Making a Drupal Site

Note: I am still in the process of learning this, so I will update this blog post as I go.

What is Drupal?
Drupal is a free open-source system for creating websites. It is a mix of a conent management system (CMS) and a content management framework (CMF). A CMS that publishes, edits, and modifies site content, but no coding skills are required. Because of this, however, it is very specific and inflexible. A CMF does the same thing, but coding skills are required. This allows for a lot of freedom and creativity, but only if you are a coding wiz. In combining the two, you can view Drupal as a sort of Lego kit, where the pieces are already made and you can assemble them into what you want.

Why Drupal?
There are many other website-building and -hosting systems, but some good things about Drupal are site flexibility (you can build it how you want), easy configuration and interaction with other sites, quick and easy organization of information and customization, ability to create own content, and creating web applications using third party APIs. If your goal is to only create a personal blog, a wiki page, or a forum, then perhaps a simpler web-building and -hosting system would be more suitable.

Installation: The Local Host
First, you will need to install a local host onto your computer. This is where you can build and test your Drupal site. I used XAMPP (which stands for a X - cross - of Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, PHP, and Perl), which I downloaded from Apache Friends. Using the installer is the fastest and easiest method, but if you are a purist, you can type the commands in yourself.

After it's installed, run XAMPP and start up the Apache and MySQL (it will say "Running" when they are on), and then open your Internet browser and go to http://localhost, set the language to whatever you are comfortable with, and then go to "Security," located in the sidebar. Set up your passwords for MySQL and phpMyAdmin so that not just anyone can access what you are doing on your local host. Write these passwords down somewhere so you don't forget them, because you'll need them later!

The next step is to set up a database for where your Drupal files and folders will go. Go to "phpMyAdmin" in the sidebar on the homepage and create a new database. Call it something logical. Like "Drupal." Set the MySQL to utf8_unicode_ci. After it's done creating a new database, it's time to install Drupal!

Installation: Drupal
Go to the Drupal site and download the version of Drupal you want. If you don't have a specific preference, then I would download the most recent recommended version, which in my case is Drupal 7.x. Save the Drupal folder under C:\xampp\htdocs. You can rename the Drupal folder to something simple and logical. Like "Drupal." Then, on your browser, go to http://localhost/Drupal or /whatever-you-named-your-Drupal-folder. Follow the steps (this is where your MySQL password comes in), and voila, you've got your first Drupal site.

If you have trouble creating a database and installing Drupal, there is a great video tutorial here. I find that it's helpful to actually see how you do it, rather than following a long laundry list of instructions.

posted by Lydia Chang