TR: WordPress: The Missing Manual

The Project

O’Reilly Media asked me to act as tech reviewer for WordPress: the Missing Manual, to ensure the accuracy of the contents. There are actually two TRs for each O’Reilly book. One reads from the point of view of the book’s intended audience (someone with basic computer and Internet literacy, but not necessarily any knowledge of WordPress) and points out any places the author is unclear.

The other tech reviewer–in this case, yours truly–goes through and checks all the illustrations and all the instructions for accuracy. I did point out the occasional typo along the way, but in many case it was a matter of “You need to update this for WordPress 3.4″ or “You might substitute Y plugin for X plugin, because X plugin hasn’t been updated recently,” and a comparatively epic battle over the use of the term “WordPresser,” which no one I know in the WordPress world uses. (“Only the wannabes,” as Andrea Rennick put it.) I was outvoted on that one: the conclusion of the editors was that since we weren’t writing for WordPress developers or other insiders, it wouldn’t matter. I told them they had themselves to blame if the book’s credibility suffered as a result.

We used Basecamp for collaboration. As the author finished the chapters, he uploaded the Word docs. Then the editors edited them and uploaded new versions marked “For Tech Review.” Each of us tech reviewers would download the chapters, insert comments and use the Track Changes feature, append our initials to the filename, and upload it back to Basecamp.

Reading the book piecemeal like this, it was hard to get an overall impression. My sense was that it was workmanlike and thorough, and would be good for total beginners and WordPress.com users, and useful for those who want to take things a bit further. I learned one or two things I hadn’t known, in spite of all the time I’ve spent working with WordPress.

The official publication date is October 30th, 2012.

Publisher’s Description (from O’Reilly’s website)

Whether you’re a budding blogger or web development professional, WordPress is a brilliant tool for creating websites—if you know how to tap its impressive features. This jargon-free Missing Manual shows you how to use WordPress and its themes, plug-ins, and widgets to build just about any website you can imagine, from a classy blog to a basic e-commerce site.

The important stuff you need to know:

  • Create a blog. Get a free WordPress.com account, choose the right theme, and start publishing content.
  • Build a website. Produce a professional-looking business site by customizing a WordPress theme.
  • Add features. Choose from thousands of WordPress widgets and plug-ins to extend your site’s features.
  • Mix in multimedia. Include slideshows, video clips, webcasts, podcasts, and music players.
  • Involve your readers. Let readers leave comments, contribute to your site, and carry on a dialog.
  • Build an audience. Learn search-engine optimization, measure your reader’s favorite pages, and publicize your site.
  • Create a community. Use social media tools such as “Like” and sharing buttons, and provide RSS feeds of your posts.