Foundation Drupal 7: Learn How to Use the Drupal Framework to Quickly Build Feature-rich Websites Paperback – Dec 10 2010
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About the Author
R.J. Townsend is a graphic designer, computer programmer, and entrepreneur with eight years experience using web-based technologies to automate research programs and work processes. He started Cultivate Marketing Technologies, LLC in 2007, focusing on web applications for small businesses, and most recently started CodeMyDesigns.com, providing Drupal content management systems for graphic designers. He earned his master's degree in research psychology from California State University, Fullerton and is currently working towards his master's in business administration at the University of Delaware. He has published several articles on integrating research and technology and won an award for his research in 2004.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I would recommend this book to anyone who is new to Drupal, evaluates upgrading from version 6 or is seasoned CMS designer who wish to learn about Drupal's power.
What I liked about the book:
- Simple and to the point explanation of the subject
- Examples with plenty of screenshots
- Access to author's website with super user privileges
- Tips going beyond scope of simply setting up and running CMS
- Excellent and complete theming tutorial
- Links to many resources for further study
What I did not like about the book:
- It gives away secrets of the trade that creates stronger competition '
- It refers to modules that are not yet ported to Drupal 7 but I recon that is only matter of time when they will and it is good to know about them anyway.
Overall, I was very pleased to see this book being published at the right time when Drupal 7 was released and it being a comprehensive reference and set of easy to follow tutorials.
Before buying "Foundation Drupal 7", I did some research on the two authors - Townsend and Pakrul - who seemed to be reasonably talented and respected professionals. After reading their book, I'm frustrated and disappointed that their skill and knowledge are too subjective and limited to produce a true reference book.
It's worth noting that under a different title, I might actually recommend this book for someone who is simply trying to crank out a few quick pages for a typical informational website - even though Drupal is an awfully big and sophisticated tool for such a small job. But publishing it as "Foundation Drupal 7" implies that (a) it provides a good foundational background in Drupal, and (b) the material covers the latest release, 7.x. Neither of these are true.
Of the many issues I had with this book, here are my top three. (Note that the discovery of the third one is what pushed me over the edge, prompting me to sign in and write this review.)
* Instead of promoting a COMPREHENSIVE understanding of the Drupal "big picture", which should include explanations of the full range of Drupal's functional capabilities and a detailed primer on design concepts, this book glosses over the key construction components (nodes, modules, blocks, users, etc.) and instead jumps right into step-by-step instructions for setting up pages. For those of us in the "architect first, code second" camp, this is bad form.
* The book does not cover local server setup, an essential best-practice for any web developer. Can't understand why this was omitted when there is a free, pre-made tool for this on Drupal.org - "Quickstart" - which I did not see referenced once in this book.
* THE BIG ONE - rather than giving an true overview of the mechanics of Theming a Drupal site with PHP and CSS, the majority of the questionably-titled "Theming" chapter is really an instruction manual for modifying a pre-existing theme created by the co-author called "Fusion". That wouldn't be so bad, if the author's "Fusion" tool weren't based on the Drupal "Skinr" module - WHICH IS NOT YET RELEASED FOR DRUPAL 7. That means this entire section is USELESS; even if you wanted to skip the REAL overview of Theming a Drupal site in favor of a quick pre-packaged solution, that isn't an option today!
If someone else finds a better reference book - preferably one written by someone with a broader and more strategic understanding of the full range of Drupal's capabilities, and how best to exploit them - please let me know.
I was looking for a book that provided a broad introduction to Drupal that would allow me to get up to speed quickly, understand the fundamentals, and provide enough of a basis to be able to both construct something functional and to start asking tougher questions. This hit all the right points, and it was an easy read on top of it.
Definitely recommended for Drupal beginners.
But he doesn't stop there. He also makes a number of suggestions, sharing his seasoned experience and understanding of how to use Drupal and support you in following good practices so you don't have to waste time making the "beginner" mistakes. It's like have someone working with you saying, "Well here's what I've done that has worked for me." or "If you do it like this, you will avoid problems later." Then he goes on to cover topics like Search Engine Optimization, how to maintain a site and adds a collection of 50+ modules he installs on many sites - all very informative.
One of the reviews on this book mentions a lot of frustration in getting off the ground with Drupal. He is not alone and others share his frustration, but I think the issue is more indicative of where Drupal, the Drupal community and the internet infrastructure IS at the present moment than about the book. Drupal is a very powerful CMS developed by very highly skilled technical people who are fluid at its implementation. Bridging the "gap" between the complex systems / tools involved and a simple layman's step by step process is a daunting challenge. There were a few sections where Mr. Townsend moved a bit out of my comfort zone of difficulty and a few where I was confused about the exact correct approach too. Perhaps when Mr. Townsend comes out with a second edition he might break it into two books: Foundation 1 (the simple basics) & Foundation 2 (going deeper into the technology).
Overall I know this text will become a "companion" book that I will keep with me and refer to whenever I'm working on sites. His suggestions and recommendations alone are worth the price. I definitely recommend this book, it's worth the investment.
To top off an already helpful book, the authors include appendices that serve as a launchpad for site administrators and builders to dig into more advanced topics to improve site administration and visits. Topics discussed in this section include Drush, the command-line administration interface for Drupal, as well as Search Engine Optimization for your site.
Covering a number of technical subjects with relative ease and lots of screenshots, Foundation Drupal 7 is a fantastic handbook for those new to site administration in Drupal or those who seek an approachable, easy-to-follow and yet relatively comprehensive guide to mastering Drupal basics.
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