How This Book Is Structured

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This book is divided into three major sections: Chapters 1 through 4 are an overview of the WordPress system, its major functional elements, and a top-level description of what happens when a WordPress-generated web page is displayed. Chapters 5 through 8 build on this foundation and dive into the core of WordPress, describing internal code flow and data structures. This middle section is strongly developer-oriented, and describes how to extend WordPress through plug-ins and customize it via themes. The last section, Chapters 9 through 15, combines a developer view of user experience and optimization with the deployer requirements for performance, security, and enterprise integration.

The following is a detailed chapter-by-chapter overview of what you can expect to find in this book.

Chapter 1, "First Post,'' contains a brief summary of the history of the WordPress software core, explores some popular hosting options, why community matters in a content-centric world, and concludes with the basics of do-it-yourself WordPress installation and debugging.

Chapter 2, "Functional Overview,'' examines each of the major sections of the WordPress system as seen by a typical user in the course of writing, editing, and managing a blog. This chapter covers the basic mechanics of the WordPress Dashboard, plugins, settings, permissions and users, and content management features, laying the foundation for dissecting their internals in later chapters. If you're a beginning WordPress user, you should find this overview sufficient to develop proficiency in basic WordPress authoring and management tasks.

Chapter 3, "Code Overview,'' starts with the mechanics of downloading the WordPress distribution and describes its basic contents and filesystem layout. A top-to-bottom code flow walks you from an index or specific post URL, through the process of selecting posts, assembling content, and generating the displayed HTML. This chapter is a map for the more detailed code tours in the developer-focused section.

Chapter 4, "Tour of the Core,'' examines the essential PHP functions comprising the basic WordPress engine. It serves as an introduction to the developer-focused middle section of the book and also lays the foundation for the deployment-, integration-, and experience-focused chapters in the last section. This chapter also covers using the core as a reference guide, and why it is best not to hack the core code to achieve desired customizations.

Chapter 5, "The Loop,'' is the basis for the developer-centric core of this book. The WordPress main loop drives the functions of creating and storing content in the MySQL database, as well as extracting appropriate chunks of it to be sorted, decorated, and nested under banners or next to sidebars, in both cases generating something a web browser consumes. This chapter disassembles those processes of creating, saving, and publishing a new post as well as displaying content that has been stored in the WordPress MySQL databases. The underlying database functions and the management of content metadata are covered in more detail to complete a thorough view of WordPress's internal operation.

Chapter 6, "Data Management," is the MySQL-based counterpart to Chapter 5. The core functions create, update, and manipulate entries in multiple MySQL database tables, and this chapter covers the database schema, data and metadata taxonomies used, and the basic relations that exist between WordPress elements. It also includes an overview of the basic query functions used to select and extract content from MySQL, forming a basis for extensions and custom code that needs to be able to examine the individual data underlying a blog.

Chapter 7, "Plugin Development," starts with the basic plugin architecture and then explores the hook, action, and filter interfaces that integrate new functionality around the WordPress core. This chapter demonstrates the interposition of functions into the page composition or content management streams and how to save plugin data. Examples of building a plugin using a simple framework outline the necessary functionality of any plugin. This chapter also covers creation of widgets, simpler-to-use plugins that typically add decoration, additional images, or content to a blog sidebar; many plugins also have a widget for easier management. Publishing a plugin to the WordPress repository and pitfalls of plugin conflict round out the discussion of WordPress's functional extensions.

Chapter 8, "Theme Development," is the display and rendering counterpart to Chapter 7. Plugins add new features and functions to the core, whereas themes and CSS page templates change the way that content is shown to readers. Starting with the basic Sandbox theme, this chapter covers writing a theme, building custom page templates, theme installation, and how thematic elements are used by the functions described in previous chapters. This chapter ends the deep developer-focused middle section of the book.

Chapter 9, "Content Aggregation," looks at WordPress from a services point of view. If a blog represents your public persona or online presence, it has to pull content from a variety of tools and content sources. This chapter delves into web services interfaces, WordPress APIs, feeds into and out of WordPress, and making WordPress entries show up in Facebook pages.

Chapter 10, ''Crafting the User Experience," looks at a WordPress installation from the perspective of a regular or potential reader. Usability, testing, and the ease of finding information within a WordPress blog form the basics, with added emphasis on web standards for metadata and search engine optimization so a blog, or a specific blog post, can be found through an appropriate Google search. Whereas Chapter 9 covers pulling external content into your WordPress instance, this chapter shows how to get your content to show up elsewhere on the Web. Alternatives for adding search functionality, one of WordPress's weaknesses, are discussed, along with content accessibility and delivery to mobile devices.

Chapter 11, "Scalability, Statistics, Security, and Spam," deals with good and bad popularity. Keeping a WordPress installation safe from inevitable comment spammers as well as malicious attackers is a key part of configuration and management, and this chapter covers the more popular security and antispam plugins and features. Traffic analysis tools indicate how well certain content types, functions, ad campaigns, promotions, or links are driving readership and how this informs traffic management.

Chapter 12, "WordPress as a Content Management System," goes beyond blogging to examples of WordPress as a system for managing the life cycle, integration, and distribution of networked content. Integration with other open source content management systems including Drupal and Joomla rounds out this chapter.

Chapter 13, "WordPress in the Enterprise," tackles issues of scale and integration. WordPress may address deficiencies in ''enterprise scale'' content management tools, and building on the mechanisms covered in Chapter 12, this chapter shows how to use WordPress with a variety of enterprise facilities ranging from identity management to Microsoft ASP/.NET services.

Chapter 14, "Migrating to WordPress,'' provides an overview of moving content from an existing blog or content management system into WordPress, and examines issues of importing media such as images, video, or formatted data. This chapter also covers mechanisms for redirecting existing sites to a WordPress installation.

Chapter 15, "WordPress Developer Community,'' is an introduction to contributing to the WordPress ecosystem by working on the core, submitting plugins or themes, adding to the documentation canon, and assisting other developers. An overview of WordPress sister projects such as bbPress for forums is provided along with a brief summary of other developer resources and a glossary of WordPress-context sensitive terms.

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