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Keywords: CMS, web development, PHP
Title: Mambo - Visual Blueprint
Author: Ric Shreves
Verdict: An excellent tutorial for Mambo users
Mambo is an open source content management system (CMS), authored using PHP and running on the Apache web server. It's a popular and flexible system with a healthy user community and plenty of support. However, for all the ease of use and configurability, a system like Mambo is still a complex bit of software and it takes some work to get the best out of it. The danger with Mambo and similar systems (such as PHP-Nuke), is that it's easy to just dive in and get something that sort-of works. The aim of the Mambo: Visual Blueprint is to provide readers with a fast way into configuring and getting the best out of Mambo.
The book is clearly aimed at users rather than developers or system administrators. This means the emphasis is less on how to extend the system with new code or hacking into the PHP source or how to best set up Apache and MySQL, and more on how to use Mambo to create a dynamic, interactive web site. Although installation is covered in an appendix, the starting point of the book is post-installation, when the system is up and running and ready to be configured and set up for your site.
As part of Wiley's 'visual blueprint' series, the book is structured around sets of tasks - managing Mambo templates, User admin, section and categories etc. These tasks are broken down into sub-tasks which are clearly illustrated using extensive screen shots with lots of annotations to point out the important features. This strong visual element is backed up with concise and focused text which explains not just the steps but also the underlying reasoning behind the actions being taken. The combination of visual images and clear explanations make the book function as an extremely effective tutorial and help file.
The range of material covered is pretty thorough, and includes instructions on back and restore of a site, performance optimisations, extending Mambo with Mambots and other additional material. There's even coverage of how to add Google Adsense to your site.
While this isn't the book for developers or super-users, for web masters wanting to learn about Mambo, or existing users wanting to go a level deeper, this is a great tutorial and reference.