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Smashing WordPress Themes: Making WordPress Beautiful Paperback – Jan 31 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (Jan. 31 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047066990X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470669907
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 930 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #303,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Discover the gentle art of hacking WordPress Themes to make them look and work the way you want.' (Web Designer, April 2011). '...definitely a good one for theme development starters'. (Theme.fm, June 2011).

From the Back Cover

Making WordPress Beautiful

From the world’s most popular resource for Web designers and developers comes ultimate guide to WordPress themes. WordPress is so much more than a bogging platform, and Smashing WordPress Themes teaches you how to make it look any way like – from a corporate site, to a photo gallery, to an online magazine, and more.

WordPress expert, Thord Daniel Hedengren, author of Smahsing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, takes you through what really makes themes tick, what you can do with themes, and techniques for getting the best results. Starting with the WordPress Twenty Ten default theme, you’ll learn to work with template tags and create option pages for your themes. Next you’ll explore the child theme concept and create a variety of theme styles – fully customizing the look and feel of your WordPress-powered site.

You will Learn:

  • The Anatomy of the Default Twenty Ten Theme
  • Ways to Hack the Default Theme to Modify Features, Graphics, and Colors
  • How to Work with Theme Frameworks
  • The Best Way to Use Child Themes
  • How to Integrate Theme Options
  • How to Build a Media Theme
  • How to Build a Newspaper or Magazine Theme
  • Tips for Building a Semi-Static Corporate Theme
  • Ways to Integrate Advanced Loop Tricks and Themes

Smashing Magazine (smashingmagazine.con) is one of the world’s most popular Web-design online magazines. True to the Smashing mission, the Smashing Magazine book series delivers useful and innovative information to Web designers and developers.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this an excellent book on WordPress in general and theme development in particular. The quality of the book is really excellent and especially the use of colour makes it easy to follow the many code listings.
By giving several worked examples, Hedengren really makes the process of theme development clear. I highly endorse/recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Very Hard to Read! March 21 2011
By theSleeper(pkd) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ok, half the time I'm trying to figure out when I should be reading and when I should be coding. I'm spending waaay too much time just trying to understand the the author's method of writing/explaining. For example, the author says "add x to your code" but does NOT tell you which page to add the code to. Too much of this type stuff. Just code, code... a few meager explanations...and some more code.

Now, mind you, if your already a wordpress expert this might not be a problem for you. But coming to it "cold" will simply frustrate the heck out you (or at least it does for me). One minute were working off the twentyten theme (editing sidebar.php etc), the next he is telling us to go get his own notes theme. Oh great. So what happens with the half-coded twentyten theme you just told me to edit? Just leave it? Way too many assumptions.

I'm used to training which basically does this:

1. In this chapter were going to learn how to [x].
2. Using [x] allows you to achieve [y,z]
3. Now, lets code an example, create a new page [a] and add the following code...
4. Now, lets walk through the code, so as to explain it (mostly) line-by-line.
5. We coded this because [explanation]...
6. Now run the page to see the result(s)
7. To recap, in this chapter we learned how to [x].

That aint happening in this book.

Don't get me wrong, his explanations are great, but his execution (by way of a step-by-step method of completing a task) are sorely lacking.

Too confusing.

my $0.02
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Status Quo Low Quality Tech Manual Sept. 13 2011
By webdevpro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've read very, very few tech manuals that haven't been riddled with code errors. Smashing Mag's Making Wordpress Beautiful is no exception.

Be warned none of the examples this book will work if you follow instructions. The chapter about creating a media theme omits the necessary loop files altogether.

There is also a ton of duplicate/filler content. The book is around 360 pages, much of this is spent repeating entire scripts just to show the addition of a couple lines of code.

Also note, there really isn't any instruction about design principles or building a beautiful theme as the title implies. It's mostly about how to create and place widgets, menus and a couple other WP tools.

Now that I'm done bashing on this book, I will say it does have some value. After my second read through I've learned a good bit. If you don't mind tracking down the bugs yourself and doing your own research you might benefit from reading it.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The cannonical WordPress themes book Feb. 18 2011
By Anthony Knape - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Generally I write reviews only to correct (in my opinion) reviews which are off target. So, don't buy the Kindel version. Do buy the print version.

The term "Child Themes" is very misleading in WordPress. Hedegren's "Beyond the Blog" says, "If child themes are in wp-content/themes/ just like ordinary themes, then how do you use them and what do you need? Basically, all you need is a style.css file to tell WordPress that it is a theme, and in fact a child theme, as well as point to the mother theme. Whenever a template file is called for, WordPress will look for it within the child theme, and if it isn't there, it'll load up the one in the original mother template theme. The lingo may be a bit hard to follow, by the way, because the community really hasn't decided on what to call this relationship between themes yet."

Ok. So what did that say. It said, the benefit of Child Themes is the functionality of the template. WordPress looks for functionality in the Child first and if it does not find it there it resorts back to the Parent theme.(At least in my brain, it would be better to call it 'Child Functionality' instead of Theme. I think of the Theme as the skin). But this is the essence of the problem. You need the CSS, you need the HTML, and you need the Theme functionality. If you don't know how the Theme functionality works, then that is why you buy this book.

The book, "Making WordPress Beautiful" essentially starts with that paragraph and tells you how to build your own themes. You begin with Twenty Ten and grok the details until you are ready to build your own themes. (Really, your own templates with template tags.) And the book does it very, very well. Saving countless hours of downloading code, making flow diagrams, and in general staying in front of a computer for a week figuring out your own strategy.

Just buy the book. Save some time. However don't expect magic.I've already invested about 3 weeks reading the book. Of course I am reading other books at the same time and keep coming back. But it is an investment of time. Set up a MAMP, WAMP or LAMP development environment. And do multiple blogs for clients without colliding all of your projects together. (The book tells you how to set up a MAMP or a WAMP development environment on the localhost.) The first three chapters are the hard read. At different points, little light bulbs go off in your head. I will say, at some point (at least for me) the romance with WordPress ends. It is just programming with PHP template tags. But the payoff is competence with the subject and the confidence that comes therein to use WordPress as a CMS for lots of projects.

Thord, provides excellent resources on his site and at Wylie to complement the book. The only other resource that I would suggest is the excellent video by Chris Coyier (the CSS-tricks Chris Coyier). His WordPress video on Lynda provides an alternative view of the subject. I have found that I need both resources to stretch my mind around the subject.

So finale warning. "Beyond the Blog" is not a beginner book. And this book, "WordPress Themes" is the book that you read after you understand the importance of the "Child Themes" paragraph in "Beyond the Blog". If you are at the right stage in your WordPress career (building multiple WordPress sites), both book together form the cannonical book for WordPress that you have at your desk.

I would also like to say, that the layout of the book, quality of typography and depth of writing are refreshingly appreciated. This is a quality book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good long term book for my students Feb. 9 2012
By Nora McDougall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My students don't come from a technical background. They are plain folks who want to dig into their websites further and possibly work on websites for other people. So, my web development classes are not anything like a college CS or Media Arts course. Finding a book can be a real challenge. It has to be friendly in tone. It has to have lots of pictures. It has to have code - in context - not the snippets that the WordPress Codex throws out with no context.

At the beginning of January, I needed a text for my new class called Beyond the WordPress Dashboard. Needless to say, that means files, database, CSS and PHP. Scary, scary stuff! We decided to run this course at the last minute and I was hoping to run it without a text. But, students were emailing me for a book and this was the best book I could find on short notice.

What made me choose this book?
First the publisher didn't give me a bunch of run-around when I told them of my rush. I tried getting a hold of another textbook company, but their online system is a total pain.
Second, I liked the flow of the topics of the book.
Third, I liked the fact that the book uses Twenty-Ten as the first example. While we are creating our child themes from the Zenlite theme, I like the fact that we have a comparison right there in the book.
Fourth, I like the fact that the book discusses how important it is to start with the right theme. Oh, the horror stories I could tell!

At this point, I think that the book is perfect for me to use as a reference and a stretch for my students. There are areas where I would put things in more simple terms for the sake of my students' mental health. But, I also think that it will be a great resource when they leave class and get stuck in some project. Then, when they send me a frantic Facebook message, I can refer them to a specific page!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
If you don't mind poor formatting and occasional typos... Jan. 31 2011
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
...then this is the book for you.

I've been working with WordPress for quite some time (and MovableType before that). I've tweaked numerous Themes created by others, including tweaking both the appearances of them and how they interact with the Administration portion of WP.

What I want is to move to the next level of understanding; I want to learn how to create what I need from scratch.

This is the first time I've ever written a review. It's sad that the only thing that inspired me to do it is how generally unhappy I am with this book. Aside from what seems to me to be an outrageously high price, the typography, frankly, stinks. It continues what appears to be an Amazon tradition of rushing something to the Kindle as quickly as possible without a big concern for whether it will actually be readable.

Big portions of this book are code. This isn't really a bad thing, except that if I wanted to read pure code, I could just continue to download Themes written by others and read through them. As one example, the code from the twentyten Theme distributed with WordPress 3 was reprinted over and over in one particular chapter (and reappears later in the book). Other areas where code-blocks are discussed are also infected by the tendency to print code, say something about it, reprint the code, and then say something else about it. Maybe this was so the book seems longer. At any rate, the intermittent "explanation" that went with it was trivial and did not require reprinting the same code over and over.

There are occasional typos, including in at least one place a missing word. If I didn't know what I know, I would not have realized the occasional typos in the code. These are not a huge problem, but they are there and I don't think they should be in a book that costs this much.

The reason I give this three-stars in spite of my complaints is that it is the only book I'm currently aware of that covers WordPress 3 Theme development. And I have learned a few things from the book, although I have a sneaking suspicion I might have learned as much from continuing to read Themes on my own and hunting down developer-oriented websites.

Still, if the layout of the code sections didn't make the book so difficult to read, I might not have disliked it so much.

And I might have maintained my tradition of not having spent my time writing reviews on Amazon instead of on my own blogs.