Drupal 6 Themes
Lately I have been digging further into Drupal, an open source content management platform that describes itself lightheartedly as "community plumbing." These tubes have been used to power many high profile sites, which all have their own distinct look and feel. It appeals to me because it's more powerful than simple blogging software, but with that comes a bit of complexity. Thankfully, it is actually quite intuitive once one makes sense of how it works.
This allows for a great deal of flexibility in terms of design. Looking at sites that use Drupal reads like a veritable who's-who of technology / innovation…
While some have criticized Drupal in the past as being difficult for designers to customize, and that was probably a valid concern (at the time), the latest version is quite designer friendly - made so via the PHPTemplate engine that is built into the system. While it is "just" PHP, it is quite a bit simpler in terms of building templates than writing out raw code long-hand. So one could say, it is as designer friendly as other systems that rely on PHP for templating.
Shreves did a great job covering all that is possible within Drupal, from a design standpoint. He begins by explaining how the inner workings of the system fit together, and how this allows for a designer to override and tweak everything. He then shows how to take an existing theme and build a sub-theme.
Of course, this is all just a precursor to chapter 7 and beyond, where Shreves really shines, showing you how to build your own fully customized themes. That's not to downplay the importance of the foundational material, as the earlier chapters build well upon each other. I am simply saying I found the chapters on doing your own design from scratch especially inspiring.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any code savvy web designers who are looking to take their skills to the next level with a full-fledged content management system. With newly acquired skills, you will be able to confidently tackle enterprise scale projects, building upon the versatility of Drupal.
For me, a great way to learn about Drupal is to passively digest the information via listening to a podcast or watching a video. Here are some resources I've found. If you have suggestions, feel free to leave a comment on this post.
Lullabot Podcast - Largely considered to be the Voice of Drupal.
Got Drupal - Screencasts that range from beginner to advanced.
Geeks & God - Christian podcast that frequently shares Drupal tips.
Mustardseed Media - Video tutorials about Drupal. Co-host of G&G.
Drupal Speakeasy - A promising new podcast by LevelTen Design.