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!


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


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.

Building Web Apps with WordPress

WordPress 5 Complete

  • Karol Krol. WordPress 5 Complete, 7th Edition. O’Reilly Media Inc., 2019.*
    • Covers all of WordPress (not just development) but includes sections on developing themes, plugins, widgets, and the REST API.
    • A used copy of the 6th Edition (2017) is still pretty expensive, may be able to find older editions at lower prices.
    • Section 1: WordPress
      • Krol’s book addresses numerous aspects of using WordPress in this section but we’ll skip over it here since we are primary concerned with development.
    • Section 2: Customizing WordPress
      • We’ll skip several chapters from Section 2 for the same reason.
      • Securing Your WordPress Website
      • Customizing Your Website Appearance/Design
      • Developing Your Own Theme
      • Developing Plugins, Widgets, and an Introduction to REST API
    • Section 3: Non-Blog Websites
      • We’ll skip over this section as well, except to note that there is a section addressing Custom Post Types which may be helpful.

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.

WordPress Web Application Development

  • Rakhitha Nimesh Ratnayake. WordPress Web Application Development, 3rd Edition. Packt Publishing, 2017.*
    • 2nd Edition (2015) is still pricey.
    • Preface
    • WordPress as a Web Application Framework
    • Implementing Membership Roles, Permissions, and Features
    • Planning and Customizing the Core Database
    • Building Blocks of Web Applications
    • Implementing Application Content Restrictions
    • Developing Pluggable Modules
    • Customizing the Dashboard for Powerful Backends
    • Adjusting Theme for Amazing Frontends
    • Enhancing the Power of Open Source Libraries and Plugins
    • Listening to Third-Party Applications
    • Integrating and Finalizing the Forum Management Application
    • Supplementary Modules for Web Development
    • 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 from 2012 can be acquired for a few dollars used.
    • 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

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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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

WordPress Handbooks

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