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We're rolling out a new sub-category on Nettuts+: reviews. Sporadically, when a new book or piece of software is released, either myself or one of our writers will write a review detailing the pros and cons.
A couple weeks ago, Packt Publishing sent me a copy of the recently released "WordPress 2.7 Complete." Though the platform has already moved on to 2.8, I was still quite pleased with the final product.
Truthfully, reviewing a book like this for a web development site is difficult. As with any book, you have to keep the target reader in mind. So for Nettuts+, when deciding whether or not to recommend it, I came to the following conclusions about our little community.
- Is it likely that they're 100% new to WordPress and blogging? No.
- Will they already know how to create posts and assign categories, among other elementary tasks? Yes.
- Will they benefit from five chapters which teach how to add comments, manage posts, etc? No.
WordPress 2.7 Complete teaches you from the very beginning, assuming that you have little to no knowledge of WordPress. This is fantastic for someone like your parent, who has minimal experience with web development; however, for those like myself or the huge majority of you, the first five chapters will be of absolutely no use. Unless you need instructions on how to create pages, leave a comment, assign categories, and other relatively mindless tasks, you'll be a bit surprised when you find yourself skipping to the middle of the book within the first few moments.
The Parts you'll Read
With all of that said, I'd still recommend this book to any of our readers who are hoping to learn more about theme design with WordPress. While you'll most likely, as I mentioned, skip the first five chapters, the remaining ones will keep your attention.
- Chapter 6: Developing your own Theme
- Chapter 7: Feeds and Podcasting
- Chapter 8: Developing Plugins and Widgets
- Chapter 9: Community Blogging
- Chapter 10: WordPress as a CMS
- Chapter 11: Administrator's Reference
My best guess is that any of our readers who might be interested in picking up a WordPress book are hoping to learn how to convert their HTML/CSS designs into working WordPress templates; beyond that, perhaps some lessons on plugin development. If that's your hope, these remaining chapters (particularly #6) will do the trick!
If, on the other hand, you're a skilled WordPresser hoping to further refine your chops, this probably isn't the proper choice, as it's obviously intended for newcomers.
The Hands-on Approach
This book is super helpful because it takes you through the process of building a complete WordPress'ified website, complete with custom pages, RSS feed, search functionality, widgets, and more. Once you've completed the coding (the design portion is not covered), you'll then begin learning how to develop custom plugins and widgets for your site, starting in Chapter 8.
Take me for example: I've worked with WordPress for quite some time, and still enjoyed the entire read (well, at least the second half) - and managed to pick up a bunch of helpful tips! For about $39, the knowledge gained is more than worth the purchase.
- Well written and easy to understand.
- Though helpful, it doesn't require that you sit at your computer while reading.
- Moves at the perfect speed for beginners, and never throws too much code/jargon at you.
- For most of our community, the first five chapters will be completely ignored. This leaves you with about 150 pages to learn from.
- I would have liked to see a final chapter that focused more on advanced topics. Though, understandably, this book was meant for beginners.
The 30-Second Review
- Is your mom hoping to start her first blog, and hopefully move on to coding her own theme? Fantastic choice.
- Are you comfortable working with WordPress (installing themes, minor editing, etc.), and want to take things a step further? This will do the trick!
- Hoping to convert your static HTML/CSS design to a dynamic WordPress site? Pick it up!
- Need a crash-course in plugin development? This will show you the ropes.
- Been working with WordPress for years and desire a master level book? Keep looking. This one will bore you. :)
If interested, the book can be purchased at your local bookstore, or through Packt's website.
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