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Book Review: WordPress Plugin Development

WordPress Plugin Development Book CoverWhen I told one of my friends that I am reading Vladimir Prelovac’s WordPress Plug-in Development (Beginner’s Guide), I got the following response from him:

Just what we need… more beginners developing insecure wordpress applications. As-if it isn’t already the #1 hacked application on the Internet…

I completely disagree with this statement.  A book like this will help the WordPress community more than harm it.  Everybody has to start somewhere right?  How else better than to start with a beginner’s guide that shows you the proper way to code a WordPress plugin (with security in mind)?  I have finished reading this book and I am quite excited to share some insights.

Overview

This book talks about the why and how of WordPress plugin development with heavy emphasis on the “how”.  The book’s tagline “Learn by doing: less theory, more results” describes the book quite well.  There is an introductory chapter that talks about the many benefits of learning WordPress plugin development.  After that, the book immediately jumps right into showing you how to develop a series of 6 increasingly challenging WordPress plugins from scratch.  It then finishes up by talking about plugin localization, promotion, and support tips.

Even though this book is a “Beginner’s Guide,” there are a lot things in there that many advanced WordPress plugin developers can benefit from.  I don’t consider myself a beginner in WordPress plugin development (see my WordPress plugins), and I have definitely learned quite a bit of things after reading this book.

What do I love about the book?

The first thing I love about this book is that it is very fast-paced and it wastes no time on simple tutorials that you can just find on the web.  As I said before, the book shows you how to build 6 increasingly challenging plugins from scratch.  The first plugin features WordPress version compatibility checking (a common best practice), WordPress hooks/filters, CSS styling, and 3rd paty API integration (Digg).  After that, things pick up even quicker in the second plugin which focuses on jQuery and AJAX.  You can probably get an idea of how fast-paced this book is by just seeing the contents of the first two chapters.

The next thing I love about this book is its organization.  The writing convention is quite intuitive and geared for easy learning.  Being a development-centric book, it does a great job at keeping the various code organized and understandable.  Not too much code is given all at once so you don’t have to flip through many pages to get to the explanation.  Each mini-tutorial (“Time for action”) section is followed by a “What just happened?” section that let’s you take a breather to understand what you just did and why you did it.  I believe that this pause for explanation is the key reason why it is so easy to learn from this book.

What I love most about Vladimir’s book is that it touches on many aspects of developing a WordPress plugin to help you become a versatile WP plugin developer.  Each of the 6 plugin development chapters collectively teaches you the following aspects of WordPress plugin development (and more):

  • WordPress API
  • jQuery Library
  • WordPress Security
  • AJAX Interactions with WordPress
  • Widgets Development
  • WordPress Database Interactions
  • PHP Classes in Plugins
  • Custom Templates
  • Plugin Options Management
  • Caching for Better Performance
  • Working with 3rd Party APIs (such as Digg and Flickr)
  • Customizing WordPress Backend
  • Localization
  • Custom Fields
  • Error Messages
  • User Permissions

As you can see, the book doesn’t just talk about the WordPress API, but it also discusses many other possibilities of around developing a WordPress plugin.   I am quite pleased/surprised that Vladimir was able to pick 6 plugins that successfully demonstrates these topics with such little topic overlap.  This book should not only help you get a good grasp of plugin development, but it should also help you think outside of the box  (In fact I thought up a another new plugin myself as I was reading this book).

What are some drawbacks?

No product is perfect, so I do see a few drawbacks with this book.

First, I feel like the fast-pace style might be overwhelming for some people.  I was able to breeze through this book because I have some experience in WordPress plugin development.  It might be a different story for a new plugin developer.  I’m quite curious at what a new plugin developer would say about the face-pace style of the book.  To me, this book feels more like an intermediate guide than a beginner’s guide.

Second, WordPress is constantly changing with new functionality added and old ones deprecated.  This mean that this book can easily become outdated after a few major WordPress version releases.  Hopefully Vladimir will be releasing updates to this book in the future.

Don’t trust me? Get a feel for it yourself.

Packt publishing was nice enough to let me post an excerpt from the book on my blog.  You can find an excerpt from WordPress Plug-in Development here.

Final words

If you are at all interested in WordPress plugin development, you should definitely get a copy of this well-written book.  I would even recommend this book for current WordPress plugin authors because I’m sure there are plenty of things in there that you don’t already know.  Personally I find that there are many best practices covered in this book that I have been neglecting in my own plugins.

Last I suggest that if you are thinking about buying WordPress Plug-in Development (Beginner’s Guide), you should buy it, read it, and learn it as soon as possible to get the most out of it (i.e. before Automattic releases a new major version of WordPress).

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One Response to “Book Review: WordPress Plugin Development”

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  1. frank

    Learn WordPress by taking an online class for only $25

    http://www.javascriptworkshop.com/understanding-w…

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