WordPress, the leading blogging platform, claims to be incredibly easy to use. “You can start a blog in seconds without any technical knowledge,” WordPress.com proudly proclaims. But when you actually visit Wordpress's hosted site or self-hosted service, the process can be daunting. Sure, Wordpress provides online help and tutorials, but sometimes you need easy-to-understand technical information in one place. O'Reilly, publisher of the popular Missing Manual series, has just issued WordPress: The Missing Manual, a comprehensive guide to the blogging platform. Author Matthew MacDonald guides the reader through a full tour, providing a sometimes overwhelming amount of information for the novice and expert user.
Like most of the Missing Manual books, MacDonald's WordPress is not meant to be read cover-to-cover. Instead, it serves as an essential reference, something to keep near your computer for when you need it. Numerous screenshots demonstrate how to set up a site, from installation to design. The self-hosted and WordPress-hosted versions can be extremely confusing, and MacDonald explains the differences as well as the pros and cons of each. Often the manual fills in many knowledge gaps, such as which type of site may best suit your requirements. Should you create a blog, or a so-called “brochure” site that contains unchanging information?
In addition, MacDonald defines terms that are often unclear, such as permalinks or gravatars. A separate glossary would have been a welcome addition here, as it would simplify looking up individual terms. He does provide a complete guide to Jetpack,a plugin that WordPress promotes but fails to adequately explain. His step-by-step directions for setting up Jetpack and taking full advantage of its numerous features proves particularly useful.