Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours

Author: Jesse Feiler
Publisher: Sams, 2010
Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-0672331268
Aimed at: Beginning Drupal users
Rating:2
Pros: Lots of information
Cons: A confusing, difficult-to-read, book
Reviewed by: Mike James

 

Drupal can be complex and the job of an introduction is to make the complex seem simple - not all books live up to this ambition.

Author: Jesse Feiler
Publisher: Sams, 2010
Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-0672331268
Aimed at: Beginning Drupal users
Rating:2
Pros: Lots of information
Cons: A confusing, difficult-to-read, book
Reviewed by: Mike James

There are many problems with this book. The first and most immediately obvious is that the screen dumps are next to impossible to read. They are faint and the text is simply too small. Given that much of what the book conveys is contained within the screen dumps this is a real issue. A more minor complaint is that the font used for the body text is on the small size but it all helps to make the book very difficult to read.

 

Production problems aside this book still has the disadvantage that it manages to make what can be a difficult application to get started with seem even more difficult. It starts off by trying to convince the reader that no programming experience is needed to use Drupal - this is true - but then suddenly starts to explain how it works in terms of .htaccess files and PHP code to the extent of actually listing the PHP.  This is a quite unnecessary complication and adds nothing to the understanding of how things work at a conceptual level. In fact the listings add little even if you do know PHP and understand what .htaccess files are all about. 

This is not an isolated incident. The author repeatedly appeals to some advanced idea or other while motivating the introduction of something that could be simple. When we do reach a topic that needs a practical explanation the level suddenly drops to enumerating the menu and module that are usually fairly obvious. The explanations in this case are often at the level of:

"title - this is a string of up to 255 characters for the title of the node"

- not as bad as some treatments where  "title" is often explained as  "the title" but still a lot of fairly obvious information.

It is in the description of the menus and forms that the difficulties in reading the screen dumps is most acute. Another problem is that by the time we have started to examine the actual Drupal screens and options the reader still has no clear or even vague overview of the organisation of Drupal or its operating principles.

The book ploughs on regardless introducing more modules and more options. By Hour 8, i.e. Chapter 8, we have reached managing users, roles and permissions - something that probably should have been dealt with much earlier. Other topics include allowing users to edit content, creating newsletters etc. In Hour 14 we reach the fairly central topic of views and how to create them. If you are still with the book beyond this point then you start to progress through events and calendars and e-commerce to your first live site - themes, block, layout, menus - then on to managing the site.The book rounds off with dynamic page construction and customizing themes via CSS.

Overall this book is too complex and difficult to use. It lacks logical development and clear explanations of all but the most obvious. It isn't suitable for the beginner and the intermediate-to-expert Drupal user would have to work hard to get anything of value from it. Put simply there are better books than this on the subject of using Drupal and ones that are more likely to get you started with a working Drupal site. 

 

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Head First HTML and CSS, 2nd Ed

Author: Elisabeth Robson and Eric Freeman
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 768
ISBN: 978-0596159900
Audience: Beginners
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Head First books are designed to get you started. How far does this one go with HTML and CSS?



iOS Recipes

Author: Matt Drance & Paul Warren
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Pages: 244
ISBN: 978-1934356746
Aimed at: Existing iOS developers
Rating: 5
Pros: Non-trivial recipes, excellent discussion
Cons: Leaves you wanting more
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead

The subtitle "Tips and Tricks for Awesome iPhone and iPad [ ... ]


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 March 2010 )
 
 

   
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