Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours coverSams Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours helps you get up to speed with Drupal quickly. Whether you're starting from scratch or working to fill in some gaps in your Drupal knowledge, you'll find descriptions, examples, and Try It Yourself numbered steps to walk you through working with Drupal.

This book introduces you to Drupal and to major components ranging from the basics (overall design, themes, administration, security, and the like) as well as modules that are distributed with Drupal itself along with contributed modules that enhance your site. Each chapter is focused on a single task so that you can jump around according to your needs.

The emphasis is on what your site does: Drupal and the modules are there to help you and your end-users achieve your goals. For example, Polls, Comments, Discussions, and Feed Aggregators all are ways to enrich your site with contributed content, and they're covered together in a single chapter (10). Some functionality comprises a number of modules working together such as Content Construction Kit -- CCK (chapter 7) and e-commerce (Ubercart - chapter 16). In some important areas such as CCK, you'll find previews of where Drupal 7 may be going.

One of Drupal's main attractions for many people is its ability to automate site creation and maintenance. You'll see how to use views and view arguments to create dynamic views that take care of themselves as content is added to your site as well as how to use taxonomy not just to categorize information but to enable users to retrieve it speedily.

Throughout, there's an emphasis on why: polls are a doorway into interaction with users, when should you enable comments and when should you channel feedback into a discussion forum, and more.

There's even a final chapter with a roadmap to some common CSS theme modifications.

The book's author, Jesse Feiler, is a consultant, author, and speaker specializing in new technologies for small business and nonprofits. In 1999, he wrote Database-Driven Web Sites, one of the first books to propound the then-radical notion that the power of the web and databases could be combined so that it would not be necessary to hand-craft every web page from custom-written HTML. His recent work includes not only Drupal but also apps (both for Facebook and iPhone), Bento, and volunteer work with community organizations that are turning to Drupal to help them fulfill their missions. He can be reached at North Country Consulting.


antlib’s picture


Spotted this in Kensington High Street PC World, London - not only the first Drupal book I've ever spotted in there but a staff pick.

Well done - the more Drupal books on physical shop bookshelves, the more awareness!

Stan x

portait’s picture

The part of title "in 24 hours" might misdirect readers since drupal has an extremely steep learning curve.

spamjim’s picture

There has always been a misunderstanding of the "in 24 hours" series of books. It does not mean that one learns in 24 hours. They offer 24 one hour lessons that can be taken at the learner's own pace.

The learning curve on Drupal depends on what you want to do with Drupal. A basic blogger using a stock theme could learn it in one hour.

richardtmorgan’s picture

I'm a big fan of Drupal. After beating my head against a brick wall trying to get Joomla to do just as I wanted, Drupal is a breath of fresh air. A module I wrote for Joomla involving creating several new tables, and hand-coding all the forms could be created with CCK and Views and just a handful of lines of custom code dropped into the Views .tpl files. The documentation of the API is excellent, and in return for relatively little time invested, it permits completely custom built solutions.

However... it is daft to suggest that it doesn't have a steep learning curve. I'm afraid that anyone who wanted a blog and only had an hour to learn it (or 24 even), would be far better served by Word Press, or even by Joomla - who have a vast collection of very presentable templates. [People do understand that SAMS 'In 24 Hours' series does mean that after working through their books you'll have only a scant knowledge of a given subject - they make great introductions though.]

I think that Drupal should be unashamed of not being a 'solution out of a box'. It doesn't compete well in that world. As the base on which to build exactly the website you want - it's unbeatable.

moshe weitzman’s picture

Thats a stretch of the word "misunderstanding". I would call is misleading. There is deception in the name.

gdemet’s picture

Yes, but while it might be more accurate, "Teach Yourself a Basic Working Knowledge of Drupal in 24 Non-Consecutive Hours" isn't quite as catchy a title...

venkat-rk’s picture

Calling it misleading or deceptive is also stretching things too far. I know this as someone who has used the Sams series books a lot. It says clearly on the front and back cover, '24 proven one-hour lessons'. That's exactly what they are and where the '24 hours' comes from. It's not SAMS' fault that people misunderstand it as 'being able to learn in 24 hours'.

highermath’s picture

Perhaps, but the fact that they have been doing these en masse for over a decade should be enough cover for the gripes of those who purchase a book in this series without reading the description.

Some folks prefer the "boil this down to 24 key elements" requirement.

AndyW’s picture

I agree but the varying time needed to learn Drupal is dependent on just what you are trying to do but I don't buy this nonsense about the 24 hours explanation. The publishing company knows full well what "learn in 24 hours" on a frontcover means to a potential book buyer and they are deliberately misleading readers on a whole host of programming languages and software applications by using it.

spamjim’s picture

Oy. We're still making a mountain out of a mole hill.

If you cannot read the cover of the book to see the clear subtitle of "24 Proven One-hour Lessons" and you cannot recognize that no one would ever be expected to do any sort of reading or training over 24 consecutive hours - - - - then you are not likely a potential book buyer. It would be a miracle that you could read and have the sense to navigate to a bookseller. There is nothing misleading.

When we bill clients for 40 hours on a project, do the clients think we were working for 40 consecutive hours?

I also have a book called "Using Drupal" with a squirrel on the cover but I cannot find any squirrel that is smart enough to use Drupal. Believe me, I've looked.

Why don't we discuss the content of a book instead of judging the cover? I think there is some metaphor behind that concept.

snoozeulose’s picture

I've used two of the Sams books so far to teach myself the basics of AJAX and Dreamweaver. Although it does not happen in 24 hours, I would have to say that the authors have laid it out in easy to understand terms, given numerous examples and often provided "do it yourself" ish exercises. I would recommend these books to others (although, these are some of the first books on web design I have read.)

jamescopper’s picture

in just 24 hours , i don;t think so that some one learn drupal properly

spamjim’s picture

Without insulting your own learning capability, my non-technical spouse learned all she needs to know about Drupal in 6 hours.

To claim that it would take an average user longer than 24 hours to learn is an insult to the many developers of Drupal.

pf008’s picture

I am new to drupal. I bought this book like 3 days ago, and I am frustrated as heck with it. It is poorly written and confusing. I think there are alot of errors as well. For instance, page 121- "ImageCache consists of a variety of presets, which are actions that are invoked as needed for image fields. When you go to Administer, Site Building, ImageCache, you see the list of your presets and can add new ones, as shown in Figure 7.14. "

The book has images that show presets and implies they are already present upon Imagecache installation. There are NO presets. I'm sittin here pullin my hair out to find them or figure out if I installed Imagecache wrong or what. Turns out it doesn't come with presets.

There are other instances in the book that are equally as frustrating. And the images in the book are also too small. It should have been sold with a magnifying glass.

I'm also fed up with the constant comparison between Drupal 6 and 7 - which isn't even stable yet or offered on the Drupal.org homepage for download.

rogerstiles’s picture

I just bought this book this morning, but having read the review from pf008 I'm not sure if I've wasted my money.

I'll give an independent review in a couple of days. Good to see the Drupal profile spreading though - this is the first Drupal book I've seen.

garywg’s picture

Not to take away from SAMS, but the book that helped me see the light was "Oreilly's, Using Drupal".

pf008’s picture

sorry, you might enjoy the book, I just found alot if it kind of vague as well. The author also assumes you know how to go about installing apache, sql, php, etc and configuring everything to get drupal installed. He neglects to mention modules that are necessary to download or enable for the other modules you download to function. Let me know if you get imagecache to work (hour 7) because it's saving the cached images to the wrong folder. I could go on but I think I'll go pick up Drupal for Dummies or just keep reading stuff on the internet and watching videos lol

plasticfrank’s picture

I'm a freelance illustrator/designer fresh out of school who's committed to becoming a jack of all trades for the sake of independence and self promotion. For example, I continue to teach myself as much as I can about design, printing, color separation, etc. so that I don't have to rely on large publishing companies or designers to put my art in a book and publish it. I can do it myself.

This applies to the web as well. I'm not a master web designer but I have tried to keep my web design skills current enough to keep my web presence from being laughable without requiring me to pay a designer money I don't have for a task I feel that I really should be able to handle myself.

Some time ago I learned that with enough knowledge of PHP and MYSQL one could run a dynamic database driven site, adding content through custom forms. I thought that if I could pull this off the resulting site would come off as slicker than snot making me look super professional and thus inspiring more prospective clients. I always intended to learn this stuff. I even built a home server from scratch, experimented with LINUX and got APACHE up and serving my goofy little website. The next step was to start from scratch with PHP and MYSQL but I found myself spending so much time not making art that I couldn't help but question the wisdom of distracting myself from my primary craft with a technology that I only ever intended to use for self promotion.

I let the idea go for a while until recently when I heard of Joomla. Through researching Joomla I learned the term CMS and that there are many open source CMS. I set my eye on Drupal. It seems like it'll give me the functionality that I've always wanted. I've been trying to get into it for a little while but now with the release of Alpha 7 I'm kind of stumped.

I understand that 7 is going to be way more user friendly. I'm hearing things like WYSIWYG editing, CCK-esque fields, awesomeness, etc. Should I, as a newbie, mess around with Drupal 6 while waiting for a completed 7? Should I wait for 7? Is 7 going to be so different that the time I spend learning 6 is just going to be wasted when 7 comes? Should I play with Alpha 7 without documentation?

Is buying books like "Sams Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours" (which seems pretty good) going to be completely useless when Drupal 7 is complete?

These are questions that I, due to a lack of knowledge and experience, simply can't answer for myself. It's exciting to hear about all the great stuff happening with Drupal. But it's worrisome to think that the Drupal books I want to buy might become doorstops very shortly.

melwyn.s’s picture

plasticfrank ... i think it would definitely benefit you if you go through one the drupal books that teaches drupal 6 ... It will definitely help you and give you a very good understanding on how drupal functions by the time you migrate to drupal 7.

Drupal 7 is still in alpha mode .. It would probably take a lot of time for the final version to be released until then you get your hands dirty with Drupal 6 .. learn how the two most important modules CCK & Views work .. the learning curve is high so its take time to understand how to get what you want .. Also since you already good in designing you could also learn the Theming and designing system of drupal 6. Once you master most of it ... it would then be easy to play with drupal 7

To me end of the day its like knowing how to use win xp and then migrating to windows 7 ..

plasticfrank’s picture

I think I'll take your advice. I'm interested in this book in particular because the lessons seem to be broken up into small, easily digestible chunks. 'Drupal 6 Site Blueprints' also seems like a good fit for me to help me understand how to apply Drupal once I'm more familar.

rusloc’s picture

Funny, you practically described my situation, only instead of a professional designer, I am a professional translator/linguist.
Even though it's fare from perfect, I find Jesse's book useful, it helps me expand my general knowledge and familiarity with Drupal's concepts and ways of doing things. It reinforces my knowledge of Drupal obtained from other sources.

Its illustrations are hard to see because of poor quality and small size, as many people noted before me, but some of his textual tips, advice and conclusions are very valuable. Even for a beginner like myself. That's why I am marking them for future reference, like I did when reading 'Using Drupal'.

Technical books become doorstops after a product's next version is released only if you memorize (or follow) them step-by-step, without thinking. However, if they helped you to study the core idea of the subject, or taught you where to look for answers, they served their purpose.

Some books are a proverbial "fish", and some are the "net". This one is definitely a 'net'.

a3arar’s picture

You might want to abbreviate your story to a question or two for others to help you find your way.

melwyn.s’s picture

I have not red this book yet ..but will definitely give it a go ... I think its the only book that talks about panels which i havent yet explored. Also since it has 24 1 hour chapters i could either skip some and do the ones that are just interesting . Helps in refreshing your knowledge

But for any newbie venturing into drupal Oreilly's, Using Drupal is the book to go ..

I started off with Building.Powerful.and.Robust.Websites_with.Drupal6 by David Mercer ..after exploring Drupal 6 myself using the drupal.org support forums which to my opinion is too much for a complete starter to begin ..you end up spending more time searching and finding the right solution ..(multiple solutions to one issue in the documentation) so i ended up with the David Mercer book .. The book is good for a complete newbie who know nothing about drupal (hasnt explored the support forums as well)..it helps you from installation to configuring the basic drupal 6 offerings at a very slow pace ..for this reason i abandoned it and jumped to Oreilly's Using Drupal which assumes you have a very basic knowledge of drupal (not necessarily though). At present its the best book out there and i could recommend any beginner to start of with this book and then venture out into different books of your choice .

fenns’s picture

For most Drupal neophytes what needs to be understood is that Drupal has several different points along its learning curve. This is how I split it up for my classes:

Content Providers: These are people who simply want to contribute content to a site that has already been installed and configured. If this is the case, it could be completely plausible to learn how to contribute content in 24 hours (or 24 one-hour lessons) or less.

Site Builders: This is for people who want to be able to control the functionality a Drupal site uses. If there is a bit of understanding or experience with configuring plug-ins or modules that other web applications such as Joomla, phpBB3, or WordPress use - the 24 hour statement may also be accurate.

Site Engineers: These are people who want to be able to create or improve upon Drupal program functionality, create themes, and/or administer the actual Drupal back-end. 24 hours, even 24 one-hour lessons, is probably a stretch here - even for those users who come in with a good working knowledge of php, HTML/CSS, and/or MySQL or Postgres.

Drupal's biggest advantage is its extensibility. To be as extensible as it is, it must be complex - the more user-friendly we try to make it at the front end, the deeper and more complicated the programming must be on the back end.

My advice is, as with any technology book, know what your goals are before you commit to a purchase. If possible, preview the book first - check it out at a library or view an excerpt from Amazon if available. This way, you won't be dissatisfied and further frustrated in your Drupal endeavors.

shilpaa’s picture

Thanks for the flow of info