Jeff Star, founder and lead developer of Monzilla Media, has sent me a copy of Digging into WordPress v2 for review. He has written this book with co-author and master designer Chris Coyer of CSS-Tricks. The eleven chapter book, packed with 400+ pages of WordPress tutorials, techniques, tips and tricks was released after a year of production, design, planning and writing.
WordPress is currently the most popular publishing platform. It focuses on aesthetics, web standard and usability. It’s famous for its 5-minutes installation and comes with a complete user-contributed documentation. This is one of the reasons I like working with WordPress. Starting as just a blogging system, it has evolved to be used as full content management system and so much more to the thousands of plugins, widgets and themes, WordPress is limited only by your imagination (and tech chops).
Beautiful Custom Design
The first thing I noticed at “Digging into WordPress” is its beautiful custom design. Every page of the book is printed with stunning digital-color precision on gloss-finish paper, with each of its eight chapters color-coded to provide quick and easy navigation. Having a large and clear typography, each page is easy on the eyes and easy to read.
Easy to read
Secondly, this book is written in a clear and easy-to-read language. Thanks for the use of fun and helpful illustrations, the information is easier to understand even for those who are brand new to WordPress.
400 Pages of practical information
With over 400 pages of practical information, Digging into WordPress covers everything you need from setting up your site, navigating the admin panel, optimizing your site for search engines to even more advanced topics like plugin development, website security and performance optimization in considerable detail.
Written with the perfect balance of theory, explanation and code, each chapter focuses on teaching you how to improve your site using many different techniques, tips, and tricks. Each technique is fully self-contained, providing complete instructions and clear explanations to make implementation a breeze.
The book is structured as follows:
- Welcome to WordPress – offers an introduction to the blogging platform, how to setup and configure it, how to optimize and maintain a WordPress site, and some key components of a WordPress site (core files, database, the back end, the front end). This chapter is ideal for absolute beginners.
- Setting Up WordPress – shows in detail how you can setup WordPress: installing, publishing, using the permalinks, categories, and tags. It’s also an introduction to using themes and plugins
- Anatomy of a WordPress Theme – this chapter covers in detail how WordPress works: the common files that are used in a theme, the header, the WordPress Loop, the comments, the sidebar and the theme functions.
- Theme Design and Development – this chapter covers in depth theme design and development, making it interesting for both designers and developers. It includes loop customization, custom display for sidebar, footer and menu items, styling themes, using multiple themes and widgetizing.
- Extending Functionality – covers in depth WordPress Plugins (usage and maintenance). Focuses more in finding the right plugins, rather than writing your own plugins from scratch. Further on it shows you ways of using WP as a CMS offering information on page templates, custom fields, custom taxonomies, categorizing, tagging, dynamic menus, users (roles and permissions). It also shows you ways of extending the CMS functionality.
- Working with RSS Feeds – a very comprehensive guide – consisting in 50 pages – that covers all sorts of things including: working with RSS feeds, types of WordPress Feeds, Feed Configuration and Formats, usage of Feedburner for Feed Delivery and its benefits, track and Display Feed Statistics, Feed Customization, and Feed Validation.
- Working with Comments – consists in 60 pages of information that shows you how to: optimize the WordPress comment area, syndicate WordPress comments, format the comments area, customize how comments are displayed, optimize the comment form, control the comment Spam and other consideration and techniques about the enhancements and the encouragement of comments, the “nofollow” links and the Twitter integration.
- Search Engine Optimization – starts with the SEO strengths and weaknesses in this area and further on it shows you ways of controlling your duplicate content, optimizing both the Permalink Structure and the WP Site using well-known techniques including: detecting Duplicate Content, optimizing Heading and Title Tags, fixing Broken Links and using a Sitemap. It also gives you a list of some of the most useful and beneficial SEO-Related plugins currently available to the thriving WordPress community.
- Maintaining a Healthy Site – this chapter is a must read because it covers basics like security (in order to protect the WordPress blog from getting hacked and to stop comment Spam), monitoring and fixing errors, updates and optimization as well as general maintenance of plugins and database.
- Bonus Tricks! – includes 2 tutorials – adding author bios to single posts and adding a theme options panel – and 2 free WP themes
- WordPress Updates – this chapter covers the new feature that came with WordPress 2.9 including Image Editor, Trash Can, Embedding Videos with oEmbed, Database Maintenance Tools, Canonical Meta Tags, Post Thumbnails, Metadata API, Widgetized Sidebar Descriptions, Custom Post Types, New Theme Templates, Register Feature Support and Custom Theme Directories.
Lots of code samples
“We go into depth about the anatomy of a WordPress theme. How they work, and how to write the code you need to do the things you want. This means real code that you can sink your teeth into, as well as copy and paste. Beyond theme building, we introduce many tricks your functions.php file can pull off and show you ways to increase performance and security through HTAccess.”
A Lifetime Subscription
“When you buy this book, you will instantly get the most current version. But also, you are getting a lifetime subscription to all updated (PDF) copies of the book. Updates will automatically be emailed to you as they are released.”
The book is an excellent resource for beginner to intermediate users but it contains plenty of great information for the advanced user as well. It takes you step by step into the WordPress blogging platform – which is great for those who are just starting with WP – by presenting you the information using fun and helpful illustrations. Even if you have experience working with WordPress or web design, this book is written to help you take WordPress to the next level.
Digging into WordPress is available in both print and PDF formats. The print version has a spiral bound, that makes the book easy to lay flat next to your keyboard. It retails for $67 and you don’t miss a thing by buying it because it automatically comes with the PDF and it’s bundled themes as well. The PDF comes at a price of $27 and it’s like a “living, breathing document” because it will grow with WordPress, and will be updated and improved periodically well into the future.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below!