Building Web Apps with WordPress: Book Review

Categories WordPress
Building Web App With WordPress

In the preface the authors Brian Messenlehner and Jason Coleman clearly point out that this book is for PHP-developers who want to take a deeper look at WordPress as an application framework. On the same hand this means that it is not for end users who want to learn how to work with WordPress as a Content Management System.

Why did I buy the book?

The reason why I bought the book is pretty simple, I wanted to develop a plugin for WordPress. Well, actually I already developed some plugins before but I wanted to get a deeper look at the framework to see what is possible.

Before you keep on reading let me tell you what I think who this book is for. It is for you when you already have some basic PHP skills. It will help you understand important WordPress functions and lets you avoid plenty of beginner’s mistakes. But also keep in mind, that this book does not teach you PHP.

What´s in it?

In the following section I give you an overview of the 16 chapters of Building Web Apps with WordPress:

  1. Building Web Apps with WordPress
  2. In the first chapter you will be taught basics about web apps and the difference between a website and a web app. The authors point out when you should use WordPress and when you better use another framework. So this chapter is directed to the WordPress beginners.

  3. WordPress Basics
  4. Here you will take a deeper look into the directory structure of WordPress. The authors introduce the 3 main directories:




    The most important directory for you as a developer will be /wp-content since here is where you place plugins and themes.
    This chapter will also provide you information about the database structure of WordPress and some important functions.

  5. Leveraging WordPress Plugins
  6. In my opinion this chapter is the most important one in this book. Here is explained how you develop your very first plugin. So if you try to develop your first plugin read this chapter very carefully. It will help you so much to avoid unnecessary beginner´s mistakes.

  7. Themes
  8. Basically the same as described before about plugins.

  9. Custom Post Types, Post Metadata, and Taxanomies
  10. The custom post types like Page, Post, and Attachment etc. are described and you get explained when and why you need them.

  11. Users, Roles, and Capabilities
  12. The main point in this chapter is the Hooks and Filters. When you develop a plugin or a theme there definitely comes the point when you need hooks and filter.

  13. Other WordPress APIs, Objects, and Helper Functions
  14. This chapter is very important for your plugin development in case you want to realize your plugin as a widget. Working with the Widget API can be very tricky. To say it in other words, it can be very frustrating if you are not aware of some problems that may occur. Actually this chapter helped me a lot when I created a Social Sharing Widget.

  15. Secure WordPress
  16. This chapter is not only for developers. Even for end users it is very interesting and helpful. The authors show a lot of easy tricks how you can make your WordPress website more secure. This goes from trivial stuff like always keeping up to date with the newest versions of WordPress itself, your theme and the plugins you use, to hiding the WordPress version in the source code or making the wp-admin page only available from your home ip-address. The suggestions are really good explained and easy to implement, even for someone who has barely no experience in PHP or WordPress.

    Building Web Apps with WordPress
    Building Web Apps with WordPress: How to make your WordPress Blog more secure – Infographic

  17. JavaScript, jQuery, and AJAX
  18. Believe me, when it comes to JavaScript WordPress can turn into a huge nightmare. It´s not because of the JavaScript, it´s because of the way you have to integrate it into the WordPress code. Better read this chapter before you start working with JavaScript.

  19. XML-RPC
  20. This chapter covers the XML-RPC API. So it is only necessary when you want to work with XML-RPC.

  21. Mobile Apps with WordPress

  22. You can not only develop web apps with WP. It is also possible to create mobile apps. Therefore WordPress provides a Wrapper that converts your web app code into native iOS or Android code. This chapter gives you an insight on how to work with this Wrapper.

  23. PHP Libraries, External APIs, and Web Services
  24. In case you want to provide your plugin or theme with the Google Maps JavaScript API, Google Translate, Amazon Product Advertising API, Twitter REST API or Facebook you really should read this chapter.

  25. Building WordPress Multisite Networks
  26. In this chapter you get explained what a Multisite is and how you set up a Multisite Network in WordPress. This contains the setting up, the database structure and even Multisite Plugins.

  27. Localizing WordPress Apps
  28. In case you want to create a theme or a plugin for multiple languages this chapter might be very interesting for you. You will get taught how to use .po and .mo files and how you can build a website with multiple languages. Trust me, for beginners the work with .po/.mo files can be so frustrating. So better read this chapter.

  29. Ecommerce
  30. The important point in this chapter is SSL Certificates. In case you want to offer an online shop or something similar you really should use the HTTPS protocol.

  31. WordPress Optimization and Scaling
  32. The last chapter gives you some suggestions on how to improve PageSpeed of your website.


At the end I really recommend this book for developers who want to create their first WordPress plugins or themes. Building Web Apps with WordPress will avoid you a lot of frustration with your first plugins. The authors point out the major points to success and will make your live as a WordPress developer a lot easier. Even for end users chapter 8 Secure WordPress is so much useful because it explains in easy words how you can make your website a lot safer.

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