Ask Agaric: Getting started with Drupal
A lot of people want to know how to get started with learning Drupal...
I have a quick question for you. I have started to play with Drupal as CMS, with plug-ins and themes etc. . . Is there a good resource out there to learn the ropes? Nothing too involved, something like Drupal for Dummies (or for Smart People).
Historically the beginner documentation hasn't been great but it's getting better. The handbooks have recently been reworked:
It now includes a getting started PDF for Drupal 5:
The best part of the handbook for broad beginner tasks for people who want to do a lot with Drupal, originally written by NancyW:
Drupal Pro Development is a great book, but for development. The second chapter is writing your own module. If you want to get started with programming in Drupal, see also the creating modules tutorial on Drupal.org. See http://api.drupal.org/ to look up Drupal functions and http://php.net to look up PHP functions and other information.
Building Online Communities with Wordpress, Drupal, and PHPbb (with the Drupal portion by Robert Douglass) is a decently useful introduction, but a bit light (and, at this point, dated). Dan's opinion would be more useful since he looked at it more while learning Drupal. We have a copy somewhere.
One of the most important things is just downloading and installing the modules that make Drupal excellent, and aren't part of core:
The new books from Packt have been highly recommended, in particular some colleagues of ours starting out dabbling in Drupal recommend those written by Matt Butcher.
Here's a member of one of the largest Drupal shops describing how to get involved with Drupal on the code and community levels.