Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6 by David Mercer is what I believe is the ultimate beginner’s book for Drupal. While the other books that I’ve reviewed here focuses on how to build a particular type of website (Drupal 6 Site Builder Solutions for a small business website and Drupal 6 Social Networking for social networking sites), Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6 looks at Drupal as a whole for any type of website.
This book walks you from the very beginning, introducing you to Drupal, how to set up a development environment and install Drupal, all the way to how to deploy your completed website. Early on in the book the author introduces you to the Drupal.org website and how to use it, which is a very useful section since the Drupal website is the ultimate Drupal resource and you need to be familiar with navigating and finding (and even sharing) information and resources.
The target audience for this book is people with little or no knowledge of web design, HTML, PHP, or MySQL. It also assumes you know nothing about Drupal. However, because it covers such broad range of Drupal topics, you will still learn a lot from this book even if you do have some Drupal knowledge. I will tell you though that if you’re very familiar with Drupal, this may not be the first book you want to pick up. I do however find that even beginner books can be useful for the guru’s reference shelf, for when you need a refresher on features that you don’t use much.
True to the nature of Packtpub books, Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6 is very hands on, with plenty of screenshots and instructions.
Chapter 1 will introduce you to the Drupal, looking at where Drupal comes from, where it’s going, and what it has to offer. It also looks at the Drupal community and learn how to make the most of Drupal as an organized, living entity and not simply a piece of software.
Chapter 2 starts in with the hands on stuff, how to get everything you need up and running on a development machine and how all the requisite technologies come together to produce a working Drupal site. Once everything is up and running, and after looking over some of the more common installation problems, you get a tour of Drupal to give you an idea of what to expect.
Chapter 3 leads us to adding functionality to a newly created site. Modules and blocks and how to add and enable them are covered, and even how to obtain modules that are not part of the standard distribution. Menus and primary links are also covered in this chapter.
Chapter 4 looks at everything from determining your site’s name to dealing with the file system settings gets covered here.
Chapter 5 is all about access control. You will learn about Drupal’s sophisticated role-based access control system, which is fundamentally important for controlling how users access a site.
Chapter 6 gets to the heart of the matter – content. What content types are available, administering content, working with content, and even a discussion on some of the more common content-related modules serve as a basis for moving to more advanced content-related matters that follow in the next chapter.
Chapter 7 gives you the edge when it comes to creating engaging and dynamic content. While you don’t need to be an expert in HTML, PHP, or CSS you will get an intro to the basics and see how, with a little knowledge, you can create extremely powerful and professional content. You also learn about categorization and how this particular feature of Drupal sets it apart from everything else out there.
Chapter 8 looks at the use of themes, making your site look appealing and unique. As well as discussing briefly some of the considerations that must be taken into account when planning your website, it shows how to make important modifications to your chosen theme.
Chapter 10 takes a pragmatic look at the type of tasks in which you will need to be proficient in order to successfully run and maintain a Drupal site. Whether it’s setting up cron jobs or making backups of your database, everything you need to do throughout the course of running your newly created website is covered here.
Appendix A deals with the all-important topic of deployment. Because all major work should be done on a copy of your website on a development machine, this appendix presents a sound process for taking the finished product and making it available for public consumption on your live domain.
As you can see, this book has the potential to take you from a complete newbie to someone with a respectable amount of knowledge and skill in using Drupal.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is just beginning to explore Drupal, it will answer a lot of the questions you may be having as you go through the tutorials on this website or elsewhere, and get you on track to becoming a Drupal expert. Even if you do have some experience working with Drupal, this may be a good addition to your library! You can grab a copy for yourself (either in pdf format or in paperback) from Packtpub.