Function and usage of author_can() in wordpress


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    The author_can() function in WordPress is a useful tool for checking whether the author of a specified post has a certain capability. This function is particularly useful in theme and plugin development where user permissions need to be checked.


    author_can( int|WP_Post $post, string $capability, mixed $args ): bool


    • The author_can() function determines if the author of a given post has the specified capability.
    • It can accept either a post object or a post ID as its first argument.
    • The function is particularly adept at handling meta capabilities. Meta capabilities are those like edit_post and edit_user, which are used by the map_meta_cap() function to map to more basic, or "primitive," capabilities (e.g., edit_posts, edit_others_posts).
    • When dealing with meta capabilities, the function may require additional parameters to precisely define the context of the capability check.


    1. $post (int | WP_Post): This is a required parameter. It can be either the ID of the post or a WP_Post object.
    2. $capability (string): This required parameter is the name of the capability to check. For example, 'edit_posts'.
    3. $args (mixed): This is an optional parameter. It typically includes additional information like an object ID, and is especially important when dealing with meta capabilities.


    • Returns a boolean (bool) value: true if the post author has the specified capability, and false otherwise.

    Example Usage:

    1. Check if the author can edit posts:

      author_can( $post, 'edit_posts' );

      This checks if the author of $post has the 'edit_posts' capability.

    2. Check a meta capability (like editing a specific post):

      author_can( $post, 'edit_post', $post->ID );

      Here, it checks if the author can edit the specific post represented by $post->ID.

    3. Check a more complex capability (like editing post meta):

      author_can( $post, 'edit_post_meta', $post->ID, $meta_key );

      In this case, it's checking if the author can edit the meta data of the post, where $meta_key is the specific meta data key.

    Use Cases:

    • Plugin Development: When creating a plugin that modifies post content or metadata, you can use author_can() to ensure that only users with the appropriate permissions are able to make those changes.
    • Theme Development: In theme templates, you might want to show or hide certain content or options based on the user's capabilities.
    • Custom WordPress Applications: For more complex applications built on WordPress, this function can be crucial for enforcing user permissions and roles.

    Understanding and utilizing author_can() helps in creating secure and role-appropriate interactions within WordPress applications.

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