I am writing a plugin, part of the functionality does functions on hook: publish_to_draft

I then later want to re-publish that post and trigger specific functionality to see if it has previously been published.

i.e. draft_to_publish

Now whilst I already have functionality for this, what I can't tell is the difference between a post that is just a draft going to publish or a previously published post that has been moved back to draft.

This is important because it is used for integration and I need to run that functionality on that action.

Can I use the_date() for this?

Cheers Dan

2 Answers 2


As far as I can see, you won't get any indication a post was previously published, as wordpress remembers only the old versus new transitions.

I recommend you add some meta data, that is use add_action('publish_post', 'your_function') (or similar) to do update_post_meta($post->ID, 'post_published', 'on').

That way, every post gets an indicator when it's published - and you can then use the condition if (get_post_meta($post->ID, 'post_published', true)=='on') in your 'draft_to_publish' actions.

  • Yeah looks like there is no "previous status" I am sure I wont win many supporters but I can see value in this if just for trigger and plugin actions. The mediocre workaround I have had to implement is if(get_the_time('', $post->ID) == date("g:i a")) { however the issue here is if someone enters a publish date in the past, then this will get triggered. It's not a big deal because this can be handled on the collection end.
    – Dan
    Jul 29, 2013 at 12:09

The hook publish_postwas also fired, if a published posts was updated. Use the hook transition_post_status for the hint, if the post was published. The hook have params. The action transition_post_status (as defined at http://codex.wordpress.org/Post_Status_Transitions) sends three parameters, $new_status, $old_status, $post.

add_action( 'transition_post_status', 'your_function', 10, 3 );
function your_function( $new_status, $old_status, $post ) {

   if ( 'draft' === $old_status && 'publish' ==== $new_status ) {
      // your todos

Alternativly have WordPress a hook for the change from status to another status, also a example.

add_action( 'draft_to_publish', 'your_callback' );
function your_callback() {
    // Code here

See also this codex page to this topic and examples.

  • This would only work when immediately going from draft -> publish. The situation is this. - Post is Published (post gets a publish date as well) - Post is moved back to draft (Your above could trigger) - Post is later moved back to publish (only record of it being published is that the post has a publish date) I will need to use postmeta for this as suggested above. So when the post is moved back to draft, fire off a function that adds postmeta, then read this on publishing. Not ideal, I may need to look at the workflow my editors and publishers use to allow for review etc
    – Dan
    Jul 29, 2013 at 23:59
  • The example works only on draft -> publish, but it is a example and you can change the check or the hook from the second solution. You can check for all changes on post status.
    – bueltge
    Aug 1, 2013 at 11:45

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