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Drupal is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) for a variety of platforms. It has a robust user community and easy-to-use administration features. Drupal Essential Training covers all the important aspects of installing, configuring, customizing, and maintaining a Drupal-powered website. Instructor Tom Geller explores blogs, discussion forums, member profiles, and other features while demonstrating the steps required to make Drupal perform. He also teaches fundamental concepts and skills along the way, including installation, backups, and updates; security and permissions; flexible page layouts and CSS; menu navigation; and performance monitoring and disaster recovery. He also discusses how to select and install the community-supported modules that further expand Drupal's capabilities, and gives experienced PHP programmers tips on customizing page templates. Example files accompany the course.
Drupal's built-in page and story content types are fairly straight forward, each single page of contents stands on its own but Drupal includes another content type that lets you combine a series of pages into a sort of online book with single click links to go back and forth just like turning the pages of a real life book. This content type is especially handy for sequential, instructional material and is in fact used on the drupal.org web site to presents its tutorial handbooks. Let's take a look at that site now to understand how books work. We have gone straight to the Drupal 6 handbook, which you can see at getting-started/6. The book itself is divided into two sections Install Drupal and Administer Drupal; if you click on either of these you will see the chapters that it contains, if you click on up you will go back to your original page. This is like going into the pages of a chapter, if that chapter is subdivided into sections, you can see how there is a multilevel hierarchy. You can also page through the book by going to the right like this and this and so forth. I am going to go up again and up one more time and you can also add additional pages by adding child pages. Once again in the hierarchy, the child is the one that's immediately below the level that you are looking at. This will become clear as we go along.
The big difference between Drupal books and the way you think of real life books; is that in the real world books have a variety of parts, there is a cover, a chapter title, subtitles and body text. Some of those parts don't actually have any content, for example the cover doesn't tell you anything expect the name of the book, it doesn't contain a lot of information just the name. In a Drupal book every part is equal and has both a title and the body. I know that doesn't make much sense now but you will see what I mean in a minute. Let's switch back to our site; to make books you first have to turn on the module book, to do so we go up to Administer and Modules and then scroll down until we see Book. Turn it on by clicking it; scroll down to the bottom and Save Configuration.
As with most modules there are permissions associated with the book content type, lets go to Administer and Permissions and search for the word book by hitting Command F on the Mac or Control F on a PC and we see that it creates its permissions inside the book module. We could for example allow our users to add content to books if the drupal. org site allows and then we could have contributing users be able to create new books and so forth. We are not going to change any of the default Permission, so we can just go back up to the top of the page if we like. Okay, so let's create our book, to do so go to Create content and then click on this new link, Book page. For our Title we are going to say Home Repair.
One thing that maybe confusing is that you see a Body here and that might make you think that you have to enter it but it doesn't have the red asterisk; this is not a required part of the page, you can just leave it blank. We scroll down further and we see have a new choice here Book outline. The main part that we change in the Book outline is what Book it belongs to. In this case we are going to create a new book; this will be like the title page or the cover of a real life book, create a new book and then say Save. Great, now that we have done that, we are going to add four sections to our book; these will be called Roof, Foundation, Electrical and Plumbing.
We do all of these as children of the book that's called Home Repair, as though these are chapters. To do so click on Add child page, the Title is going to be Roof and again we don't need any Body; going down a little bit to Book outline, we want it to be in the book Home Repair, now the reason it shows up by default as Home Repair is because we clicked on Add child. So it automatically filled in this field and this field; click on Save and we will do that three more times. First we have to go back up to Home Repair and add another child page, title will be Foundation. Once again we scroll down, make sure that yep it's in Home Repair, Save. Go back up so that we are at our Home Repair page, add a child, Title Electrical, Save that. Go up to our book, add a child page and Plumbing; go down and Save.
Great, now if we go back up we see that we have this book Home Repair which has four sections but where is this book, how can we actually look at it? As it happens when you turn on the book module a page is created at /book, there. Now we see our book; if we had created more than one of course we would see a list of books. Click on it and we go right back to where we were. As I look at this book, I think I want to divide this into sections, I think Electrical and Plumbing should be in Systems whereas Foundation and Roof should be in Structure, lets do that. It may be natural to think oh well how do I create a container for those two things but remember everything in a book is a page.
So we are going to go ahead and just add a another child page here and we will call this Systems and once again go down make sure its in the right place, yep its in Home Repair and Save. Once again we will go up, create a child page, and call that Structure and Save it. So now we have six pages that are really all on the same level and we want to create a hierarchy; to do so go to Administer and Books. Now we see our book with this Operation, edit order and titles; click on it and you see that familiar little icon with the arrows. We are going to put Electrical into Systems like this, by dragging it down and then in a little bit so you can see the hierarchy. We will move Plumbing into the same area, not as the child of Electrical but as a child of Systems. Roof of course goes into Structure and Foundation also goes into Structure like that. Click on Save Book Pages.
Now we have given our book some structure, lets take a look at how that looks by going back up to /book. Click on Home Repair, now we only see the two top levels, we click on either one of them; say Structure, now we see the two ones that are underneath it. There is one big weakness about this structure though. You don't really see a hierarchical list ; you just have to go in drilling down and drilling down. You can also use these forward and next pages but its still not very clear, for example this Foundation section, we see Roof comes next and Structure comes previous but that doesn't tell us about the hierarchy.
In order to see the hierarchy we are going to add this book as a block. To do so go to Administer and Blocks; you see every book that you create, creates a page that is some place that you can go by going to /book and then clicking on the link. It also creates a block, which I am about to show you, and it creates a menu, we will go through both of those now. We are now in Administer, Blocks, if you scroll down to the bottom you will see Book navigation block. We will take that and we will put it in the Left hand sidebar and Save Blocks. As with other blocks it gets put at the bottom and we can move it up if we like, let's do that just for the moment, we move it up and Save Blocks, there. Now we see our Home Repair book and of course if we had other books we would see those as well.
When we click on it, now we can see the structure a little better, click on Structure, there is our hierarchy. Let's go back to Blocks and take that one out, so I can show you menus. Go to Administer, Blocks and turn off Book navigation by going to none and saving. Now we will go to Admin and Menus. Once you are in the Menus page, click on Navigation and we see all of the things that are in this Navigation menu. If you scroll to the very bottom, you will see this- Books (disabled). Let's enable it by clicking here. You can see it's in the Enabled column and saving the configuration. Now at the very bottom of your Navigation menu you see Books, when you click on it, it just goes to that book page, not as useful.
In my opinion Drupal's book structure really needs the Block to make it worthwhile and once you are in a book, it's not as easy or obvious as it could be. But you do get some nice benefits from books, for one numerous people can create book pages with one editor rearranging them as needed, in short books are best for content that's intended to be part of a cohesive whole with multiple contributors and central moderators that's why drupal.org is built on books and if it's good enough for the Drupal project, its good enough for me.
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