Blog Design Solutions Book Review

This book starts with the basics and explains just what a blog is, the associated terminology and other technologies that you can use to create a blog to be proud of. The second chapter talks about setting up a local test environment with PHP, mySQL and Apache for Windows and Mac users and finishes with setting up your blog database with phpMyAdmin. Now, if this level of technology use gives you the heeby-jeebies – then fear not. It is so well written, with plenty of screenshots you will finish chapter 2 with a big grin and a muttered “that wasn’t bad at all”. The few pages with screenshots on backing up your database was very welcomed by me – far too often in an online tutorial we hear “back up your database” with no explanation of how or provided with a link to another tutorial. Thank You.

Now, with the foundation in place, the bulk of the book looks at each of the major (self-hosted) blogging systems. If you are buying this book because you don’t have your own blog or want something more configurable than a hosted solution like, then do take the time to read each of the following chapters to see which one captures your imagination (or wallet if ExpressionEngine catches the eye). With that freshly created local test environment you can download and install each type to see which system works best for you.

If you already have a blog using one of these systems the value of this book may be lessened for you because you may feel that the three other chapters are not applicable. That was my initial impression. But no, read those other chapters! Firstly, the well-written chapters may well sway you to switch technologies and secondly, without getting bogged down in the code samples too much, there are some nice little gems of information regarding Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), design and image usage buried not too deeply.

The book rounds off with a chapter on creating your own publishing system – a scary thought to be sure but with flow diagrams, screenshots, a logical approach and well-written text you’ll be out the other side of the project by the end of the day. The only prerequisite I would say is that you do need to be comfortable with markup and CSS already – this isn’t a book to teach you those skills, it’s introducing you to PHP and mySQL in a very hands-on, example driven style.

Not an “essential” (5 star) book for your bookshelf, but if you are about to take the plunge into the world of blogging or want to get more out your system this is an excellent book.

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2 Responses to Blog Design Solutions Book Review

  1. Karl Dawson says:

    Just a pity for me that Amazon lowered the price by £7 after I pre-ordered. :(

  2. John Oxton says:

    Thanks for the great review and I have to agree, David Power’s chapter on setting up Apache et al is a superb chapter.