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WordPress Theme Development - Beginner's Guide Paperback – 25 Mar 2013
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About the Author
Rachel McCollin is a web designer and developer specializing in WordPress development. She discovered WordPress when looking for a CMS that made the transition from static HTML relatively straightforward, and hasn't looked back since.
Rachel runs Compass Design, a web design agency based in Birmingham, England, but with clients across the UK and internationally. The agency was established in 2010 and quickly began specializing in building WordPress themes and sites, with a slant towards responsive themes. The agency now has a great team of designers and developers, including some WordPress specialists.
Tessa Blakeley Silver
Tessa Blakeley Silver's background is in print design and traditional illustration. She evolved over the years into web and multi-media development, where she focuses on usability and interface design. Prior to starting her consulting and development company hyper3media (pronounced hyper-cube media) http://hyper3media.com, Tessa was the VP of Interactive Technologies at eHigherEducation, an online learning and technology company developing compelling multimedia simulations, interactions, and games that met online educational requirements like 508, AICC, and SCORM. She has also worked as a consultant and freelancer for J. Walter Thompson and The Diamond Trading Company (formerly known as DeBeers) and was a Design Specialist and Senior Associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers' East Region Marketing department. Tessa authors several design and web technology blogs. Joomla! Template Design is her first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sees you from start to finish and I can very much recommend it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was intrigued when I was asked to review this book. I have worked extensively in WordPress since 2008, having written several plugins and modified countless plugins and themes. The term "Beginner's Guide" threw me off, as I figured with my background, it would be too basic for me. Wrong. The level of writing was just right. The author assumes the reader is an experienced WordPress administrator with some PHP and CSS coding experience.
The book sets out to help the reader build a WP theme from scratch, and at first I thought, why would anyone want to? Most theme work is done by modifying the supplied Twenty Twelve theme or some other framework. As I progressed in reading, the answer emerged. Working from a blank page gives the developer ultimate flexibility. Also, the learning experience gave me a deep understanding of how themes work.
The bottom line is, I liked the book. It is clear that this is written by authors with extensive knowledge and is not their first time teaching this topic. Their experience shows. Chapter 1 introduces WordPress and the various components of that world. In chapter 2 and the balance of the book, a magazine theme is built step by step. The exact look of the example theme is not important. You are encouraged to build your own instead, but the download materials are the example. I read one criticism that the book photos were hard to decipher, as the theme is dark with white lettering. My review is done from using the PDF book version, so the diagrams are in colour and easy to understand.
A key focus of the guide is on handling the three browser sizes: desktop, tablet and smartphone. It is one of the better explanations I have read. The authors provide a clear direction on how to handle various screen sizes.
The authors use an interesting writing style. They present a topic, then ask the reader to enter some code and try it. Then in a "What just happened?" section, the code is explained in detail. This approach took a bit to get used to, but it works well. The building steps are also small enough that it is clear what is accomplished in each.
The book builds from the most basic theme to widgets, custom menus and beyond. I will definitely use this as a reference in my theme work. When I finished the book, I felt I could tackle a theme from scratch or modify a theme with more confidence.
In short, it's a reasonable start if you know a little HTML/CSS and want to get started with WordPress themes, but don't expect miracles from the book!
Taken from my review at: [...]
The strength of this book is learning by doing. Almost 80% of the book content are exercises. And, the book delivers them splendidly. The exercises are very systematic. Very easy to follow. They give me a complete understanding of how WordPress displays its content.
I had previously read two advanced books about WordPress:
1) Brad Williams, et.al. WordPress: Design and Development (2013).
2) Thord Daniel Hedengren. Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog (2014).
They gave me a conceptual understanding of WordPress theme technology, but I was not sure what I could do with it. For example, I learned the Template Hierarchy, but I didn't know how and why it worked exactly. Now, after learning it from this book (WordPress Theme Development by Silver and McCollin), I understand it thoroughly because I have tried it myself. Besides the Template Hierarchy, I know exactly how template tags, page templates, widgets, etc. work, so that my creativity is only limited by my imagination.
Practically I have done 90% of the exercises in this book without any significant problem although I am new to WordPress, and I have a little knowledge about HTML, CSS, and PHP. Another thing which really helps me is: Since the start, I have used Firefox Developer Edition as the web browser, so that I can spot any trouble easily.
Now, about the weakness. The book should be edited more properly. The explanations of the theory sometimes are not clear. But, that doesn't really bother me because I get what I want from the excellent exercises.
One last point: The sample web design is beautiful. Looking at the design, my heart is light throughout the exercises, so I really enjoy doing them.
P.S. I notice that the other reviewers had problems with the sample codes. I cannot remember if I encountered any problem. What could be the reason? Probably, in the time between, the sample codes have been revised. I downloaded the codes from the Packt website (the publisher) only recently, in December 2014. If you have any doubt, I think you can request to the publisher for the sample codes as a trial before purchasing this book. You can put the sample theme in your themes folder, and try if it works.
This is one of those coding books that I'm so tired of. I would not recommend this book to any beginner (or anyone else for that matter). A couple of things that I've already come across:
1. Erroneous entries in the stylesheet (margin-bottom: 170%). Really? 170%
2. The pics of the website provided in the book don't match the what the code actually does. And it's no wonder when she's having margins of 170%.
3. Her css framework layout-core.css contains references to a whole bunch of files in the 'images' folder that don't exist in the downloadable resources for the book (at packtpub.com). Ok, perhaps I can get the latest version of layout-core.css. Nope, it's nowhere to be found. Not on her website or at the link that is provided at the header of the stylesheet (http://csscheatsheet.net). Honestly when I read that she was using her own framework little bells went off in my head. Warning Will Robinson, Warning! But hey I thought, maybe it's a useful little tool that she's provided us. Nope. Useless.
Pass this one on by. I wish I could recommend something else but the truth is in my 7 month long web development journey I have come across so much of this it's crazy and frankly unbelievable. How can anyone put their name on something like this?
And I'm only on chapter 2. I still have a whole bunch of chapters to go through
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