“Joomla Programming might take you a month to read, but will give you at least two back in increased productivity when programming for Joomla”
A book that has been in writing for quite a while now, but has finally hit the shelves: Joomla Programming by Mark Dexter and Louis Landry. This book gives a step-by-step course on how you can learn to develop extensions for Joomla 2.5. The authors are actually well-known names in the Joomla community. Mark started using Joomla in 2008 (after running a software company for 28 years) and is currently a member of the Production Leadership Team and leader of the Joomla Bug Squad. Louis on the other hand has been a major design architect for Joomla over the last five years and wrote a large part of the Joomla framework for versions 1.5 and 1.6.
With 558 pages of technical information, Joomla Programming isn’t an easy book to get through. Even though the authors state that “This book assumes that you know nothing whatsoever about PHP or MySQL programming. Everything is explained from the ground up.” (which is true, by the way) I can imagine explanations of how the Joomla Execution Cycle works or how Joomla communicates with the database can be pretty daunting for less experienced PHP / Joomla users. To be fair, the authors did include a twenty page crash course on PHP development in an Appendix for anyone that needs to freshen up their PHP skills.
In my opinion Joomla Programming doesn’t really add a lot of information to the material that is already available online on this subject. However, by providing and repeating a consistent structure in the content (general information, code, explanation) and giving us a smooth learning curve for the material, it adds clarity and insight. Given the rather large amount of code that you’ll have to master in order to develop custom components (modules and plugins require less code), some extra clarity and insight will come in very handy.
Even good books like this have some downsides. For example it’s very noticable at some points in the book that the book was initially written for 1.6, then for 1.7 and finally finished for 2.5. The books also contains a fairly large amount of spelling and style errors (even noticable by a non-native English speaker such as myself). However, at no point in the book these issues become bothersome or hinder the learning experience.
Currently this book is the only one of its kind on the market and as stated before it was written by some of the very guys who are developing and maintaining the Joomla core. In my opinion that makes this book the most efficient way to learn how to code extensions for Joomla properly and I would therefore advise it to everyone looking to venture into that world.