Demystifying Drupal

Book Review: Drupal 7 Multi-sites Configuration

June 22, 2012 - 4:00pm

This is the second of three Packt mini books available on Drupal, the third (Drupal 7 Multilugual Sites) will be reviewed shortly. Initially the HackMonkey was skeptical if multi-site Drupal really required an entire book? The HackMonkey was a bit biased, having been using multi-site installs since the early days of Drupal 6. However, it quickly became obvious that this book was covering more than just the simple, "add another folder to the sites folder and name it as the url". The book has about 78 pages of actual content, flipping through the Preface and what the book covered, the question then became, can Matt Butcher really cover that much content in only 78 pages?!

This book is much more than just step 1, step 2, blah, blah. It really is a good book for both beginners and more advanced users. Installing multi-site Drupal is actually pretty simple, however many people really seem to get stumped by it. But once you understand it, it is a breeze. The install process is explained in great detail and brings clarity to what all the files and directories in "sites" are about. It will also help the beginner easily understand why there is a "sites/all" and "sites/$new_url". Too many instructions simply say use "sites/all", but don't discuss why or why not you might want to. On the advanced side, there are examples of sharing configuration, code, themes, users and content between sites; this isn't newbie stuff.

In many ways this book covers more than just multi-site topics, as it explains some of the structure that can trip up those new to Drupal, and rapidly get a user up and running (using the Vagrant install). The HackMonkey would really recommend this little book to all Drupal  beginners, whether multi-site is on their radar or not. It just hits so many simple stumbling issues quickly and efficiently. It would also be advised for advanced users looking to push multi-sites, wanting to share content, and users. There are also some good best practices stuff on backups, and warnings on when not to share between installs.

Here is a more detailed breakdown on what the book covers:

Chapter 1

This chapter starts off with a rather lengthy (felt like it) run down on various popular ways to host multiple sites on a single server or account, Drupal or not. While this may feel tedious to someone really interested in just multi-site Drupal, it could be a good intro for the true beginners not familiar with the various options. Half way into the first chapter there is a decent run down on installing a custom Vagrant profile with VirtualBox to actually build a multi-site install. The chapter finishes out with some basic configuration info on Apache & MySQL.

Chapter 2

Many books drone on about how to install Drupal and waste a lot of space on something that is too basic for the intended audience. This book is a little different, because how you install multi-sites in Drupal is actually fairly important. The process for installing Drupal and subsequent sites is nicely detailed. It is in this chapter that all the files and directories relating to a Drupal install are discussed, including domain named directories, subdirectories and sites.php. The chapter is rounded out by finishing the installs through the web interface.

Chapter 3

Things start getting more complex now, settings, modules and theme use in relation to multi-sites are discussed. There is good discussion on the how, why and why not you should do so.

Chapter 4

There is a lot of flexibility to running Drupal multi-sites, there also can be some extra headaches. Updating core, modules and themes takes a little extra work and planning for a multi-site install. Always Back Up is emphasized, as well it should be! This chapter will help you navigate the topic easily.

Chapter 5

Multi-site flexes it's muscles here, as advanced configurations are discussed. Several modules are discussed to make life easier, as some aspects of Drupal need a little help to work right in multi-site. The advanced topics of shared authentication, content, structure and search are covered.


The HackMonkey easily recommends this book for anyone just starting with Drupal in general, and further for anyone interested in running Drupal multi-sites. There is decent documentation on Drupal.org for setting up multi-sites, but it isn't as concise, or as well organized as the information in the book. You will be up and running much quicker with Drupal 7 Multi-Sites Configuration!


The copy of Drupal 7 Multi-sites Configuration that was used for this review was provided at no charge to Scott Wilkinson of HaloFX Media LLC by Packt Publishing. However, no other compensation was received for this review and this review was published without prior review or any influence from Packt Publishing.