BuddyPress Theme Development: Get Started Building Your Own Themes

bpthemedevThe BuddyPress Theme Development book hit the shelves late last year and I had the chance to review it for our readers. This book is a much-needed resource for the BuddyPress community and could not have come at a better time.

BuddyPress theming has evolved over the years but it has always had a steep learning curve. Part of the reason for this is that theming practices have been in flux as BuddyPress has improved. Contributors to the codex have worked hard to make sure the basics are in place but more in-depth tutorials tend to be scattered all over the web.

Now that theme compatibility is in place to allow BP to work with any WordPress theme, Tammie Lister decided that it was the right time to make a comprehensive guide. Lister is a long-time BuddyPress contributor who now works as a Theme Wrangler for Automattic. If you’re looking for an expert who will hold your feet to the fire when it comes to WordPress theming standards, Lister has you covered.

An Introduction to Basic WordPress Theming

One thing I appreciate about the book is that it does not assume the reader to already be an expert at WordPress theming. Lister takes a holistic approach and introduces the differences between social networking and building a community. While BuddyPress provides social networking features, building a community involves more than just activating the plugin and hoping people will use the site. Understanding the differences will help to shape the design process.

She starts with the basics and provides a step-by-step guide for setting BuddyPress up on your server. She introduces theming by walking you through creating a child theme. You’ll learn all the basics, such as how to use your browser to inspect elements on the page in order to get the right selectors for making CSS changes.

The book then moves into a basic introduction to WordPress theming before delving deeper into BuddyPress template hierarchy. If you’re familiar with WordPress’ template hierarchy then BuddyPress will come naturally, as it works the same way.

A Hands-On Guide to Creating BuddyPress Themes

With the theming basics under your belt, the next section puts you well on your way to building your own BuddyPress feature templates. This is necessary if you want to radically change the look of your community to customize it beyond the stock BuddyPress UI. Here’s where the hands-on fun begins. Lister walks the reader through building a sample responsive BuddyPress theme with unique elements, custom fonts, navigation menus, custom BuddyPress templates and more.

If you’re a developer who has just taken on a BuddyPress project for the first time and you’re new to BP theme development, this manual is a must-have. I highly recommend the process Lister uses for getting novice theme developers up to speed on the basics. You’ll go from installing BuddyPress to creating your very own theme in a short amount of time. Experienced BuddyPress developers will also appreciate the book as a reference for the proper way to customize themes. BuddyPress Theme Development is available from Amazon. You can also purchase it directly from Packt Publishing.

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