Drupal is a good and versatile open CMS, that enjoys a large community of developers and enthusiasts. Elmine and I are currently learning how to adapt and administer Drupal. This because Drupal will be the new basis for my corporate web presence, as well as the community platform for one of Elmine’s clients.
We are happy to know people like Roland Tanglao and Boris Mann (of the Vancouver based Bryght company. Check them out if you are looking for Drupal hosting services) as well as Gunnar Langemark, so that if we have questions concerning Drupal help in finding pointers to a solution is only a Skype-call away.
The learning path is not without obstacles though, as can be expected.
Installation is a breeze, no problems there. But finding your way around the CMS takes some getting used, as you have to familiarize yourself with the implicit structure in the CMS. Finding your way around the likes of Modules, Blocks, Nodes and especially how they correlate to eachother. One thing I find is that the documentation on the Drupal.org site is mostly geared towards the developing communities, and there seems to be little along the lines of a ‘How To’ geared towards a ‘normal’ CMS user.
Another part of the learning that is not very easy, is creating themes. And again there is not much in the way of accessible documentation for finding your way as a CMS user. And what is there is mostly text. So an overview of how CSS lay-out blocks are nested, for e.g. the Zen theme I started out with, is not available. Or at least it wasn’t until we drew one ourselves to serve as a reference while tinkering with the style of my testing-site:
Drupal CSS screen lay-out
I am slowly getting the hang of it though. It is that way with all tools, and probably once I am past this initial stage of confusion I will soon forget how awkward those first steps were. That is why I will be trying to chronicle some of it before I forget there were such things as difficult first steps.

5 reactions on “Learning Drupal

  1. Me, too. What I really enjoy is the community of people using Drupal who are always busy with refining how to use it and helping those of us who keep trying.
    By the way, love that Yoda contemplative photo on the test site!

  2. In my experience Drupal is excellent if you have basic needs and want a CMS.
    I found its customazibility nice enough on a lot of parts but severely lacking in the edge cases. This isn’t helped by the fact that documentation is obtuse. I have nowhere seen a proper explanation about how a page is built up and where and how you can inject/extend that.
    The online fora on the main site are a ghetto of cluelessness and look almost completely abandoned by the people in the know. Your best chance for support is to get a hold of someone on IRC.
    This is all based on the 4.7 version I worked with. I hope they have greatly improved stuff in the 5 line but a lot of the stuff I encountered looked fairly fundamental.
    I would recommend Drupal for simple sites. For anything with complex customization requirements I would just get Rails or Django and build it myself.

  3. Hi Colby, Alper,
    Yes, having access to the community is of great importance, as with all OSS. I agree with Alper as to the accessibility of most documentation, hence my posting.
    I have the feeling with Drupal 5 a number of things have improved a lot. I had looked at Drupal earlier and it seemed a lot more counterintuitive for me as a user to install e.g. or to find out what to use for what. That has smoothened out, I think.
    As with everything, usefulness depends on your goals. I have no illusion about any tool being the singular answer to all web-problems. 😉
    Drupal does seem to be an adequate answer for my current questions. I am not too worried about customization issues. There are a lot of Drupal based sites out there that seem to suggest a lot is possible.

  4. Explore Blogs (at last!)

    At last I’ve managed to get an Explore blogs site up and running. Still a bit raw but it gives us an excellent platform to use for the podcasts being produced – usually about our tours, and generally very interesting….

  5. Explore Blogs (at last!)

    At last I’ve managed to get an Explore blogs site up and running. Still a bit raw but it gives us an excellent platform to use for the podcasts being produced – usually about our tours, and generally very interesting….

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