I've been wanting to check out the OpenX Ad Server open source project for a while now, but have never gotten around to it. This weekend I finally decided to install it and see what it's all about. I noticed Packt Publishing has a book called "OpenX Ad Server: Beginner's Guide" that promises to guide me through building and maintaining an OpenX ad server, so I decided to get introduced to the project through this book.
The book is pretty straightforward, and doesn't require a lot of technical knowledge. Some basic knowledge of the LAMP stack and HTML might be advised, but that's it.
In the first chapter, author Murat Yilmaz explains how to perform the installation process to get started with your own OpenX website. The instructions are written for OpenX 2.8.3, though the most recent version of OpenX is currently 2.8.5. It seems like the installation process has been changed significantly between those versions, so that's something to be careful about. However most users should be able to complete the installation without any problems.
In the second chapter we go immediately through the whole process of adding a banner to an advertiser campaign, and include the invocation code on our website. This helps to easily understand the whole flow, without going into much detail for each individual step, since these details are fleshed out in the following chapters.
Chapter 3 to 5 takes the reader right into detail about the main concepts of OpenX: adding advertisers and campaigns, managing banners in campaigns and adding websites and zones to your OpenX installation. The author takes his time to explain how everything works, and repeats the steps taken after each chapter.
In the 6th chapter we go about creating channels in OpenX. I feel this chapter could have used some more in depth information, since the purpose of this functionality wasn't immediately clear to me. Perhaps some hands on experimentation with the feature will clear things up a little bit more.
Chapter 7 and 8 are focussed on how to use the user management functionalities in OpenX, to give targeted access to your managers, advertisers and website maintainers for managing the parts of the ad system that are relevant to them.
In the ending chapters the author gives us more details on how to keep our OpenX installation up to date, and how to easily view and export reports about our advertisement server.
There were some minor details that bugged me while reading the book, such as the spelling and language mistakes that appeared a bit too often, and the fact that the "What just happened" block seemed rather obsolete in smaller chapters, since it repeats what I read a minute ago (even though I assume repetition helps really novice users to better understand everything, it kind of annoyed me).
Overall I can conclude that this book provides an easily understandable step-by-step guide to help you set up an advertisement server to control the ads on your website(s) in a professional way. The concrete examples and use cases made it a nice read and a great starting point to get me interested in this open source product.