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SilverStripe 2.4 Module Extension, Themes, and Widgets: Beginner's Guide
SilverStripe 2.4 Module Extension, Themes, and Widgets: Beginner's Guide
by Philipp Krenn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of SilverStripe 2.4 - Module Extension, Themes and Widgets, 13 Jun. 2011
SilverStripe 2.4 - Module Extension, Themes and Widgets is by Philipp Krenn and published by Packt Publishing. The title of the book is slightly mis-leading but only because it gives an excellent overview of SilverStripe as a whole, not just dealing with modules, themes and widgets.

About the author
Philipp Krenn studies software engineering at the University of Technology, Vienna. At the moment, he is writing his thesis on current database trends. Besides that, he's working as a freelance IT trainer and web developer, mostly using SilverStripe, but also Drupal, CakePHP, and Smarty.

He started using SilverStripe in 2007 as one of the Google Summer of Code students improving the project, beginning with the effort to support multiple databases (besides MySQL). During this, he got a detailed insight into the inner workings of the project. Since then he's been in love with SilverStripe.

= Who is the book aimed at? =

The book is aimed at developers who already have an understanding of PHP, HTML and CSS and are looking to get started with SilverStripe, or improve their knowledge if they're only been working with it for a short time. It covers all the basics about getting a SilverStripe site going as well as some decent in-depth coverage.

It also has use for seasoned SilverStripe developers who may not be aware of all the features in SilverStripe (for example I had no idea about the short code system that already exists in SS) so there's something for everyone.

= Chapter overview =

The easiest way to summarize the book is to have a look at what each chapter covers and then I'll deal with my thoughts about the book in general below.

1. "Principles and Concepts" gives a good overview of the SilverStripe system itself

2. "Customizing the Layout" shows how to go about setting up templates, including template placeholders, control structures and conditional statements and how the URL structure works

3. "Getting Control of Your System" looks at the model view controller system as implemented in SilverStripe and dealing with Javascript and CSS files and meta/head tags. It also covers some debugging tools to find out what's going on behind the scenes.

4. "Storing and Retrieving Information" covers the SilverStripe model for getting data to and from the database, adding custom fields to the database and CMS and creating relationships between tables.

5. "Customizing Your Installation" shows how to set up the site configuration file, error logging and notifications, and various customizations that can be done to the CMS.

6. "Adding Some Spice with Widgets and Short Codes" looks at widgets that can be dragged and dropped onto pages in the CMS, dealing with caching, and creating short codes which are like placeholders for CMS input fields.

7. "Advancing Further with Inheritance and Modules" which uses Uncle Cheese's excellent DataObjectManager and Uploadify modules to enhance the CMS and work with images and image galleries, and then turning the gallery into a module.

8. "Introducing Forms" deals with creating forms in the website front-end, processing the user's repsonse, sending it via email, client-side validation with jQuery and server-side validation.

9. "Taking Forms a Step Further" shows how to add a search box and display results with pagination, building more complex forms and saving data to the database.

10. "Targeting the Whole World" which shows how to configure the CMS to support globalization and the frontend to support multiple languages and localizations.

11. "Creating an Application" isn't actually in the book itself, but is available as a downloadable PDF. It brings all the topics of the book together to create an example application, and also covers how to decorate existing DataObject classes.

= General summary and other thoughts =

I bought the first (and so far only other) SilverStripe book titled "SilverStripe: The Complete Guide to CMS Development" by Ingo Schommer and Steven Broshart which covers the older 2.3 version and is a bit heavier on more complex topics, whereas this new book is for 2.4 and covers the basics in more detail.

It's well laid out and covers pretty much everything you need to know "out of the box" in a SilverStripe install and is excellent for developers just getting started with SilverStripe.

Having said this, I've worked with SilverStripe for 18 months now so I'm very familiar with the way most of it works, but there are still topics in this book that will help me create my SilverStripe websites better so I'm glad to have this book to refer to.

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