Build Your Website with Drupal
I've spent most of the past year of my life immersed in web development
software called Drupal. I admit, it may be a little much, to be
thinking about Drupal day and night – dreaming, even, in Drupal.
I promise, though, that you can have a Drupal website without having
it take over your life. I know, because I have built websites for
people who simply... use it. They don't go to Drupal meetups. They
don't get online to chat about Drupal questions. They don't fly
to distant cities to attend Drupal conference – why, they
don't even spend all hours in the Drupal Issue Queue. They just
post information to their website about their upcoming events and
go on to enjoy their day.
You can choose your level of participation with Drupal, ranging
from hiring someone to create your site to a quick weekend do-it-yourself
site to the total immersion blessing/curse of complete Drupal geekout.
Whether you are a website user, administrator, designer, or developer,
there is a place for you in the Drupal world. This column offers
pointers to great Drupal resources. As a Content Management System,
Drupal is used to display content on the web and – for people
with appropriate permission – to add and edit content.
Top Three Drupal Websites
Get an account at Drupal.org.
This will enable you to post to the site and track other site users'
posts; drupal.org is heading towards a half-million users. Perhaps
you'll become User 500,000.
Download Drupal. You have a choice of working with Drupal version
5 or version 6. I haven't yet built a full-fledged version 6 site,
preferring the comforts of the long-established Drupal 5. By 2009,
though, I expect, most new sites will be built in Drupal 6.
Also get an account at groups.drupal.org.
It's common to use the same username across both of these accounts,
as well as on IRC (chat.)
Meetups are fun and a great way to get your questions answered,
if/when you have them. The best resource for meetups is groups.drupal.org.
Find the user group nearest you. (In the unlikely case that there
isn't already one near you, feel free to start one. You don't have
to be a Drupal "ninja" to commune with other drupalers.
Beginners are always welcome.)
Conferences. At the time of writing, the location of the next Drupal
Conference sponsored by the Drupal Association has not yet been
announced. However, if you do a Google search for DrupalCon 2008,
you will find it. (I'm hoping it'll be near me, in Washington DC.)
There is also a commercially sponsored conference with many of the
Drupal luminaries that you may be able to catch, depending on when
you receive this issue: Do It With Drupal (www.doitwithdrupal.com).
The conference will be held in New Orleans, on December 10, 11,
and 12, 2008.
Drupal Association. Consider a membership to the Drupal Association,
available at http://association.drupal.org/.
Planet Drupal, at http://drupal.org/planet,
streams blog posts about Drupal from around the world. Today's news
signals that Bob Dylan is using Drupal. He is one of millions.
A quick way to get started with chat is to install the ChatZilla
add-on for Firefox. It's tempting as a newcomer to get onto chat
and start asking questions at #drupal. However, your questions about
Drupal administration should be posted at #drupal-support. The #drupal
channel is devoted to discussion of the drupal.org website itself,
coding and managing items in the Drupal Issue Queue. Note, that
there is a character on chat named "Druplicon." Druplicon
is a robot, designed to answer a lot of basic questions. (I, and
I'm sure many others, have asked Druplicon "How did you know
the answer to that so fast!?") The rest of the participants
are quite human, with all the quirks that humanity brings. Sometimes,
chat can be an extremely quick and fun way of getting help with
questions, while other times, it can be a fruitless endeavor. Spend
some time reading other posts to get a sense of chat etiquette,
and you'll likely have increased success. Also, be sure to read
How to use IRC effectively at http://drupal.org/node/108355.
GHOP and SOC
Google is extremely supportive of Open Source software, sponsoring
the Google Highly Open Participation (GHOP) contest for teenagers
and Summer of Code, typically for college students. These projects
have become foundries for great Drupal coders, as well as great
Drupal Really Open Participation (DROP)
The DROP project is homegrown by a teen, Charlie Gordon, who wanted
to continue the good work of mentoring developers, even in the absence
of Google funding. You won't win cash awards if you take on a project
at DROP, but you will win points in the Drupal community and great
I've been storing technical notes and screencasts at drupal-tips.org.
The notes are mostly for my own edification, but you may find something
useful there, as well, especially in the screencast links.
This is a terrific video of a presentation at Google on Drupal.
(Be sure not to miss the two knock-knock jokes in between presenters.)
Drupal Dojo is an online learning resource, created by and for Drupal
This fantastic site searches, downloads, and reviews Drupal modules.
Entrenched drupal.org users vocally complained that the project
wasn't developed at drupal.org, but the site is so great that most
of those complaints seem to have died down. The Module Finder link
is a terrific resource.
Once upon a time, I gave the long-standing Wikipedia entry for Drupal
some "love," detailing many of the resources contained
in this column. I thought it was a comprehensive encyclopedia entry
then and even won points in the "DROP" project for the
work, but now, many months later, it seems to have been heavily
edited with a large focus on Drupal drawbacks. The complaints have
merit. It is true that there is a learning curve for Drupal, no
doubt about it. I've had a number of clients say their site is "easy"
to work with, though. To a large extent, the learning challenges
depend on how much customization you require. If you want functionality
not already found in existing modules, the learning curve can be
mighty steep, indeed. On the other hand, existing modules are extensive,
and they do the vast majority (plus more) of what website developers
Lullabot podcasts are quite informative. The first 15 minutes (or
more) of a lullabot podcast are usually devoted to informal chat
about upcoming events. If those events are long past, feel free
to skip ahead. If you only listen to one of the more than 50 podcasts,
#40 is the one that gets my vote. You can listen to it at various
stages in your learning curve and learn more each time you hear
Install a Local Web Server on Windows XP
These are likely to help you get started with Drupal. If you run
into any permissions or database setup barriers, do call upon your
local unix or database or Drupal guru, who will be able to help
you with a few minutes of support.
Install a Module
Tempting though it is, it is not good practice to download contributed
modules into the existing site module directory – that is
reserved for core Drupal code, where it can be cleanly upgraded
when security upgrades are available. Create a new directory for
your contributed modules, under sites/all, called (sensibly enough)
modules. You may also create a sites/all/themes directory while
you are at it. The links above will give you further detail on standard
module installation practices.
What Modules Should I Install?
You can't go wrong if you install these modules, along with a Drupal
BUEditor - http://drupal.org/project/bueditor
Calendar - http://drupal.org/project/calendar
Content Construction Kit (CCK) - http://drupal.org/project/cck
Date - http://drupal.org/project/date
Drupal Administrative Menu - http://drupal.org/project/admin_menu
Administrative Menu is usually the first module I install.)
Email - http://drupal.org/project/email
Embedded Media Field - http://drupal.org/project/emfield
Imagefield - http://drupal.org/project/imagefield
IMCE - http://drupal.org/project/imce
Link - http://drupal.org/project/link
NodeWords - http://drupal.org/project/nodewords
Pathauto - http://drupal.org/project/pathauto
Token - http://drupal.org/project/token
Views - http://drupal.org/project/views
Views Bonus pack - http://drupal.org/project/views_bonus
WebForm - http://drupal.org/project/webform
Admin Role - http://drupal.org/project/adminrole
Audio - http://drupal.org/project/audio
Backup and Migrate - http://drupal.org/project/backup_migrate
Devel - http://drupal.org/project/devel
Events - http://drupal.org/project/event
FeedAPI - http://drupal.org/project/feedapi
Google Analytics - http://drupal.org/project/google_analytics
Image - http//drupal.org/project/image
Imagecache - http://drupal.org/project/imagecache
Nice Menus - http://drupal.org/project/nice_menus
Nodequeue - http://drupal.org/project/nodequeue
Panels 2 - http://drupal.org/project/panels
Poorman's Cron - http://drupal.org/project/poormanscron
Service Links - http://drupal.org/project/service_links
Simplenews - http://drupal.org/project/simplenews
Tagadelic - http://drupal.org/project/tagadelic
Ubercart - http://drupal.org/project/ubercart
XML Sitemap - http://drupal.org/project/xmlsitemap
Many people use either TinyMCE (http://drupal.org/project/tinymce)
or FCKeditor (http://drupal.org/project/fckeditor)
as their content editors inside Drupal. That last module name is
not a typo. It's the initials of the developer of the software,
Frederico Caldeira Knabben. The editor is pronounced "eff see
kay editor." My preference is BUEditor. It's easy to install
and easy to configure.
Communing with Drupalers
Tonight, I'm hosting a Drupal gathering. I look forward to meeting
fellow Drupalers in my area. Actually, speaking of fellows, 90%
of the Drupal community are male. The women have a lovely group
online called DrupalChix, http://groups.drupal.org/drupalchix.
Ladies (coders and newbies, all) be sure to subscribe.
Marjorie Roswell is writing a book about Drupal
Views, due out Spring 2009 from Packt Publishing. email@example.com