Action Hook Functions - do_action_ref_array()

Action Hook Functions – do_action_ref_array()

The do_action_ref_array() function works basically the same way as do_action() does, except for how the arguments are passed.

  • do_action() accepts multiple optional values as additional parameters
  • do_action_ref_array() accepts multiple arguments as an array of arguments. The array of arguments is a required parameter.

The purpose of the do_action_ref_array() function is to pass an object by reference to actions added to a specific hook. Which means the action can just change the object itself without returning it.

do_action_ref_array( $tag, $args );
  • $tag — The name of the action hook.
  • $args — An array of arguments passed to actions registered for the hook.

Here is an example of where WordPress calls the do_action_ref_array() function. The following example shows the pre_get_posts action hook. The pre_get_posts action hook is fired by WordPress before loading posts from the database and this enables plugins to change how posts are queried.

do_action_ref_array( 'pre_get_posts', array( &$this ) );
  • first parameter is the pre_get_posts which is the hook’s name.
  • second parameter is an array of query arguments for pulling posts from the database. It is on this array of arguments that our action will act on.

Example on how to add an action to do_action_ref_array()

Suppose you wanted to randomly order posts on the blog home page rather than have the default ordering by the post date. You would register an action on the pre_get_posts hook and change the order.

Create an empty php file and name it whatever you want, as long as it has a .php extension. Copy the following code into the file and save it. You can personalise the example plugin by changing the header information.

Plugin Name: Sytech HomePage Random Order Posts
Version: 1.0
Description: Arranges blog post in random order on homepage.
Author: Sydney Chako
Author URI:
Plugin URI:

add_action( 'pre_get_posts', 'sc_shrop_rand_order_blog_posts' );

function sc_shrop_rand_order_blog_posts( $query ) {
	if ( $query->is_home && empty( $query-> query_vars['suppress_filters'] ) )
		$query->set( 'orderby', 'rand' );

  • After saving your plugin file, upload it to the wp-content/plugins folder on your server using FTP.
  • Go to your WordPress installed plugins on admin panel. If everything when well, you should now see your plugin listed among other plugins.
  • Activate it.
  • Then visit the homepage on your site. If the homepage is set to display blog posts, you will see the blog posts randomly ordered.