When I picked up this book I knew what phpBB was (my main reason for getting the book), but the other two applications were foreign to me. So, let me start off by briefly pointing out what each application is and does:
- Drupal is a CMS, content management system, (think Wikipedia) that allows users to input and update information
- phpBB is bulletin board software (very much like Invision or Jolt from surface appearances)
- WordPress is blogging software (do I really need to say more after 2005, the year of the Blog)
The publisher has chosen to group what amounts to three separate books on three open source applications together based upon the 'community' aspects that they engender, allowing groups of users to come together to post, comment and counter-comment.
The book is effectively a collected user manual for these three applications, but that does not really go far enough. Yes, the material for each is available online, but this book collects the documentation together in a user friendly manner. Anyone that has tried to install and operate a complex piece of software based upon the canned manuals can appreciate the complexity involved. Using this book is essentially like having an experienced guru looking over your shoulder offering advice as you go through the process. This can be the difference between 30-60 minutes of simple work and 5-6 hours of confusion, frustration and ranting.
Add to this the advice on configuration and usage/management for avoiding pitfalls and achieving best case results, and this book can pay for itself in no time (I bill at $50 an hour and consider my personal time even more valuable).
Bottom line, if you want to keep users on your site (i.e. not farm out these services), and want to use a CMS, bBoard, or Blog using open source software, it is worth your time to check out these options. If you then decide to use one of them, this book can save you a chunk of time and frustration.