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WordPress 2 - a visual quickstart guide

Posted by Johan on January 24th, 2007.


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Maria Langer and Miraz Jordan are the authors of WordPress 2 - a visual quickstart guide. The subtitle says Learn WordPress the Quick and Easy Way! This book is more of a compendium which explains the basics of managing your WordPress blog.

Wordpress a visual quickstart guideWordpress a visual quickstart guide

Book Info

  • WordPress 2 - a visual quickstart guide

  • Written by Maria Langer, published by PeachPitt Press

    ISBN-10: 0-321-45019-1; ISBN-13: 978-0-321-45019-7. 294 pages

  • Order? From Amazon UK or Amazon US

Summary

The first two chapters are a very short introduction to what blogging stands for, how it works and installing WP. Further in the book, it is said one could install WP on the pre-installed Apache Server that goes with Mac OSX. You can install WP in more ways but you have easy and less easy — all depending on your knowledge of databases, using the command-line or MySQL for one! Gladly In the end after a succesful WP install — you are ready to post!

So that’s it? No way (!!), all eager bloggers will want to customize their blog and above all manage it — permit me this slight exaggeration — how do we tame the WP beast ? In chapter 2, you learn how to set the blog options in the administration panel aka the Dashboard that goes with WP.

In chapter 3 Adding Content we delve further into the features of the WP admin panel that enable us to write some content aka posts and associate posts with one or more categories of your choice! Of course, we learn how to format, edit and delete posts and pages, with help of the rich text editor and other features build-in the admin interface. Screenshots of the editor with a step-by-step guide show how you can format your content, add links and images (even without any knowledge of HTML).

With the adminpanel you can manage your posts and pages — equally important! In this chapter we get to know to manage images and links as well. Often you might like to upload images or import a series of links — and you can of course.

A blog can enable/disable comments for each post you write! The very short chapter 4 is dedicated to moderating comments. Comments can be deleted when inappropriate, and we have to deal with spam treats. Fortunately, we learn in this chapter how to activate Aksimet, a descent spam filter!

A WP blog has at least one user, but this can be extended to many users. In this chapter 5, you see a handy table that shows what user roles and capabilities can be assigned to the administrator of a WP blog. Basically you learn how to manage these accounts.

Fadtastic.net recently released its own theme - the Fadtastic theme. Forgive me this shameless self promotion! You can install and browse through many other WP themes. Mostly people customize existing themes but you can start from scratch as well. Again this depends on your knowledge of how the WP template is build, your expertise in creating your own imagery and CSS trickery. In this chapter 6, we are introduced to the template files of WordPress — a mixture of HTML and PHP. Luckily, a basic understanding of how the PHP templates work can be intimidating at first but reveals its functionality soon enough.

The infamous WP loop is basically a chunk of PHP that essentially displays your posts and pages you authored in the WP admin panel!

Customizing the appearance of the default theme, or any pre-build WP theme is hereby limited to creating a different look– personalized to your taste: enter the power of CSS. One could argue that even with the many available WP themes - many blogs look like clones. But again that is up to you — it takes devotion, talent and good content to do that!

We end this chapter with some tips on validating our beloved HTML and CSS. Eat your heart out, standardistas!

In chapter 7 Plugins for WP deals with some handy plugins to enhance your default WP installation. In short, you get to know how to enable useful plugins from the admin panel. Some plugins are handy to add functionality you would otherwise never could enable yourself. You can make also your own but would require very advanced skills most of the time. I won’t stop you from trying though!

In this chapter you learn how to simply add author info, web stats, favicons, google ads to your WP blog. This is rather a short chapter.

You are not limited to using the default WP admin panel, there are other solutions to manage your WP blog. We see in Blogging tools some blogging authorware compared which can be used in WP.
Unfortunately, it is mostly shareware. But it exists, good to know!

In the final chapter Advanced tasks, you get familiar with some advanced stuff you can do within WP. In quick flight, we see alternative ways to edit posts while directly accessing the database, how to do podcasting in WP, import posts from other blogging engines, RSS feeds and other interesting to know stuff.

The book offers appendices with useful links about all aspects of WP blogging!

Criticism

The book has a great lay-out! See the overview:

  • Two columns per page, easy-to-read blocks of text and screenshots to illustrate the step-by-step guide.
  • Gray vertical tabs on every page to guide you where you are in the chapter.
  • Each action you need to take to manage your blog in the admin panel of WP is explained like a step-by-step guide where the more easy to grasp defined features and terms are presented like hierarchical lists.
  • Each chapter explains differences between wordpress.com blogs — a different install with less options — and WP installed on your own webhost.
  • Each time when something is not further explained, you get to know in which chapter you will learn more.
  • We get handy tips in each chapter, not seldom referring to a link of http://codex.wordpress.org.
  • Also we get warnings when we might do something unintended but completely wrong.

But it does not help to find or refind stuff you need easily. The structure of the book is hopping from one detail to another. And some chapters like shareware blogger software or plugins are just add-ons.

At times we get links to other books about CSS or PHP from the same publisher (again no pun intended). But is a little obvious when you know these books are sold as a series of. The book has a great lay-out! But the content looks cluttered. The book explains many things but too simple!

Anyone can change a template, but the authors keep their hands of PHP, which is WP’s backend.

Each chapter refers again and again to differences between wordpress.com blogs — a different install with less options — and WP installed on your own webhost. We get handy tips in each chapter, not seldom referring to a link of http://codex.wordpress.org. One could read the codex instead perhaps.

As the author says - any tweaking of these PHP functions requires advanced knowledge of PHP, and is beyond the scope of this book. What you do get to know, is what each chunk of code does: what piece of code displays the post title, how to change the date format of a post and so on. Thus, meaning small changes! (most people can do that basic stuff)

Who should read this book

Only beginners that never used wordpress before. Advanced users would not find this book interesting.

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I love Peachpit Press and would recommend just about any of their books, especially their …
For WordPress, though, while it would take a bit more of one’s time, WP’s own documentation (the codex) and support forums are more helpful than any book, however well-conceived.

The primary reason is that a book can only suggest one or two ways to set up a blog. The WP support forums can show you a hundred different ways to set up a blog, dozens of ways to set up a WP-based commerce or publishing site, and literally thousands of coding tweaks to make your data do exactly what you want it to do.

Andrew W
January 24th, 2007
#

I hardly ever read full reviews, before first reading a summary. I always look for summaries which this review seems to be missing.

Lloyd Budd
January 24th, 2007
#

This book review is summarized per chapter where I highlight what you can find.
The book review follows the chapters as in the book. As I mentioned in the beginning: This book is more of a compendium which explains the basics of managing your WordPress 2 blog. Wordpress 2 was a major update for the WP blog series.

In book Info you have a short summary of the whole book as well.

Johan
January 24th, 2007
#

Thanks for the review Johan.

You’ll note that Maria didn’t write the book alone. :-)

The standardista would be me - see my work with the New Zealand Web Standards Group: http://webstock.org.nz

Miraz Jordan
January 25th, 2007
#

Hi,I use wordpress for most of my sites. One thing I find is really useful if not essential is a good knowledge of html, css and php. Knowing all of these skills can really makes a difference to your blog/website. However if you were to learn just one skill then html would be a great start. Have a look at these <a href="http://www.turbowebmasters.com">html tutorials</a> for a fast way to learn html. Tony 

Tony
March 14th, 2008
#

Hi,
I am, Michael
great posts on here
this is my site:

http://5QqgGuhMw.spaces.live.com/

smoorycreeply
October 20th, 2008
#

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October 14th, 2010
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November 22nd, 2010
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