[wp-docs] New WordPress Handbook

Lorelle on WordPress lorelleonwordpress at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 18:47:43 GMT 2009

Some of you 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, and this new handbook.

First, the WordPress Handbook is NOT a replacement for the Codex. The
handbook will be the essence of a basic manual for using WordPress. The
Codex may actually expand to cover everything outside of the core essentials
for using WordPress. For now, it will continue to be the source of
information for developers and core functions.

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 Handbooks will not be in wiki form. They will be created using
Subversion. An example is the http://svnbook.red-bean.com/ Version Control
with Subversion by Ben Collins-Sussman, Brian W. Fitzpatrick, C. Michael

The handbook will be in XML form tied to Subversion (SVN), allowing easy
updating for version specific issues within the documentation, linking to
the online handbook directly from WordPress based upon version, 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, while continuing to allow community participation and
"proofing" for checks and balances in the documentation.

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.

Matt 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.

The handbooks must service basic beginners to intermediate users, which
means the Codex may become the historical repository and technical guide
beyond the handbook. The writing style will be different from the Codex in
keeping with a basic manual rather than a guide.

The Handbook will be a major shift for those used to the Codex and Mediawiki
who wish to contribute, especially for those with no experience with
Subversion. We'll be writing up guidelines and tips for submitting content
and patches, as well as a style guide, on the Codex.

Here are some links to help you familiarize yourself with how Subversion,
and the example of the free online Subversion book, works:

http://svnbook.red-bean.com/ Version Control with Subversion by Ben
Collins-Sussman, Brian W. Fitzpatrick, C. Michael Pilato
http://www.open.collab.net/community/subversion/svnbook/ - Open Collab.net
version of the SVN book
Collab.net version of the organizational structure of the SVN book and
how to use Subversion
http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596004484/ - the printed book
http://subversion.tigris.org/faq.html - using subversion
http://osdir.com/ml/version-control.subversion.book/ - mailing list for the
Version Control Subversion book

If you have any links on the step-by-step process of using Subversion as a
manual or book, please let us know.

Again, this is not the end of the WordPress Codex. This is an exciting shift
for WordPress documentation. This is the start of a conversation about where
the Codex is going, and what key content should be in the handbook. We'll
have information on the technical process soon.

For now, we need to start work updating the Codex for WordPress 2.7,
including adding new screenshots, screencasts, incorporating the technical,
how-to videos from WordPress.tv, creating our own short, technical videos,
and continuing the tremendous work of so many volunteers within the
WordPress Community to offer technical and reference material to WordPress

Lorelle VanFossen
Twitter: lorelleonwp
Email: lorelleonwordpress at gmail.com
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