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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caveats, November 29, 2011
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This review is from: The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 (Paperback)
The claim, in the forward, that there is "material here for literally all levels of Drupal experience and interest" should be taken with a large pitch of salt. Indeed, this book does contain some useful information and some sections actually make sense. However there are some caveats.

These people are geeks, for them the command line is home territory. I loathe and despise the command line. It's existence demonstrates in my mind a lack of maturity in the technology and Chapter 2 sends the signal loud and clear "Essential Tools: Drush and Git"
So these command line tools are ESSENTIAL for developing in Drupal? It appears that is the way Drupal is heading.
If it is true that you need Drush to be a Drupal developer then two things strike me:
1. There is something really wrong with Drupal, and
2. It's time for me to move on and look for another platform.

It is particularly distressing that the cover had a quote claiming that this book will help by "making Drupal more accessible to everybody" (from Dries Buytaert). Well I disagree. It may help the aforementioned command line geeks but if that's not you then I doubt this book is for you. Furthermore I think this book will help convince even more people that Drupal is inaccessible and for geeks only. As a result of this book I expect to see a greater migration to Wordpress.

After spending some time with this book I was considering sending it back for a refund, but two things stopped me - well three actually.
1. the amount of money I lose after postage etc.,
2. there are some good bits and useful links, and
3. it stands as a warning to me for believing in book TITLES and cover blurbs.(Probably the most important.)

If you are a unix geek who lives for the command line and you work in a team with a corporate account and plenty of bandwidth this book is probably useful. If not, I'd advise you to keep looking.

Also, this book was written by more people than I could be bothered counting and it shows. Some sections (chapters) are good others are OK and some are just ramblings but overall there is a distinct lack of coherence about the book.
And, one last thing: the layout and typography of this book is not exactly inspiring. There are orphaned lines and other layout errors. The main text could use more leading, examples could be printed a bit larger and a clearer font face chosen for code. (Look at Front End Drupal by Hogbin & Käfer for an example of how to do it right)
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 9, 2011 12:33:01 AM PST
It would appear that part of the complaint is Drupal itself. You can do Drush- and command-line-free Drupal, see drupalgardens.com for example where you don't even have to install it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2011 1:51:35 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2011 1:53:36 AM PST
LudH says:
I think your comment is valid. I use Drupal and do so without using CLIs, however what I find disturbing is a trend within the Drupal community to abandon the push to usability that was such a big focus in the development of Drupal 7, and to move to command line utilities. I do not deny that, for professional programmers, CLI can speed things up, however, for people on shared hosting, designers and many others that is not an attractive or even viable option. What worries me in this book is the idea that CLI are ESSENTIAL and my disquiet is increased by the quote from Dries. I think it so misses the point. Wordpress is growing faster than Drupal and I am sure that part of the reason for that is the focus on the needs of casual and non-or semi-professional developers. If Drush and other CLI are essential then Drupal is in danger of becoming a professionals only tool and thereby losing market share to Wordpress, Concrete5 and other frameworks who take accessibility seriously. It will still have an attraction for large corporate and government sites (because it is a brilliant framework) but it will become less approachable at the shallow end of the pool. And yes there are SaaS, such as DrupalGardens and there are pre-built distributions but these do not address all use cases.

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 10:57:51 AM PST
I hope you continue with the book, because as you'll find that the vast majority (the goal was none) is written to actually require the command line. (For Windows users, it even has a long Appendix on Windows usage by Brian Travis, the author of Pro Drupal 7 for Windows Developers.)

However we as authors would have been greatly remiss in not introducing the command line and highly recommending it-- i'm sorry for the choice of the word essential that so put you off. It would be as if we provided a navigation guide to an extremely bike-friendly city, and only told you how to walk places. Like bicycles, command line is not a necessity, and yes some people have a not entirely irrational fear of using them. But the basics are easily learnable by anyone -- the book does not suppose command line experience any more than it supposes Drupal 7 experience -- and adapting to use command line or bicycle for some things, without changing one's whole processes or identity, can bring vast efficiency gains.

Drupal is increasingly complex, and my hope is the Definitive Guide doesn't just help many people like you navigate it but, with the chapters on community in particular, to make more people aware of the possibility of and the need for shaping development of this fantastic free software to serve their needs.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2011 12:04:33 PM PST
You could start your own sub-community. It might be helpful to create a forum for each chapter, say.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2011 3:41:02 PM PST
LudH says:
There already is a forum on The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 at: http://definitivedrupal.org/

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2011 4:14:49 PM PST
LudH says:
Benjamin, you say: "as you'll find that the vast majority (the goal was none) is written to actually require the command line."
I think there is a "not" missing in that sentence?

I don't accept your bicycle vs walking analogy, I think that is misdirection. As someone who hand-wrote Postscript code back in 1984 I can understand when command line is appropriate; it's when the tools are not evolved enough to do the task. I might respond that I prefer automatic transmissions in cars these days. You are welcome to use a crash box (a manual gearbox without syncromesh) but I want to live in the future not the past.

As I said in my original review: "this book does contain some useful information and some sections actually make sense. However there are some caveats." I think those caveats are important. People who use shared hosting will find quite a few things that are suggested as best practice are in fact impractical. I, for example, do not have shell access to three of the servers I use. I am also at the end of a slow connection - with dropouts, so building sites online is, in this case, not workable. That is not an unusual situation. Drupal is used by hundreds of thousands of developers but only a small proportion of these have dedicated servers and fast lines. The claim that this book is "making Drupal more accessible to everybody" is, I believe, misleading. I think your book will be greatly appreciated by those working on corporate accounts and larger team projects but I also still think that it will drive more of the smaller developers over to WordPress as you expose the increasing complexity of Drupal and show that the "essential" way forward is to retreat from accessibility.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2012 7:45:31 PM PST
Daniel says:
I think your critique is of Drupal, not the book. Drush and Git are useful tools that are optional. Because they are so useful, it is helpful for readers to at least be aware of their existence even if they cannot be used for every project.

Drush is not necessary for most sites, but allows you do perform many tasks to make Drupal more secure. For example, you can enable and disable administrator accounts for live sites. While not all users can use these features, there are no reasonable ways to replicate them without access to the server. All of the other features like enabling and disabling modules can be done in the slow and cumbersome web interface.

Git is another topic that is useful to cover since a lot of the community uses it. There are GUI applications for all platforms that remove the need for an average user to use the CLI for Git.

I will not be buying this book based on the disjointed nature of it's content. I think you did a good job of explaining that and it is a concern I've heard from others as well.
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