in their code that make it easier for the hackers to exploit and gain access to your website.

The main difference between downloading themes/plugins from WordPress directory and GitHub is that before inclusion of theme/plugin, the WordPress Directory reviews it and makes sure that they meet quality and security requirements.

This is not the case with GitHub. On GitHub, anyone can submit their code which is not reviewed and is directly posted. This increases the risk of a bad quality theme/plugin with security issues.

Basically, on GitHub, you’re on your own.

We hope that you liked our article on how to install WordPress plugins and themes from GitHub. If you know any other methods, please share with us in the comment section.


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