Pro Drupal Development by J.K. VanDyk and M. Westgate, Apress June 2007 $45US
As you can see, Pro Drupal Development came out in June of last year and it is already out of date. Pro Drupal covers Drupal 5 and Drupal 6 is already out the door. In general Web 2.0, social networking and CMS are all moving very rapidly (see our coverage of OpenSourceCMS here and the new social networking site Ning here). Despite the changes, much of Pro Drupal Development remains relevant because the internals of Drupal have not changed except in two key areas – themes and extensions/plugins. So this raises the question when to use thi book ?

Why Read Pro Drupal Development

If you are committed to the new Drupal 6 and want only the latest, then wait for the second edition of this book which will be available in July of this year. This revised book has the first of the two authors plus Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead on Drupal as authors. And judging from the advanced info it will follow the same major topics and orientation as below. If on the other hand you are committed to Drupal 5, and there are things you want to do well beyond the normal customization available in the Admin pages of Drupal – then here is the best place to go.

But be aware – this is not a basic tutorial – there is no installation guidance nor is there any introductory discussion of the many admin pages and how to use them. Thus if you are looking for basic guidance on how to install and and then customize Drupal 5 (or 6 for that matter) this is not the book you want. Rather, you may want to try Building Online Communities With Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress or the Drupal website documentation which is pretty helpful.

What You Get

Pro Drupal Development gets readers with good CSS and reasonable PHP + MYSQL experience all the keys to Drupal 5. It starts with a solid overview chapters on how Drupal works. Then immediately the attention turns to the design and key coding of Drupals Modules and then Menus. This may be a bit frustrating for users that want to do more advanced styling – because Themes and templates are not covered until chapter 8. But readers will be rewarded because the Modules section elucidates the writing of themes.

This is followed by section on Forms and then manipulating user input. This discussion goes well beyond the forums and articles and looks at extending Drupal for events, invitations, and shopping carts. As always the discussion is solid and the ground work has been laid for understanding key concepts such as the interaction of modules and menus etc. Finally there is a series of chapters on advanced topics like enhancing security (simple and advanced), optimizing your site and adding RPC-Remote Procedure Calling features. In sum if you are geared towards knowing Drupal 5 and having insights into the broader Drupal framework and coding tricks (have your HTML, CSS, and PHP up to speed), this is your book.