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Drupal 7 Paperback – Sep 7 2010
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About the Author
David Mercer was born in August 1976 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Having always had a strong interest in science, David came into regular contact with computers at university where he graduated cum laude with majors in applied math and math (although he minored in computer science). As a programmer and professional writer who has been writing both code and books for about ten years, he has worked on a number of well known titles, in various capacities, on a wide variety of topics. His books have sold many tens of thousands of copies and have been translated into over 9 different languages to date. David believes that everyone should be able to benefit from the vast potential of the Internet. He founded Site prebuilder (http://www.siteprebuilder.com) to provide hassle free, all-in-one web packages to reduce the barrier to entry for Internet newcomers. Site prebuilder also provides free Drupal distributions, mentoring services, and educational material including courses. The aim of Site prebuilder is to empower ordinary, non-techie people with the knowledge and skill required to run any website efficiently. When he isn't working (which isn't that often) he enjoys playing guitar (generally on stage and unrehearsed) and getting involved in outdoor activities ranging from touch rugby and golf to water skiing and snowboarding.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I can tell you that over 50% of the content in this book is either **wrong** or **irrelevant** unless you intend on using an old Alpha version of Drupal 7 in production (not a good idea). This book was clearly written in an opportunistic way to capitalize on the upcoming release of Drupal 7 without any regard to its relevance once Drupal 7 actually comes out. I for one think it's a shameful way to write books and even though I have never written a review on this site, I felt compelled to warn others. The author should apologize for wasting my time and the time of any other poor sap who spent hard-earned money on this waste of paper.
Because Drupal 7 is a work in progress, there were a few minor mismatches between the screenshots and instructions in this book, and the version I was using (beta2). It is essential that you install Drupal 7 and work through the examples. For one thing, it will be much more fun, and you'll absorb the information better.
I was particularly pleased with the presentation of the views feature. I admit to writing modules when views would have been sufficient, and I won't have any excuses next time. Almost all of my previous Drupal knowledge came from VanDyk's Pro Drupal Development, which walks you through module development but skips some of the built-in features. This book is a great complement to that one. I think the combination of a methodical progression through the world of Drupal 7, combined with lots of examples, makes this book invaluable. I'll still be using Drupal 6 for awhile, but there is enough similarity between versions that I will be consulting this book when I update my web site with a modified theme and some other new elements.
I am a relative newcomer to Drupal who is semi computer-literate (I have been writing Windows desktop programs using the Delphi language for the past 15 years). This book is the first Drupal book, or any book, that has guided me to a successful no-pain installation of Apache-MySQL-PHP plus Drupal on my Windows system. The reason was that the writer was very specific about things such as folders, using plain language without unnecessary technical sidetracks. (By contrast, there is another book on Drupal 7 that has an unfinished discussion about installing Apache-MySQL-PHP that left me dangling, followed by an equally hasty and vague discussion about installing Drupal.)
After guiding me to a successful installation of XAMPP and Drupal, the book covered the broad sweep of Drupal's functionalities, giving me a basic working knowledge of Drupal without bombarding me with things such as PHP.
In summary, this book is an excellent fast-track to Drupal, one of those rare books which offer much gain with no unnecessary pain. The foundational topics and the more advanced topics in this book are well developed, and will take you well into the intermediate Drupal level.
UPDATE: I have gone through two other Drupal 7 books, but the one by Mercer is the best of the three, in my opinion.
For those new to web application frameworks, content management systems, and especially Drupal, this is a very good resource to kickstart the experience. It covers what Drupal is, where to download it, how to set up your computer to host it locally, and how to install it. The book describes an easy way to set up a local development environment with XAMPP. Follow by a pretty thorough introduction to the basics of what makes up Drupal including how to download and use modules and themes. An introduction of some features that are considered more advanced completes the book including Actions, Triggers, Clean URLs, Views, and Panels. Just remember that even for these advanced uses of Drupal the book only covers an introduction.
Personally, I like the latter half of the book much better. After introducing user management and basic content concepts the author talks about content fields, taxonomy, images, and files. While I considered myself a relative newbie to Drupal, the first half of the book helped me realize that I did not need that sort of beginner introduction. And, while the screenshots and discussions about the new Drupal 7 overlay features are certainly helpful, I would not recommend the first half of this book to those who are familiar with Drupal and trying to figure out what's new in Drupal 7. Views and Panels are introduced during this part of the book including some special wording by the author indicating these modules are still being developed and upgraded for Drupal 7 so, as they say, your mileage may vary. The benefit for a reader like me is that the book delivers an introduction to give me some ideas and examples of how to implement Views and Panels.
I was given the opportunity to read this book as part of a promotion from Packt Publishing. They provided the book as a PDF eBook which gave me a great opportunity to test out reading a technical book on my eReader. The only concern I have about this experience is that the layout of the book was broken on my device. The bulleted points were messed up as were the side notes. In this case, I would have preferred to try out the ePub version rather than the PDF. That being said the PDF eBook looked just fine in Acrobat Reader so it may be more a problem with my eReader than the document itself.
In summary, this book was very clear to read with a pretty good progression of ideas and topics building upon each other as I read through the chapters from start to finish. The only critique I have with the topic layout is that the last chapter "Deployment and Management" could have been placed earlier in the book right behind the chapter on installation and basic configuration. It is a very good introduction to Drupal 7 for the intended audience which is "people with little to no experience in using Drupal." I definitely recommend it for readers who fit this profile.