You have a working Drupal 6 installation. You have some understanding of how to administer the site and add content. But, you would like to know how people do some interesting things with their Drupal sites that you can’t quite figure out. Maybe that’s adding images, or slide shows or photo galleries. Maybe that’s pulling photos from outside sources like Flickr. Maybe you’d like to include YouTube videos or Odeo audio files or host video or audio on your own server. Maybe that’s using some AJAX for various display effects. Oh, and you would like to know how the set your Drupal theme up so these things all look good automatically. This is your book.
Drupal Multimedia is a short book, 235 pages including preface and summary chapter, but it has absolutely no fluff. There’s no rah-rah chapter explaining why Drupal is the greatest thing since buttered toast. There’s no installation chapter. There is no space wasted explaining basic CSS or HTML. The author assumes that you already have a working Apache/PHP/MySQL environment and Drupal 6 installation, can add modules, and that you know a reasonable amount of web coding and that you won’t freak out upon seeing instructions for some basic PHP tweaks. So if this sounds scary to you consider getting Building powerful and robust websites with Drupal and working through that first. It’s a more appropriate guide for the absolute beginner. But after you have the basics under your belt this is probably the best next book to get.
What the book does do is explain in cookbook style, how to add multimedia to Drupal using user contributed modules. It begins with two general purpose modules that add tremendous capabilities, the Content construction Kit (CCK) and the Views module. If you want to take Drupal beyond the basics these are important. Coverage of them is not extended but adequate, and you can see some of their more advanced capabilities through the examples given later in the book. Then the Image module is covered. I consider these three essential parts of any Drupal site and am glad that they get a good workout here.
The book then goes on to cover more specialized modules, explaining their use through examples that have legitimate real world application. A couple of the modules were written, at least in part, by Aaron Windburn and this book serves as a good user’s guide to them. Listing the modules covered probably serves little purpose out of context, so I’ll pass on that. There are also some CSS effects and some jQuery thrown in to spruce up your site.
As useful as this book is there are some small negatives. The index is only 5 pages long and only marginally worth the space. The table of contents on the publisher’s site is more useful. I caught a couple of typos. Since the multimedia capabilities are all explained in the context of specific modules, you might not find the exact match for your situation. Though the coverage of media related modules is excellent.
Still, this is a very useful book, one that would have saved me many dozens of hours searching through forums and tutorials had I had it even six months ago, and has even provide a more straightforward solution to embedded video than I’d been using. It also has me rethinking a photo gallery I spent too many hours figuring out. I’m referring to in on a current project.
Drupal Multimedia will definitely take the beginning to intermediate Drupal developer or webmaster to a new level of competence and basic sites to a new level of sophistication.