WordPress Shortcode Calling External Script

Colleagues: This is for my own learning process, so I'm not interested in pre-manufactured countdown timers.  It's my intent to deliberately reinvent this particular wheel so that I learn the process.

I'm looking for some guidance on how to write and install a WordPress Shortcode that produces a countdown timer.  I've made some progress, for example, I expect the shortcode will look something like this:

[countdown]September 15, 2015[/countdown]

The design I'm contemplating would use jQuery/AJAX to repeatedly load() the output of a PHP script into a <div> that would be generated by the shortcode.  I'm pretty comfortable that I have the PHP script right and the jQuery right.  Where I need some help is the installation of the shortcode and the PHP script.

As I understand it, the countdown_timer() function will go into the functions.php file of my child theme.  And in the same file, following the function definition, I would put something like this:

add_shortcode('countdown', 'countdown_timer');

Since the PHP script is a separate program, not part of Wordpress, what is the right way to package it for distribution?  And where in the directory structure should I put it?

Thanks, ~Ray
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Ray PaseurAsked:
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gheistCommented:
Client-side javascript countdown would use 0 resources on your server. At least that was common practive 15 yeaars or so ago.
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Ray PaseurAuthor Commented:
Yes, I understand that and I've used client-side countdowns when all I needed was time-sensitivity.  I'm working on a different server-based design for a variety of reasons.  Do you know how to package the PHP script for distribution?
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gheistCommented:
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eemitCommented:
>how to write and install a WordPress Shortcode?
>what is the right way to package it for distribution?
You must create a WordPress Plugin.
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Hube02Commented:
As @eemit has said, the best way to create a package for distribution and use in WordPress is to create a WordPress plugin. As you're looking for pointers, the best relevant information about the things you're describing can be found in the Codex:

Plugins: http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_a_Plugin
Shortcodes: http://codex.wordpress.org/Shortcode_API
Ajax: http://codex.wordpress.org/AJAX_in_Plugins

However, you don't need to use a plugin if you're just creating this for the site or as part of a theme/child theme.  In your child theme create a folder named "inc" or "include" if it does not already exist. Create your php script file in this folder and then in your functions.php file for the child theme include the scripts with a standard php "include" statement.

Even doing it as part of a theme you should still check out the codex page for Ajax in Plugins. That page has the most useful information about doing AJAX in WordPress.
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Ray PaseurAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your help! ~Ray
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