Once I discovered WordPress, I was super excited about its potential, especially over Blogger.com. Then I learned about the coding behind WordPress.com. With a strong desire to customize and customize, I grew unhappy with WordPress.com, and eventually switched to WordPress.org. Then I learned how to hijack php code and manipulate stuff around. Then eventually I grew unhappy with some of the results of just dealing with php and having little luck with SEO. So then I learned of Thesis, and eventually I switched over to Thesis. Then bam! Hooks! I had no idea what to do and where to start. It was as though I was back at square one.
However, there were a few things that helped me learn fairly quickly the major benefits of hooks. First, a must read is Rae Hoffman's Hooks for Dummies. Then seeing it visually is so important! Here are two: ThesisHooks and from FrancisRaymond.com (but both refer to pre-Thesis 1.7).
Plugin #1: Thesis OpenHook
Plugin #2: Thesis Import/Export
You don't realize the importance of backing up until something crashes or until you did something in the custom_functions.php file editor that renders the entire site inoperable or you upgraded a plugin or theme or WordPress itself that makes your site go haywire until it happens. And then all that work starts over! And in Thesis, it is not enough to have the custom folder backed up because of all those minor changes made to the various options. So having the Thesis Import/Export plugin (WordPress Plugin Directory) makes this extremely useful. However, in Thesis 1.7, this plugin is rendered useless as its features are upgraded aesthetically and with an additional option of doing all (Thesis Options, Design Options, and OpenHook Content) and built into the theme under Thesis Options Manager.