This book is a waste of paper. [...] The first chapter is wasted on how to install Magento. The second chapter on how to change things like your favicon and your logo (geez, I guess firebug wouldn't teach me that now would it).
But the thing that upsets me the most is that there is so much white space on all the pages accompanied by massive photos of what you should be seeing on screen plus large font... that if you take this 269 page book and remove all the white space, then remove the photos you might be left 40 pages of what you would see in a standard programming book.
The funny part is in the first chapter they waste about 15-20 pages on showing you how good other websites have made their Magento site look, but the book doesn't give us 1% of what is needed to customize a theme to that extent.
If anybody is wondering about my background, I'm a 5 year OOP PHP developer, and even though this book is targeted at a beginner to Magento crowd... it really doesn't teach you anything.
The book is so bad that I will never buy anything from Packt publishing ever again, I mean come on Packt... don't you read these books before you publish them? There is a ton of white space!!!
Richard Carter, I could write a better book on Magento then this and I just started playing around with the system 1 week ago. You should hold your head in shame. "Author" sheesh. I would rate 0 stars but 1 is minimum.
I have read many books about Magento and in my opinion Packt Publishings are some of the best. Although there are some good general and cookbook style Magento books around I think Magento Theming is an area that requires a dedicated book and I would say that if you are serious about your ecommerce store and getting the most from Magento I think Magento Theme Design 1.4 by Richard Carter is well worth a read - cover to cover.
It is also important to note that many of the books currently available for Magento are based on version 1.3 that this book is currently as up to date as you can get (as far as I am aware all of the book is relevant to the recently released version 1.5) being based on 1.4, this is especially important as there has been some significant changes in the area of themes in version 1.4 from 1.3.
There is no doubt that Magento theme designing can be daunting and the more knowledge you have of HTML, CSS, XML and possibly of other CMS themes the less steep the learning curve well be. There is also certainly a big incentive to change the default theme as to me it is very ugly. The results you can get from just some of the techniques in this book can be make a huge difference to the look of you Magento store.
Overall I enjoyed the style of the book and particularly found the build up of Richard's example site useful. A great feature of the book is that you can download the code used in the books which includes css files, xml files and even the images used in the examples.
If you have no CSS skills at all probably best to start with a good CSS book. Overall a great book for anyone looking to improve their Magento theming skills.
* Install and configure Magento 1.4 and learn the fundamental principles behind Magento themes. * Customize the appearance of your Magento 1.4 e-commerce store with Magento's powerful theming engine by changing Magento templates, skin files and layout files. * Change the basics of your Magento theme from the logo of your store to the color scheme of your theme. * Integrate popular social media aspects such as Twitter and facebook into your Magento store.
It's extensive, about 292 pages. It goes from basic configurations to nasty piece of codes :P Download
What about Magento 1.5?
I wouldn't be worried about it. Even it the new 1.5 has some new features, you will be able to learn and customize everything within the book.
This 280-pager is dedicated to Magento's design related aspects. Those of you who've already done some work with Magento know that not only is the design architecture quite complex, but it is also using a terminology quite different from what you might know from other shopping carts or content management systems. A Magento layout, for example, does not refer to something a designer would produce in Photoshop, but rather to a set of XML directives which control the overall appearance of a certain page. Likewise, a template in Magento is not a collection of items which compile the browser output, like in osCommerce for example, but rather a single file formatting what is called a block in Magento. After the first chapter, which provides an overview of the way in which the Magento frontend presents itself to the user, introduces several showcases of popular web stores using Magento and explains how the software is installed on the server, the author Richard Carter explains the Magento-specific terminology and how the individual parts of the theming system relate to each other. He mentions the Magento multistore setup and draws attention to the fact that thanks to the fallback-system, one does not have to duplicate entire themes but rather change only those that are relevant to the current project. In the ensuing chapters, the author looks at theming in more detail and provides a range of examples, so that readers can gain their first hands-on experiences by following what is being done in the book. For my taste, there's a slight tendency to overuse full-page screenshots to support the explanation, however, the examples are well documented and easy to follow. The last chapters deal with the way in which transactional emails in Magento can be customised and contain a step-by-step description of how social networks and services such as Twitter and Facebook can be integrated into a Magento installation. In summary, I would recommend this book to Magento-ians who have already got their feet wet with Magento and know their way around the admin panel. If you want to know which knobs to fiddle with in order to make appear Magento the way you want, this book is for you.