Leveraging Drupal: Getting Your Site Done Right (Wrox Programmer to Programmer) Paperback – 16 Jan 2009
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From the Back Cover
As an open source, community–based content management system and web site application development framework, Drupal allows you to create interactive, media–based, database–driven web sites that become a part of everyday activities and communications. This unique book is the first of its kind to tackle the challenging task of leveraging Drupal to get a site done right and make that site work for you, based on industry–wide software development best practices.
Within these pages, you will gain insight into how to work with any release of Drupal, approach your project, establish a development environment, plan for deployment, and avoid pitfalls along the way. A real–world example of a web site application based on Drupal an online Literary Workshop is used throughout the book, and it walks you through the entire development lifecycle. You′ll learn how to bring your web site into the exciting Drupal mainstream, customize Drupal for your specific needs, and even make "non–Drupal" looking sites. With this hands–on guide, you′ll discover how to use Drupal to efficiently publish, manage, and organize a wide variety of content on your web site.
What you will learn from this book
Best practices to optimize the way you approach development projects
Methods for setting up a development environment using version control and issue tracking tools
How the Drupal theming system works and how it separates content from presentation and style
Techniques for upgrading and deploying the online Literary Workshop
The future of Drupal and how it might be developed and used
Who this book is for
This book is for Drupal users of all levels of expertise who are looking to put together a sophisticated web application.
Wrox guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think. Written by programmers for programmers, they provide a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.
Top customer reviews
The book begins by getting you organised using agile programming techniques. Once you get past this the instructions on setting up Drupal are excellent. The book is Ubuntu Linux centric; if you haven't tried Ubuntu for web development this book will get you started at that as well. Some of the check lists are very good. How to run Drupal on a shared host is also covered; several methods are described making it a comprehensive guide on deploying your site.
This book places a lot of emphasis on good programming techniques and hammers home the need for a good version control system for tracking your work. The author uses Subversion and all the examples are based on it.
Drupal's role based security can be difficult to understand. This book gives good guidance on how to decide on the roles you require. The book has grey boxes containing tips and tricks and these contain valuable information.
Once Drupal is installed the next few chapters take you through creating a non-trivial website. Most of the important parts of Drupal are covered by this exercise. You won't get a deep understanding of Drupal, but you will have reached the point where you know enough to be able to find out more for yourself. It is unfortunate that up to this point the book is based on Drupal 5. To be fair to the author when the book was being written Drupal 6 wasn't ready for general use, but it is now. Drupal 5 keeps popping up throughout the rest of the book as well.
The next part of the book covers upgrading a site from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6. This is where I get confused about who this book it for. It started out being for beginners who are unlikely to have a Drupal 5 site to upgrade and then it devotes a significant chunk on how to upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6. However, if you are doing an upgrade read all of this section - the best advice is at the end.
The book finishes with a look at what is coming in Drupal 7 and how Acquia (a Drupal support company) can help with commercial support. I felt that these two subjects could have been sacrificed in order to go deeper into theming. Drupal 7 is still many months from being released and the information given is easily found on the web.
My overall feeling about this book is that there is a lot of good information and advice contained within its covers. However, the author is obviously very keen on extreme programming and devotes too many pages to that, plus he occasionally gets sidetracked into subjects which would be better left out and which could leave the reader confused. And then there is the cover and title. I confess that if I had picked this book up in a bookshop I would probably have put it straight back on the shelf, and that would have been a pity because the stuff between the covers is well worth reading. I have been using Drupal for several years and I found plenty of new things to try and better ways to get stuff done right using Drupal.
I was given a review copy in order to write a review for the Developer Group.
This is the only book on Drupal I have so far found (this book is my fourth) that fully explains the reasoning behind Drupal's structure in terms of what it is striving to achieve - it is not simply the seperation of content from presentation - Victor points out that data often has a certain structure that is more content than presentation. Typically, Drupal encapsulates this concept marvellously with the ubiquitous "node" type.
So if you really want to become an expert Drupal Themer (and this is where the real action is), I can't rate this book highly enough.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book is very information-rich. It takes a project-management and business requirements-analysis perspective on drupal sites, which is really helpful. Some of the user stories, uml and flow charts might be unfamiliar or abstruse to some but for others, really compelling and helpful. It's definitely a well-thought out book that takes a different perspective from the 'dive in and build a newspaper site with these modules' approach. It expects you to be a little more mature than that as drupal developer.
While relatively new to Drupal, I have designed and developed web sites since 1995. I believe the most common problems or bottlenecks come not nearly as much from the question of the software chosen or even the design, but resolving what the site is supposed to do, who is going to use it, and how it will be managed and maintained. This became a greater issue when non-technical administrators took over the mundane tasks of refreshing content, approving users, etc., through the use of user-friendly content management systems. Development expanded and widened in scope, and content management systems are now complex applications.
As Drupal has risen in popularity through its flexibility, scalability and stability as a CMS platform, a good number of books have come out to help developers jump on board, some with a focused approach on building functionality or designing themes, while others offer more general instruction on setting up and getting a site online. Victor Kane's book falls somewhere between both, but adds two components that often are not accounted for in this kind of "how to" book.
First, he explains how to create a framework for approaching software/web site development that begins with client-oriented goals. He specifically advocates the use of an Agile approach, dedicating the first chapter not to Drupal per se, but to putting a plan in order before unpacking the software or installing a single module. He consistently refers back to this approach as he guides the user through the development of a model site (an On-line Writing Workshop), returning to Agile development more deeply in Chapter 11.
Second, while many development teams attached to IT departments in larger companies or agencies are used to keeping track of revisions when a job is split up between many programmers, the "one-man team" can learn best practices through the software examples given in the book that explain the hows and whys of keeping a web-based tracking system for Drupal site development. More than just mentioning this as good advice, he puts it to practice throughout the book. I haven't seen this discussed in most books about open source CMS development, and I think it's worth noting. You will learn about Version Control nearly as much as you will learn about Drupal from this book!
Where there might be more than one way of doing something, such as installing Drupal onto a home system for testing or loading it onto a shared host, he will give as many as two or three different ways to do so. There is little he doesn't discuss thoroughly, and he invites the reader to join him in expanding and improving the lessons in the book through a web site he has set up to continue the learning/mentoring/sharing process that is a hallmark of the Drupal community's approach to "world domination".
As with other books on Drupal, you might want to have some books on PHP around, along with a little background in Unix/Linux shell commands, CSS and HTML for reference. He adds a chapter on jQuery and is probably the first in print with some content on Drupal 7, which is projected to arrive in late 2009.
It's a great addition to the growing number of books on Drupal, and stands out for his unique discussion of planning and versioning, which is applicable to any web project.
That is not to say that concepts are not adequately explained. They are, or that the small shop wouldn't benefit from this book. It can. It's just that the reader will find subject progression to be a bit different than typical. It works, especially within the context of the project the book covers, a writing workshop site.
As far as post-production responsibilities goes, that is one that is generally not addressed before website development and that lack shows in poorly maintained sites and inter-organizational bickering if not addressed early on in the process. I'm glad to see it mentioned here. That point highlights the audience for this book. It doesn't seem written for the lone developer or small team that builds third party sites but for an IT department that will deploy the project and maintain the site.
The project the book details, a membership based writing workshop, is well conceived as an example of the Drupal's extreme flexibility. The third party modules used, like CCK and Views are the foundation add-ons for custom Drupal sites. Other helpful modules, that I haven't used before are also covered and well. The book simultaneously covers version 5, 6 and 7 of Drupal, which could be useful within a company that has to maintain its own sites.
How to create custom administrative views for different site users is well covered. The resulting website is truly custom but in usable real-world ways. And I appreciate the short chapter on jQuery and the little preview of Drupal 7.
For someone who has at least some basic Drupal chops and wants to see how a real expert goes about developing a site, this is could be a good addition to the bookshelf.
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