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WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook – A Review

WordPress is truly a wonderful platform to use to build websites. It’s powerful and can handle almost any type of website. While playing with WordPress themes is fun, developing a few themes of your own can be even more gratifying. Getting started with WordPress theme development is a process. Learning how to develop a theme from scratch or use existing code to come up with a killer design takes time. That’s what WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook aims to teach you (which packt publishing was kind enough to provide us a copy with). It uses a practical approach to show you how to get things done when developing your own themes. Even if you are not planning to develop a theme of your own, this book shows you how to modify your existing themes. Without further ado, let’s dig in and see what this book is all about (for more information on this book and other exciting Packt Publishing books, visit

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Learning Theme Development

As long as you are interested in coding, writing a theme for WordPress from scratch is not that difficult. You’ll need some creativity and a solid foundation of WordPress platform to develop a high quality theme though. Those of you familiar with coding know the importance of getting the basics right before moving to more advanced topics. Those coders that don’t understand the basics really well are more likely to make fundamental mistakes when developing their own themes. WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook is written for those of you who want to go beyond theory and learn how to get things done. It covers a variety of techniques developers need to know and understand to gain control over their website’s design and create the best themes possible.

In order to develop a killer theme for WordPress, developers need to have a solid understanding of all aspects of theme development. There is more to a theme that the technologies you use to develop it or shiny features that you decide to add to it. Here are just a few items theme developers need to pay attention to:

  • Theme navigation
  • Templates
  • Sidebars (single or multiple)
  • Media integration (galleries, videos, …)
  • Theme usability
  • Comments section
  • Theme back-end
  • Site layout
  • Search Engine Optimization

WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook takes a divide and conquer approach to theme development. Instead of throwing you in deep waters from the get go, the authors focus on each of the above-mentioned topics to help you become a more well-rounded theme developer. This book may not cover everything there is to know about WordPress, but it gets you on your way towards developing killer themes.

Credit: Amazon

The Good

WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook, as the name suggests, is written for those of you who respond better to a more practical approach. It has over 100 effective tips that you can take advantage of to design your own WordPress theme or take an existing one to the next level. The book reads like one of those “top 100 tips” lists, but it does provide enough details for you to keep up. The code snippets, demonstrations, and tips discussed in this work make the learning process even easier.

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There is no better way to learn theme development than actually seeing things done in practice. That’s what this book offers. I was also impressed with the coverage of advanced topics and layouts in the last two chapters. While more advanced topics could have been covered, the chapters still have enough information to point developers to the right direction.

The Bad

WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook covers a lot of topics and does a good job doing that. Unfortunately, there is so much to learn about WordPress theme development that one can’t possibly fit it all in a book. It’d be great if even more advanced topics are discussed in this book (or maybe the sequel to it). I would like to see the authors go more into specific theme frameworks. Showing readers how to get things done using Thesis or other popular themes would be nice too. What can I say? I am very greedy when it comes to everything WordPress.

The Verdict

WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook is a very handy book for beginner and intermediate WordPress developers. It covers a whole lot of ground and has many simple but effective tips for developers from all levels. The approach behind this book is very pragmatic. The fact that you don’t have to be a coding genius with this book is a big plus too.  If you are planning to write your first WordPress theme, make your previous works more powerful, or just want to learn how to change things around on your current theme, this book is for you.

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