My experience with Drupal

I have been using Drupal 6.x for one of my latest projects and I thought I would document some of my findings and tips and tricks I learned along the way. After using Drupal for almost a month, I have come to appreciate its powerfulness and enjoy using and configuring various options, however, this has not always been the case.

Installing Drupal

Installation is pretty straight-forward, however, it is not as simple as WordPress famous 5-Minute installation. You need to chmod (change file permission) some folders and create site profiles, etc. Download the latest stable release of the version of your choice, eg: Version 6.x or Version 5.x from Drupal Official Download page. Do not download and install development snapshot for production websites because it is a beta release and hence, not stable.

Customising look and feel

The first thing I did after I installed Drupal is customise its theme. Although Drupal recommended steps are 1) Configure your website, 2) Enable additional functionality, 3) Customize your website design and 4) Start posting content, I didn't have any idea what module / additional functionality I needed just yet. Therefore, I went straight to step 3 and customise the site's design.

Before I tell you how to customise a site's theme, let me warn you that Drupal's admin menu structure takes a bit of getting used to. The admin's menu options are:

* My account
* Create content
* Administer
o Content management
o Site building
o Site configuration
o User management
o Reports

That looks simple enough, yes. But as soon as you click on Site building or Site configuration, you are presented with more menu choices like Blocks, Menus, Modules, Actions, Site Information, Site Maintenance, which can be overwhelming if you are not familiar with Drupal Lingo.

To customise the site's theme, go to Administer > Site Building > Themes. Drupal default installation comes with some themes for you to choose from, but if you do not like any of them, you can download a number of free drupal themes from their website. Always check the Version compatibility before installing any theme. This sounds like a unnecessary advice, but trust me, I installed a 5.x theme because I assumed the version numbers didn't matter.

Some theme packages come with ReadMe.txt file. If they do, be sure to read it because it might contain some special instructions. Otherwise, simply follow the instructions from Drupal: Installing Themes.

You will need to enable a theme first before you can make it a default theme. You will be able to configure the theme settings once the theme is enabled. All this can be done at the Themes administration page: Administer > Site Building > Themes. Some themes allow you to configure more options than others.

Creating homepage content

So now you have got a nice design for your site, you will want to get rid of the default index page 'Welcome to your new Drupal website!'. Step 4 of Drupal step-by-step instructions say: 'Finally, you can create content for your website. This message will disappear once you have promoted a post to the front page.' So I went ahead and created a Page. By default, you can choose one of two content types when creating content in Drupal, Story (which is similar to a blog post) and Page.

So I have created a new page, however, when I checked the front end of the site, nothing changed. I still had 'Welcome to your new Drupal website!' as my home page. So I thought, maybe I ought to create a story, not a page. So I created a new story and refreshed the site, hoping the default welcome message would be gone. But no! I won't bore you with all the trouble I went through to finally get rid of the default welcome page (hehe!) but here is what you have to do. When you are in 'Create Page' or 'Create Story' page, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see 'Publishing options'. For any page/story you would want to appear on the homepage, make sure to tick 'Promoted to front page' checkbox before saving/publishing the content. In Drupal's defense, they did mention in Step 4 that 'Finally, you can create content for your website. This message will disappear once you have promoted a post to the front page.' I just didn't comprehend it well enough.

Next up:
- Trying to upload an image and then having it displayed inside a content body
- Trying to add HTML code into content body

[tags]drupal, cms, content management system, open source, installation[/tags]

2 thoughts on “My experience with Drupal

  1. Hi George, I am using Drupal for some of my freelance projects. I will update this post as soon as I have time. :)

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