scouring the infosphere

Setting Up Drupal

Tonight I decided to go ahead and install the 5.0 Beta 1 version of Drupal. I installed version 4.7.4 over the weekend, but hadn’t done anything with it yet. So when I noticed the 5.0 beta was out, I decided I might as well move to it. I looked at a sample install of the beta from a link at the site, and I liked the better admin menu layout. The admin menu in 4.7 is confusing as there are different menu items with the same name, though at different levels. The beta menu seems to be thought out better.

I was going to use the default theme, Garland, but when I looked at it as the anonymous user, the right side collapsed, so I’ve switched to the fixed width layout. I had added a couple of blocks which pull in my and Google Reader feeds, but those aren’t showing up for the anonymous user, so I’ll have to figure out why that’s happening.

I’d like to get Drupal’s Navigation menu to not appear for the anonymous user, but I’ve yet to figure out how to get that to happen. I don’t see an obvious option in Access Control, Menus, or Blocks. But I’m sure I’ll see it eventually.

I think I’ll turn off the user login block as that really makes it look like a Drupal site, and I’ll be the only one using it. I’ll leave the logo and favicon up for a few days till I decide what to do about those. It would be nice if there was an option with a few other images available by default. I haven’t been looking at Drupal for long, but I found the Lullabot podcasts and consumed all of those over the last week and a half. It’s nice that there seems to be a good community around it. I don’t know if Drupal’s community would seem as nice by half without the Lullabot group’s podcast. Ruby on Rails podcast helps foster their sense of community, and their active bloging helps as well. I’ve been looking at Django over the last couple of months, and it’s a better place to start for a CMS-y site. The Rails CMS/blog engines seem interesting, but probably need to do a bit more growing first. Django seems pretty mature for what it does, but it needs a more active feeling to it. I like Ruby and Python better than PHP, but I can deal with it.

The Rails-community seems larger, and thus has more blog-activity. If I was Django, I’d try to keep putting up more content on their weblog so it keeps the feeling that more is going on. Perhaps the mailing lists can help that feeling, but I often find a blog article more engaging than 30 random posts on a mailing list.

I started looking at Drupal because I have a couple of friends who want to make their company’s site more dynamic and flexible. I could have recommended Django or even Mephisto to them, but Mephisto seems a bit green for them since it’s still under fairly active development. And either one would have required quite a bit of work from me to get something going for them. And then they would be left tied to me since I’d probably have to run their server for them, and finding more Django or Rails talent would be difficult at best. PHP talent is fairly widespread, though dealing with Drupal would probably take someone who is at least somewhat familiar with it to get any real work done. Drupal does give them more hosting options as well. It should be pretty much a drop-in as far as setting up the server, and pretty much everyone supports PHP. Drupal also lets them do a lot of the administration themselves, if necessary, with it’s extensive admin menu.

The number of contributed modules available is simply staggering. I tentatively started using some of the modules I read about. The Lullabot podcast helped a lot in this area as they are always mentioning what the most essential contributed modules are.

I’ll spend a bit of time tonight adding a few modules, even though they’re not officially sanctioned for the 5.0 Beta yet. I’ll be a bit…parsimonious with what I add.

I’ve still got a lot to learn about Drupal, but I like the energy I’ve seen behind it thus far.