At WordCamp Las Vegas recent, Matt Mullenweg announced the new WordPress Handbook. I chatted with him about the future of WordPress documentation, the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, and this new handbook.
For those still unfamiliar with the invaluable resource for WordPress users, the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, it has long been the best place to find WordPress tips, techniques, instructions, guides, and technical articles. A few years ago, I wrote a A Guide to the WordPress Codex, to help WordPress users understand how the Codex works.
The new WordPress Handbook is in the early stages of conception and development. It will be based upon the successful online book, Version Control with Subversion by Ben Collins-Sussman, Brian W. Fitzpatrick, C. Michael Pilato. I covered more details and specifics in WordPress Handbook Project.
The idea behind the WordPress Handbook is not to replace the WordPress Codex but to add a core basic guide to using WordPress.
The content will feature basic step-by-step instructions on writing posts, embedding images and multimedia, using categories and tags, Themes, Plugins, and the day-to-day tasks of using WordPress.
By using Subversion (SVN) (Wikipedia), core documentation on the basics of using WordPress can be directly tied to the WordPress code, allowing for fast updating and feature addition to the documentation.
Subversion features easy updating for version specific content within the documentation, linking to the online handbook directly from WordPress based upon version, and branching into version specific guides. It includes 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 branches, while continuing to allow community participation and checks and balances in the documentation.
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 customization and design version and developer version will follow.
The WordPress Codex will continue to exist, and, in fact, expand to continue to include documentation beyond the basics, offering indepth articles and analysis of how to use and work with WordPress. I see the WordPress Codex as becoming a highly technical and historical guide to WordPress, complemented by the basics within the new Handbooks.
More information on the WordPress Handbook project will be forthcoming. If you would like to join the WordPress Codex Documentation Team, sign up on the WordPress Documentation mailing list. You can learn more about contributing to WordPress and the WordPress Codex through the Community Portal on the Codex, the About Codex, How to Contribute, and Codex Guidelines pages.