Best Drupal Books: My Top 5 Choices

September 1st, 2011 Leave a comment
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Drupal BooksBeginning Drupal 7Drupal for DummiesPro Drupal 7 DevelopmentCracking Drupal: A Drop in the BucketFront End Drupal: Designing, Theming, ScriptingDefault

Drupal is a very powerful CMS, but it can be extremely hard to master: the learning curve for creating a powerful, usable, and engaging website is quite steep. There are quite a few Drupal books out there that can teach you these basics, and sorting the good from the bad can be a daunting task at times. That said, here’s our top 5 choices for Drupal books – we’ll help you find the one that’s perfect for creating your first Drupal website (or sharpening your already-savvy Drupal skills!)

Beginning Drupal 7

Beginning Drupal 7 Book By Todd Tomlinson

Our list opens with Todd Tomlinson’s book Beginning Drupal 7, which turns out to be a phenomenal introduction to the Drupal CMS. All too often, authors will forget that sometimes beginners are truly beginners; they skip over some basic steps of the Drupal process, like installing Drupal on a web server. Tomlinson doesn’t forget this, and he approaches every step of the process with the assumption that the user has never touched a Drupal CMS before. Whether it’s installing Drupal on a web server, or discussing the most basic elements of a Drupal site, Tomlinson leads the reader through Drupal in a well-organized, helpful, and encouraging fashion.

That said, more experienced Drupal users probably won’t get much out of this book. It truly is a book for beginners, and anyone with more than a dusting of Drupal knowledge probably will be bored by the pace this book sets. They are not its target audience, however; beginners are, and Tomlinson’s book is extremely helpful to them. It’s definitely a must-have for anyone looking to start Drupal for the first time, and it deserves a spot on any beginner Drupal dev’s tech bookshelf!

Publisher: Beginning Drupal 7
Amazon: Beginning Drupal 7

Drupal for Dummies

Drupal for Dummies Book By Lynn Beighley

There are quite a few people who scoff at the “for Dummies” series, but the fact remains that many of them are extremely useful for people who want to learn something from the ground up. That remains true for Lynn Beighley’s Drupal for Dummies, which is an excellent introduction to Drupal, including Drupal installation, backing up, and individual components. Her writing is clear, concise, and generally a pleasure to read; she includes many hands-on exercises for you to follow along with, making sure that you don’t get lost along the way by putting theoretical ideas into practice.

The book is wonderful for beginners, but the same warning applies here as to Beginning Drupal 7: advanced users need not apply. The book goes too slow for anyone with any Drupal experience to enjoy; the pace, however, is perfect for beginners and not aimed at moderate to experienced Drupal users. As a result, this book definitely deserves a spot on a beginner Drupal users’ tech shelf!

Publisher: Drupal for Dummies
Amazon: Drupal for Dummies

Pro Drupal 7 Development

Pro Drupal 7 Development Book By Todd Tomlinson & John VanDyk

Astute readers will recall that we have already covered this book in some detail on one of our longer book reviews. That doesn’t mean we can’t give it a shout-out here, however, because it’s still a very good book in its own right; Tomlinson and VanDyk give a solid, well-explained look into some of the deeper functions and power that Drupal 7 has to offer, including interacting with databases, new AJAX/JavaScript calls, differences in functionality from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, etc. and so forth.

While the book is quite good and filled with a great deal of examples to get you off the ground, it does suffer in one area: it lacks enough documentation on the differences from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. The book almost feels rushed, as if they wanted to get it out while Drupal 7 was still bleeding-edge; as a result, many of the new Drupal 7 additions, like changing everything to entities or new JavaScript/AJAX calls, aren’t adequately covered. Despite this oversight, however, the book is still an excellent guide to Drupal development, and comes recommended to anyone ready to take the next step up in professional Drupal development! We’ve recently published an in-depth review of this book, which you can find here: Pro Drupal 7 Development Book Review.

Publisher: Pro Drupal 7 Development
Amazon: Pro Drupal 7 Development

Cracking Drupal: A Drop in the Bucket

Cracking Drupal: A Drop in the Bucket Book By Greg Knaddison

This book is far, far different from any of the other books on this list; it assumes already a pretty deep knowledge of Drupal and its inner workings, but it’s not aimed at just learning to develop for Drupal or learning how to use Drupal. The book is instead all about security and how to avoid getting your Drupal install hacked, cracked, and defaced. Knaddison is a member of the Drupal Security Team, and his expertise shows; the subject matter ranges from how to properly use the already-installed Drupal security features to adding extensions that further harden a Drupal install.

Cracking Drupal is fantastic at what it does; it’s clear, the writing style is concise, and at no point are you lost or wondering how to pull off that magical fix he just described. The book is not about scaring Drupal users that they could be hacked at any moment; it is instead about educating them on the risks of the CMS and making sure their setup is locked down tight. Though not about development, this one absolutely deserves a spot on your tech shelf!

Publisher: Cracking Drupal: A Drop in the Bucket
Amazon: Cracking Drupal: A Drop in the Bucket

Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting

Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting Book By Konstantin Kafer & Emma Hogbin

Most of the books on this list have been more on the technical, back-end side of Drupal development; what many developers and authors forget, however, is that the front-end of a Drupal website may be the most important part; after all, a well-designed backend means nothing if users don’t want to visit the site! To that end, Kafer and Hogbin have written a very well-laid out book describing the different ways to make your Drupal theme look professionally done.

The book combines a good mix of design planning and actual coding; it asks tough questions that help you to create a front-end that really fits well with your website. Kafer and Hogbin make sure to emphasize the different steps and methods one has to take in order to make their Drupal theme look amazing and be attractive to users, and for that they deserve a space on any Drupal designer’s shelf!

Publisher: Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting
Amazon: Front End Drupal: Designing, Theming, Scripting


And there you have it – 5 Drupal books that are very good at what they do. From beginners to pro developers and back again through designers, these books are a great foundation for any Drupal library and will no doubt help anyone looking for a way to get into Drupal development and design!

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