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WordPress 2.8 Theme Design Paperback – December 17, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tessa Blakeley Silver's background is in print design and traditional illustration. She evolved over the years into web and multi-media development, where she focuses on usability and interface design. Prior to starting her consulting and development company hyper3media (pronounced hyper-cube media) http://hyper3media.com, Tessa was the VP of Interactive Technologies at eHigherEducation, an online learning and technology company developing compelling multimedia simulations, interactions, and games that met online educational requirements like 508, AICC, and SCORM. She has also worked as a consultant and freelancer for J. Walter Thompson and The Diamond Trading Company (formerly known as DeBeers) and was a Design Specialist and Senior Associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers' East Region Marketing department. Tessa authors several design and web technology blogs. Joomla! Template Design is her first book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (December 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849510083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849510080
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,624,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Shane Porter on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
I seem to be reading quite a few WordPress books of late, and there are certainly a few to choose from. Packt Publishing's WordPress 2.8 Theme Design's tagline is 'Create flexible, powerful, and professional themes for your WordPress blogs and websites'.

WordPress themes are of interest to me since they fuse a visual aspect with PHP code, and there's no doubt that they appeal to many other people too.

Chapter Overview

1. Getting Started as a WordPress Theme Designer
2. Theme Design and Approach
3. Coding it Up
4. Debugging and Validation
5. Putting Your Theme into Action
6. WordPress Template Tag, Function, and CSS Reference
7. AJAX/Dynamic Content and Interactive Forms
8. Dynamic Menus and Interactive Elements
9. Design Tips for Working with WordPress

The book's author Tessa Blakely Silver starts very gently with an introduction to WordPress themes and why downloading a theme that's already been coded and designed may not always be the best solution. Subsequently, the book develops a theme from scratch and examines core technologies such as WordPress, CSS, XHTML and PHP.

The second chapter starts with a discussion of theme design in general, followed by the beginnings of the theme that's developed throughout the book. There are further discussions on semantic markup, typography, fonts and layout.

The following chapter focuses on the code aspect of theme design, and suggests a workflow strategy as well as template tags, hooks, and the WordPress loop. Comments are then discussed in some detail, the topic including pagination and threaded comments.

Chapter four examines the process of debugging and validating.
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Format: Paperback
WordPress 2.8 Theme Design is the right book for those who currently understand the basics of Wordpress setup and theme modifications. Many books on Wordpress explain how to set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog, customize a header graphic and basic Wordpress blog management tasks and procedures. Wordpress 2.8 Theme Design takes you beyond the setup and management basics and into the creation of your own unique Wordpress theme from start to finish and is best for those who are comfortable with XHTML, CSS and Photoshop or GIMP. Silver begins with pros and cons of creating your own theme including Wordpress design best practices.

Silver has what some would consider a unique way of creating rapid prototype composites. Rather than sketching and designing first is a design program (e.g. Photoshop), she starts out with a rough sketch then moves directly into developing the layout in HTML and CSS. Her reasoning for this is twofold: First, she knows that by creating and laying everything out in XHTML and CSS that the site actually works for the real environment it will be used on. Second, many changes from clients come in the form of text tweaks. Working this way is easier in her view then wading through many Photoshop layers. From there, she takes a screen-capture of the layout and finesses it in Photoshop to create a comp that is easy to update and has the benefit of being partly coded. From there she takes the reader through the steps to convert the HTML to XHTML & PHP for Wordpress, widgetizing, testing your code and more.

There's a lot to like about this book.
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OK, I know authors and publishers are under the gun to get stuff out the door with limited budgets, but the copy in this book is downright appalling. Obviously nobody bothered to edit it. The organization is terrible and every page has really bonehead grammatical and punctuation errors, which makes me reluctant to trust the code samples (they also contain typos). This is a real shame because there's a lot of good info here -- especially for front-end developers like myself. I probably wouldn't buy another book from this publisher or author. Compared to the WordPress Bible (which I'm also reading), it's the difference between night and day. A big disappointment.
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I found this book to be extremely useful. I needed to get a WordPress site up and running last fall. I bought four or five WordPress books that were in-depth enough to cover themes and this was the one I turned to more and more. One reviewer cited multiple mistakes in code and grammar; I don't recall this as being a problem. The only real issue I had with the book was that Chapter 6 is a Template Tag, Function and CSS Reference. This usually signals to the reader (me in this case) that everything after that is an appendix which was not the case. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 were really essential to getting the site up and running. Not a big issue but a little unusual.

Tessa's approach is to create a theme from scratch, creating each file one at a time, cutting and pasting what she wants from the Default Theme and leaving out anything she doesn't plan to use. I liked this approach a lot. I have a background in C programming and have been doing web development as a corollary part of my job for 15 years and, while I'm no professional by any stretch, I have many opinions and biases. One, I like to understand what I'm coding. Two, I don't like having any unnecessary overhead, especially with the Web. I've avoided adopting the "Child Theme" approach for exactly that reason since I haven't been convinced yet that this is the cleanest and fastest way to code (but it may be; jury's still out). Tessa's book was the only one I found that shows you how to create a theme from scratch and follows that process from the beginning to the end of the book.

Tessa can write. Her prose style is approachable and makes one feel like one is sitting with an enthusiastic friend. She offers plenty of advice about which tools she likes but leaves the final choice to the user (not always the case).
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