Function and usage of get_terms() in wordpress


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    The get_terms function in WordPress is a versatile tool used for retrieving terms from specified taxonomies. Here's a detailed breakdown of its function, usage, and key aspects:


    • Purpose: To retrieve terms from one or more taxonomies in WordPress.
    • Usage: It's commonly used to fetch categories, tags, or custom taxonomy terms associated with posts or custom post types.


    • Customization and Control: Before the query is executed, you can customize it fully. You can also control the output using various filters.
    • Return Types: Depending on the value passed to $args['fields'], the return type can vary. This can include an array of WP_Term objects, integers, strings, or a WP_Error object for invalid taxonomy requests.
    • Filters:
      • get_terms: Applied when the cache has the term, passing the found term, taxonomies array, and args array.
      • list_terms_exclusions: Passes the compiled exclusions along with the $args.
      • get_terms_orderby: Passes the ORDER BY clause of the query along with $args.

    Usage Example:

    $terms = get_terms( array(
        'taxonomy' => 'post_tag',
        'hide_empty' => false,
    • Note: Before version 4.5.0, the taxonomy was passed as the first parameter of get_terms().


    • $args (array|string, optional): Array or string of arguments. You can refer to WP_Term_Query::__construct() for accepted arguments. The default is an empty array.
    • $deprecated (array|string, optional): This is for legacy function parameter format. If present, it's interpreted as $args, and the first function parameter is parsed as a taxonomy or array of taxonomies. The default is an empty string.

    Return Values:

    • The function can return an array of WP_Term objects, an array of integers (count), an array of strings, a single string, or a WP_Error object. The specific return type depends on the arguments provided and the query's outcome.

    Key Points:

    • Versatility: It's a highly flexible function, allowing for a wide range of queries and outputs.
    • Error Handling: Properly handles errors, particularly when invalid taxonomies are requested.
    • Filters for Customization: Offers several filters to modify the query and output as needed.

    Common Use Cases:

    1. Fetching Categories or Tags: To display a list of categories or tags on a website.
    2. Custom Taxonomy Queries: Useful for themes and plugins that require specific taxonomy terms.
    3. Data Manipulation: In scenarios where you need to manipulate term data before displaying it.

    In summary, get_terms is an essential function for theme and plugin developers working with taxonomies in WordPress, providing a high degree of flexibility and control over term queries.

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