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Kickstart your SilverStripe development skills – Review: SilverStripe 2.4 – Module Extension, Themes and Widgets

By Michael in Web, Web development

July 29, 2011

At our studio, we’ve recently fallen in love with the wonderful SilverStripe CMS. So far we’ve been using the official book as a reference but found ourselves mainly digging through the forums & SSbits to get up to speed. So when the latest (second) book about SilverStripe was recently put up for review by its author, Philipp Krenn, we were very interested.


At first we weren’t quite sure if we belonged to the intended audience. The cover of the book on the one hand says it to be a “beginner’s guide”, and on the other hand mentions creating silverstripe applications and extending modules. But going through the book, we found it to a very nice read, offering something to pick up for new up to more or less seasoned developers.


What’s covered?

The book consists out of 10 chapters. The first chapter gives an overview of SilverStripe and its ecosystem. Chapter 2 to 5 roughly cover the basics of building websites and adjusting the system to your needs. Chapter 6 and onward advance further into widgets, modules, forms and localization & internationalization.


One aspect we didn’t pick up in the official book and still found lacking after reading this, is how to extend the system beyond regular websites (the ‘applications’ in the subtitle). Luckily, after some googling we found out there’s a downloadable 11th chapter which gives a few examples of doing this.


Why another SilverStripe book?

While the SilverStripe documentation covers the basics very well, it can be quite a big step from building simple websites to writing you own modules or adjusting existing code to suit your needs. That, to us is exactly the gap filled by this book. It gives a good overview of the possibilities and even takes this a bit further than the earlier book by showing some more advanced code examples. A lot of the examples can also be found online, but there they’re mostly “how to’s” — In the book, the author also informs you about the why of a lot of choices, along with clear examples, thereby guarding you from some pitfalls you might otherwise encounter.


A lot of the development patterns covered get put in a broader perspective; for people starting with development in Sapphire, it is for example often explained why things should be coded in a certain way (from a plain PHP perspective). So a nice extra is that one may pick up a lot of best practices along the way.


What do we think?

If you’re looking to kickstart your SilverStripe skills to a medium-advanced level, “SilverStripe 2.4 – Module Extension, Themes and Widgets” is for you. It gives a clear, lively overview of the SilverStripe landscape and possibilities. The author clearly has lots of experience with the framework and knows his way through the framework. The book is packed with practical examples and you’re guaranteed to pick up lots of tips & tricks you didn’t know before (at least we did).


Now go get the book: http://www.packtpub.com/silverstripe-2-4-module-extension-themes-and-widgets/book

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