Remember the days when software came in a big box with one small disc, lots of loose paper and a big, thick manual? Nowadays software is often downloaded with just a mouse click, which means no paper warranty to mislay and no manual to flick through. This leaves an opening for companies that want to sell you that missing manual. Invision Power Board 2: A User Guide from Packt Publishing is just such a book.
Chapter 1 gives you and overview of IPB, its history and its benefits. Ideally I would be nice to seen a comparison of IPB to rival forums, especially as most of IPBs rivals are given away free, but that would have distracted from the book? “manual” status.
Chapter 2 explains your options for purchasing IPB (it’s a minimum of $70) and then installing it. The whole procedure is not difficult and the book covers it in less than 10 pages.
Chapter 3 takes you through what the user will see. You get a tour that includes posting, searching, messaging and also the Calendar and the User Control Panel. Its easy to see how a relatively long chapter like this (nearly 30 pages) could be a great help to someone setting up an IPB for the first time.
Chapter 4 does the same for the administration section and is equally comprehensive. It is in Chapters 5 and 6 that the book moves from introducing us to IPB to telling us how to run a live site. These sections cover more advanced forum control and by the end I felt that a beginner would have had few problems following the explanations.
Chapter 7 is different from the rest of the book because it contains general advice on how to run a successful forum. Chapter 8 is the only part of the book that approaches IPB from anything like a technical angle. It explains how to manage the site’s skins and includes a discussion of how IPB achieves certain effects using CSS, XHTML and Macros.
All-in-all, IPB2AUG does what it does remarkably well. The book is small but well-written with copious images. Someone working quickly could use this book to set up and understand a site within 4 or 5 hours. How often could you say that about the brick-like book that you used to get out of the box?