Customer Review

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be everyone's second Drupal book, December 21, 2008
This review is from: Using Drupal (Paperback)
I'm just learning Drupal and this book has been invaluable. Via a "case study" approach, Using Drupal shows you many well-trodden paths through the Drupal forest using off-the-shelf modules to build out 9 sites.

As a Drupal newcomer comfortable writing code (like me), your first instinct will probably be to start adding PHP to your theme, your blocks, etc. to do what you want. Using Drupal shows you how other developers have solved many common problems/features and packaged up the solutions as modules. It's like being able to start out on your first solo project after being on a team that has already completed 9 Drupal projects. You'll already have a set of "tried and true" design patterns to leverage and know how Drupal sites tend to be built.

Using Drupal can only cover a handful of the numerous Drupal modules out there, but it saves you time by pointing out some of the most useful and commonly-used modules and showing you how to use them in practical situations.

This book is not a comprehensive introduction to the basics (how to install Drupal, basic configuration, etc.), but once you have the basics and want to start "Using Drupal" on real projects, this should be your next read.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 5, 2009 8:01:14 PM PST
Samut says:
What would you recommend as someone's first Drupal book?

Posted on Jan 11, 2009 9:33:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2009 9:34:00 AM PST
I hate to be repetitious and redundant and repetitious, but I too would like to know what everybody's first Drupal book should be. Recommendations?

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 8:10:26 AM PST
Tony Fleming says:
Same here. As an "accidental programmer" at my organization, I need a drupal for newbies guide without all the techie jargon.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 6:35:18 PM PST
Angela Byron says:
Disclaimer: I'm naturally biased, being one of the authors of the book. :P

I don't really see any reason why this couldn't be someone's first Drupal book, with a couple of caveats:

1. There is not a lot of hand-holding on getting Drupal installed. Appendix A (Installing and Upgrading Drupal) does provide installation instructions (we couldn't very well ship a Drupal book without telling you how to install it! :)), but these instructions are fairly brief and geared toward someone who has installed a web-based script of some kind before. Luckily, has fantastic online documentation to help you get past this point. See If you're still at the point where you need a 3-page explanation on "What is FTP?" you should probably skip *all* of the Drupal books and get a general web development book first. (However, chances are that if you're at the point where you have the word "Drupal" in your working vocabulary, you know enough to install it. :))

2. The basics of Drupal (what are these funny words like "node" and "taxonomy"? how do I navigate the administration panel? how do I do basic stuff like create and manage my content, and organize my website's navigation? etc.) are condensed into a single chapter, rather than being essentially the entire content of a book on their own, as they are with David Mercer's "Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6" (according to the table of contents, at least. I haven't read it, myself :)). Our approach to teaching you these basics is to build out a small "Mom and Pop, Inc." website in Chapter 2, and we explain the underlying concepts of Drupal as we use them in practice while creating the site. This chapter is quite long and dense, and it may take a couple of reads to absorb all of the information if all of this stuff is brand new to you. The good news is that if you can make it past this one and the CCK/Views chapter (Chapter 3 - Job Board), you have all the foundation concepts you need to build any of the other websites covered in the book.

If you're at the point in your learning curve where you've got Drupal installed and have clicked around a little bit, there's no reason this book couldn't be helpful to you right now. If you're not yet at that point, and feel you could use extra guidance in getting there, I'd probably recommend checking out the online Getting Started guide or David Mercer's book first.

But there's not too much to be scared of here; the entire book is basically alternating between giving a general overview about various add-on modules for Drupal and what they can do, and providing hands-on steps that show how to use them while building out an example website. There is essentially no code in the book, apart from the final chapter on theming, which is easily skippable since you can just download a theme that you like and use it out of the box. This was actually one of our design goals while writing the book -- to show off what Drupal could do *just* by combining existing add-on modules, not by coding any new ones. (However, if you're looking for *that* kind of information about Drupal, check out Pro Drupal Development).

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 9:40:20 AM PST
Whether this is your first Drupal book depends on how much experience you've had with user installed CMS's or Wordpress, and how comfortable you feel installing a development environment on your own computer. If you're moving from Wordpress, Joomla or other CMS, then this is a fine book to start with. If this is your first CMS then I'd recommend Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6, which assumes less background and is more beginner oriented. As you progress, you will still want this volume, but that's the case with any subject. Even, the best beginner's book usually won't take you deep into the subject.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2009 9:21:58 AM PST
This was my first Drupal book and I thought it was quite good.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2009 9:23:13 AM PST
This was my first Drupal book and it worked great for me. I have lots of programming and web app development experience. I had never used a CMS before and didn't know PHP.
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