A few days ago, I hit the jackpot. See, Daan asked me to review the upcoming Second Edition release of the Up and Running WordPress development course. Given that I was already interested to learn WordPress development before that request, getting the chance to write an Up and Running review was, well, like hitting the jackpot.
If you’re not familiar, Up and Running is a WordPress development course from Fred and David of WPShout, a popular WordPress tutorial website.
Up and Running is designed so that, as long as you’ve got your feet wet with a little HTML/CSS/PHP knowledge, you’ll learn everything you need to apply that knowledge to both WordPress theme and plugin development.
So what’s new in the Second Edition? A new team member (Alex), updates to make everything current with 2017, added chapters, and over 30 new tutorial videos. Yup, a lot of changes!
In my review of Up and Running, I’m going to cover three main topics:
- What type of person will get the most value from Up and Running?
- What content is included in Up and Running?
- What do I personally like about Up and Running from the time I’ve spent with the course?
Who Should Sign Up For Up and Running?
Up and Running is designed for people with no WordPress development knowledge...but it’s not necessarily designed for people with absolutely zero web development knowledge.
That is, Up and Running is focused specifically on WordPress development. But it will not teach you basic HTML, CSS, or PHP, all concepts you need at least a shallow understanding of to make your way through the course (the Premium tier does have some videos on the subject, though).
With that being said, you don’t need to be a coding whiz to enroll in Up and Running.
I actually think my own coding knowledge level is perfect for the course. I know the basics - I can set up a simple web page and use CSS to style it. But I’m far from a seasoned developer.
As I made my way through the first 5 chapters, I felt a perfect balance between:
- Knowing enough of the basic knowledge to intelligently follow along.
- Learning tons of new things (I finally understand the interplay between HTML and PHP in WordPress!).
So, if you already know some basic web development (emphasis on basic - remember, you don’t need to be a master yet), you’re at the perfect stage to benefit from Up and Running.
If you don’t know how to, say, create a <div> and change its design and positioning with CSS, you should probably get a few Codecademy lessons under your belt before you try to dig into Up and Running.
What Will You Learn in Up and Running?
Up and Running is divided into three different tiers.
In the Core tier, you get access to a book (available as a PDF or interactive website) that takes you through every aspect of WordPress development. That means you’ll learn:
- The Fundamentals of WordPress - how WordPress works to build web pages (at a technical level). Covering everything from programming languages to server architecture to basic database structure.
- Core Concepts of WordPress Themes and Plugins - the anatomy of a WordPress theme and core concepts like template hierarchy, “the loop,” and functions.php.
- How WordPress “Talks” - hooks, actions, filters, custom scripts, child themes, etc.
- WordPress Tags - template tags and conditional tags.
- WordPress Patterns - how to create custom post templates, shortcodes, and more.
- Custom Post Data - when and how to use custom post types and taxonomies.
- WordPress APIs - widget and menu areas, transients, and more.
Basically, the Core tier by itself is designed to be enough to learn WordPress development.
If you want to go even further, there’s also the:
- Deluxe tier - Three screencast series - “Making a Child Theme”, “Making a Theme from Scratch”, “Writing a Plugin”. As well as interviews with 13 expert WordPress developers.
What Do I Like About Up and Running?
Full disclosure - I haven’t finished the course yet. Unfortunately, I can’t spend all my time learning WordPress development because my clients actually prefer that I meet their deadlines.
But I have fully worked through the first 5 chapters of the core book, as well as sampled some of the premium screencast content.
Here are my thoughts so far:
The Course Covers Everything WordPress Development, Down to the Basics
I know I told you that you need some basic web development to follow along with Up and Running, but that’s really all you need. As far as WordPress development goes, the course walks you through everything from the beginning.
Even as someone who’s already fairly proficient with WordPress, it was helpful to start at the beginning and learn the fundamentals of common WordPress concepts like post types.
These are things I sort of “knew” from working with WordPress, but I’d never formally learned them...if that makes sense. Now, I feel like I have a fundamental understanding of the machinery behind WordPress.
The Writing is Engaging and Relatable
Raise your hand if you liked reading textbooks in school. If you’re raising your hand, kudos to you...but my arms are clenched firmly against my sides.
Thankfully, Up and Running is not written like a textbook. Instead, it’s written like your friend is sitting across from you at the coffee shop teaching you WordPress development.
In addition to a generally engaging writing style, that means:
- Lots of analogies to relate abstract WordPress concepts to more easily understandable examples from daily life. For example, one of the first chapters is on WordPress as a “factory”.
- Summary limericks at the end of each chapter. Ok, these might not enhance learning that much, but I appreciate the effort (and the humor!).
I sampled some of the bonus videos and the style is similarly engaging. It’s easy to stay focused when David is talking about his “magic bag of posts” and so on.
No Matter How You Learn, There’s Something For You
It’s pretty common knowledge that people learn in different ways. Some people like visual learning, some people prefer to listen, some people prefer to read...you get the point.
With some courses, you’d be stuck with whatever method the authors preferred. But not with Up and Running.
Up and Running incorporates:
- Visuals (expect plenty of diagrams and graphics)
So no matter how you learn best, Up and Running has content to help you.
Best of all, you actually get two different versions of the main book:
- A downloadable PDF version.
- An interactive web version with videos from Alex and David (Note- the videos are only available on the Premium tier and above, though the regular website version is available on all plans).
I prefer learning via text, so I went straight to the PDF version (sorry, Alex!). But if you like video and audio, you can go over each chapter with Alex explaining everything at the top of the page:
How Much Does Up and Running Cost?
Here’s a quick summary of pricing for the different tiers:
- Core - $59
- Premium - $124
- Deluxe - $249
And here’s a detailed breakdown of what each tier includes:
I got access to the Deluxe tier, which lets me say that the video series of David building a theme from scratch is incredibly helpful.
Honestly, if you want the best way to learn WordPress development, the two Deluxe screencasts are your best bet. Yes, it's the most expensive tier, but you're getting tons of added value for that price. In addition to those screencasts, you also get exclusive interviews with popular developers like Pippin Williamson, Tom McFarlin, and more.
I don't think you'll find a video of someone creating a theme from scratch, complete with explanations and instructions, anywhere else. The theme creation screencast alone is 28 different 3-10 minute videos!
But if that’s out of your price range, the Core tier is still a viable route to learn WordPress development.
Again, it teaches you everything you need, you just don’t get the helpfulness of seeing someone build a theme from scratch alongside all of the theoretical content.
Wrapping Things Up - Learn WordPress Development
Look, I don’t think I need to sell you on the quality of the knowledge in this book. WPShout has been publishing WordPress tutorials for a long time - all you need to do is head there and read some of their blog posts to understand that the authors know about WordPress development.
If you’ve been wanting to learn WordPress development, or if you’ve been hacking your way through WordPress with piecemeal tutorials, I think Up and Running is the perfect way to learn because everything you need is collected in one place.
I know I’ll be finishing the course as quickly as my schedule allows. And if you want to learn more about WordPress development, I think you should sign up and join me. Even if you don’t have plans to become a professional WordPress developer, this is knowledge that will greatly help you manage and improve your own WordPress site.