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Combine that with a topic as difficult as the Panels module and you've got quite a task ahead of you. While the idea behind panels is easy to grok, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Earl Miles merlinofchaos on drupal. As with many things in the Drupal community, this makes for something very powerful, but also something very time-consuming to fully understand and use - both in theory and practice.


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Several books that I've reviewed in the past have included a chapter or two at most about Panels. Authors of these books have had the distinct advantage of not having to go into too great of detail. The author of Drupal 6 Panels Cookbook did not have this luxury - and unfortunately fell short of writing something that will be useful to the vast majority of Drupal users. One of the first issues I had with the book was the fact that many complex ideas were introduced without adequate background information or explanation.

The ideas of "variants" and "context" were both introducted very quickly and without much explanation.

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Anyone familiar with Panels know that these are two of the main building blocks of anything except than the most simple panels. Much of the rest of the book quickly builds upon this ideas - I have the feeling that readers new to Panels will quickly get lost. While the concept behind a "variant" is explained - it is done so in a section about upgrading from Panels 2 to Panels 3. The vast majority of readers will most likely skip this section as I did since Panels 2 wasn't that widely adopted. Unfortunately, this means that most readers will miss the "variant" explanation.

The explanation of "context" is even more baffling. Instead of describing it in his own words, the author simply repeats Earl Miles' definition and explanation from Earl's Angry Donuts blog without a reference and then swiftly moves into how to implement it in Panels. As an experienced Drupal instructor, I've found that explaining what "context" is to both newbies and experienced developers in the Drupal sense requires significant discussion and often multiple examples.

The aspect of the book that put it over the top for me is the lack of apparent understanding on the author's part on how to override node displays.

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Panels allow site administrators to override the default node display so that you can layout the various parts of a node title, body, tags, comment form, etc The author instructs the user to create a new panel then use context to create the override - for each individual node. I can only hope that the author was working with an early alpha- or beta-version of Panels 3 that didn't include this. There are numerous cases in the book where the author describes a specific case that works for one particular node instead of the generic case that works for groups of nodes.

I feel this does the reader a huge disservice. There is also the case of where I feel the author doesn't adequately grasp the fundamental concept behind Drupal's menu system. In one example, he adds the "Navigation" menu to a Panel pane. In the very next example, he modifies the Menu setting of the Panel to cause the "Navigation" menu to disappear.

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While this might work as a coincidence, the Panel's Menu setting is used to place a reference to the panel in Drupal's menu system - not for displaying a particular menu in a pane. The author does make a nice effort to discuss Drupal modules that leverage Panels OG Panels , Advanced Profile , and Views , to name a few , but unfortunately, these chapters are built on a weak foundation of previous concepts and examples.

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As I said at the top of the article - writing a technical book isn't easy. Writing a technical book about Panels or Views, for that matter is a pretty steep hill to climb. This might explain why this is the first book to focus solely on Panels and there is only a single book that focuses on Views and a subset of Views at that!

I love the idea of having a single reference book that focuses on Panels, and I was hoping this would be a book that I can use and that I can recommend to other developers and clients. Unfortunately, it is not. If you're needing to learn how to use Panels, perhaps a better bet for now would be to dive into the Drupal documentation, user forums, and Drupal Planet articles until something with a more solid foundation is available. So rare, i Tweets about this link [ Yeah, totally agreed with your assessment of this book.

I'm just now working my way through Panels, and the book is proving to be more hindrance than help. What a shame, since Packt usually does a nice job.


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Like most of my Drupal experience so far, it looks like the best method to learning Panels is to just jump in and start making mistakes. Bookmark the permalink. Post a [ I can't rate it because I haven't read it, but I'm glad someone else is willing to give a book from Packt a negative review. Packt honestly churns out a lot of junk. It continues to amaze me how they get so much praise. They have had a couple of good books, when they use authors who have contributed a lot to the community. However, for the most part they use people who have contributed very little. Those people, not knowing a lot about Drupal, go and take most of their stuff from the drupal.

For this book, take Bhavin Patel, user mindtrades on drupal. Then take the fiasco of their "Drupal 7" book. It was published in Sept, before there was even a beta release of Drupal 7.

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The author Dave Mercer has very little given back to Drupal, heck he doesn't he rank on certifiedtorock, and see Ill let the d. This is not to say they shouldn't be contributing, it's great to write books and try to get people on board, but I don't think it's helping the Drupal community to churn out half-assed books from non-experts. Why not talk to Earl Miles if you are going to write a book on panels merlinofchaos. Each recipe contains step-by-step instructions followed by the analysis of what was done in each task and other useful information.

The book is designed so that you can read it chapter by chapter, or you can look at the list of recipes and refer to them in no particular order. This book is written for Drupal developers who want to refresh the look and feel of their sites. If you are a Drupal site administrator who is looking to go beyond the basics and customize the presentational aspects of your Drupal site, then this book is for you.

It assumes that readers are familiar with rudimentary PHP and acquainted with Drupal installation and general usage. Catalog Smart Courseshelves. Remember me Forgot password? How to Signup? There are mainly 2 options: 1 - Your institution handles itself the process of account creation login and password : Please contact your librarian who will provide you with your access codes. We also invite you to ask your colleagues, friends, professors or librarians for help.

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