Ask around any Open Source community and you'll get a positive response that Drupal is a very flexible platform to build social networking sites. But with any powerful and highly configurable CMS there will inevitably be a steep learning curve.
This is where this book Drupal 6 Social Networking by Michael Peacock aims to compliment Drupal by lowering the barrier and learning curve so any one with very little programming knowledge can build their own social network site. So does this book really live up to its expectations and teach many site builders the easy way of setting up a social network?
I must say, after finishing the book i was pleasantly surprised to learn just by utilising Drupal modules out of the box and a few 3rd party modules, you can actually built quite an advanced social network site. I don't mean a complete Facebook, Ning or MySpace as these sites are way more complicated. This book doesn't promise you that you can build such site like Facebook but rather your own niche site, otherwise stick with using Facebook Groups for a more generic audience. It is aimed at building a social network site that is enough for users to interact/communicate with each other and have useful widgets without having to do any complicated programming on your part.
How is the book laid out? it begins by introducing the reader to the definition of what social networks are. Then the few first chapter takes the reader into using every possible modules out of the box to configure your drupal site for a social network. Of course, Drupal out of the box is not enough and this is where 3rd party modules become it's real strength in aiding the process of extending your system further.
In the second half of the book towards near the end, it guides you through understanding which suitable 3rd party modules to use and provides an insight into setting it up and configuring it. Drupal 6 Social Networking is a really useful book which is also easy to follow and i recommend it to any one who is interested in creating a social network for a niche topic. An added bonus from reading this book is also getting to understand the basics of administering a Drupal as well.
The only minor let down is that it hasn't dealt enough about security as this is fast becoming a major issue especially when identity theft is on the increase. However, to be fair security itself is a huge topic and probably will require a whole book dedicated to the subject of security alone. If this is a concern, check out Cracking Drupal by Greg Knaddison. You can purchase Drupal 6 Social Networking by Michael Peacock at Packt Publishing site
Thanks to Packt Publishing for this complimentary book.