"Professional WordPress - Design and Development" is a superb book that will be appreciated greatly by developers looking to WordPress (WP) for the first time or for giving them a more thorough understanding of the inner-workings of WP. WordPress, as I write this, is at the WordPress 3.0 beta 2 cycle of development. This book will still be pertinent even though it was not specifically written as a WP v3.0 book.
The book's chapters are arranged in 3 major sections. Chapters 1 thru 4 are a top-level look at WordPress. The history and development of WordPress is discussed as well as the presentation of a functional overview, discussion of installation (including a valuable discussion of debugging errors you may have during installation), a code overview and a tour of the core. There is good stuff here. For instance if you are unclear of the distinction between tags and categories, this will clear things up for you. Or if you've ever wondered what the Turbo option in the Dashboard is, your answer will be found in these chapters. There is even an excellent discussion of advanced wp-config options that is sure to be helpful to the developer as well as a lot of information on configuring your .htaccess file.
Chapters 5 thru 8 thoroughly explore the Loop, understanding the WordPress database and how to directly manipulate it (database queries, building your own taxonomies, direct database manipulation), plugins development & WordPress integration (shortcodes, widgets, plugin security) and theme development (modifying existing themes, creating new themes.)
Chapters 9 thru 15 cover everything else including content aggregation (how to get information into your WordPress site by various means such as XML feeds, integrating twitter, RSS feeds), creating a user experience through consistent navigation, design elements, how to structure your information, searching your site, mobile access & statistics, cache performance, dealing with spam, using WordPress as a content management system (CMS). For developers considering a new web site with WordPress, migrating an existing site to WP is an important consideration and this is discussed in Chapter 14. Chapter 15 concludes the book with a discussion on the WordPress developer community; how you can contribute, working on the core using Subversion and a look at other WordPress resources.
I am not a hardcore developer by any means. My experience with PHP and CSS is marginal, yet I learned a lot from reading this book. Using the code samples helped further my understanding of PHP and this has given me a new interest in learning more about the "inside" of WordPress.
This is a substantial book on WordPress especially geared to developers and secondarily to enthusiasts who wish to dig into WordPress more deeply and begin to explore what makes WordPress tick and how to extend WordPress. Even though the topics are discussed at an advanced level, the writing is not nearly as dry and cumbersome as other technical books can be.
This is an extremely valuable resource for the developer yet there is a thorough approach taken in the early chapters that even a fledgling WP user would find valuable (but not a non-technically minded reader.) However, it is certainly not an appropriate "first" book for the non-technical person simply desiring to get started with WordPress. There are more appropriate books for the non-technical reader. Having said that, there are certain users who may be inspired enough by the easily readable approach taken by the authors to be propelled to learn more because of the depth of information that is contained in this book. Merely using some of the existing code samples can help you learn more about writing and debugging PHP code and serve as a platform for future growth in your knowledge and skills.
This is a stand-out book on WordPress and anyone doing serious development with WordPress could benefit from "Professional WordPress." Highly recommended.