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Drupal 6.0: Installation and Basic Usage
Pages: 1, 2, 3

Administering Drupal

Drupal differs from many other major CMSs in that the administration interface is more tightly coupled to the non-administration interface seen by the anonymous visitor to your site. In the navigation menu (displayed on the left-hand side in the default theme), choose "Administer", which will show you all of the sections in the administration account.

Administration account
Figure 10. Administration account

Within the administration section, you will find six subsections where you will make all of the changes necessary to modify the appearance and functionality of your Drupal site, short of editing PHP code for a new module or CSS code for a new theme:

Content management
View and edit comments, stories, content types, user postings, Web feed, and content "taxonomy" (how stories are tagged, categorized, and classified).
Site building
Work with blocks (regions of pages), menus, modules (Drupal's functionality is organized into separate modules, many of which are built-in, and the rest available online), and themes.
Site configuration
Manage the administrative "plumbing" of your site, including date and time settings, input formats, and error reporting.
User management
Create and manage users, their registration requirements, roles, permissions, and access rules.
Reports
View log events, errors, and a detailed status report on your site.
Help
Quickly access links to the online Drupal handbook, as well as locally installed information on the 11 different aspects of Drupal, from blocks to users.

We won't discuss the details of all six subsections and the 31 subsections within them, but we will perform some common modifications made for a brand-new site.

Simple Site Customization

Most of the default site configuration values do not need to be altered. But you will certainly want to provide a name for your site, and perhaps a site slogan and other customizations. Go to Administer > Site configuration > Site information, and change whatever values you wish. In this example, we change the name of the site from "localhost" to "Drupal Sample Site," and made similar changes for the other values. When you are finished, click the "Save configuration" button at the bottom of the page; this is done for all administrative pages.

To verify that your changes took effect, go to your site's homepage by clicking on the new site name, at the top of the page, or the image to the left of it, which is "Druplicon," PHP's mascot and logo.

As noted earlier, the appearance of your site is determined by whatever "theme" is currently set as the default. Go to Administer > Site building > Themes to view the six initial themes packaged into Drupal 6.0.

Initial themes
Figure 11. Initial themes

You can see that the "Garland" theme is the only one enabled, and is the current theme of your site ("Default"). Change the theme to "Bluemarine" by enabling it and setting it as the Default. Earlier it was noted that the administrative interface in Drupal is wedded to the public-facing interface more than in many other CMSs, and the site theme is no exception. As soon as you saved your choice of Bluemarine, your administrative interface should have changed just as did the homepage, having inherited the homepage's theme. (You can override that via Administer > Site configuration > Administration theme.)

Lastly, we will add some sample content. Go to the menu item "Create content" > Story, and enter a name and some content for a new posting. Beneath the large content code, five expanding menus allow you to set the new story's input format, revision information, comment settings, authoring information, and publishing options.

Go to your site's homepage again, and you should see all of the customizations made above, including the change to the Bluemarine theme, as well as your sample story. In addition, the RSS feed icon will be visible now that your site has content that can be syndicated. Another and much more visible result of the new content, is that the installation welcome message seen earlier is no longer shown, having been replaced by your new story.

Homepage after customizations
Figure 12. Homepage after customizations

Resources

Unlike the majority of open-source CMSs, Drupal has substantial resources available to answer your technical questions and assist you in expanding your knowledge of how to make the most of Drupal. Start at the Drupal Support page, which has links to the extensive online documentation, forums where you can post questions, and the existing bug list, in case you encounter something within Drupal does not appear to be working correctly.

There are currently at least seven books on Drupal, and the number will undoubtedly grow in the future, as more developers discover the capabilities of this extensible content management system and how it can save them considerable time and effort for building web sites.

Michael J. Ross is a freelance web developer, working primarily with Drupal.


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