Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog is a book by Thord Daniel Hedengren, published author and writer, freelance designer and a WordPress expert. We’ve got the second edition of the book, which was published in January this year. We have already reviewed a WordPress book by Thord back in June which turned out to be a great one, so we were expecting even more from this new one.
Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog dives into the WordPress internals a little bit. Thord talks about child themes, custom login forms and admin themes, controlling the loop and the content. A few chapters are dedicated to plugins and widgets, from building your own to recommendations. Other chapters talk about actions and filters, post formats and of course custom post types.
The book goes by the Smashing Magazine brand, one we really love and respect, hence the illustrations inside as well as the book cover are fantastic. Just like in the other book we have reviewed, we didn’t like the code snippets without line numbering and without syntax highlighting in some places, hoping to see a different picture in the third edition.
Content-wise, the book is split in four parts. The first part is of course dedicated to WordPress installation, pros would generally want to skip that whole part, but my suggestion is to at least scan it. There’s some interesting things about databases, import/export and more, some of you might have not dealt with yet and would certainly come in handy in your projects.
Second part is about themes, the template files, the loop and of course our favorite child themes. A good explanation on widgets declaration and usage and some short notes about the template hierarchy. Too bad Thord didn’t include the Template Hierarchy image from the Codex, but he did create one of his own. Great notes about actually releasing a WordPress theme to the public which is very different than client/simple website work, and a very well-written and helpful set of checklists.
The Advanced Theme Usage chapter covers some great topics like action hooks and custom taxonomies. You shouldn’t believe everything Thord writes in that part though, there’s some inconsistency with the actions explanation and not the best example for custom taxonomies illustration. These sections will hopefully be rewritten in the third edition of the book.
The third part talks mainly about plugins. Essentials, compatibility and multi-site. Widgets and metaboxes, quite neat. Although unfortunately, our favorite Settings API hasn’t been mentioned much. Hopefully the third edition of the book will give a walkthrough on settings, tabs and more. This section also features the author’s pick of useful plugins for content, media, utility and administration. Some are quite outdated, but still worth taking a look at.
The fourth and final part of the book talks about additional features and functionality. A great overview of WordPress as a CMS for non-bloggish websites, a few words about the social web and available APIs and widgets. Some design trickery and working with images as well an interesting chapter called Uncommon WordPress Usage, showing how to create a job board using WordPress, then diving a little bit into e-commerce.
To wrap up, the book is quite a good read, took me a little over a month with my busy schedule but definitely worth the effort. We thank Thord for this lovely publication and hoping to see the third edition rock and roll. Oh, and his Tackling Tumblr book is now available on Amazon and we can’t wait to get our hands on it, although it’s not as exciting as these WordPress ones.
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