WordPress Developer Books

I’ve attempted to compile in one location all of the most important books on WordPress Development. I’ve included the chapter titles of each book and also highlighted some of the more interesting (some I have read, some just literally look interesting) sub-sections. If I have missed some please let me know!

Legend

  • * indicates the book is available for online reading if you have a Safari Books Subscription.

Caveats

I’m only including books from 2011 and later. Even 2011 is stretching back quite a ways, but some areas of WP have remained quite stable over time, so the books can still be a helpful reference.

Crème de la Crème

Crème de la Crème is a fancy way of saying “best of the best” (in French).

This list is quite subjective. I haven’t read every book on WP in existence, the way I learn is different from others, what I prioritize as important may not be what you consider important, etc.

If you feel a book that isn’t on this list should be, please let me know so I can evaluate it further. In general my selection will be weighted towards:

  • Books that were published more recently, especially those which address Gutenberg.
  • Books that have been released in multiple editions, showing commitment from the author(s) to keep the content updated.
  • Books that cover topics that aren’t covered in other books.

Professional WordPress Plugin Development

  • Brad Williams, Justin Tadlock, John James Jacoby. Professional WordPress Plugin Development, 2nd Edition. Wrox, 6/2020.*
    • 1st edition: 2011.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • 1. An Introduction to Plugins
    • 2. Plugin Framework
      • Their opinionated guide to plugin development I found useful.
    • 3. Dashboard and Settings
    • 4. Security and Performance
    • 5. Hooks
    • 6. JavaScript
      • Fairly high-level.
    • 7. Blocks and Gutenberg
      • High-level, broad.
    • 8. Content
    • 9. Users and User Data
    • 10. Scheduled Tasks
    • 11. Internationalization
    • 12. REST API
    • 13. Multisite
    • 14. The Kitchen Sink
    • 15. Debugging
    • 16. The Developer Toolbox

WordPress 5 Cookbook

  • Rakhitha Nimesh Ratnayake. WordPress 5 Cookbook. Packt Publishing, 3/2020.*
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • Preface
    • 1. Setting Up WordPress and Customizing Settings
    • 2. Customizing Theme Design and Layout
    • 3. Using Plugins and Widgets
    • 4. Publishing Content with the Gutenberg Editor
    • 5. Managing User Permissions
    • 6. Setting up a Blogging and Editorial Workflow
    • 7. WordPress as an Application Framework
    • 8. Improving Usability and Interactivity
    • 9. Building E-Commerce Sites with WooCommerce
    • 10. Troubleshooting WordPress
    • 11. Handling Performance and Maintenance
    • 12. Improving Site Security
    • 13. Promoting and Monetizing the Site
    • Appendix

Building Web Apps with WordPress

  • Jason Coleman, Brian Messenlehner. Building Web Apps with WordPress, 2nd Edition. O’Reilly Media Inc., 12/2019.*
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS:
      • 1. Building Web Apps with WordPress.
      • 2. WordPress Basics.
      • 3. Using WordPress Plugins.
      • 4. Themes.
      • 5. Custom Post Types, Post Metadata, and Taxonomies.
      • 6. Users, Roles, and Capabilities.
      • 7. Working with WordPress APIs, Objects, and Helper Functions.
        • Covers the Shortcode, Widgets, Dashboard Widgets, Settings, Rewrite, File Header, and Heartbeat APIs. Also covers WP Mail and WP-Cron.
      • 8. Secure WordPress.
    • 9. JavaScript Frameworks and Workflow.
      • High-level overview with a focus on jQuery and the Heartbeat API. Covers AJAX. Touches on Backbone.js and React.
    • 10. WordPress REST API.
    • 11. Project Gutenberg, Blocks, and Custom Blog Types.
      • High-level, brief introduction.
    • 12. WordPress MultiSite Networks.
    • 11. Localizing WordPress Apps.
    • 14. WordPress Optimization and Scaling.
    • 15. Ecommerce.
    • 16. Mobile Apps Powered by WordPress.
      • High-level overview, mainly covers AppPresser.
    • 17. PHP Libraries, Web Service Integrations, and Platform Migrations.
    • 18. The Future

WordPress 5 Complete

  • Karol Krol. WordPress 5 Complete, 7th Edition. O’Reilly Media Inc., 2019.*
    • Covers all of WordPress (not just development), includes sections on developing themes, plugins, widgets, and the REST API.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • Section 1: WordPress
      • 1. Introducing WordPress, 2. Getting Started with WordPress, 3. Creating Blog Content, 4. Pages, Media, and Importing/Exporting Content.
    • Section 2: Customizing WordPress
      • 5. Plugins – What They Are and Why You Need Them, 6. Securing Your WordPress Website, 7. Choosing and Installing Themes, 8. Customizing Your Website Appearance/Design,
      • 9. Developing Your Own Theme
      • 10. Social Media Integration, Podcasting, and HTTPS
      • 11. Developing Plugins, Widgets, and an Introduction to the REST API
    • Section 3: Non-Blog Websites
      • 12. The Basics, 13. E-Commerce Websites and Custom Content Elements.

Up and Running

  • Fred Meyer & David Hayes. Up and Running.
    • eBook with ongoing updates, currently on its 3rd edition (2018), updates are included in price ($197).
    • The book is 30 chapters long and comes with 36 videos that complement the text.
    • Includes a number of other video courses and video interviews of well-known WP developers.
    • Section 1. Key Intuitions for WordPress Development
      • WordPress is a Factory: A Technical Introduction
      • What “Post,” “Page,” and “Webpage” Mean in WordPress
      • When to Use WordPress, When Not to Use WordPress, and Why
    • Section 2. Details of the WordPress Environment
      • The Four Languages You Must Know To Understand WordPress
      • Understanding “Server-Side” and “Client-Side” in WordPress
      • A WordPress LAMP? An Introduction to WordPress Infrastructure
    • Section 3. Core Concepts of WordPress Themes and Plugins
      • What WordPress Themes Are For
      • Anatomy of a WordPress Theme
      • Core Concepts of WordPress Themes:
        • 1. The Template Hierarchy
        • 2. Processing Posts with the Loop
        • 3. Adding Functionality with functions.php
      • Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development
    • Section 4. How Everything Talks to Everything Else
      • WordPress Hooks, Actions, and Filters: What They Do and How They Work
      • Including Custom Scripts and Styles in WordPress
      • Understanding and Using WordPress Child Themes
    • Section 5. WordPress “Tag” Functions
      • The Magic of the _() and get_the_() Post Template Tags
      • WordPress’s Conditional Tags
    • Section 6. WordPress Building Patterns
      • Understanding and Creating WordPress Custom Page Templates
      • Making Your Themes Better by Getting to Know get_template_part()
      • Understanding and Creating Shortcodes
    • Section 7. Working with Custom Post Data
      • Why and How to Use Custom Post Types in WordPress
      • Organizing Your WordPress Data: Understanding Custom Taxonomies and Custom Fields
      • How to Create and Use WordPress Custom Taxonomies
      • How to Create and Use WordPress Custom Fields
    • Section 8. WordPress APIs
      • Mastering the Options API in WordPress
      • Getting to Know the WordPress Transients API
      • Registering and Displaying WordPress Widget Areas
      • The Core Concepts of Object-Oriented PHP You Need to Understand WordPress Development
      • A Complete Guide to Making Your First WordPress Widget
      • Getting to Know WP_Query
      • Working with HTTP APIs in WordPress
      • Introduction to the WordPress REST API
      • Writing a Very Simple Web Application with the WordPress REST API
      • How to Register Custom WordPress REST API Routes
    • Section 9. The Implications of Gutenberg
      • Gutenfuture: How Gutenberg Will Affect Working in WordPress Generally
      • Gutenfuture: How Gutenberg Will Affect the WordPress Code You Write
      • Roundtable Discussion: Gutenberg is Coming (Don’t Panic!)

WordPress Web Application Development

  • Rakhitha Nimesh Ratnayake. WordPress Web Application Development, 3rd Edition. Packt Publishing, 2017.*
    • 2nd Edition: 2015.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS:
    • Preface
    • 1. WordPress as a Web Application Framework
    • 2. Implementing Membership Roles, Permissions, and Features
    • 3. Planning and Customizing the Core Database
    • 4. Building Blocks of Web Applications
    • 5. Implementing Application Content Restrictions
    • 6. Developing Pluggable Modules
    • 7. Customizing the Dashboard for Powerful Backends
    • 8. Adjusting Theme for Amazing Frontends
    • 9. Enhancing the Power of Open Source Libraries and Plugins
    • 10. Listening to Third-Party Applications
    • 11. Integrating and Finalizing the Forum Management Application
    • 12. Supplementary Modules for Web Development
    • 13. Configuration, Tools, and Resources

Digging Into WordPress

  • Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr. Digging Into WordPress.
    • eBook with ongoing updates that are included with the cost of the book ($27). Covers theme development but doesn’t appear to cover plugin development.

WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook

  • Yannick Lefebvre. WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook, 2nd Edition. Packt Publishing, 2017.*
    • 1st Edition: 2012
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • 1. Preparing a Local Development Environment
    • 2. Plugin Framework Basics
    • 3. User Settings and Administration Pages
    • 4. The Power of Custom Post Types
    • 5. Customizing Post and Page Editors
    • 6. Accepting User Content Submissions
    • 8. Customizing User Data
    • 9. Creating Custom MySQL Database Tables
    • 10. Leveraging JavaScript, jQuery, and AJAX Scripts
    • 11. Adding New Widgets to the WordPress Library
    • 12. Enabling Plugin Internationalization
    • 13. Distributing Your Plugin on WordPress.org

Learning WordPress REST API

  • Sufyan bin Uzayr. Learning WordPress REST API. Packt Publishing, 2016.*
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • 1. Getting Started with REST API
    • 2. Interacting with REST API in WordPress
    • 3. Working with Taxonomies and Users with REST API
    • 4. Working with Forms Using REST API
    • 5. Custom Routes in WordPress REST API
    • 6. Creating a Simple Web App Using WordPress REST API
    • 7. Mastering REST API for Your Projects
    • 8. WordPress REST API in Practice
    • 9. Summing It Up

Developing an App Using the REST API and WordPress

  • Tom Ewer. Developing an App Using the REST API and WordPress. Torque/WP Engine, 2017. 49 pages.
    • Available free, sponsored by WP Engine.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Adding and Testing Our Data
    • 3. Choosing and Testing a Front End Solution
      • Touches on JavaScript, React, Redux.
    • 4. Creating Our React-Powered WordPress Site
    • 5. Adding Custom Endpoints and Extra Touches
    • 6. Exploring the Web with Third-Party APIs

Ultimate Guide to Object Oriented PHP For WordPress Developers

  • Josh Pollock. Ultimate Guide to Object Oriented PHP for WordPress Developers. Torque/WP Engine, 2018. 104 pages.
    • Available free, sponsored by WP Engine.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • Introduction
    • PHP 7 – Guest Chapter by Tom Ewer
    • PHP Fundamentals
    • Object-Oriented PHP
    • WP_QUERY: The Object-Oriented PHP
    • Visibility in Object-Oriented PHP
    • Class Inheritance in Object-Oriented PHP
    • How to Use Asynchronous PHP in WordPress
    • REST APIs and PHP
    • PHP Magic Methods
    • Namespaces
    • Improving Development Workflow with Composer
    • Using a Class Autoloader to Improve WordPress Development
    • PHP Design Patterns for WordPress Developers
    • It’s Time to Level Up Your PHP Skills
    • Conclusion

Professional WordPress: Design and Development

  • Hal Stern, David Damstra, Brad Williams. Professional WordPress: Design and Development, 3rd Edition. Wrox, 2015.*
    • Available for <$20 used.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS:
    • 0. Introduction
    • 1. First Post
    • 2. Code Overview
    • 3. Working with WordPress Locally
    • 4. Tour of the Core
    • 5. The Loop
    • 6. Data Management
    • 7. Custom Post Types, Custom Taxonomies, and Metadata
    • 8. Plugin Development
    • 9. Theme Development
    • 10. Multisite
    • 11. Migrating to WordPress
    • 12. Crafting a User Experience
    • 13. Securing WordPress
    • 14. Application Framework
    • 15. WordPress in the Real World
    • 16. WordPress Developer Community

All the Books

  • Lisa Sabin-Wilson. WordPress All-In-One for Dummies, 4th Edition. For Dummies, 2019.*
    • Covers all of WordPress in eight books, including one addressing theme development and another on plugin development.
    • The 3rd edition can be picked up very inexpensively, but is also quite old – 2010.
    • Book 1: WordPress Basics
    • Book 2: Setting Up the WordPress Software
    • Book 3: Exploring the WordPress Dashboard
    • Book 4: Publishing Your Site with WordPress
    • Book 5: Examining SEO and Social Media
    • Book 6: Customizing the Look of Your Site
    • Book 7: Using and Developing Plugins
      • 1. Introducing WordPress Plugins
      • 2. Installing and Managing Plugins
      • 3. Configuring and Using Plugins
      • 4. Modifying Existing Plugin Code
      • 5. Creating Simple Plugins from Scratch
      • 6. Exploring Plugin Development Best Practices
    • Book 8: Running Multiple Sites with WordPress
  • Jeff Starr. WordPress Themes in Depth.
    • eBook, $50, includes updates.

WordPress Development Quick Start Guide

  • Rakhitha Nimesh Ratnayake. WordPress Development Quick Start Guide. Packt Publishing, 2018.*
    • 1. Introduction to WordPress Development
    • 2. Managing Database Structure, Storage, and Retrieval
    • 3. Designing Flexible Frontends with Theme Development
    • 4. Building Custom Modules with Plugin Development
    • 5. Extending Plugins with Addons, Filters, and Actions
    • 6. Practice Usage of WordPress APIs
    • 7. Managing Custom Post Types and Processing Forms
    • 8. Discovering Key Modules in Development
    • 9. Enhanced Security, Performance, and Maintenance

Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog

  • Thord Hedengren. Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.*
    • Used available for ~$5.
    • Part 1. Getting Started with WordPress
    • 1. The Anatomy of a WordPress Install
    • 2. The WordPress Syntax
    • 3. The Loop
    • Part 2. Designing and Developing WordPress Themes
    • 4. WordPress Theme Fundamentals
    • 5. The Child Theme Concept
    • 6. Advanced Theme Usage
    • Part 3. Using Plugins with WordPress
    • 7. Making the Most of WordPress Plugins
    • 8. Plugins or functions.php?
    • Part 4. Additional Features and Functionality
    • 9. Using WordPress as a CMS
    • 10. Integrating the Social Web
    • 11. Design Trickery
    • 12. Fun with Media
    • 13. Extra Functionality
    • 14. Uncommon WordPress Usage

Pro WordPress Theme Development

  • Adam Onishi. Pro WordPress Theme Development. Apress, 2013.*
    • 1. Getting Started
    • 2. Theme Anatomy and Template Hierarchy
    • 3. Content Options and the Loop
    • 4. Using Custom Post Types
    • 5. Creating Custom Taxonomies and Fields
    • 6. Customize with Hooks, Shortcodes, and Widgets
    • 7. Theme Options and the Theme Customizer
    • 8. Users, Roles, and Capabilities
    • 9. Plugins: When the Time is Right
    • 10. Security and Performance
    • 11. Distributing Your Theme
    • 12. Extending Your Theme
    • 13. Plugin Development
    • 14. WordPress Multisite

WordPress for Web Developers: An Introduction for Web Professionals

  • Stephanie Leary. WordPress for Web Developers: An Introduction for Web Professionals. Apress, 2013.*
    • 1. Getting Started
    • 2. Installing and Upgrading WordPress
    • 3. Dashboard and Settings
    • 4. Working with Content
    • 5. Working with Themes
    • 6. Working with Plugins
    • 7. Working with Users
    • 8. Setting Up Multisite Networks
    • 9. Performance and Security
    • 10. Importing Content and Migrating Sites
    • 11. Beginning Theme and Plugin Development
    • 12. Creating a Theme
    • 13. Creating Plugins
    • 14. Custom Post Types, Taxonomies, and Fields
    • Appendix A. Recommended Plugins
    • Appendix B. Community Resources.
    • Notable there is not a chapter on JavaScript.

WordPress 3 Plugin Development ESSENTIALS

  • Everett Griffiths, Brian Bondari. WordPress 3 Plugin Development Essentials. Packt Publishing, 2011.*
    • Available used for ~$10.
    • Preface
    • 1. Preparing for WordPress Development
    • 2. Anatomy of a Plugin
    • 3. Social Bookmarking
    • 4. Ajax Search
    • 5. Content Rotator
    • 6. Standardized Custom Content
    • 7. Custom Post Types
    • 8. Versioning Your Code with Subversion (SVN)
    • 9. Preparing Your Plugin for Distribution
    • 10. Publishing Your Plugin
    • A. Recommended Resources
    • B. WordPress API Reference.

  • Sitepoint Team.
    • 6 Practical WordPress Projects. SitePoint, 2018.
      • $8 for eBook or included with SitePoint Premium.
    • WordPress: Tools & Skills. SitePoint, 2018.
      • Includes sections on Gulp, Font Awesome, Weglot, improving WP native search, and WP-CLI.
      • $8 for ebook or incluced with SitePoint Premium.
    • Better WordPress Development. SitePoint, 2018.
      • Includes sections on maintenance, Ajax, Font Awesome, performance optimization, Gulp, security tips, Pages and the Pages API, and WP-CLI.
      • Available with SitePoint Premium.
  • Ronald Huereca. WordPress & Ajax 3rd Edition. 2020.
    • 1st and 2nd edition are available for free on the official site, 3rd is supposed to be release late 2019/early 2020.

WordPress The Right Way

  • Tom J. Nowell. WordPress The Right Way. 2017-2021
    • Open source, available free, somewhat sparse in its explanations.
    • 1. Getting Started
    • 2. Debugging
    • 3. Data
    • 4. Core
    • 5. Code Style Guide
    • 6. i18n
    • 7. JavaScript
    • 8. Multisite
    • 9. Queries
    • 10. Routing
    • 11. Security
    • 12. Servers and Deployment
    • 13. Templates
    • 14. Testing
    • 15. Widgets
    • 16. Community.

WordPress Handbooks

Each of these WordPress books is hosted on wordpress.org, made the WP community, regularly updated, and available free.