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Book review of "TYPO3 4.3 Multimedia Cookbook" by Dan Osipov

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The title "TYPO3 4.3 Multimedia Cookbook" by Dan Osipov is another book about TYPO3 published by Packt Publishing in January 2010. It's generally good to see more English books about TYPO3 in the market since there are still very few compared to German publications. The topic of cooking multimedia in TYPO3 is nowadays very relevant, since the demand to manage rich media in content management systems grows and there's no other publication in the English book market with the same focus. So let's see what's in...

Book cover image

Osipov, Dan (2010): "TYPO3 4.3 Multimedia Cookbook". Birmingham: Packt Publishing

Content

The first three chapters flip through the setup of a basic TYPO3 system followed by an introduction to digital asset management (DAM) in TYPO3. This helps newbies to set up a working environment. Next, the facets of metadata in DAM are discussed and it clearly turns out that the author is very familiar with the insides of DAM. That's not very surprising, because Dan is the leader of the DAM project and has put a lot of work into the DAM extension.

Chapter 4 "Rendering Images" gives an insight of different ways to handle images in TYPO3. It discusses common core features like the IMAGE cObject or the rich text editor (RTE) as well as the image handling by popular 3rd party extensions. In a similar way, video and audio content get discussed in chapter 5.

Chapter 6 is about connecting to external APIs like Amazon S3, Flickr and YouTube. The book now starts to take the reader into the insights of handling multimedia assets on a very professional level. It shows how to connect to 3rd party providers by coding TYPO3 extensions to use external webservices. This is good to see, because the use of webservices rapidly grows. Being able to connect to 3rd party APIs in the web becomes more and more essential.

In the next chapter, we learn how to tightly integrate assets in TYPO3 by writing services. The examples discuss how to extract metadata from OpenOffice and audio files by writing an importer extension. It also shows how to write on-the-fly-converter for FLV and audio files. Finally, we see how extJS is used as a framework to build modern user interfaces for TYPO3.

The last chapter discusses best practices to automatize tasks. It shows how to use the TYPO3 scheduler to download and index files from an FTP server on a regular basis. Dan finaly demonstrates the handling of geolocation information in images by extracting the country tag from the metadata and use it as a category.

Structure

The book is divided in 8 chapters with total of 212 pages. Its structure follows a common theme, starting with general topics and ending with more complex and technically deeper questions. Although the book title clearly promises cookbook recipes, the book itself does not entirely fulfil this promise. It rather discusses its topics in continuous chapters than in recipes. I would have expected some more independent topics, since many other cookbooks in the market of technical books do that.

The most annoying bug in the book is the lack of proper numbering of chapters. The book is full of references to other chapters. With the flat numbering scheme of one layer, you are forced to heavily browse the table of contents to find the reference targets. Unfortunately that seems to be common for books by Packt. Grrr. Readability is also bad in some source code examples of the book. Half a page of source code without emphasis or line breaks is simply an imposition (p. 113). Call me a nitpicker, but these issues appeared in each of the four Packt books I read so far.

What's missing?

The chapter on "Rendering Images" misses information about the GIFBUILDER, which is an essential and widely used multimedia feature of TypoScript. The same for ImageMagick, which is heavily used for image manipulation in TYPO3 and should not be missing in a TYPO3 multimedia book. Finally, the forthcoming media features of HTML5 are not included in the book, but could have been introduced as a peview for the multimedia web standard of the future.

Summary

The book helps to solve common real life problems by applying advanced and state-of-the-art techniques. It successfully manages to balance different degrees of difficulty from getting started to managing complex and specialized tasks in the multimedia web. That means in practice: handling the TYPO3 backend by using appropriate backend modules and 3rd party extensions, utilize TypoScript up to coding advanced extensions with PHP, extJS and 3rd party webservice integration.
The overall quality of the book suffers from Packts common structuring of the content. Although this is not the fault of the author or the book itself, it left an unpleasant spot on a generally well elaborated and profound book which is unique in its topic. So +1 from me if you are in need for a book on this special topic.

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Comments

  1. Johnny

    Nice review, I liked the book very much.

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