If you’re a WordPress plugin developer and have a free version in the WordPress repository with a desire to allow users to manually upgrade to a pro version, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to achieve this through code and plugin development.

Understanding the Challenge

The user has a WordPress plugin in the repository, offering a free version with limited features. They want users to manually upload the pro version, which should seamlessly update the free version and add new features. Let’s break down the solution.


To accomplish this task, we’ll create two separate plugins: one for the free version and another for the pro version. The pro version will extend the functionality of the free one using custom or existing WordPress hooks (actions/filters).

Step 1: Create the Free Version Plugin

  1. Plugin Structure: Develop the free version plugin with its core features. Ensure that the code is well-organized and follows best practices for WordPress development.
  2. Hooks for Extensibility: Use WordPress hooks like actions and filters to make your code extensible. This allows other plugins (like the pro version) to hook into specific points and modify behavior.

// Example action hook in the free version

Step 2: Create the Pro Version Plugin

  1. Plugin Structure: Build a separate plugin for the pro version. This plugin will depend on the free version, so ensure that it’s installed.
  2. Hook into Free Version: Leverage the hooks provided by the free version to extend its functionality. This could involve adding new features or modifying existing ones.// Example hook into the free version action
    add_action('free_version_custom_action', 'pro_version_custom_function');
    function pro_version_custom_function() {
    // Pro version functionality here
  3. Upload Mechanism: Implement a mechanism to allow users to manually upload the pro version. This could involve providing a download link or an upload option within the WordPress admin.
  4. Update Free Version: When users upload the pro version, ensure that it updates the code of the free version. This might involve copying files, updating database entries, or any other necessary steps.

Step 3: Test and Iterate

  1. Testing: Thoroughly test both the free and pro versions individually. Ensure that the free version functions as expected and that the pro version successfully extends its features.
  2. User-Friendly Interface: If you’ve implemented an upload mechanism, make sure it’s user-friendly and intuitive. Users should understand how to upgrade seamlessly.
  3. Iterate Based on Feedback: Gather user feedback and be ready to iterate on your implementation. This ensures that the upgrade process remains smooth and error-free.

By following these steps, you can create a seamless upgrade process for users who want to move from the free version to the pro version of your WordPress plugin. Remember to document the process for users and provide clear instructions on how to perform the manual upgrade.

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