Since discovering concrete5 in 2008, not long after the project went open source, there’s been one community member that has been a tremendous help to not only me but I’m sure countless others and that is Remo Laubacher. From the beginning Remo has sacrificially given to the concrete5 community, always there to give an answer and help out. When I found out he was writing a beginner’s guide for concrete5, I thought there’s no better person to do this than Remo. And I was honored when he asked me if I’d be willing to review his book on c5mix. So, here is my review of Remo’s Concrete5 Beginner’s Guide.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
About the Book
Concrete5 Beginner’s Guide by Remo Laubacher and published by Packt Publishing is a “step-by-step guide to creating professional, feature-rich sites with concrete5.” It covers a wide range of material such as setting up and installing concrete5 in a local environment, learning how to edit your concrete5 site, how to install add-ons and themes as well as how to modify and create them, working with permissions and users, extending the concrete5 dashboard with additional functionality, and moving your site to a live server. The book includes the following chapters:
- Installation – walks you through setting up concrete5 in a local environment on your computer
- Working with concrete5 – teaches you how to edit and add pages to your site
- Permissions – goes over permissions for pages, groups, users, and more
- Add-ons – learn what an add-on is and how to install them
- Creating Your Own Theme – learn how to create a theme for concrete5
- Customizing Block Layout – shows how to modify a block’s appearance or functionality
- Advanced Navigation – explains options for the Auto Nav block and how to customize it
- Creating Your Own Add-on Block – explains what makes up a block and show you how to build a few unique blocks
- Everything in a Package – explains what packages are and how to create them
- Dashboard Extensions – gives some examples of how to add functionality to the dashboard
- Deployment and Configuration – shows you how to move your site to a live server and how to configure certain settings
Who this Book is Written for
According to the author: “This book is ideal for developers who would like to build their first site with concrete5. You will need to be a little bit familiar with PHP, MySQL and HTML but will likely have little to no experience in using concrete5.”
Here’s what I enjoyed about the book and thought it did a good job of:
- Written in a very easy to read style.
- It gives you easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions (named “Time for action”) when explaining how to do something.
- Has good screenshots of most steps so you can verify you’re doing it right.
- At the end of step-by-step instructions, it has an overview of what you just learned/did (named “What just happened”).
- Includes a nice summary at the end of each chapter.
- Has pop quizzes within chapters to test what you’ve learned (answers are included in the back of the book).
- Gives good explanations of features and concepts.
- Has a bunch of nice code samples for implementation in themes and add-ons.
- Includes some good real-world examples of blocks/add-ons to create.
- In-depth information about creating themes.
- Taught me some stuff I didn’t know (even after working with concrete5 for the past 3 years).
I must say there really wasn’t anything “bad” about the book, just a couple of things that I thought could have been done a little different/better:
- In the Installation chapter Remo walks you through installing concrete5 on your local computer with XAMPP. I would have much preferred seeing how to install concrete5 on a host/server, since that’s what most people will probably be doing.
- At some points during the book (mostly dealing with add-ons and creating blocks) it seemed like some of the code might be a little too advanced for the ‘beginner.’