I am new to Drupal, but have been developing Orchard CMS Websites for quite some time. I picked up a copy of Using Drupal as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program to better understand the similiarities and differences of Orchard as compared to Drupal. I touched upon those similarities in a separate blog post, Orchard CMS Inspired by Drupal, and in this post I mainly want to talk about the Using Drupal Book itself.
Drupal for Beginners
The best way to classify Using Drupal is as a solid beginner book. I had no experience with Drupal before reading the book, yet felt extremely comfortable following along as the authors took me through the concepts of a CMS, the terminology and building blocks of a Drupal Website, and the entire workflow and administrative experience of creating content types, managing nodes, administering Drupal Themes, managing blocks, managing user permissions, etc. I did not install Drupal personally, but instead found a demo Drupal website available online and completed many of the exercises using the demo website. The instructions were clear and I could follow along at a comfortable pace.
Good Case Studies with Hands-On Exercises
For those new to Drupal, you will appreciate the various case studies with hands-on exercises to get you comfortable with fundamental tasks in Drupal. It was fun creating content types, managing media, and working with modules to create functionality on a Drupal Website like a Job Posting Board, Product Reviews, Online Store, etc. I didn't use the code that came with the book so I can't really comment on the quality and accuracy, but instead just followed along and created the content types, etc. via the backend interface. The exercises were just what I needed to appreciate the power of Drupal and understand how it compares to Orchard CMS.
Orchard Web Developers Will Appreciate Drupal
If you are an Orchard Web Developer or familiar with Orchard CMS, you will be able to easily understand how Drupal works based on the content in Using Drupal. There are so many similarities that you could almost be reading a book on Orchard, albeit the terminology, UI, and underlying technology stack is different. Once you understand the differences in terminology, however, Drupal and Orchard use the same concepts to deliver a world class CMS.
For my needs, Using Drupal was absolutely perfect to better understand Drupal and how it compares to Orchard. I think if you are a beginner to Drupal, you will find the content extremely easy to read and follow along. The hands-on exercises were both enlightening and representative of what happens in the real-world.