A suggestion for all Wrox Programmer books
I bought the excellent Professional WordPress Plugin Development book months ago and I love the clearness of it for the most part. I have been using WordPress for the past 7 years and have hacked and modified it up the ying yang but I still do not consider myself a "programmer".
However, now that I have worked with this book, I have a STRONG suggestion, similar to point 2 of guyn's post asking for a skeleton structure to begin with.
Like most programmers and too many programmers who create WordPress plugins that they proclaim are "hot" or "cool" or "useful" this book needed an editor who did NOT understand that much about WordPress plugins and programming to ask the "dumb" questions.
Many times a book that sets out to "make things clear" obfuscates the matter immediately by assuming way, way too much from the first chapter.
GET DUMB first!
It is not until I arrive at page 170, all the way into Chapter 7 of "Plugin Settings" that I find something that should have been NUMBER ONE at the start of the book!
It is dully referred to as "The Settings API" ..... duhhhh! This TOPIC is the STARTING POINT, the KEY, not an unobtrusive element to include in the middle of your book.
Laughably, almost, is that on page 174 you have "Wrapping It Up: A Complete Plugin Management Page"!
The author does not seem to acknowledge that this is anything more important than "wrapping up", the last little thingy, by the way ....
This ISSUE, this TOPIC is the KEY, NUMBER ONE REQUIREMENT when think-tanking a new plugin, or trying to teach neophytes what to consider in creating most plugins.
This is, for example, the place to Demonstrate All the Possibilities for a Plugin, all the things/variables that can be altered, modified, set, unset...
Come on, guys and gals, get visual, get Dumb.
Having used plugins and modified plugins for WordPress for years I still want to Start out with the Basics.
ORIENT ME VISUALLY.
SHOW ME SOMETHING I RECOGNIZE FIRST.
The book would have been so much more useful, more visually engaging, even would have taught me the complicated stuff better and faster if you had presented an engaging VISUAL STORY.
1) The book should have started out with maybe five or six common plugins being installed that require SETTINGS, an Admin Panel, these are the most common and the most complicated and the most useful to a Plugin User.
2) You VISUALLY point out the Different ways that a Plugin developer might install the plugin -- the different places in the WordPress Admin panel, the links -- whether in Appearances - Menu - Widgets, or in Settings or in Tools, for instance, where the developer might choose to start the whole User Settings process for that plugin.
3) Then you show us the code behind each of those initial choices. You peel back the curtain from the Visual presentation to the underlying code and where it started and where it is sitting in relation to the whole registration and initiation process.
4) You visually walk through 4 or 5 of the most commonly used Structures used to present Settings, and show how to get Tabs to break up a long step-through Settings process, etc.
5) Discuss "best practices" Visually in the Plugin Admin settings panels.
6) Then the peel back the curtain to the code, show that code in context with the whole page, and yet highlighted, then zoom in close to discuss its features and what functions we are tapping.
Make the book a step-by-step Tutorial Visually where you are showing first, things we are familiar with visually, VISUALLY, the most practical first steps.
In other words, Wrox Editors, get Stupid or bring in stupid people like me to point you in the right direction.
Show us the Cool EFFECTS -- the Admin Settings Panels for various popular types of Plugins and then HOW those were invoked.
When you have done with those you have really compiled a very useful Plugins book that is also like a Cookbook chock full of yummy recipes.
WROX, there are so many competing books out there, this concept would IMPROVE sales even more.
This type of thing is always what I look for even though I have created some plugins myself.
The book I am describing would have been a Godsend and I would be much further down the road today if it had been available.
I would strongly suggest that you establish a TEMPLATE for every Wrox book that can be broken down this way even for subjects where you assume "everyone knows". Your visual style is quite dry and borderline boring and unappetizing.
The reason I bought the Wrox book is that it seemed to adequately cover plugins with the technical code that I wanted, even though I knew that I would have to put up with your weak presentation skills.
If the EFFECT of CODE can be shown in the End Product on a monitor screen then, dadgum it, SHOW IT FIRST.
If I am teaching a course on the techniques of Film Making I would first show my class the EFFECT, the END PRODUCT on screen, get them excited to know that I am next going to take them into the field and demonstrate step-by-step how to get that end product for themselves.
So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
Last edited by ViennaCalling; February 25th, 2012 at 09:14 AM.