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Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress [Paperback]

Robert T. Douglass , Mike Little , Jared W. Smith

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Book Description

Dec 15 2005 1590595629 978-1590595626 1

Whether you want to build a community with a content management system, a bulletin board, or a blog, Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress is the authoritative guide using Open Source software.

Drupal ( is a full content management system that allows you to create any type of web site you desire, from an eCommerce to a community-based site. With phpBB ( you can set up a bulletin board or forum. And WordPress is fast becoming the software of choice for the exploding blog community.

Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and Wordpress is authored by a team of experts, including Jared Smith, a long time support team member of the web site who has been building sites with phpBB since the first beta releases, and Mike Little, the founder and a contributing developer of the WordPress project.

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert T. Douglassis a core developer and member of the security team for the Drupal project. As a leading voice in the Drupal community, he works hard to introduce new programmers and webmasters to the joys of building websites with Drupal. To this end, Robert headed Drupal's involvement in the Google Summer of Code, 2005. Robert is a freelance Drupal consultant and programmer, working out of his home in Germany.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Having A Guru Watching Over Your Shoulder March 31 2006
By David Stapleton - Published on
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.

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - clear and understandable in plain English Feb. 26 2006
By C. Cutler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have only read the Drupal section of the book, so I can't comment on the other two sections.

I have been trying to learn how this powerful CMS system works as I start my first Drupal site, and have spent many hours on the official website reading documentation and community posts from the incredibly helpful folks over there. However, sometimes computer people have a hard time communicating effectively with the less-technical among us. As an instructor myself, I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and make no assumptions when I teach - a skill it takes a long time to master.

This book is a shining example of that skill put to good use. The author is extremely talented at phrasing things in "real English" and makes no assumptions that the reader has any pre-existing knowledge. His explanations are well thought out, and make perfect sense out of what can be a complex subject. He has obviously spent a lot of time crafting the words to ensure you get the picture. I've had many "ah-ha!" moments reading this book, where something came together and clicked in my mind - even after reading many other explanations elsewhere.

There are a few features and modules mentioned which are available only in the upcoming Drupal 4.7 (which is currently available in a beta test version, and working quite well just as it is), but it would have made no sense to publish a new book that only covers older features when the new version is literally weeks away.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning Drupal.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful comparison, cursory treatment of each topic Feb. 15 2007
By M. Boucher - Published on
This book was useful for comparing and contrasting Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress. Before reading this book, one might have reasonably wanted to use Drupal where phpBB would have been a better and simpler choice, or tried to use phpBB when something with the power of Drupal was required. Having all three technologies in one place was useful in doing the compare/contrast required to make the decision.

However, the treatment of each technology is cursory. Having used the book to decide that I needed to use Drupal for my site, I did not find the book sufficiently detailed for me to do that successfully. The description of the Book module, which the author correctly describes as one of the most useful in Drupal, warranted only three pages. There's not much as far as best practices or warnings about what not to do, so it's hard to use the book as the sole source of information about building your site.

It's useful for its ability to help choose between apparently similar technologies, and it outlines the capabilities of each in a way that may make it easier to use a more detailed book on one of these three topics. However, you will need at least one more book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for the beginning developer Aug. 8 2006
By Cory Perry - Published on
I bought this book mainly for the Drupal section but the entire book is done quite well. The Drupal section is excellent and really walks you through everything from installation to modules to maintenance. The Themes section could have been a little more in-depth.

This book is perfect for anyone that is interested in any of the three topics that have very little experience with them. This book could certainly serve as a reference for doing small things within each app. Very good read!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lots of golden tips Feb. 1 2006
By drupal user - Published on
The section on Drupal is terrific -- it has saved me a tremendous amount of time. It builds on the current documentation, but it adds very helpful comments which have prevented or solved problems for me. Here are 3 examples:

(1)On page 131 it says Organic Groups conflicts with other modules that provide access control, such as Taxonomy Access. I'm so glad I read that before I installed Taxonomy Access. On the Drupal forum you can find people who installed modules that conflict, and ended up having to reinstall the entire program. This tip from Robert saved me 3 days of chaos.

(2)It told me about the devel module (p.144), which enables me to test code. That was a great find. When the devel module was not working, I checked the book and realized I forgot to enable access controls.

(3)Yes the install directions are similar to Drupal's. (That makes sense, there's one basic way to install it.) But Robert Douglas added a great short cut that I didn't know (on page 6) which is to use wget instead of downloading and then uploading. I quote, “the quickest way to get Drupal....” That's a nice shortcut

As far as I know, the 3 points above are either not in the Drupal documentation or are buried within it in a place easily missed.

Another great thing about the book is that Douglas goes through 10 modules that he considers very useful. Since Drupal has 400 modules of varying quality, it's really useful to get a sense of some of the best ones. Alas, Douglas didn't have the space to cover more modules. He's writing a second book covering I think about 100 modules, which I can hardly wait to buy.

Because I'm having trouble getting some modules to work correctly, I've already written Robert Douglas and offered to PAY HIM RIGHT NOW in full for his second book if he'll send me even just the 3 pages on the modules I'm having trouble with. That's how much I value his documentation.

Douglas is a good writer. I quote from one user on the Drupal website: “You have a real gift for clear, calm prose - even while explaining complicated stuff. Your book, and the way it is written, has been a great help to me in getting going. Thank you.”

I can't speak to the other 2 sections because I don't know those pieces of software. But I highly recommend the Drupal section. I will warn you that some of it might go over your head, but Drupal is a complicated system and it takes time to get up the learning curve.

Drupal is a fantastic content management system with a terrific community. However, it is oriented toward people who are programmers. Drupal, and this book, may not be right for you if you are not willing to invest the time to learn. On the other hand, Drupal lets you set up a website for free that would cost perhaps $500,000 to $1 million if you hired programmers to wrote every line from scratch. Thanks to Dries and all the other developers for making this terrific software available for free, and to Douglas for explaining it.

Just to let you know, I tried to use Drupal in November. I couldn't figure it out, saw the book was coming out in December, and decided to wait until it came out. It was a great decision, because Drupal was far easier to figure out with the book.

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