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Blog Design Solutions [Paperback]

Andy Budd , Richard Rutter , John Oxton , David Powers
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 31.49
Price: 29.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Feb 2006 Solutions

Blogging has moved rapidly from being a craze to become a core feature of the Internet—from individuals sharing their thoughts with the world via online diaries, through fans talking about their favorite sports teams or music, right up to serious business minds discussing industry futures.

And that includes you, right? If you haven’t got a blog already, you want to start one, and want to find out how. If you have already got one, you want to know how to customize it, and make it look cooler than everybody elses. In either case, this is the ideal book for you.

In this book, a team of renowned web designers take you through the ins and outs of putting together great blogs. They waste no time harking on about the philosophy of blogs, or the community behind them. Instead, they get straight to the practical details, showing how to set up a basic blog in some of the world's most popular blogging engines Movable Type, ExpressionEngine, WordPress, and Textpattern. With your blog set up, they then show you how to build great looking, usable layouts for your blog. The last chapter even shows you how to build your very own PHP/MySQL-based blog engine!

With this book in hand, you’ll have found your way to blog heaven in no time!


Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: FRIENDS OF ED (1 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590595815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590595817
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 19.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,207,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

David Powers is an Adobe Community Expert for Dreamweaver and author of a series of highly successful books on PHP, including PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy (friends of ED, ISBN-13: 978-1-59059-731-6) and Foundation PHP for Dreamweaver 8 (friends of ED, ISBN-13: 978-1-59059-569-5). As a professional writer, he has been involved in electronic media for more than 30 years, first with BBC radio and television and more recently with the Internet. His clear writing style is valued not only in the English-speaking world; several of his books have been translated into Spanish and Polish. What started as a mild interest in computing was transformed almost overnight into a passion, when David was posted to Japan in 1987 as BBC correspondent in Tokyo. With no corporate IT department just down the hallway, he was forced to learn how to fix everything himself. When not tinkering with the innards of his computer, he was reporting for BBC TV and radio on the rise and collapse of the Japanese bubble economy. Since leaving the BBC to work independently, he has built up an online bilingual database of economic and political analysis for Japanese clients of an international consultancy. When not pounding the keyboard writing books or dreaming of new ways of using PHP and other programming languages, David enjoys nothing better than visiting his favorite sushi restaurant. He has also translated several plays from Japanese.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage 4 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback
This book starts with the basics and explains just what a blog is, the associated terminology and other technologies that you can use to create a blog to be proud of. The second chapter talks about setting up a local test environment with PHP, mySQL and Apache for Windows and Mac users and finishes with setting up your blog database with phpMyAdmin. Now, if this level of technology use gives you the heeby-jeebies - then fear not. It is so well written, with plenty of screenshots you will finish chapter 2 with a big grin and a muttered "that wasn't bad at all". The few pages with screenshots on backing up your database was very welcomed by me - far too often in an online tutorial we hear "back up your database" with no explanation of how or provided with a link to another tutorial. Thank You.
Now, with the foundation in place, the bulk of the book looks at each of the major (self-hosted) blogging systems. If you are buying this book because you don't have your own blog or want something more configurable than a hosted solution like blogger.com, then do take the time to read each of the following chapters to see which one captures your imagination (or wallet if ExpressionEngine catches the eye). With that freshly created local test environment you can download and install each type to see which system works best for you.
If you already have a blog using one of these systems the value of this book may be lessened for you because you may feel that the three other chapters are not applicable. That was my initial impression. But no, read those other chapters!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but too general 4 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a general book that will give you insights into all the common blogging platforms, then this isn't a bad book, however it's much more general than I'd expected. This may be my own fault for not spending enough time reviewing the contents before buying....!

For a general overview of customising the main platforms and setting up a test environment, I would recommend this book. For anyone who wants to understand their chosen platform better though, I would recommend that they look for a specialised book on that platform.

Also, please note that the Wordpress examples are based on version 1.5...!
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tome of Knowledge 6 Mar 2006
By Nathan Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just finished reading this tome of knowledge, and all I can say is: Wow. I was a little worried at first, when the book opened with the definition of a "web log," that perhaps this would be geared too much towards beginners, but by the time I made it all the way through, I knew my initial assumption was wrong. If this were an O'Reilly book, it would no doubt be titled Blogging: the Definitive Guide.

Blog Design Solutions is characterized by the literary flair typical of books published by Friends of ED. The list of authors includes many of the big names in the world of blogging and design: Andy Budd, Simon Collison, Chris J. Davis, Michael Heilemann, John Oxton, David Powers, Richard Rutter and Phil Sherry.

I for one am thankful that Phil Sherry decided to follow through on this book idea, and that he rounded up such knowledgeable people to help him with the task. This fearless group of world citizens takes you through the very basics of how blogs (web logs) came about, all the way through to writing your own content management system, touching on just about everything in between.

Ch. 4:

For me, this book really begins on page 114, not because the previous chapters aren't worth reading, but this is when Simon Collison unleashes his ExpressionEngine expertise with a fury. It should be noted that since the writing of this book, the EE Core now can be used free of charge for personal or non-profit purposes. So, you can safely disregard the section about the Trial Version and the Zend Optimizer, because this has essentially been replaced by the new EE Core. pMachine cares about people, even giving away $15,000 for their shootout.

It is refreshing to see a company make its licensing more user-friendly rather than the inverse (as was the case with MovableType). Ever since then, I've been tinkering with EE and wanting to learn more about it, to use for churches. This system is so robust and flexible, it could probably benefit from having an entire book.

Collinson curbs his enthusiasm well though, and manages to pack quite a bit of information into his single allotted chapter. With so many other great CSS books and resources out there, I was glad that he focused mainly on how EE actually works. It has a very intuitive tag scheme, making setting up templates more streamlined. Add to that unlimited custom fields, and it's quite a package. Aside from calling American football "rubbish" (p.147) this was a good chapter.

Ch. 5:

From a pure entertainment standpoint, chapter five takes the cake. Chris J. Davis and Michael Heilemann paint a beautiful word picture of a promised land "filled with rivers of chocolate, fluffy bunnies to frolic with, and WordPress support." It's not all fun and games though, because these guys delve right into the code, and really show you how to get the most out of this open-source publishing platform.

If you are one of many people who use WP for a personal blog, but are intimidated by what's "under the hood," fear not. This tandem duo helps to demystify those cryptic <?php...?> tags sprinkled throughout the templating system. First, they cover what drives the default Kubrick template, and who better to do it than the designer himself. Then, they give you some expert pointers on how to gut it and create your own distinctive blog template.

So, if you are looking to run a blog in the purest sense of the word, this chapter is probably where you will want to start. WP has trackbacks, great tagging and many categorization options. Additionally, it starts you out with a pretty nice template, which is probably why there is such a saturation of Kubrick based websites out there. As of version 1.5, it can even handle static pages. Also covered is installation of plugins, such as Clean Archives by Shawn Grimes. Though it was not specifically mentioned in the book, if you are a WordPress user, allow me to suggest you try out the Tiger Admin plugin by Steve Smith. This will pretty up your admin interface, giving it a look reminiscent of OSX, rather than the comparatively dull defaults.

Ch. 6:

What WordPress is to blogging, I'd dare say Textpattern is to multi-sectioned sites. This is the system I use to run my own personal site, and it is also what drives Godbit.com. What it may lack in the social web aspects, it more than makes up for in the intuitiveness with which it allows you to organize a site. In that regard, as well as templating syntax, it is similar to larger systems like EE. If EE could be likened to a Tyrannosaurus rex, then TXP would be a Velociraptor.

In this chapter, John Oxton shows how to harness the power of this versatile system. He guides the reader through the initial setup to actually creating a custom design entirely from scratch using Fireworks, XHTML and CSS. Of all the chapters in this book, this was the one I was most curious about. If you read his blog regularly, you know that Oxton employs quite colorful language, and at times his articles consist more of nonsensical swearing than anything else.

However, in this chapter he demonstrates his web design genius by employing the help of Kev Adamson to draw a "stretchy man," which becomes the basis for the site template. The header literally is the area with the cartoon's head, and the footer contains his feet. He masterfully illustrates the power of TXP's output_form tag, essentially like PHP includes in the case of WordPress. If you've been looking to learn more about TXP, you won't be disappointed.

Ch.7:

Last and certainly not least is the chapter by Richard Rutter, who pretty much singlehandedly made em a usable format with his 62.5% text resizing CSS tutorial. He covers in depth how to create your own content management system using PHP and MySQL. While I could go on and on about it, since this chapter is a custom tutorial, you really just need to read along and follow through his examples. Suffice it to say that it is quite informative and could prove beneficial to those of you looking to make your own unique way of doing things.

Summary:

In short, this is the book I wish existed when I first started learning about content management systems. It could have saved me countless hours reading up on all the various options out there, and testing each one to see how the syntax worked. If you are looking to get a jump-start in offering dynamic ways for your clients or church to keep their own content up to date, this book is undoubtedly for you. I would highly suggest putting it on your must read list.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Nothing 20 Mar 2006
By Cody Lindley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book will be extremely helpful to the new blogger who desires insight into the ins and outs of blogging, as well as the logistical knowledge (geeky know-how) required to install and use four of the most popular blogging systems available today (MovableType, ExpressionEngine, WordPress, and Textpattern). Its depth regarding the specifics of each blogging system is shallow, but given the obvious diversity of the content and targeted audience, this should be expected. To that point, most of the authors explicitly acknowledge only being able to give a small glimpse into the depths of each blogging system.

The four chapters, dedicated each to a specific blogging system, are an excellent starting point for the blogging newbie. However, this comes at a price. That is, in order to digest the four chapters which focus on a specific system, an individual must first digest the technical matters discussed in chapter 2 (LAMP, WAMP, MAMP). I don't see this as a downfall of the book, but rather as the place where the learning curve might jump beyond the targeted audience.

Once the reader has digested chapter 2, the book moves straight into the implementation and usage of MovableType. At this point, I think the authors made a critical error by not including a chapter dedicated to an objective overview and comprehensive comparison of the four blogging systems showcased. For example, ExpressionEngine has very specific strengths in the realm of user management that should have been compared and contrasted against the other systems. The reason being, that a majority of the noise found on the Internet concerning blogging is dedicated to this exact issue. As well, it never fails. Each and every person blogging today did (or eventually will) seek an objective overview and comprehensive comparison of the blogging systems available. Without a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each system, readers are left to essentially pick one of the systems randomly, hoping they are picking the one that best suits their needs. Questions like, "which system provides the easiest template manipulation?", "which systems support community plug-ins?", and "which system is the easiest to get up-and-running?" are left for readers to either deduct from one small chapter or research and answer elsewhere.

As for the last chapter, I was a little confused by its worth to a blogging newbie (at whom the book is obviously targeted). I'm almost sure that if you need a book to show you how to install Textpattern, then the last chapter of this book is way over your head from a technical perspective.

The book's saving grace is the fact that it was published at all. Given the options (none at this point), this book is well worth the purchase if your goal is to get up and running with next to no knowledge about the topic at hand. Of course, I hear that Typo 3 has a book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding read for intermediate developer 15 Aug 2007
By Kenneth E. Griffin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Chapter seven.."write your own blog engine" alone is worth the price of the book. If you are a beginning to intermediate php "developer" and want to learn how to build a useful expandable CMS and blog, then buy this book. No goofy writer promoting their buddies add on products here. You get the information and clear guidance you need to build your own system.
I do stress that you should know some php to tackle chapter seven. If you do you can will see the flexiblity in the system and be able to take the blog engine presented in the book to new levels. Even if you don't know php, but can follow instructions you will build a blog that is as good as any packaged deal available.
If you are fuzzy on page layouts and css, this book will help clear it up.
If you are interested in writing your own software instead of reengineering someone elses then get this book. If you want to make one of the popular packaged blog engined uniquely your own, then buy this book. It teaches how to do just that.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe useful if you are already a blog programmer 15 Jan 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been a software designer / programmer for 30 some years, working at various levels from programmer to project director so I don't feel like I'm easily intimidated by "tech talk". I also recognize this to be an example of poor quality documentation and technical / tutorial writing and editing. This book seems to be written for "the insiders' community" i.e. experienced CMS, PHP, mySQL website developers.

I found the intro material shallow and repetitive, just filling up pages in some places. I bought the book particularly for the WordPress chapter - looking for documentation to take me from installation, through design options, explanation of concepts, and examples of a variety of blog types, how to design and implement them using WordPress tools and rsources. I found instead small examples of snatches of code to be inserted, who knows where and with little explanation of purpose or design / integration considerations (like no variables or links defined). There is also no adequate bibliography or background list of tutorials to create a conceptual environment or even to facilitate looking up terms.

If you had done this stuff before, these are probably useful tidbits and the name dropping and personal asides might be cute but between the insider jokes and jabs and lack of structured documentation, I found this material next to useless.

Needless to say, I returned this book - the first time I've availed myself of Amazon's return policy in about 100 purchases.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great review for those wondering about making their own blog. 28 Feb 2008
By Mathew A. Shember - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I would like to start by saying this is a book about setting up and running your own blog. If you don't want to get into the design aspects and coding a blog, then you will not like this book as it is not for the people who simply want a setup like blogger.

One thing this book does well is give you an idea of 4 major packages for blog development and one chapter for writing your own engine.

The 4 main packages are:

Movable type seems capable but for some reason it just didn't interest me. It's a little more work then using blogger but I don't know. Wordpress seems to offer much more.

ExpressionEngine is a rather robust package. To me it's for the people who really want to tinker with the guts of a setup. Might be overkill for many bloggers.

Wordpress is a rather nice package which I am told is heavily used. It appears easy to use and setup. To me it seems more people that want to tinker a little bit but want an easy way to do things. I am considering this for my company.

Textpattern seems to be geared towards running a blogging site. It's appears very versatile and seems to organize things really well. I am considering this when I become more advanced at blogging.

The last chapter shows you how to write your own engine. This would be a fun little programming exercise that I will do at a later date!

Overall this is a great little book that will answer questions on design. It will definitely answer your question of if you want to host your own versus using something like blogger.
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