WordPress has evolved a lot since its beginnings. Apart from being a simple blog CMS, you can use it for other purposes — enterprise solutions for banks and large news portals, eCommerce solutions, web apps, etc.
Be careful not to pack too many custom functionalities in your theme. All custom functionalities should be placed in a plugin.
Plugin development doesn't really differ from the theme development. You can use our boilerplate with libs to build a plugin in pretty much the same way you'd build a theme.
Themes usually handle presentational logic, while plugins handle business logic.
When should I create a plugin?
When working on enterprise projects, it is easier to bundle the usual plugin content (custom post types, taxonomies, API calls) to the theme instead of a separate plugin. Enterprise projects won't change much over time, so it's useful to have all code in one central place.
If, however, there is some functionality that can be reused in other projects (GDPR plugin or something similar), it is better to put that functionality in a separate plugin.
Be aware that plugin code executes (action reference) before the theme to avoid possible issues.
Won't having many plugins slow down my site?
No, unless they are poorly coded. But our coding standards are high, so this usually does not happen.
Should I write a plugin for everything, or can I use ready-made plugins from the wordpress.org repository?
Write plugins only if you don't find a good free or paid plugin online. For instance, there is no need to write your own SEO plugin when a good plugin is already available (e.g. Yoast SEO).
Reverse logic also applies — if a plugin for some functionality already exists, but it has a lot of unnecessary overhead code that you don't need, it would be better to write your own plugin (if the time and budget constraints of the project allow it, of course).
You can use the plugins from this page in your projects without any additional approval. If you want to use a plugin that is not on this list, please consult with the team.