Book Review: WordPress 3.7 Complete

WordPress 3.7 Complete

WordPress 3.7 Complete

The fine folks at Packt Publishing asked me to have a look at their latest WordPress book, WordPress 3.7 Complete. This is the third edition in the WordPress Complete series, by Karol Krol and Aaron Hodge Silver. I am happy to recommend it to folks looking for a good introduction to WordPress.

Full disclosure: I read the edition covering WordPress 2.7, when I started getting serious about learning WordPress, but missed the edition that covered v3.0.

Packt specializes in web development and open source software books, so you shouldn’t be surprised that the strongest parts of the book are in this area. But you don’t have to know code to find good, solid information here. Chapter 3, “Creating Blog Content” offers a nice introduction to blogging that will help you start thinking about the kind of content to include in your blog, along with an introduction to the WordPress admin pages.The chapter on choosing themes has some excellent questions that you may not think to ask yourself before choosing a theme from the vast collection of choices.

While there’s a basic introduction to WordPress.com, most of the book’s content relates to WordPress on an independent web host. It might have been nice to note what sections (like setting up widgets and working with the Media Library) apply to both the dot-com and dot-org sites.

WordPress Complete really takes off in the second half, where Krol and Silver focus on creating and manipulating themes and plugins. I don’t know about you, but when I started messing with code, the first thing that scared me was the likelihood of me breaking stuff that was already working. Krol and Silver help break down that fear by showing you how to safely remove your header, footer and sidebar from an existing theme’s index.php file (“What, you want me to break my home page!?”), customize each new template file, and reassemble the new modules so that it all works.

Another big plus for the beginning developer is an extensive section about building themes from scratch. After comparing this method with constructing themes with the help of a theme framework like Genesis, Thesis or Thematic, they advise:

… create your first theme manually, just to learn the craft and get to know all the basic structures and mechanisms sitting inside WordPress. Then, as the next step in your mastery (if you’re planning to work on other themes in the future), you can pick one of the popular theme frameworks, get deeply familiar with it, and use it as the base for your future themes from that point on. Such an approach will allow you to reach maximum time efficiency and save you the effort of dealing with the core set of functionalities that every theme needs, regardless of the design or purpose.

After demystifying the process of theme and plugin creation, and introducing BuddyPress and WordPress MultiSite, Krol and Silver focus the last two chapters on “Creating a Non-Blog Website” using the increasingly powerful content management features WordPress offers.

You’ll learn a bit about using Pages to create corporate and e-commerce sites, membership sites and the like. Can I say that as an author, I especially appreciated introducing custom post types by way of creating distinctive ways of listing books on your site? You may see something like this on michaelmccallister.com soon.

Overall, WordPress 3.7 Complete is a fine introduction to WordPress and web development. Incidentally, don’t be upset that the book misses out on WordPress 3.8. With the increasing speed of WordPress core development, all us authors are at a distinct disadvantage–we can only type so fast!

So what do you look for in a WordPress book? Have you read this one? Comments always appreciated.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Following up on recent posts: Support and HTML5/CSS3

If you haven’t heard already, openSUSE 11.3 was released last week, to mostly rave reviews. I’ve been running some of the pre-release versions in VirtualBox, and am planning to convert my laptop Linux from Kubuntu to openSUSE 11.3 this weekend. Will let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, there are a few items to share with you:

In many many years on the internet, I’ve found people tend to prefer one or
the other.

Forums:
1-invariably mousetype (rude, tiny text; certainly applicable to forums.opensuse.org)
2-higher ratio of unanswered questions to answered questions
3-higher ratio of good answers to unhelpful answers
4-better moderation
5-subject miscategorization widespread (leads searches in wrong directions)
6-pulled (more work to get, but get no processing forced)

Mailing lists:
1-displays text legibly and comfortably at users preferred size
2-better ratio of questions asked to questions answered
3-better ratio of good answers to unhelpful answers
4-poorer moderation
5-topics lack categoration within particular lists (hard to narrow searches)
6-pushed (less work to get, more work to process)

This ties in somewhat with my post of a few weeks ago on learning about KDE, etc. My completely unscientific poll seems to indicate that forums are pretty popular, but did not address specifically the quality of answers you get from a particular venue (BTW, you can still vote in the related poll–Click the link at the top of this paragraph). What do you think? Comment below.

  • Let me give you a few more links related to HTML5 and CSS3, discovered this week:
    • I found the TinyMCE Advanced plugin, which adds some excellent standards-compliant features to the WordPress default Visual Editor. Unfortunately, some WordPress 3.0 users are complaining that it doesn’t install. See Comment 964 for a possible workaround. This plugin does not address HTML5 directly, but perhaps with a few persuasive notes, that can change.
    • The fine folks at SitePoint are offering cheap online classes for HTML5 and CSS3, starting next week. John Allsopp, one of the founders of the Web Standards Project is teaching them, and it sounds really interesting. The two-week HTML5 course begins July 26, and costs just $9.95, and the three-week CSS3 course that follows is just $14.95. Take ‘em both, and it’s just $19.90. Even though I will be on vacation for part of this time, I think I’m signing up.
    • Over at the About.com HTML site, they’re taking a poll on interest in CSS3, with a few links highlighting some of the features you can use now.

Happy Blue Beanie Day 2007!

Monday is Blue Beanie Day for Web Standards. This is an effort, organized on Facebook,  in support of designing web pages with web standards (CSS, XHTML, XML, etc.).  I’ll have more on this later today, but in the meantime, go find yourself a blue beanie, hat, toque or whatever, take a picture of yourself with it, and post it to Flickr tagged BlueBeanieDay2007. Mike McCallister with blue beanie

Mike McCallister with blue beanie More to come!