Justin Tadlock

Writing a WordPress book. Again.

Brown typewriter on desk.

TL;DR: Brad Williams, John James Jacoby, and I will be publishing the 2nd edition of Professional WordPress Plugin Development this year.

It is hard to believe, but it has been nine years since I was approached by Brad Williams to co-author a book alongside him and Ozh Richard. I was still a young developer when we published the first edition of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, but I was bold and ready to take on anything at 26 years old.

Over the years, I have become a little wiser. I have honed my craft.

I have also taken on other responsibilities that I didn’t have in my relative youth. The idea of doing a second edition, which would be nearly a full rewrite after nine years, seemed a bit more daunting this time around. It would mean shaking up my routine and getting out of that comfort zone that I have been enjoying in my 30s.

Timing has never been my strong suit. Not long after accepting the book contract, I found myself in the middle of a career change by taking a full-time job at WP Tavern. In that first month or so, I was out of my element, overwhelmed by learning the ropes for two new projects. Eventually, I found my rhythm and worked out a schedule that didn’t have me staying up all hours of the night.

I did have to give up one personal project I wanted to do this past year. I skipped National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2019. But, between writing a manuscript for fun and getting paid to work on a book that will actually be published, I will take the paid gig any day of the week.

The dream is still to become a novelist. Publishing tech books helps me on that path. It reminded me how to stick with a deadline. It reminded me how much work goes into writing a book, even one-third of one. It keeps a leg in the door of the publishing world.

NaNoWriMo had to wait this year. I’m still looking toward 2020’s event.

Writing a plugin development book a second time was definitely much different. With the first edition, the entire process felt chaotic to me. My sleeping schedule was all over the place. I was living off microwavable food and attempting to work while living in a mobile home with a couple of college guys.

This time around, I had an eerie sense of calm, surprising myself, at least after the initial shock wore off. I’ve been here; I’ve done this.

One thing that helped me was winning NaNoWriMo in 2018. That event taught me more-useful skills than I ever learned in college about writing a book-length work. College laid the foundation. However, it didn’t teach me how to build a personal writing schedule. It didn’t teach me how to use short writing blocks to knock out massive amounts of prose. It didn’t teach me how to consistently write, even on days when not in the mood.

Real-world experience is always the best teacher.

I am proud to announce what will be my second published book. I hope you all enjoy this one as much as the first. I also hope to hear from new readers.

About the book

Brad and I picked up John James Jacoby to handle the remaining third of the book. Given his background on large-scale projects such as bbPress and BuddyPress, he made a great match to fill in some of the development knowledge gaps we had.

A crap-ton of stuff has changed in the past nine years with WordPress. Our team had to pick up and learn new things like block (Gutenberg) development, the REST API, and more. We also had to scale back things that are no longer as important, such as shortcodes. The book wasn’t a total rewrite, but there was a lot of outdated information that needed a serious overhaul.

We are in the home-stretch of wrapping things up. At the moment, we don’t have a finalized launch date. There is also a pre-order page on Amazon, which has not yet been updated with the correct book details. We don’t have a finalized book cover yet either. A lot of these things are out of our control and handled by the publisher, but I will keep everyone updated as things progress.

Here’s a look at the chapter outline, which could (but shouldn’t) change before publishing:

  1. Introduction
  2. Plugin Framework
  3. Dashboard and Settings
  4. Security and Performance
  5. Hooks
  6. JavaScript
  7. Block Editor / Gutenberg
  8. Content
  9. Users and User Data
  10. Scheduled Tasks
  11. Internationalization
  12. REST API
  13. Multisite
  14. The Kitchen Sink
  15. Debugging and Optimizing
  16. Developer Toolbox and Resources

Feel free to drop us a line or mention the book on social media with the #PluginDevBook hashtag. I’m excited about launching this project and sharing it with you all.