Book Review: WordPress & Ajax

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You might remember Ronald Huereca as our WordCamp Austin ticket “winner”. I had the pleasure of talking with him at the event and quickly realized he knows his stuff, so much so that he was a presenter at WordCamp Philly last year. It is a good thing then that he has put some of his knowledge down on virtual paper.

WordPress & Ajax” is not a book for the casual WordPress user. It is an informative read on using the power of Ajax to make websites more dynamic and user friendly so a working knowledge of PHP and jQuery is needed to follow along. The book would probably most benefit WordPress developers who have an idea what Ajax can do, but not how to implement it in their own work.

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Book review: WordPress Top Plugins

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I have spent the last several days reviewing WordPress Top Plugins by Brandon Corbin and all I can say is WOW – why didn’t I know this was available!

This valuable book provides an overview of some of the best WP plugins you could ever use including WP-DBManager, BuddyPress, WPTouch, NextGen Gallery, and more.  Brandon methodically lays out a road map on understanding how to install plugins, how they work, and managing them.

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Review: Opaline theme by Viva Themes

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Opaline Theme

Opaline is a new hotel and business focused theme by Viva Themes. WPCandy gave away a copy of Opaline in our post about its release last week. Before we gave it away, I took it for a test drive on my local install of WordPress.  I wanted to see just how Opaline works behind the scenes, and whether I think it’s worth the $47 price tag.

I’ll share with you what I found.

Opaline theme review gallery

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Review: Bloggie from Themify

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Themify is a new theme shop brought to you by Nick La of webdesignerwall.com and Darcy Clarke. Themify has seven themes for sale and one for free at the time of this writing. They’re all very attractive themes, and include an advanced options panel: the Themify framework.

Themify’s description of the Bloggie theme:

“Bloggie features a beautiful slideshow on the homepage that makes your site stand out from the crowd. It has multiple widget areas for displaying banner ads. It is a clean theme that works well with any background images and content.”

So what stands out?

Bloggie theme review gallery

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Review: Shelf Theme from The Theme Foundry

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The Theme Foundry’s latest tumblog theme, Shelf, was designed by Jon Hicks and sports a photo-real, 3D design. Attempted by the wrong people, the words “photo-real” and “3D” used together when describing a website design could lead to disaster. In this case, the end result is very pleasant and just works.

But a quality theme is more than just looks. It’s about how it functions, how easy it is to use, and what purpose it can have for the blogger. In other words: is Shelf worth taking off the shelf and putting to use?

Let’s dig in and find out.

Shelf Theme review gallery

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Review: Oxus theme by Themeopoly

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A few days ago I wrote about the release of Oxus. Oxus is a theme by Themeopoly described as being “for blogging with a focus on content and hierarchy,” which is, of course, a marketing phrase that means absolutely nothing. Since WordPress themes by definition take content and hierarchy into account, I wanted to see what set Oxus apart.

I fired up MAMP and set up a local installation of WordPress so that I could do some testing. Here is what I got.

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Review: Headway 2.0, the only WordPress theme I’ll ever need

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Earlier this year when I first encountered Headway, I was so impressed by it that it became the first WordPress theme I ever bought. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to the release of version 2.0 all year and now it’s finally here.

Before reviewing it, I assumed that I’d find one or two features to be particularly happy about, but that I’d remain mostly indifferent towards the update. After having used Headway, Genesis and Platform Pro, I adopted the belief that there was no such thing as the “best” premium WordPress theme. Jumping from one to the other was a lateral move. They were all of the highest quality and they all attempted to solve the same problems, the only difference was their preferred method of solving them.

Using Headway today has started to erode that belief. Headway 2.0 completely exceeded my expectations. Not only was I reminded of why I bought Headway in the first place, I ended up wondering how I had been able to tolerate versions 1.5 and 1.6 all these months.

Here are some of the most notable features.

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Review: Express for WordPress

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Express for WordPress is an iPhone app created by Kenobi Studios and WooThemes that allows users to post short notes, images, links and quotes directly to their Tumblr-style blogs wherever they are. It also lets you save drafts when you’re not online and moderate comments.

The app works in conjunction with the recently released WooTumblog plugin and WooThemes’ tumblog themes, like Crisp, Retreat, Cinch or Slanted. For my review, I’m using a self-hosted WordPress installation at http://curatingmadness.com with the WooTumblog plugin activated.

Express for WordPress Gallery:

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Reinvigorate analytics and WordPress Plugin

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Analytics are a fun, useful, and sometimes dangerous game to play. Analytics provide really useful information, but if too much time is spent focused on them they can draw your attention away from other, equally important tasks.

Reinvigorate, at first glance, is extremely dangerous in that it is addictive to watch. Reinvigorate services up by-the-minute stats, even to the point where it show you who is visiting your site currently, and on what page.

Is a tool like this just for fun, or indispensable? Let’s take a closer look and see.

Reinvigorate review gallery:

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Review: Startbox, a new theme framework

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Is Startbox the revolutionary framework it claims to be?

Startbox, by Brian Richards, isn’t your run-of-the-mill commercial WordPress theme. Startbox is a parent theme, sometimes called a theme framework, which is designed specifically to build themes on top of.

Reviewing a theme framework is tough. It’s a different review process than reviewing a typical one-use theme. For instance, average themes are measured by their design, the number of options they offer, and how well they fit a certain genre of website. A framework theme, on the other hand, should be measured on flexibility, forethought, and how easy other themes can be built on top of it.

Startbox theme review gallery

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