Customer Reviews: Drupal 6 Social Networking
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on April 28, 2009
I really like this book, it covers a lot of territory in a very practical way, while also digging into the "why's" of things should be done the way Michael suggests. Understanding the "why's" is important so that if you want your site to do something different, you can make a good decision about the implementation.

The book is also very "satisfying." I'm a deep technical person [...], though don't have much Drupal experience. I was afraid, I'd have to bite my tongue and toothpick my eyes open to read this book for the Drupal specifics. That's not been the case. It's an easy read, interesting, and relevant. I'm currently thinking about a few new social projects, and while I wouldn't go so far to say that you should read this book whatever platform you are deploying on; I would say that you should consider prototyping on Drupal with this book in hand so you could make a better platform decision once you know more about building a social site. (sorry about the run-on sentence!).

I gave it a 4 instead of 5 stars, because there are a few places where there are typos that affect the content, and other places where ideas are used before they're explained, or a final screen shot that brings it all together is missing. I realize it's really boring to read a lot of explanations, and then read about the example, and sometimes it's best to talk about the example, and explain stuff after. It just makes it harder to read because I'm trying to figure out if something will be explained later, or if I need to look online before reading further.

This book has saved me a LOT of time researching Drupal and its plugins on line, so really glad I'm reading it. There were a lot of good references for further reading about the topics discussed AND the topics referenced, but not discussed in the book.
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on July 24, 2009
I'm mystified by who the intended audience of this book is. Its apparent audience is people who want to build a social network site, but who have never built a webpage before. Why a web newbie would want to attempt to build a social network site when they can just get a Ning account is incomprehensible to me. That being said, let me delve into the contents a little bit.

Chapters 1 and 2 are introductions to social networks and drupal. Spend 15 minutes on the Drupal website ([...]), and sign up for a myspace or facebook account. You now have more knowledge than you would by reading chapters 1 and 2.

Chapter 3 tells you how to use the core drupal modules. If you need help pointing and clicking your way through the graphical UI in drupal, this will be useful for you. On the other hand, if you can figure out that clicking an Enable box will enable a module, and that typing a description in the "Description" box will give your module a description, you can safely skip this chapter.

Chapter 4 goes into more details about core modules like Profile and Open ID. Again, this will be useful for an absolute beginner, not so much for a user with any amount of experience with software interfaces. Chapter 4 introduces a new tradition that will be repeated in every chapter hereafter: instructions on downloading and installing a module.

Chapters 5 and 6 can be summed up with, "Get the following modules: User Relationships, Activity, Guestbook, Organic Groups, Views, Notifications, Token, Messaging, and Addresses."

7 and 8 are the truly shocking chapters. Without giving any real detail on the topics of creating custom themes and modules, the author posts page after page of code. For a newbie, this is completely baffling and unhelpful. For a programmer its useless. Just download a module and look at the source. Ditto for the css and php of a custom theme.

In summary, this book is mostly good if you're relatively new to the web and want to start a social networking site. But if you are such a user, I recommend googling "white label social network" and saving yourself a lot of trouble. For the rest of us, skip this book and instead spend a few hours on the drupal developer site.
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VINE VOICEon October 21, 2009
Ryan Schwab's review below is an excellent summary of what's wrong with this. Fundamentally, it's too complicated for a beginner to use to create a Drupal site, and it's too general for a seasoned web developer to use to fine-tune their site. It's a mixture of mind-numbingly simple-yet-compulsory coverage that permeates so many tech books these days (eg. "to save, click save"), and complicated code examples that literally come out of nowhere and have no context for the reader.

About a third of the way into the book, it dawned on me that I wouldn't be able to build a social network based upon its content. I instead looked to various resources on the web, all of which were most useful and succinct in explaining how to install and setup the platform, enables modules, and make customizations. Considering that this a pricey book compared to the O'Reilly equivalents, I was really disappointed that the coverage was so thin.
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on April 8, 2009
I won this book recently at a Drupal group, and I'm finding it more well-written than I anticipated from the title. The pitfall of a lot of technical books that are written toward a specific goal bypass a lot of the framework and foundation that it takes to achieve these goals. It's great for both the Drupal pro and the newcomer because, heck, even the pro can forget a few minor things along the way. The theme of the book is great too - the "sample" it guides you through is a site for people who have dinosaurs as pets. Really, what this book needs is a new title and a picture of a velociraptor doing some Drupal programming.
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on July 2, 2009
I wish I had gotten this book back in January when I first started planning a social network I'm working on! As I read the book, I found myself thinking, "Wow, this is perfect! I had no idea adding X was so easy!" I kept reading and quickly realized I was doing that for almost every section.

# Great for teaching the proper way to run a website - not just social networks, but any site that has more than one user.

# Step by step instructions with an example website to follow along, but still easy to understand what's going on without actually making their website.

# Helps teach different ways to build user interaction with administrators, other users and the website in general.

# There are a number of areas where you are taught to make a module, but the book explains that it's not doing it the right way. I imagine it could take too long to explain the "right" way, but it's annoying none the less.

# This book may not be too basic for Drupal Ninjas who already know the modules and processes needed to create and manage the topics covered.

# If you don't already know Drupal, the introduction might be too steep.

# There were a number of places where the book says "this module isn't yet available for Drupal 6, but keep checking the website for updates!" It may be potentially helpful, but I eventually found it annoying.

# There is a section where there are pages upon pages of code. I can't imagine why we need that printed in the book since the only reason for the code is to actually follow along with the example (and you'd have the real files for that). Huge waste of paper and time going through that.

CONCLUSION: There are more cons than pros, but the pros are significantly stronger points than the cons. This is a great book to read after Using Drupal. I can't begin to say how much it's helped me so far, and I'm confident that it's tips for modules and user interaction will influence how I build nearly every other website I make from this point on. If Using Drupal is 10/10, I can safely say that Drupal 6 Social Networking is 8/10.

(Originally posted at [...]
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on July 6, 2010
This is a great book for beginners that is in need of an update. This is no fault of the author. I imagine that at the time that it was first published it was a fantastic guide. However, because of the constant changes in Drupal modules and code it is now somewhat out of date. Many of the modules have been significantly changed, replaced or discontinued and the intended functionality doesn't work as indicated in the book. The errata has not been updated to account for this problem. The author also sometimes jumps over an important part of an explanation that leaves you stranded for a time. This can be extremely frustrating to a beginner for whom the book is written because Drupal is anything but intuitive. It is also why a book such as this is so important.

Because of the constant code changes in Drupal there are now also some serious incompatibilities among certain presently functioning modules that are not explained because they probably did not exist at the time of this book's publication. This causes considerable frustration and days of debugging and begging in the Drupal forums for help.

However, this book does a wonderful job of introducing Drupal 6 as well as its application to social networking. As an overview of the process it is still excellent, but as a detailed guide to creating a working site it is somewhat dated to be used right off the shelf. I would hope that the author would write an update or maintain an active errata to discuss revisions because his style is very clear and educational. He is an excellent presenter.
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on March 20, 2009
I recently got a copy of this book from Packtpub and went through it, working through the material on my local WAMP install. I have to say that this is one of the best newbie books out there for Drupal. While I'm not a Drupal newbie, I enjoyed this book and can see the benefit it would hold for any audience.

The author assumes that you have no knowledge of Drupal and walks you step by step from the beginning of the install to configuring your website, to adding the functionality needed to start building a social networking site.

The directions are simple and easy to follow, but beyond giving directions, the author explains the "why" of doing things, which is great when you're thinking of moving forward. This book will serve as a great launching pad for anyone thinking of building not just a social networking site, but really anything with Drupal, because it gives you a good hands on experience building a Drupal website.

If you're experienced in Drupal you may want to skip the first couple of chapters, but there's something to be learned from this book no matter your level of experience.
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on August 23, 2009
For those of us learning how to create a social network using the Drupal CMS, this is a good first step. As Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6 is a good first step for non Drupal familiar web designers to get started with Drupal, this is the ideal next step in the process of creating a social network using Drupal.

Unfortunately this book only covers some of the bare components of social networking, the ones it does cover will give you a good idea of how to start, and where you can move on from there. Don't be mistaken that you will be creating the next Facebook once finishing this book, but you will be able to add some social networking components to your website, and enhance it's use.
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on November 18, 2009
I was a little worried at first because the book is so long (almost 300 pages). The book is a little wordy but covers the topic just fine. Like a few other people have mentioned, I do not think the book targeted any specific audience very well. As a long time programmer and web application developer I was able to breeze through the book with very few problems.

The books says it is for anyone who is interested in creating a social networking web site. I highly doubt a complete newbie could pull this off though.
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on March 19, 2011
I found the recipes for achieving social media functionality on Drupal 6 to be helpful. The parts and kbnowledge can also be applied to other applications.
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