Book review: Drupal 7 Development by example

In the book 'Drupal 7 Development by Example', author Kurt Madel guides the reader through the process of building a Drupal 7 website. Step by step we are building an HTML5 interactive recipe website. The book covers setting up content types, using Views to list recipes and create blocks, integrating the Media module, HTML5 theming and enhancing the website markup with Microdata. Furthermore widely used modules such as Webform, Fivestar, Views Slideshow and Features are covered.

The book really takes a hands-on approach, and shows the reality of what is involved when doing day-to-day Drupal development and site building. When writing a book it is probably tempting to construct the examples in such a way that everything seems to work perfectly and without any headaches. I appreciate that the author of this book didn't take this road, but instead shows a glimpse of what real-life development is like: applying patches, browsing and interacting with the issue queues, writing missing functionality to existing modules, making decisions on whether to use -dev releases or not, and so on. Furthermore it is really nice to see that interacting with and contributing to the Drupal community is a recurring theme throughout the book, and not just a footnote.

The examples used in the book are very useful, but some of them might be a bit too complex for absolute beginners. So when reading the book they might want to stop for a minute and find more background elsewhere (e.g. about what's going on exactly. Though people with some knowledge of Drupal concepts will find it refreshing to see examples that aren't totally dumbed down, but provide some challenge instead.

A small downside to the book is that there are enough typos and small mistakes that should have been spotted in the reviewing process, for it to be a bit annoying (although granted, I tend to be overly sensitive to that). I also spotted a few practices in the book that I wouldn't recommend, such as granting Full HTML input format privileges too easily.

Overall this book is a great resource for aspiring Drupal developers who (preferably) might have done some theoretical reading on Drupal and its APIs, but are lacking real-life experience with actually getting their hands dirty. It's a nice companion to guide you through the process of actually building a Drupal site and getting to know the Drupal-specific contribution processes.