The Drupal Experiment

frogIf any of you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I have been playing with Drupal. Drupal is a content management system (CMS). How is it different than WordPress (this blog uses WordPress), which is also a CMS? That is one of the questions that I hope to be able to answer by conducting my “experiment.” The idea is to learn out loud. When learning a new technical area, I find it good to make mistakes and get error messages. Why? Because then you learn more by needing to fix them.

If you usually come to this blog to look at photos, art and recipes, you might want to skip the next paragraph. Or hang in there and try to learn something technical?

I originally installed Drupal using the control panel that comes with my web hosting. But then I was informed that using the CVS (Concurrent Versions System) and the command line via shell access were better ways to keep a Drupal installation current. My first attempt resulted in multiple errors. It turns out I hadn’t deleted all the old files (I had left the settings.php files because I was warned about losing those). What I really needed to do was make a copy of settings.php (which I did), delete ALL the previous drupal files as well as drop the database tables (but not the database itself). Finally, it worked. If you care to visit, it’s current address is

My current plan is to use the site eventually to write about how a small to medium-sized business or organization can plan, update and optimize a website. There are so many factors involved, but I will name a few:

  • Content: What would any site be worth without great content?
  • A Good Domain Name: I named the directory zot because it was at the end of the alphabet, not because I thought it was a good name. I’ll need help coming up with a good domain name.
  • Navigation: Users need to get around a site easily.
  • Design: Working toward a good design for a site is important. If the design pulls a user in, the user will be more likely to hang around and read the content.
  • Layout: Two columns? Three columns? Fluid or Static (this blog is static; the current Drupal theme is fluid).
  • Search Engine Optimization: If Google can’t find your site, where are you?
  • Updating the Site: Who will update the site? If the person can’t spell or has no sense of design, even if the site uses a CMS, you may have disappointing results.

Initially, however, (and initially could last several months) I will be using the site to learn Drupal. Anyone care to hang around and learn with me? Questions are welcome.

And for those who like art posts, I have another art post coming soon. A landscape.

12 thoughts on “The Drupal Experiment

  • what’s Fluid verse static? I would imagine that static stays the same. So then fluid changes? the layout changes?

    Congrats on playing around with it, looks good, but yea that Drupal image in the background does look a bit strange.

    What’s the login for? it’s a site that has members, and those members comment on the content?

    • On a fluid page, the text moves according to the size of a browser. Good topic for a whole post.

      I changed it so you don’t have to have a login to post a comment. So many things to learn! I like the idea of learning in public, so I can find out all the glitches and nuances (and others can learn, too).

  • I visited and I have to admit that it sounded like double Dutch to me. Didn’t understand the comments either. Fnally I supose I should be glad I don’t have to learn this even if not understanding something is frustrating.

    • I hope you will stick around for the less technical aspects. For example, you can help with usability (how the user experiences the site: is it easy to find what one needs?) and design (does the design enhance the experience or disturb it?).

  • I started learning Drupal about a year and half ago when I took on project to help redesign my synagogue’s website.

    I am continually impressed with flexibility of the core application, not too mention the community contributed modules

  • Feel free to ping me (you now have my email) or twitter @katzpdx if you need some guidance. always happy to help

  • Jeff, thanks so much. I looked you up in Twitter, and I see I am already following you! Appreciate the help. I am currently watching a video on cron jobs (and I can’t say the video has my full attention, not the most fascinating topic, even if necessary).

  • Wow, Leora, you are a real learner… CMS lishma. There is nothing better than a curious neshama!

    Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project lead, has set user experience as a priority. The Drupal Association has hired a top-notch user experience company to help us make Drupal 7 a lot easier to install, use, administer, etc…

    Here is where you, Leora, comes in. The fact that you have JUST installed Drupal makes you a very valuable asset in this process. And the process is just heating up. There are lots of ways to get involved, some that take five minutes, others more. But join the crowd-sourcing fun and let us learn from you. Your participation, I guarantee it, would be most appreciated. I know that the ways that I’ve made a difference in Drupal have been quite gratifying to me. Here is where to start:

    • I poked around a bit on the Drupal 7 process. I am not sure where to begin. I think I will continue to investigate Drupal 6 for now. But if you have something that takes 5 minutes…

      I liked one line of talking to the developers makes more of a plone (but then unusable to many users) and talking to the public makes more of a WordPress (but doesn’t work the way the developers would like). I’m paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist of it.

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