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Did an editor REALLY let this book through?
on February 13, 2012
Let me preface this review by stating that I have worked in web-based tech support for 11 years, I have been coding HTML since I was a teenager, and I have maintained an extensive personal website since 1998.
I am absolutely dumbfounded that some editor allowed this book through to the printer. This book should ONLY be considered reference material for someone who already knows ALL the material in the book. I have been working with WordPress in its simple blog format for several years, I've read several books on WordPress basics, and after reading this book all the way through 3 times cover-to-cover, I still can't interpret 90% of the content.
The book is altogether lacking in EXAMPLES. The author THINKS she is providing examples, and perhaps in her advanced mind, she is. For for a "DUMMIE" reading this book, her examples completely fail on most levels.
FOR EXAMPLE...In Chapter 12 (to which I randomly opened...every page of this book is completely lacking in practical examples), page 207 she says "WordPress lets you create categories and assign posts to a specific category (or multiple categories)... The /<?php wp_list_categories(); ?>/ template tag lets you display a list of your categories by using the available parameters and values. (Table 12-4 shows some of the most popular parameters)." She follows the table with "a couple of examples of tags used to display a list of your categories" and lists some specific lines of php code.
HOWEVER...nowhere in the entire chapter does she indicate WHICH FILE this code should be placed within...nor WHERE in the file the code should be placed. Both of which are critical, indispensable bits of information, without which her exhaustive coverage of Template Tags in this chapter and the following ones is useless. php is a finicky thing. It does not like experiments or approximations. Only someone already highly experience in php would be able to divine her intentions for where this code should be applied.
The information in this book is presented in a reckless, haphazard way that is not remotely practical.
This book is missing CRITICAL and APPLICABLE examples on virtually every page.
FOR EXAMPLE...in the example above, Ms. Sabin-Wilson should provide a real-world example at the end of this section. "If you would like a page on your site to display ONLY posts tagged to the category RECIPES, first create a document in your text editor titled category-recipes.php, and copy and paste the information from the existing category.php file. Insert the following code /code/ into the category-recipes.php file below the /</head>/ line, and change the following entries..." etc.
Finally, this book is missing a step-by-step walk-through of how to build a sample site. "Our site is going to have a static landing page with 3 columns, a static ABOUT US page with 2 columns, a static CONTACT page with a single column, a BLOG page listing all posts tagged to the category BLOG, and a MUSIC page listing only custom posts. And here is how we're going to build it, each step of the way."
By the end of your journey through this book, you'll be infinitely more befuddled that you were when you began, and you'll be ready to hire Ms. Sabin-Wilson to build your site for you. But perhaps that was her intention all along?
This book lacks clarity, simplicity, and most of all...EXAMPLES. Do not buy this book if you do not already have a firm understanding of php, css, and have not already built several website using WordPress that required you to reach into the code beyond the available widgets and themes. This is a reference book. It is not a how-to book. And it is MOST CERTAINLY NOT for "Dummies."