I never reviewed a technology book before that I studied from. All the books I wrote about have been either fiction or non-fiction that I read or studied for my school. But I didn’t have any formal schooling related technology, at least not on the coding level. (We did some basic HTML and XML when I studied for my MLIS, but by the time I got there I knew all that.) So when I sat down to write a “review” about Using Drupal* I realized that I have to use different criteria than usual for my reflections.
When judging a tech textbook first and foremost I should assess what I have managed to learn from it. The answer in this case is a tremendous amount. Right now though, I don’t know how lasting my learning will be. That will depend on how much work I will be doing in Drupal and how much I retained in the first round of studying. As it was a library book, i.e. I have to give it back tomorrow, I tried to take as much note as I could. Nowadays I try to put every informational on the web, except confidential pieces, so you can find my notes on my blog here: chapter 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
I think that studying the book was very useful for me. I wasn’t a total novice in using Drupal 6, so I can’t say I learned everything I know from it. But I can say that my knowledge feels much more grounded now. And there was plenty of new information, tips, trick, modules for me in there. I enjoyed the clear style of the writing, the detailed explanations, the description of the processes and the screenshot that helped me along the way. My only regret was that halfway through the book the site accompanying the book went down and I still cannot reach it. I hope usingdrupal.com will come back, so I could reuse the code snippets from the book, without having to type them in.
The book had a lot of authors, most of them are members of the team at Lullabot. Let me spell out all of their names, that I couldn’t do in the title of this post (hence the ellipsis there): Angela Byron, Addison Berry, Nathan Haug, Jeff Eaton, James Walker, Jeff Robbins. Thanks to all them making for putting together an excellent resource. Too bad that by the time I was done with the book, that covers Drupal 6 , Drupal 7 came out and now I can start the process (almost) all over again.
* Here is the official descrption of what Drupal is: “a free software package that allows anyone to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website.”