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Joe Casabona is a web developer, writer, and teacher. He hails from Middletown, New York and has been making websites since 2002. His good friend Stephen Mekosh introduced him to WordPress in 2004 and he’s been working with it ever since. Joe also writes for WordPress Tuts+ and the Appstorm network. Check him out at casabona.org or on Twitter at @jcasabona.
First, I'll say that I'm very experienced with PHP, over 6 years of advanced level PHP development of all kinds.
I've been developing CMS sites for clients in PHP for years. When I started, WordPress wasn't as capable as it is now, and so I was forced to either implement a very complicated CMS for a client who only needed simple features, or build my own simple CMS. However, custom post types changed that, and Joe does a great job of introducing and guiding developers on how to implement custom post types for WordPress. Joe also discusses Plugin development, and the all-powerful shortcode. I'd have otherwise spent weeks in the codex to get the value I got in one weekend from this book.
I would say the first half of this book is great for any front end designer (HTML/CSS). The PHP for WordPress basics are more of a templating system than doing any real programming. Joe demonstrates how easy it is for any developer/designer to get in and turn their own HTML layouts into WordPress themes. However I would caution readers, if you're not experienced in PHP, don't expect more, as the custom post type implementations (or anything in the second half of the book) do require you to grasp some basic/intermediate programming concepts.
For coders, I give this book 5 stars For front end designers, I give this book 4 stars
There isn't a book that gives me what I need for wordpress - yet. However, combining a few together is getting me there. This is one of them.
The author takes you from a set of photoshop pages and beats them into wordpress templates. And you learn along the way.
This is good for part of what I need. However, the book is too literal for me. By that, I mean he doesn't give enough theory to go along with the practical information. If what I was going to do was take some photoshopped pages and slice and dice them - which by the way isn't included here - this would be a great book for me. Especially if I was going to do exactly what he's doing.
I want the step-by-step. At 52, I NEED the step-by-step! I need also to understand the 'why' of the 'what'. Why are we doing what we're doing so I can take it to the next project. I want to customize a theme I have now - heavily. But the information on how to do that is spread around like Nutella on a piece of wheat toast. Thinly. I don't like Nutella, btw.
I want the do this and then the why we did this in one book. Plus, I want the "if that didn't work" part, too. This book, like almost all I've seen on WP, assumes the stuff you do works.
To be fair, while creating a wordpress.com blog is a trivial thing and even installing and configuring WP to run locally on a XAMPP stack is fairly mundane, the guts of WP are not. Not simple. Not straightforward. Instead, WP uses a lot of pieces, spread all over, to do its thing. Which is a good thing - unless you're new to it all.
I need a "Practical WordPress Bible" with lots of tech along the way. While this ain't it, it's a great piece of the puzzle. It's even good in Kindle form - which is how I have it.
The best aspect of this book is that the author, Joe Casabona explains how Wordpress' template structure works and which files to modify to get the best results. He also gives you the basics of the functions file which helps you add features to Wordpress. If you work with a basic starter theme like Chris Coyier's blank theme or the Starkers theme, this book can be a great companion.
I built my own blog theme a month or so ago, following a tutorial and thought it was quite a simple page (visually) but the code and organization was overly complicated and difficult to edit for what it was. I also rebuilt themes that already existed but I also thought that was way too difficult. I thought OK maybe I just hate WordPress and should just stick to HTML and CSS.
When you buy this book you get a link to send your receipt to and they send you the digital copy for free, which is helpful when writing a lot of code (copy/paste). It's written in a pleasing way, light humor/sarcasm and simplistic (not wordy).
One thing that would have been nice is if the theme you were creating in the end were more interesting. I'm a graphics major so I like glitz. Granted I can go in and change colors and different elements and move things around, but I've been there and done that. One thing I can say is that the author is very clean and organized in his code, which is something that I can't say about the other tutorial I did on a blog theme.