|Drupal 6 Content Administration|
|author||J. Ayen Green|
|summary||A fun, informative, hands-on learning guide that uses an actual case study|
Chapter 2 moves into a detailed discussion of Drupal-based content and asks the simple question (but important one), what is content? In Drupal we know that content includes nodes and node types, node IDs (nid), comments, Blocks, and Views. The author defines the core node types including Story and Page. Note here to Drupal 7 users ... the story type is renamed "Article" and the Page type is "Basic Page" in the new D7 release. I also love the fact that Green defines what the Drupal front page or home page is and what that home page contains. I am asked this question all the time by new Drupal users — how do I post content to my home page and how do I customize the home page. Read the definition on p. 19 of this book.
At this point I'd encourage those readers who are using the book to go ahead and start creating content on their Drupal site following the author's instructions. It's a great book of examples of tutorials to follow along with hands-on. The author gets you creating story content and editing it quickly. He also spends a good deal of time discussing integrating a WYSIWYG text editor to your content node form so you can use the text editor buttons to format content.
Chapter 3 continues the content discussion by showing you a bunch of enhancements you can do to your posted content. The author aptly calls these "seasonings". This includes creating teasers, creating links to other node content using the text editor, uploading images using the text editors and manually via the Drupal node editor, linking your images, embedding audio content, and linking to downloadable files such as PDFs. My only concern here is that the author shows you how to link to PDF files via the text editor but there's actually simpler methods of doing this in Drupal using Drupal's default file attachments module (part of core). This is the preferred method since it easily opens up the attached file to be used in other areas of your site via the Views module for instance. I always encourage Drupal users to add attached files using the core Drupal file attachments since I think it's simpler and more streamlined and it's the "Drupal" way of attaching files. I would add this method first and then show the text editor option second.
The author shows us how to upload and embed video content using SWF Tools module. I would have spent a bit more time in this chapter showing the user more details about uploading Flash based content using a combination of the Flash node and the SWF tools modules and integrating various player options in SWF Tools such as the Flowplayer utility. But again these are technicalities. The information the author presents is great and detailed. It's a good starting point for more beginning Drupal users.
Chapter 4 moves into more advanced content editing topics. The author shows you how to use HTML and CSS to create table based layouts (without using table code) in your text editor and in a Drupal node. So for everyone who needs an introduction to CSS this is a great place to start. The author spends time showing us how to add the CSS files so they are recognized by our Drupal theme — this is going to be a bit more advanced for the new Drupal user but its good stuff to learn. He even shows us how to create a CSS file from scratch and how to build the table layout without using table code. Sticking to CSS is going to give you cleaner code and work better with Drupal so it's great that he emphasizes this here. For dealing with more table based code Green shows us some tricks to injecting this code using PHP. Again this is more advanced but good tips and tricks for those involved with code. He also shows us how revisions and workflow work in our Drupal site.
Chapter 5 deals with how to use tagging, tag clouds and how to re-name our URLs with human friendly path aliases using Drupal's core Path module. This will help our site become more searchable, browser and user friendly. Tagging is the focus here and he gives a nice walkthrough of Drupal's taxonomy system. Anyone interested in setting up tagging on their Drupal site should read this chapter. Chapter 6 moves into using Blocks, Views and setting up Blogs on your site. This chapter is the one to read if you're managing blocks and Views and want a good introduction to the Views module. Packt has published books specifically on using Drupal Views but I would start here first if you're just using Views for the first time.
The section on blogging is good too. Often I hear folks report that Drupal is only a fancy blogging tool or blogging application. This book actually shows that Drupal is a full scale and robust CMS and that blogging is only one minuscule part of the entire framework. If you're just going to be blogging on your site Drupal may actually be overkill. The author shows this by spending a smaller amount of time showing you how to set up your Drupal site for blogs, but of course it also shows you that Drupal does blogs too and you can easily use a Drupal site to just blog. I would argue that this is a great book to look at the overall impact of Drupal on building Web sites and how we can leverage it to build powerful, rich and robust content management driven sites. We can add a blog if we want to but it's not just a blogging-based piece of software.
Chapter 7 deals with setting up users, roles and permissions on your site. It's good to leave this chapter towards the end of the book since Drupal permissions can be a bit tricky and time consuming to set up. We moved through a bunch of fun material earlier in the book and now we have a chapter on permissions. I like the attention the author placed on how to organize this section into the overall book's theme and layout. Chapter 8 shows you some tricks for dealing with issues like pasting Word content into a Drupal node; and using the Blog API module to work on blog posts in remote software and then post those blog entries to your Drupal site via a Web service. A nice touch here to add a small section on using Web services to post content. Finally the Appendix shows you how to install Drupal.
This is definitely one of the best books I've read on Drupal from an introductory standpoint. It's up there with O'Reilly's Using Drupal book and I would recommend it to anyone who is installing Drupal for the first time. I'll use it in my introductory Drupal classes for sure. It will be nice to see this book revised for Drupal 7 soon. Excellent work again from J. Ayen Green.
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