One day with Drupal

Hobby Personal Programming

A couple of days ago I stumbled across the reporting on the announcement of the White House switching over to an OpenSource content management system, Drupal. I've hosted or setup a number of sites over the years using various CMS platforms, for example: PHPNuke, PHPNuke Evolution, Xoops, Joomla, WordPress. All of which are good depending on what you're trying to do. Since all of these we run at my host which uses a typical LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP), my requirements are something along the lines of:

  1. 1.  Free
  2. 2. Configurable
  3. 3 . Runs on Linux
  4. 4. Can run on Windows (home systems use Windows currently, not a deal breaker though)
  5. 5. Does NOT require any actions from my host (no phone calls, nothing)
    6.Should support the concept of Blogs, Forums, Users, Wikis as a nice-to-have

All of those met my needs (well with the exception of WordPress being specifically for blogs….

I have heard of Drupal but never had the opportunity to try it. The White House moving to Drupal was enough to pique my interests. It was definitely on the list of software to evaluate when the chance presented itself, and like most, I figure that this lends some serious legitimacy to the OpenSource movement, and to the Drupal platform specifically. I know I am late to the party and that there are already a number of books on Installing/Configuring/Maintaining it, but I consider this taking the time to vet out the development, and I think now it's prime time for it!

So yesterday afternoon, I downloaded the latest release of Drupal and set up a spot on my host and a new database and went to installing. Relatively pain free install, I just uploaded it to the server and navigated to the install page and it did the rest. Though I did have to do a few tweaks to my php.ini and .htaccess files. The information was easy to find, as the installer presented links to tracking down the solutions. Which in my case where setting PHP5 as the default PHP handler for the site, and disabling a php global resources restriction. I did create a few directories manually prior to the install, but it may have done that during the process had they not been there.

Drupal is set up to handle multiple sites and enhancements are typically provided in the form of add-on modules that install simply by copying them to your host and dropping them in the correct directory (themes in themes, libraries in libraries, modules in modules sort of thing). So I grabbed a few that sounded helpful (WordPress Import, WYSIWYG editor, Trackback's). And in the first 30 minutes I had my entire WordPress blog from a year and a half of blogging all converted over to the blog in Drupal. And it has a better tag and taxonomy categorization for blogs to boot!

It handles traditional pages, blogs, forums, navigation linking very nicely, arguably a super custom navigation system might require converting your existing code to a Drupal module but for 90% of the navigation tasks, the built in system is grand. Off the bat, the administration can seem daunting, many configuration settings broken up and categorized, but they do make sense, it's just in a CMS system, you need all these features. I found I got used to their placement in about a day's worth of using it. Not too terrible, all things considered, relatively intuitive.

I have to investigate a Wiki module and get the WYSIWYG editor fully working. I am using it right now, but I just noticed the mark-up seems to be using a BBCode-like system, though I believe I saw the option to change that, Hmm, now where did I see that setting again

Overall, a great CMS platform, and you can not beat the price. The community is very alive and there are books on the topic. Now is a great time to hop in and learn! 


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My doings with Drupal and my new blog site

 Well, it took a while but I finally decided on a domain name that satisfied me and created this blog site. My friend and partner in crime, MonkK suggested I set up my blog site with the Drupal content management system. I have to say after following