Some may have heard Matt Mullenweg’s announcement at WordCamp Las Vegas of the WordPress Handbook, a free online manual for WordPress users. I chatted with him about the future of WordPress documentation, the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, and this new handbook.
For those still unfamiliar with the invaluable resource for WordPress users, the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, it has long been the best place to find WordPress tips, techniques, instructions, guides, and technical articles. A few years ago, I wrote a A Guide to the WordPress Codex, and many of you got your start learning how to use WordPress through such articles as:
- WordPress Lessons
- Introduction to Blogging
- WordPress Semantics
- First Steps With WordPress
- New To WordPress – Where to Start
- How to Write Your First Post
- Administering Your WordPress Blog
- Using WordPress Themes
- Finding Your CSS Styles
- WordPress CSS Information and Techniques
- Stepping Into Templates
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- Designing WordPress Themes for Public Release
- The WordPress Loop in Action
- Alphabetizing Posts
- Customizing the Read More
- Separating Category Lists
- Using Custom Fields with Post-Meta
- Using Smilies
- Customizing Feeds
- Designing Headers
- Styling Theme Forms
- WordPress Housekeeping
- Finding WordPress Help
- Getting More Help With WordPress
- Using the WordPress Support Forums
- WordPress FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
- Validating Your WordPress Blog
The new WordPress Handbook is in conception and development. It will be based upon the successful online book, Version Control with Subversion by Ben Collins-Sussman, Brian W. Fitzpatrick, C. Michael Pilato.
The idea behind the WordPress Handbook is not to replace the WordPress Codex but to add a core basic guide to using WordPress.
By using Subversion (SVN) (Wikipedia), core documentation on the basics of using WordPress can be directly tied to the WordPress code, allowing for fast updating and feature addition to the documentation. Subversion allows for easy updating for version specific content within the documentation, linking to the online handbook directly from WordPress based upon version, and branching into version specific guides. It will also include options for HTML and PDF versions, and the ability to submit patches and updates just as is currently being done with WordPress and many other programs. The idea is to keep the handbook updated and current with the latest version of WordPress, as well as past versions branches, while continuing to allow community participation and “proofing” for checks and balances in the documentation.
The WordPress Handbook will begin with a very basic “How to Use WordPress” core that guides the user through installation, upgrades, and basic user functions like how to write a post, upload images, embed multimedia, install Plugins and Themes, and the core functionality of using WordPress. Much of it will use Codex content regarding those tasks and the WordPress Administration Panels.
A “design and customization” version will include tips on choosing a WordPress Theme and Plugin, installing, customizing and tweaking.
A developer version will follow to help Theme and Plugin authors and third party apps to hook into WordPress to add features and functionality.
The WordPress Handbook will continue to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors as an open source project under the GPL. Some staff may be hired or given responsibility to implement and oversee the project, but it will be community driven, allowing anyone to submit changes and additions through the Subversion repository.
The WordPress Codex will continue to exist, and, in fact, expand to continue to include documentation beyond the basics, offering indepth articles and analysis of how to use and work with WordPress. I see the WordPress Codex as becoming a highly technical and historical guide to WordPress, complemented by the basics within the new Handbooks.
Matt Mullenweg is working on the fundamental programming and process for which to start integrating appropriate Codex and original WordPress 2.7 specific content into the handbook. We’ll be calling upon the WordPress Codex documentation team to help us update and choose what information “must” be in the handbooks, as well as updating the Codex. Calls will be put out to the WordPress Community for recommendations on content and topics as well, letting their needs guide the final choices.
As this new project develops within the WordPress Community, we will be announcing news, guidelines, and information on how you can participate and help the project. If you would like to join the WordPress Codex Documentation Team, sign up on the WordPress Documentation mailing list. You can learn more about contributing to WordPress and the WordPress Codex through the Community Portal on the Codex, the About Codex, How to Contribute, and Codex Guidelines pages.
Work continues on the WordPress Codex to add documentation on the Function Reference and Pluggable Functions, new tips and techniques for using WordPress 2.7, addition of screenshots, screencasts, and step-by-step video on WordPress tips and techniques, and more. The WordPress Codex is a living document that needs your help to build this most powerful resource for WordPress users.
Stay tuned for more news, guidelines, and information on the upcoming WordPress Handbook Project, and let us know what you want to see in the WordPress Handbook and in the Codex.