It’s been a while since I last reviewed a web design/development book, but I was delighted to be asked by Packt to review Rhys Wynne’s ‘bbPress Complete‘, which was released a few months ago.
Within its’ humble 101 pages, bbPress Complete sets out to be a comprehensive walkthrough of arguably the best Forum Plugin for WordPress – bbPress. Available for free, bbPress is light-weight, secure and easily extendable via a plethora of additional plugins.
Coincidentally I received the book right in the middle of a WordPress project that required a simple but flexible forum in the background. I was already intending on using bbPress (for the first time), but working through Rhys’ book during the process made for an efficient, well configured and educational installation.
So, what’s it about?
I should stress that bbPress Complete does start with the basics. Handy for WordPress novices, but those already familiar with WordPress will breeze through the first half of the book within an hour. But by then you’ll have a well configured installation and a good understanding what’s available within the stock installation.
The third quarter of the book is then dedicated to extending bbPress with some popular and well written bbPress plugins. I found Rhys’ plugin curation particularly helpful along with the chapter’s concluding section on developing your own bbPress plugins.
The fifth and final chapter, I thought, was probably the most important. How to integrate bbPress into your WordPress Theme. Once installed, your users will only find your bbPress forum(s) if they know to navigate to: yourwordpressdomain.com/forums. From sidebar widgets to linking your forums within custom-navigations, this chapter ensures that bbPress is seamlessly integrated to the front-end of your site.
My favourite things about the book
Unlike some technical books, bbPress isn’t a sterile instruction manual. The author’s experience and passion for bbPress really comes across in the book as he openly shares and encourages you to take advantage of his tips and recommendations. I also really like the way in which the book helps you really understand everything rather than just getting everything installed and working.
If I had to criticise
To be fair, there’s really not a lot i’d change with Packt’s ‘bbPress Complete’. Some sections do drag a little, for example I thought 3 three pages explaining how you set up a Gravatar was overkill. Also, if you’re not a PHP developer or familiar with plugin development, this section of the book can look a little advanced. I’d have probably kept this section until last, as the chapter that follows is nowhere near as intense.
Wether you’re new to bbPress or seasoned developer, bbPress is definitely worth a read. What I particularly liked was that as a fairly experienced WordPress developer, I could have literally read the book cover-to-cover, without a computer on-hand and got it. As a complete walk-through however, the book does a great job of guiding you through the setup so that you not only understand bbPress, but configure and customise it in the best possible way.