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3.8 out of 5 stars
Pro Drupal Development, Second Edition
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a review for the second edition, covering Drupal 6.

I have read only the first 3 chapters, but did read the 1st edition cover-to-cover.

The first thing to know is that while reading this, if you are working through the examples, you will want to have the Drupal API handy ([...]) as there are infrequent calls to depreciated functions such as variable_delete() instead of the current variable_del() that may make the learning process more difficult for people in the novice to early-intermediate range that aren't familiar with the API pages. So far the only other complaint I can make is that VanDyk's adherence to Drupal coding standards is spotty. I won't mention and specific examples of this as they don't make or break any of the code, but being a person who (tries to) strictly adhere to a given set of standards, found that to be a little bit annoying. Overall, this title would have benefited from an extra proofing by the sort of person who would read it in the first place.

This is the type of book in which a reader would benefit from an initial read-through before they would start coding. There are several front references that make more sense with better context.

As stated in general terms, this is my second reading of this book and find the updated version to be an excellent primer on the core pieces of Drupal, building modules and the theme system and have and will recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about Drupal in spite of it's relatively few and small problems.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you're new to Drupal and just want to learn how to be an effective admin, this isn't for you.

If you're looking to customize Drupal by adding new functionality, new node types, advanced themeing the **you must get this book**.

Clearly written. Useful examples. Accurate. Detailed backmatter for professional Drupal coding practices.

I've used Drupal since v. 4.7, since 2005. My copy of this book's first edition is dogeared and well-thumbed. This second edition is even better, and I keep it right by my desk. It's helped me out of many a jam.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been reading this book thoroughly. Normally I would give it 5 of 5 but...

I've found more than a few minor grammer errors (which are basically annoying and easily avoidable with careful editing), path errors in the text are a bit more troubling, and most disconcerting, some of the examples I am most interested in do not work, in fact, one in particular breaks my clean drupal 6.4 build. So far attempts to contact the author and publisher have been unsuccessful.

I am also rather suprized in the lack of
1.) "here is what v.5 of drupal did, and here is how it is in drupal 6"... type stuff than you might expect.
2.) Not too much time spent on explaining javascript use in drupal, other than jquery. Does using drupal 6 mean we always use jquery?
3.) the short xml-rpc chapter might disappoint people interested in web services with drupal.

Normally I buy a new book because I want to learn how to develop a specific programming solution. I read the book and work thru the relevant examples. Lots of times I start with the given examples and play with them to learn how things work. I couldn't do that with some key examples in this book - out of the box - with a clean drupal 6.4 build.

All in all I'd say efforts to edit this book and test examples was not as rigorous as I would expect from Apress. I'm working thru the Apress error reporting process, but how satisfying is that??

I'd still recommend this book, and I'm glad I bought it. But it might be good to also have the 1st edition, especially if you work on drupal 5 and 6 sites.

-1 star for general typos in text, general editing
-1 star for code example not working
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Drupal's online documentation leaves something to be desired. It is so difficult to find detailed and complete, step-by-step, online tutorials of exactly how to customize Drupal via its API using PHP. Because of this, my first Drupal rollout was a little hodgepodge - some CCK work, combined some piecemeal code mined from online, combined with contributed modules to do other things, even [dare I say] a few module hacks. Nowhere could I find straightforward A-to-Z instructions, "Here is how you create a Module. Here is how you make that Module create Nodes, Forms, and Blocks" and so on. This book does that with flying colors.

I initially powered through "Leveraging Drupal" from Wrox Press in a few days. Certainly helpful in some areas, but that book is very high-level - remaining largely in the browser-based realm of Drupal customization. I really needed a book that delved deep into Drupal's API, had a tutorial-like style, solid working code examples, and remaining largely on the PHP level. Pro Drupal Development was that very breath of fresh air. Reading the chapters on Nodes and the Forms API immediately got me through several roadblocks and allowed me to get the project's timeline back on track.

Because of this book, I can now remove all the hodgepodge with CCK and hacked modules, and move all customizations entirely to the PHP level.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I don't like reading programming books. I've been developing software for over 20 years with a dozen different languages so I've no patience for wading through obligatory "Hello, world" exercises and elementary programming examples. But with Drupal having such a bizarre API I forced myself to start reading Pro Drupal Development from the beginning rather than cherry picking the data as I normally do.

If you're an experienced developer, Pro Drupal Development is just what you're looking for. From the first chapter, Van Dyk immerses you in the myriad details of Drupal module development -- its hook architecture, the Forms API, content types and how to extend other modules. By the end of Chapter 1 you will have already created a pretty useful module. In fact, there are several very nice module projects in this book. By the time you turn the last page you will have a fairly in-depth knowledge of nearly every facet of Drupal development, from theming to caching to security to localization to JQuery.

Beware: this isn't a book for novice developers nor those new to PHP and SQL. On the other hand, experienced developers are going to find themselves having to unlearn some habits and assumptions in order to make full use Drupal 6's heavyweight APIs.

Thanks to this book and three months of spare time, I'm just now putting the final polish on a fairly complex Drupal 6 module for warehousing, searching and geolocating RSS feeds.

My only criticism is that I originally bought the First Edition (for Drupal 5) about two weeks before Drupal 6 went into production release. So I had to buy the Second Edition as well and I read it cover to cover too. I suspect I'll be handing over the plastic when Drupal 7 is released as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a Drupal developer for more than 2 years now, I can tell that this is a very good book for any Drupal developer - from beginner to advanced. One could always benefit from it.
Its coverage of material and the depth each chapter go into are excellent. Not too deep, not too shallow, and covering lots of aspect of Drupal.
I've read also its predecessor book, covering almost the same stuff but for Drupal 5 and this book follows the footsteps of the previous book. I've also read some of "Drupal 6 module development" book (Learning Drupal 6 Module Development: A practical tutorial for creating your first Drupal 6 modules with PHP) but this book is simply better by showing both the bigger picture on how Drupal 6 works, and also in its coverage of materials and subjects.
If you're a Drupal developer of any level, this book would fit you. I'm not sure this is the best buy for Drupal designer, administrator or content writer (etc.).

Enjoy.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Being new to the Drupal scene, I found this book very informative and helps me a lot to get up to speed.

I love the author's no nonsense approach. After giving a brief overview of Drupal in Chapter 1, I am taken into action by developing a module right away. I particularly love the facts that the author walks me through throughout the book by using very practical examples, flowcharts and diagrams. The book appears to cover lot of grounds, if not all, for Drupal.

I only read through a few selective chapters and now I already have a good grip in hooks, nodes, menu system and theme developments.

Sure you can learn on-line but nothing beats a good old-fashion medium by presenting all information in one single well-organized book. If you are a web developer and can only afford one book, make it this one. The time you save in learning pays for itself!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Having just cracked the basics of Drupal, this book (now covering Drupal 6) is fantastic both for reference and as a training manual to go to the next step. Some of the content is very advanced, but if you're looking to understand theming, nifty JS (jQuery) tricks and writing your own modules then this is definitely for you. With Drupal 7 threatening to appear in the next 6 months, I wouldn't hand around for another book - go for this and get stuck in.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am still new to Drupal, and have not yet finished reading this book, but I am very grateful to have it. The book walks through the process of modifying or adding features to Drupal sites in a somewhat dense but highly effective manner. It covers a great deal of gound, starting with an overview of how Drupal works, to creating modules, dealing with hooks, the menu system, working with databases, users, nodes, theming, blocks, forms, filters, taxonomy, caching, jQuery, localization, security, optimization, and best practices in development (and I've skipped a few chapters!) It also includes a database table reference, and a useful list of resources.

Some reviewers have criticized this book for not following standards and for various errors. I'm not qualified to comment on that, other than to say I can't imagine doing many of the things this book goes over without having it at hand as a reference. Drupal's online documentation is helpful in a pinch, but I don't find it very usable as a learning tool.

If you're not comfortable with PHP, you should study that before attempting this book. If you're a designer or a content editor, you'll probably find this book way over your head. If you're brand new to Drupal, I would suggest O'Reilly's "Using Drupal" rather than this book as a starting point. But if you are comfortable reading and writing code and want to do more with Drupal than it does out of the starting gate, this book is a must-have.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book far exceeded my expectations. I've read the documentation on the forms and menu APIs for Drupal and it never sunk in. The explanations in Pro Drupal Dev are so clear, it really puts the pieces together.

This is not a book for someone who is just trying to get a site up and running, or manage a site that's been built for you (obviously).

But if you actually build sites and yet you're still confused by hook_form_alter() or simply have no idea what it is, you need this book. I can't believe I put off owning it for so long.
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