Using Drupal

Author(s): Angela Byron Addison Berry Nathan Haug Jeff Eaton James Walker Jeff Robbins
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Pages: 494
ISBN: 978-0596515805
ASIN: 0596515804
Release Date: 26th December 2008


Anyone considering the development of a Drupal website for the first time has a plethora of instruction manuals to consider before parting with their hard-earned cash. Industry insiders know that any title published under the O'Reilly banner will undoubtedly be good, and Using Drupal doesn't buck that particular trend. Obviously any reference book cannot possibly cater for every reader's circumstance, so it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses before committing to a purchase.

Using Drupal is aimed squarely at a Drupal Administrator newcomer - that is, someone fresh to Drupal who has some IT experience, but not necessarily in development, and not necessarily with any coding behind them. In short, someone with little experience but with big ambition and a desire to build complete websites with complex functionality in a short space of time.

In that respect Using Drupal cannot be faulted. The first chapter is dedicated to an overview of Drupal and the features it offers. Chapter 2 moves the reader into the first of many 'case studies' - exercises for the reader to follow on their own rig. At the completion of this chapter the reader will be capable of developing a basic website containing a blog and custom pages with additional themes and modules loaded and configured.

The third chapter heralds quite a ratcheting with the introduction of custom content types and the Views and CCK modules. Subsequent chapters develop these ideas further with greater sophistication including examples using ecommerce and theming.

At no time during the reading of this book - and I read it originally as a Drupal novice - did I feel I was being rushed, and the layout and explanations made perfect sense. There is little to fault this book, but it must be remembered it is ostensibly aimed at Drupal newbie level. Having said that I have also used it as a reference to dip back in when I couldn't remember how to accomplish various tasks.

The book's major shortcoming is it totally eschews any conversation on the subject of PHP coding. It could be argued that this would be outside the scope of the book, but in my experience even basic Drupal theming requires some knowledge of PHP, and by that fact its omission downgrades the book slightly. On the whole, though, an excellent starter for any budding Drupal web builder and one wholeheartedly recommended.