This book is for people who want to use WordPress. It's for web designers who'd like to get to know WordPress a little better—or a lot better. It's for writ ers who have been asked to contribute content to a WordPress site, but haven't been shown how to use the software. It's for server administrators who'd like to know more about this little CMS that users are always asking them to install. It's for Drupal developers who suddenly need to write a WordPress plugin for a client this week.
If you're familiar with PHP or MySQL, or if you've used another open source content management system in the past, great! This book will take you from novice to professional. By the end, you'll know not only how to manage and customize your own site, but how to contribute your innovations back to the community by submitting plugins and themes to the central repository at wordpress.org.
If you've never touched PHP before, that's OK. Understanding arrays, for example, might be necessary if you want to write your own plugin, but not if you want to install the software and configure your site with plugins and themes. And if you do want to learn more about code, WordPress is a great place to start.
Of course, if you have questions for me, you can contact me via my own website, sillybean.net. However, WordPress is a vast, sprawling project, and there are many other places to find help.
The Forum (wordpress.org/support) is the best place to tap the collected knowledge of the entire WordPress community. If you have questions about installing WordPress with your server's configuration, or you need to know why you're seeing a particular error message, or you want to report a problem with a plugin, the Forum is the place to go.
For real-time help, you can jump in to the WordPress IRC channel, #wordpress on the irc.freenode.net server. There's usually at least one person who can answer your question or direct you to the appropriate page in the Codex.
The Codex (codex.wordpress.org) is the central source of documentation. It's a wiki, so it's a work that's perpetually in progress. If you find something missing, feel free to contribute! The Codex is huge, but there are a few pages I return to over and over again, and you'll see them referenced throughout this book.
Because the Codex is written by WordPress users and developers, it's a little haphazard, and like all open source documentation, it's not as complete as it could be. When you run across a function that isn't documented in the Codex, you can refer to the documentation in the source code itself. The code can be intimidating at first, but if you have any experience with programming references (like php.net), the inline documentation in the WordPress source code can be incredibly helpful. WordPress developer Joost de Valk has created a wonderful search tool, located at xref.yoast.com, where you can enter a function, class, variable, or constant, and go right to its origin—and documentation—in the code.
If you have an idea for improving WordPress, post it in the Ideas forum (wordpress.org/extend/ideas/). If others like your idea, it might find its way into a future version of the software!
There are thousands of plugins and themes you can use to extend WordPress. You'll find them in the central repository, wordpress.org/extend/. Throughout this book, I'll provide the specific URL for a plugin only if it can't be found easily here. If you don't see a URL, just type the name into the search box and look for an exact match.
If you need to report a bug in WordPress or you'd like to offer up an improvement to the core code, Trac (core.trac.wordpress.org/) is the place to go. You can sign in with the same account you use elsewhere on wordpress.org to search the existing tickets or open a new one.
For discussion of particular topics, there are several mailing lists (codex.wordpress.org/Mailing_Lists). There are lists for discussion of documentation, accessibility, plugin and/or core development (wp-hackers), user interface design, XML-RPC, and alpha/beta testers.
To track the day-to-day development of WordPress, you can follow the weekly developer IRC chats. You can listen in if you like-they take place in #wordpress-dev on the irc.freenode.net server—but keep in mind that the meetings follow a strict agenda and the topic is limited to development of the WordPress core code, so general support questions and discussion of themes and plugins should be taken to the #wordpress channel instead. The chat agendas and minutes are archived on the development blog (wpdevel.wordpress.com), where you'll also find discussion threads for topics that come up between meetings.
The WordPress developers are constantly improving the software. The code samples in this book were tested against the beta version 3.0, but the book is going to press just as the first release candidate comes out. Things might change! In fact, the copy of WordPress you download will look a little different than the screenshots in this book, because the developers introduced a lighter color scheme late in the game. Check my website (sillybean.net) for updates and errata.
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