Review of Book Drupal Multimedia
As I have mentioned several times on this blog I’ve been doing a lot of work with Drupal of late. One way I’ve been learning about Drupal is through a series of books by Packt publishing. The most recent one is entitled “Drupal Multimedia”.
This book provides an excellent overview of how to use Drupal for multimedia. It discusses how to incorporate images, video and sound into your Drupal site. In describes Drupal modules which can be used to manage each of these types of content. What is really nice about this book is that it clearly describes the differences between the modules and their strengths and weaknesses. Its comparison of Image and ImageField is particularly good. It also discusses the configuration options for the different modules. Another strength of this books is that is clearly outlines how to use CCK and Views to manage and display media.
One way in which this book excels over other books is the fact that this book goes into detail of how to customize Drupal template files to better handle media. One key set of customizations that the book discusses is how to embed media. Images can be embedded in a more usable fashion using the Lightbox module. The author also outlines how to use images as part of slideshows and galleries. A gallery function comes with the Image module. But the book delves deeper into galleries and show how to create them using Views, Taxonomies and the customization of templates.
Customizations can also be made to better display video files. Either those uploaded to the site or those from third party services such as Blip.tv, YouTube or JumpCut to name a few. Local videos can also be nicely displayed by using the jQuery Media module. This module takes a media link and wraps it in the appropriate media player. This works with both video and audio files.
Like images, audio has it own module. This or the File Field module can be used to add audio to Drupal. Another cool customization for sound files that the book discusses is how to allow users to create their own playlists.
This book is chock full of helpful tips on how to handle media within Drupal. It has terrific examples not only of administrative configuration but also relevant PHP needed to customize templates. Drupal is an extremely powerful platform but the accompanying documentation available is lacking, particularly for the most recent version (6.x). This book helps to fill in major gaps in the documentation available on the Drupal website. Additionally, it contains some of the most easy to read documentation I’ve been of customizing themes and templates.
The only downside of this book is the fact that several of the modules it reccomends were still being updated for Drupal 6 at the time of publication. This means some of the directions and screenshots don’t match the current interface exactly. Additionally, the following modules mentioned in the book still haven’t been updated from Drupal 6.
This aside though. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned SO much from it. I’ve been working with Drupal for about a year and learning as I go via books and hands on experience. This book gave me a much better sense of what Drupal is capable of in terms of media. I actually know where to start for a change. Additionally, I actually developed a useful understand themes and templates enough so I can make changes. If you want to incorporate media into your Drupal site I HIGHLY recommend this book.