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VINE VOICEon 19 May 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First let me say that this books focuses solely on WordPress theme development, it is for those who have an adequate understanding of CSS and PHP and are looking get under the hood of a wordpress theme. If you are looking to learn about building websites then this book is not for you.
Having been disappointed with a previous offering from Smashing Magazine I had low expectations going into this book - I shouldn't have.
This book is great, it really gets down to the nuts and bolts of a wordpress theme. Everything from simple tweaks to the default Twenty-ten theme, to creating your own theme. It even touches on buddypress.
Not only will you learn how to build themes but it helps you with design, layout and planning issues that other books of this type tend to ignore.
Expect to get your hands dirty but don't be daunted by the technical stuff as the author explains whats going on every step of the way. The explanations are clear and makes things easy to understand.
Again it is for WordPress beginners, if you don't have some understanding of PHP, CSS and HTML then this book will not be rewarding. However if you do and your are looking to delve into WordPress, then it is highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a devoted Wordpress fan, but get frustrated by all the options and the multitudes of themes and plug-ins to choose from. This book walks you through creating your own theme. It starts with getting out a pencil and drawing out the layout on paper. You progress through various parts of the theme with both code and screen shots to edge you towards your final look. Some of the code is very heavy, but you can pick out nuggets that will help you with tweaking what you already have.

A priceless section of the book is dedicated to the myriad of available themes for Wordpress. The author has spent a lot of time researching these and gives you some recommendations and benefits of his favourites. Overall, if you develop your own sites or want to make your blog more personal, this book is on the money.
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on 23 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The first thing you notice about the book is how well designed it is, plenty of coloured text and pictures to illustrate the point. The design is ideally suited to the novice user, however the content does seem quite advanced, which will likely make the beginners struggle, you would likely need to have a little bit of knowledge regarding themes before you started. I managed to follow a lot of it, but there were some of the more complicated areas where I would still have been having to do online research to confirm I was understanding it correctly.

The list price on the back cover is £24.99, which seems pretty expensive when a lot of the content can be tracked down in one form or another on the internet with out any cost except for the users time and as mentioned, some googling may be required even with the book.

Personally if you are interested in the book, I'd suggest trying to get it from your local library first before you commit to buying it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have a reasonable knowledge of CSS and PHP, then this book will show you how to sort out WordPress themes for yourself, or -- if starting from scratch seems like too much work -- will give you the tools you need to tweak the example themes or, potentially, someone else's. Happily for those not interested in typing in pages of code, the book provides code snippets and full themes on its accompanying website.

I've been using WordPress for about six years, and PHP for about eight years, though I'm more a PHP tweaker than a code writer. I found this book to be very clear in its explanations, and a good project book to follow through. However, unless it's your ambition to be a WordPress theme writer, this probably isn't a very efficient way of getting a theme you like: there are many free themes hosted by WordPress which you can simply install, straight from the interface, generally with enough customisation for you to be able to make your site look both personal and unique.

This book will really pay off if you have to deploy WordPress for a corporate site, or if you are going to write themes and then distribute them, provided that you are well enough versed in HTML, PHP and CSS to start off with. If you don't have your mind round those particular technologies, then this book is not the place to start, as it assumes that you more or less know what you're doing.

Overall the writing style is engaging, and there are many useful tips here and there, as well as dire warnings about malware impregnated themes on the web, should you be wondering about simply surfing for the result you want. Because the main projects can be downloaded and then tweaked to your heart's content, Smashing WordPress Themes can give you a head start if you want to make something which is your own, without putting in weeks of work trying to figure out what is going on.

If this is you, then I heartily recommend this book, which is very substantially more friendly and useable than WordPress's online (but often incomplete) Codex documentation.
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VINE VOICEon 18 May 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second book I have read by this author and yet again, he has done a great job with it. First of all there is a short chapter about Wordpress and what it is, and there is another chapter about plugins, but since this is a book about themes then that's what most of the book concentrates on. If you need to know more about Wordpress, setting it up, using plugins etc, then try the other book first - Smashing Wordpress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series)

Now like the other book, this book does also contain a lot of code - php, css, and html to be precise and some of this goes on for several pages and seem a little daunting or off-putting, however I think it is important to include this to give people the opportunity to type it up themselves as it is explained exactly what each part mean or what it achieves, and at least that way you will learn more than you would if the info was provided on a disk for you to copy/paste. Having said that however, there is a download link provided in the book for you to download what you need. There are also several links to the author's sites where he provides some of the finished themes he designs in the book - these are the three main types of themes that he discusses in the book: a semi-static theme, a media theme and a magazine theme, which are useful for different types of blogs.

He also covers the current Wordpress default theme and how to create your own child themes based on this as the parent theme. I found it all very enjoyable and have read it from cover to cover and it actually inspired me to redesign two of my own sites last week! :)

The book is suitable for anyone who has an existing Wordpress blog and feels like being a little more creative than just using some of the other available themese out there, or anyone who is just thinking about setting up your own Wordpress blog, but if you are just thinking about it, please also check out the other Wordpress book I mentioned above, as that covers everything about Wordpress and not just themes.
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on 4 February 2012
I am in the process of modifying a Wordpress theme (Classipress) for one of my businesses. I am grappling with learning (or re-learning in some cases) java, php, ajax, sql programming to hack'n'slash this theme into something I need. As such, I am reading a lot of coding books at the moment.... :-)

Wordpress Themes is a useful book in that it goes into some depth on themes, what they are, and how to customise them. Great... just what I need. It is well written and in a lively style that's quite engaging for what can potentially be a very dry subject.

However, I do feel that more thought should have been given to how the code examples are handled. For example, when explaining certain concepts about Wordpress or illustrating how a certain theme works, it really is not good enough to simply 'copy and paste' a .php file into the book itself which then takes up over six pages(!) and expect the reader to be able to find that a useful experience.

There is no interjection of comments by the author to break up the code a bit (for example, after each function, or after each important process has been completed). No - instead we are left with 6-7 pages of code which we then have to wade through (I didn't bother in the end).

What is worse is that the code itself isn't even formatted in a book-friendly way. Instead the code is heavily indented just like a normal piece of code would look like but, c'mon, this is a book!!!! For example, in a section discussing one the loop.php script (this is one of those 6 page long sections of code) there is one page where, I jest not, that most of the page is white space because the code is on the right side of the page because of all of the tabbed indents!!!!!! It's hard to explain but basically there has been NO ATTEMPT AT ALL to re-format code to be presented in the book and instead a whole chunk of operational code has been copied and dropped into the book whilst they were editing. Why not just refer the reader to the software itself? Or give them extracts or snippets???

Very poor, sloppy, and lazy.

I'm disappointed and I'll be returning this for a full refund.
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on 14 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One of the advantages of WordPress is how easy it can be to install, load a theme and have a blog or simple website up and running very quickly. However if you want your site to appear a little different from the rest, and you don't want to buy a professional theme from the many sites offering them, creating your own is the way to go.

This book aims to teach you how to do this, starting with customisation of the Twenty Ten theme that is installed with WordPress, and then creating your own themes. Author Thord Daniel Hedengren knows his stuff, writes in a friendly and readable style and the chapters proceed in a logical manner, gradually introducing concepts such as child themes and ending with theme examples for particular types of site. He also usefully describes the planning process that should be undertaken, rather than just dive in and start creating pages. You don't need to be a programmer but the book does assume that you have a basic knowledge of scripting and editing structured files.

If I have a criticism, it's that there is a fine line between providing a lot of descriptive prose and a lot of example code. This possibly errs on the side of the code - it's great to see examples but I prefer to copy and paste re-usable code than have page after page of it listed in a book. It reminded me of having to type in page after page of cheat codes from magazines into my Commodore 64 back in the '80s. Seriously, it's not that bad, and the code is downloadable from the accompanying website, but if you're reading it on the bus or on your Kindle you might find it quite hard to read the colour coded text, especially the pale green stuff.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I discovered Wordpress for the first time around 2 years ago. I had some time on my hands and had purchased several domains with ideas in mind. I was evaluating various CMS software and a friend suggested Wordpress. I had ignored it because I considered it to be a blogging software only. It is not. it is a very adaptable piece of software engineering. I now run 5 sites using Wordpress, none of them for blogging.

I found my way around Wordpress and the codex etc via many an hour spent googling and there is a lot of helpful information out there. I use the Thesis for Wordpress theme for 2 of my sites which is very flexible but you really have to know PHP and MySQL to write functions and code. Other than I have used free themes and sometimes just adapted the CSS to change some colours etc. or hacked the code to clear the 'comments' box or post details, date, author, etc as it was not meant to be a blog. This can take time to find the right piece of code and make sure you don't remove any other necessary code that messes up your site template.

I had great hopes for this little book but I found it a bit of a paradox. First, it starts by assuming that you have never come across Wordpress, which is good for those that have not, and explains installation and setup and security quite well. Then it dives straight into pieces of code etc which can only really be properly understood if you do know your way around some PHP, so if you are a layman and were hoping to get to grips with designing a nice theme for your new Wordpress site, this won't help you. You really need to be a bit geeky.

Personally, I felt I had come across everything explained here, while on my Wordpress travels across the googleverse so there was nothing new to me. Having said that, it is nice to have it all in one place and at your fingertips if you need it.

It is still a very good book, useful and well thought out but you really do need to be techie minded to make good use of it and to be honest, if you were technical enough to understand it, you have probably already found your way around Wordpress anyway.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I develop websites and have a good knowlege of HTML and the various languages of the web. This book starts off explaining how to get and load Wordpress and what it can do. This section is fine for those who just want to use the templates and go off and blogg etc. The book then delves into templates and how to make a site using the software and the templates supplied. In these section there is a fair bit of code to get to grips with which may put the beginner off but to be honest it's pretty straight forward to understand so don't be frightened by it as it tells you how to shape WordPress into what you want. However, having some idea of programming will help but it is easy to see what the code does and how WordPress uses it. As a website builder I don't realy like template driven software and prefer to code and use the likes of Dreamweaver etc. The beauty of WordPress is that if you use a template you can get something working online much faster than using traditional software and this is the audience it was made for. The book goes on to describe how to make your own templates and customise WordPress to do many things. The book is well written, illustrated and quite comprehensive but I feel in doing this it has somewhat missed it's target audience, it's not really a true beginners guide nor is a an indepth programming guide but perhaps I am looking at it with too much of a critical eye. I can see the beginner with a little hard work being able to get to grips with the book and progress to places they would never get if they did not read it. On the other hand there is not enough for the seasoned programmer. In my opinion thios book is trying to be all things to all men and in many way it does work but I feel a few things are missing with the 'taking things furthur section' but perhaps this will be developed in a later edition. Would I recommend this book to someone wanting to find out about WordPress, its themes and how to use them, I would but with the cavet not to be put off by the code sections if you have never delved into programming before. I have downloaded WordPress and this book has been the catalyst to understand it and do something with it, I can see some things it can do when linked in with other software I use so the adventure into WordPress has begun!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've used a few of the guides in the Smashing series now, including this author's other book, Smashing Wordpress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series), and they set a high standard for tutorial books and friendly user guides. This title is absolutely no exception, and serves as a brilliant introduction to editing and creating WordPress themes. Well-indexed, clearly laid-out and full of code examples, the book first spends time dissecting an existing theme in order to demonstrate the anatomy of a WordPress theme - where the different pieces lie, what they do and so on. Then the author moves on logically to editing / updating existing themes, before the final, meatiest section of the book dives into creating themes from scratch. It's an approach which makes a lot of sense, and for people coming to the topic of theme creation as beginners, it's a well-paced, graded introduction, by the end of which you'll have a lot of confidence. Along the way there are loads of useful tips, including some pointers on security, amongst many other things.

It follows on naturally from Smashing WordPress, with several nods to using WordPress as more than just a blog. It's packed with advice for building themes and features which could form the cornerstone of much more extensive sites like community and specialist news portals - great news if you want to push WordPress beyond the basics.

It's not exhaustive of course, as the subject is huge, but throughout the book the author gives pointers about where to look for further information and guidance, not least from the WordPress documentation itself. You will need to have some grounding in HTML, CSS and PHP before giving it a go, although all the examples are well-explained, and you don't have to be a coding genius to get into it yourself - just a basic grounding should do.

Clear, friendly and confidence-building - I'd thoroughly recommend this, it's another great addition to the Smashing range.
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