(Updated) WordPress 3 Complete is out. This is April’s (not the month, the geek) latest publication. It’s a complete rewrite of the earlier editions for WordPress 2.x that she co-authored. This one’s entirely April’s.
It took me longer than expected to read this. There’s a lot of information presented here, and it turns out that WordPress itself is bigger than I had imagined. It seems that there’s a whole culture that has grown up around this stuff, which is good because it means that the environment is rich and the possibilities are great, but it also means that it is easy to get lost. That’s why it’s helpful to have a native guide, and that brings us back to April’s book.
It is clear that April is at home with WordPress. Her book reads like a travel guide written by someone who actually lives there and knows where to find the best teashops hidden away in the back alleys where the tourists don’t go. To an old-school geek like me, WordPress does seem like a foreign country, with its own jargon and community. It bugs me when I can’t figure out how to do something in WordPress, particularly when the answer is right in front of me and I can’t see it because I don’t know the lingo.
WordPress 3 Complete solves that problem by carefully explaining what the terminology means and how it applies to whatever it is I am trying to accomplish.
…and there is a lot that can be accomplished. The tools are all there if you know how to use them.
The book starts off with an introduction to WordPress, aimed at those who already know a bit about blogging and content management systems, and describes the place of WordPress in the web tool pantheon. It then outlines the various options for hosting a new WordPress blog site, weighs the pros and cons of each, and provides a brief overview of the WordPress Administrator’s panel.
Those are the first two chapters, and they are enough to guide you through getting a WordPress site up and running. The rest of the book assumes that you have a WordPress site that you can mangle available for testing (that is, not a production site—you will want to try a lot of the features WordPress has to offer).
The bulk of the book covers various aspects of managing your WordPress website, writing and managing posts and comments, dealing with plug-ins, changing the theme, and so on. Near the end, there is also a chapter that covers the more intimate details of developing themes, plug-ins, and widgets as well as a reference section for quick lookup of administrative commands and such-like.
WordPress 3 Complete is not written as a read-it-from-cover-to-cover book. Instead, it is organized in sections that target specific concepts and which read almost like individual magazine articles. Each chapter covers a topic in-depth, but also provides the broader background required to understand that topic. The only down-side to this approach is that it generates a good deal of repetition, which the reader will not notice unless they do, in fact, read from cover to cover.
Another minor problem is that WordPress itself is a moving target. It is under constant development, which puts the publisher under pressure to get the book to readers quickly. They seem to have done so, but at the expense of some copy editing. From my own experience as a writer, I know that typos and other minor glitches breed like rabbits. I am sure that there are, for instance, several incongrammities in this article. WordPress 3 Complete has its share. Not too many, just enough to catch you off guard when you stumble over them but also enough to suggest that the review process was a bit rushed.