Drupal’s Building Blocks

Quickly Building Web Sites With CCK, Views, and Panels
One question that is going to come up is how current is this book with the recent arrival of Drupal 7? Except for CCK, most of the content is still relevant.

Drupal’s Building Blocks is about using three popular modules that can make building Drupal websites easier and quicker for site administrators, usually without requiring delving into PHP code.

The 300-odd page book is broken into three sections that cover the Content Construction Kit (CCK), Views and Panels. All three of these offer site administrators new ways of managing data and displaying it all from within the administrator’s interface.

Of the three, CCK is probably one of the best known. It has a long history with Drupal and lets website administrators (as opposed to just developers) expand the kinds of content types Drupal can handle, essentially allowing free-form data to be stored. While Drupal’s Node architecture has always made this possible to developers, CCK (like its ancestor Flexinode) exposes this capacity to website administrators.

Views is a module that handles displaying lists and tables using data being pulled from the database. Finally, Panels offers a more flexible way of laying out your Drupal website. Like the section on CCK, each part is about five chapters what the purpose of the modules are, explaining a bit of their history (considering many of these modules go back several versions into Drupal nearly 10-year history it’s useful to know a bit) as well as how to use them.

One question that is going to come up is how current is this book, especially with the recent arrival of Drupal 7? The best answer I can come up with is that, except for CCK, most of the content is still relevant. With Drupal 7, most of the features of CCK have been moved into Drupal’s core (see: http://drupal.org/project/cck for more info.)

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The three modules covered here add a lot of flexibility to what a non-developer can do with Drupal. The book’s layout features plenty of screen-shots; most look like they were taken from Drupal 6. The Appendix includes a list of modules that can extend the features of the three covered in the book. That said, there is only so much you can do without getting into PHP, even with these modules. So there are a couple of parts of the book where some familiarity with PHP is handy.

There is a lot of Drupal terminologies to learn (the book refers to Drupal’s “learning cliff”), so parts of the chapters explain these sometimes confusing details like the differences between handlers (process data) and plug-ins (handle displaying information) or modules and helpers. If you’ve read a few books on designing websites with Drupal, this book might show you some easier ways to do it.

website: http://drupal-building-blocks.com/

Date published: 11-Mar-2011