Drupal User’s Guide

By the same author of last year’s well-regarded front end drupal; This similarly-sized book is aimed more at beginners.
Drupal User’s Guide is by the same author of last year’s well-regarded Front End Drupal. Still, while Front End was aimed at experienced Drupal developers building themes, this similarly-sized book is aimed more at beginners building websites from scratch (modules actually) using Drupal 7. The author talks about how they got into Drupal after building their framework, which is kind of interesting and serves as a bit of a warning to try to build complex websites from scratch.

Like many books, this one starts with an overview of Drupal, installing, administrating and putting together a simple site. After the basics are covered, the book goes into planning a website and figuring out what you want your site to do and who will use it.

The heart of the book is the case studies that follow in the third section. Case Studies takes the reader through building two websites: a community forum and a business directory. These two are relatively complex projects that might have caused users to investigate Drupal in the first place. The projects make use of core and contributed modules that are listed at the beginning of the section.

After the case studies, the next two sections expand on the material covered earlier in the book. Section four, Build Anything, goes deeper into modules, content types and includes some essential modules, such as the handy Views, in more detail. Then part five, Extending Drupal, covers theming, SEO and accessibility. The theming section takes readers through creating a new theme on top of a base theme. Readers of this section should be familiar with HTML, CSS, and some basic, very basic PHP to make use of this section.

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Hogbin describes this book as a “prequel” to her other book, and it is, while Front End Drupal was written for experienced developers, this book is aimed more at beginners to Drupal. They are familiar with web design and are comfortable with of HTM, CSS and maybe a bit of PHP for the later sections. While one of the unique features of Drupal is how much can be done from the GUI, it’s probably best to be comfortable with editing HTML without the help of Dreamweaver. One criticism of the book is there occasionally there are mentions of things like a single mention of Drush (a powerful command-line interface for Drupal mentioned on page 166). Still, no further information, leaving it as an exercise for the reader to investigate. The layout is good, a few black-and-white screen-shots and some diagrams.

Overall this a good book for web designers taking Drupal for a test drive. The example projects presented here aren’t too simple to be removed entirely from the kinds of websites they are be hoping Drupal will help them build.