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Drupal's Building Blocks: Quickly Building Web Sites with CCK, Views and Panels (Developer's Library)

Drupal's Building Blocks: Quickly Building Web Sites with CCK, Views and Panels (Developer's Library) [Kindle Edition]

Earl Miles , Lynette Miles
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

“Even if you’re already a seasoned Drupal user of CCK, Views, or Panels, I’ve no doubt that this book will provide you with several new techniques and methods for getting the most out of these extremely essential modules. It certainly has for me.”

Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of Drupal, and CTO of Acquia 

With Drupal, Web professionals can create full-featured Web sites with just a few clicks. Drupal’s core is compact and well documented, but much of Drupal’s immense power lies elsewhere—in external modules. Drupal’s Building Blocks is an authoritative tutorial, reference, and cookbook for Drupal’s most valuable modules.


The authors are Drupal insiders who’ve spent years creating and supporting these modules—Earl Miles, developer of the Views and Panels modules, and Lynette Miles, Drupal documentation team member. They’ve brought together indispensable information you won’t find anywhere else, as well as extensive sample “recipe” code designed for easy adaptation and reuse. Learn how to

  • Use Content Construction Kit (CCK) to customize your data input forms around your needs
  • Improve site flexibility with Drupal’s node system
  • Add optional field types, including PHP-based fields
  • Customize themes to display data more attractively and legibly
  • Build powerful Views query displays
  • Integrate with SQL databases
  • Customize Views with relationships, arguments, and filters
  • Optimize query performance
  • Add custom styles with the Panels module
  • Maintain full control over sites as you deploy into production

This book will help you create more powerful, flexible, usable, and manageable Web sites—whether you’re a Web developer, designer, administrator, architect, or consultant.


The accompanying Web site contains all examples, code, and themes presented in this book.

About the Author

Earl Miles is a permanent member and founder of the Drupal Association. In 2005, Earl found Drupal and thought it was exactly what he needed to build a website in his spare time. When he found that Drupal lacked some key features, Earl ignored work for three weeks and created the Views module which has been instrumental in Drupal’s continued growth. Earl has been active in the community providing support, as well as posting tips and tricks when the mood strikes him. A lifelong programmer, he is currently employed by iO1, a company that actively participates in the development and consumption of open source software.

Lynette Miles has worked for fifteen years in professional software technical support, mainly for Alcatel-Lucent. She became involved with Drupal after attending DrupalCon Brussels and DrupalCon Barcelona. Since then, she has spent most of her contributing time working with the Drupal Documentation team and triaging the Views and Panels queues.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3020 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (22 Dec 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #544,044 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential but limited 29 Jun 2011
By Andy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is everything that could reasonably be expected of it. The technically brilliant software written by Earl Miles is finally documented in a way that explains how and why it works (as opposed to the various online 'docs' that simply give long lists of methods with no explanation or otherwise expect you to learn purely by example, despite the lack of any explanation of principles).

Lynette couples her excellent skills as a technical author with her insider access to the source of true knowledge!

The downside (as I've read elsewhere) is that the book is somewhat "to little, too late". Too little because it attempts to cover far too broad a set of subjects in one book. CCK, Views and Panels are each complex modules in their own right. They work together, so it might be reasonable to cover them together at a site builder level, which was probably the starting point for this book. But the book also attempts to cover the developer API side of things, which is desperately needed and long overdue, how can you possibly expect to cover the Views API at a meaningful level and depth in 1 chapter?

It's still a valuable asset to the many of us still working with Drupal 6, because it's proving difficult to move forward to Drupal 7, because many key modules are not yet ported. But this book, published at the point the long-overdue Drupal 7 was finally launched, will do nothing to help as it's firmly rooted in Drupal 6.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desperately needs revising 14 Feb 2011
By Neal J. Burns - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I gave this book 4 stars only because I am pretty sure it's the only book that covers a lot of the material and I don't want to deter people from reading it. If there were other books on this subject, I would have given it 2 or 3 stars. The writers seem to have a poor grasp of the craft of writing; they fly through difficult concepts and are curiously wordy in explaining simple concepts. I bought it primarily to shed light on the mysterious dark reaches of CCK and Views. I admit that I have skipped the chapters on the low-level APIs, but, having read the chapters aimed at users, I feel that I am only halfway to being an expert, particularly on Views. The problems are made worse by the fact that, despite having been published only last month, there is no mention of Drupal 7, CCK 3 or Views 3. I think there is potential in this book, but they need to expand their coverage of advanced uses of Views, add some discussion of the new versions, and preferably bring on a professional writer to revamp the material already covered. Here's hoping for a much improved second edition.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panels, Now I understand Panels 2 Jan 2011
By D. Reinders - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been working with Drupal for about a year and have struggled. Drupal does indeed have a steep learning curve. This is not news to the Drupal community or anyone trying to learn Drupal. Here is the good news. This book goes a long way toward flattening that slope.

If you've built a site with Drupal you've used CCK and Views but you might not have realized what you didn't know. Earl and Lynette have taken a straight forward approach to teaching CCK, Views and Panels (I'll get to Panels in a minute). They give you the information you need to get going while also giving you the background about why Drupal does it that way and what goes on "behind the curtain". A newbie and a more experienced Drupal user are both able to learn about CCK and Views at a level that is appropriate for them.

I've worked with Panels a little but never quite understood exactly what I was doing and why. I really worked by trial and error. No longer.

This book has helped me understand the why and how of Panels in a way that nothing else has. I will be using Panels on every project I build from now on. I understand how to use context and variants, panel pages and content panes now. Drupal's Building Blocks will be at my side. I am sure that I will be referring to it regularly.

Drupal's Building Blocks is now part of my "Essential Drupal Library" along with Using Drupal and Pro Drupal Development.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Addition to My Drupal Reference Library 5 Jan 2011
By Tamara Dull - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been a strong advocate of the Drupal project for 3-4 years, but it wasn't until this past fall that I actually started building a Drupal site - and a rather complex one at that. I quickly realized that the steep Drupal learning curve that I had read about - or "learning cliff" as the authors point out in this book - is indeed real. If there's a shortcut to learning Drupal, I haven't found it. But the good news is that books like "Drupal's Building Blocks" is a much-needed, welcome addition to any Drupalite's library - whether you're new to Drupal or a veteran. It includes several screenshots and exercises throughout to provide you with practical hands-on experience, so it does a good job of "telling" you and then "showing" you how it's done.

My background is in relational database design, development and management. In non-Drupal terminology, this book focuses on three aspects of development:

(1) Data storage - Using the CCK (Content Construction Kit) module, you can build out your custom "tables and columns" through Drupal's administrative front-end (not the database back-end). The book teaches you about the history, philosophy and usage of the CCK module - through the UI and through (php) code. Even though Drupal modules take care of all table management in the database (most often MySQL), it is interesting to see how Drupal handles M:M relationships on the back-end, along with multi-value and shared fields (columns).

(2) SQL queries - Using the Views module, you can use its UI (or API) to create both simple and sophisticated SQL SELECT statements. In a CMS like Drupal, users enter the data, and modules like Views help display it back out in a myriad of ways. Given that the author developed this module, it was great to get his perspective on how to use this module as it was intended. I had a lot of "aha" moments as I read through this section of the book. And if I ever want to get "geeky" about my Views (to improve performance, etc.), there's a full chapter devoted to the Views API.

(3) The display/UI - Whereas the CCK and Views modules work behind the scenes, the Panels module is all about presentation and making sure our website looks and feels the way we want. Panels isn't the only presentation tool available in Drupal, but it's one of the more robust options with a solid administrative UI. It's also tightly integrated with Views. I will be referring back to this section a lot as I continue to ramp up on what this module can do.

I wish this book had been available last fall. It would have saved me a lot of time ramping up on these "building block" modules for Drupal. It doesn't really focus on advanced use cases for these modules, but it equips you with the foundational knowledge you need to tackle these advanced use cases - on your own and with the help of the Drupal community.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Drupal 7 book 2 Sep 2011
By Sadan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although it seems like a Drupal 7 book it's about Drupal 6.
Searching in you're forwarded with one (or maybe more) link here, and in this book is listed in the Drupal 7 books results.
However, if you look for a complete Drupal 7 guide, this is not a good choice.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can see the light in Drupal 27 Jan 2011
By Scott L. Wolpow - Published on
I have been building a site in Drupal. I started playing with it last year after reading Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 hours. That is a mandatory starting point. Lets face it, most of the support docs are written by techy coders.
That makes a learning cliff sheer with no hand holds.
Happily this book answers many questions I had, and many questions I did not think of yet. We need more books like this.
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Once you share the field with another content type, that field moves out of the original content type table and into its own table. &quote;
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nodes are the main unit of information available for display in a Drupal Web site. &quote;
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Widgets are similar to very specific formatters. They don’t determine how the field is displayed, but rather regulate how the content of the field itself is chosen or input. &quote;
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