As we’ve just delivered a big lump of functionality onto our website using Drupal, in fact everything is now managed through Drupal except this blog, I thought that you might appreciate a heads up on the books we used during the development process. Getting hold of the right books early in your project will make things a lot easier.
Whenever I’m taking on a new programming language or some other technology it always seems to take three books to really get a good handle on it. Drupal is no exception, you will need a more user oriented book outlining the basic concepts, a more development oriented book to let you look underneath the covers, and finally a book for modifying the look of your site.
Using Drupal by Angela Byron et al is a book aimed at people with little or no experience of Drupal who want a leg up in implementing their first site. As such it delivers very well. It outlines the basic elements of Drupal, like what the basic content types are, simple navigation and, best of all, explores some of the many high quality modules available for Drupal.
The downside with all such beginner books is that things tend to be dealt with very quickly. Taxonomies are dealt with in just a few pages, which is a shame because taxonomies are absolutely key to organising all but the smallest Drupal site. In fact, I have yet to find any book or online documentation that outlines taxonomies well or provides a set of best practice for your use of taxonomies. I know that we’ve created a bit of a mess with ours that will need to be sorted out over the coming weeks. If anybody has any good suggestions for online or offline resources that can explain Drupal taxonomies clearly and succinctly with good real world examples I am all ears. Please leave a comment if you know of anything…
Pro Drupal Development
Pro Drupal Development by John K. VanDyk is a more developer oriented book covering topics like developing modules, forms, the search system, working with the Drupal database and the like.
Whilst we’ve only scratched the surface of this book, I expect in time that it will become the most thumbed of our three tomes.
Pro Drupal Development really gets down to the nitty gritty detail needed to do the more tight integration or customisation that you may need. The book is chock full of PHP code so if you don’t have a pretty good handle on both PHP and Drupal I’d stay clear until you do. Recommended for the Drupal developer wanting to go to the next level.
Drupal 6 Themes
Drupal 6 Themes is the most recent book we acquired and we’ve yet to get the full benefit from it. I do expect that as we come to changing the look of our site that this book will be ideal. Drupal relies on content specific template files quite a lot and we had some problems figuring out exactly what variables Drupal passes into them. Fortunately, Drupal 6 Themes covers this area quite well so we expect to learn a lot more about this important area.
If you any recommendations for further reading drop me a line in the comments…