A Basic Guide to Drupal Website Management

Drupal is a popular content management system with lots of free add-on and features which contains PHP, Ajax, and Javascript and so on. In Drupal, the content is stored in a database while the design is stored in a theme. Drupal has a lot of advantages and comes with a lot of built-in software.

Also read:

 Drupal Website Maintenance tutorial

 Drupal Website Security Tutorial

 Drupal configuration tutorial

 How to Speed Up Your Drupal Website

 How to address "failed Drupal Clean url Test"

 Installing a new Drupal website

Drupal is open source and free so you can distribute, change and you can even sell templates. Drupal has more than 97.000 volunteers contributing to the project. Created by a student as a chat platform in a dorm room in 2000 and later in 2001, the first public version 1.0 together with 2.0 and 3.0 were released. In 2002, version 4.0 was launched, in 2007 5.0, in 2008 6.0, in 2011, 7.0 and in 2015 the last stable version 8.0 has been released. Drupal has become a core management system that has add-ons called modules and themes that they can be all packed up in distributions supported by a large community.

Drupal is currently used by the White House, by weather.com, by Harvard University and Lady Gaga.

You will also want to read:

 Drupal Website Maintenance tutorial

 Drupal Website Security Tutorial

 Drupal configuration tutorial

 How to Speed Up Your Drupal Website

 How to address "failed Drupal Clean url Test"

 Installing a new Drupal website

Drupal Features

Drupal is free and has lots of features. Apart from being free, it is open source, flexible and customizable. It is mobile ready and you can manage it from your mobile devices and fantastic for big projects such as a features rich or enterprise websites.

Drupal is friendly so it is easy to use, social having multiple social media features integrated and searchable so visitors can search for specific content. It is also safe and secure being updated constantly, has themes and modules so you can extend even more and has a great community so you can ask for help.

Drupal Requirements

To use Drupal you need a browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox. Next, you need a domain name and a web host.

The most important resource is the plan. You need the plan to create a Drupal website so you need to think about every content type, field, taxonomy, path, display, view, feature, layout, menu, role, permissions and so on.

You need at least a database version from the following list: MySQL 5.53, MariaDB 5.5.20, Percona Server 5.5.8 with PDO and an InnoDB compatible primary storage engine, PostgreSQL 91.2 with PDO or SQLite 3.6.8.

The PHP version should be 5.5.9 and you should have PDO activated while magic_quotes_gpc, magic quotes_runtime and safe_mode should be turned off.

Getting Started: Drupal Installation

First, you need to download Drupal from the developers website where it is available as a zip archive. You now just need to upload it and extract. Select all files and move them to the root folder.

The next phase is to create a database using cPanel.  You will also need to create a database user and link your database to the user and set the required permissions.

Next, you go to your website link, you choose a language and you choose the standard installation profile. Here you can see your requirements and notes. You can click continue and write the database configuration, then save and continue.

Drupal will now install and then you just configure your website. You’ll enter the site name, site email address and create a maintenance account such as username, password, email address, default country and default time zone. You can check for updates automatically and receive an email notification if you want to.

Next, you press the continue button and you will be redirected to your website.

This is the manual installation, however, there is an automatic installation method available at your cPanel using Softaculous or QuickInstall under the software section. That will create all the steps excluding the last one where you configure your website.

Also read:

 Drupal Website Maintenance tutorial

 Drupal Website Security Tutorial

 Drupal configuration tutorial

 How to Speed Up Your Drupal Website

 How to address "failed Drupal Clean url Test"

 Installing a new Drupal website

Drupal Basics

Once your Drupal website has been successfully installed, you will find out that you become the user number 1 and the super-user. This is the primary administrator of the Drupal site with all privileges.

When you are logged into your website you can see the administration toolbar at the top of your website at Manage button, where multiple options are available. The first option is content where you create your content, the next is structure where you can see your website structure and the third is appearance where you choose the design of your website.

The next option offer additional features, then comes the configuration, the option for multiple settings for your website and the next is users which is the place where you manage users and user permissions.

The last two options are reports and help. Reports is a useful page where you can see statistics regarding your website, while help is where you can see documentation regarding Drupal.

There is a shortcuts button and another button with your username. You can create shortcuts using stars so you can quickly access any administration screen. The button which has your username is actually your profile button where you can log out or edit your personal information.

When you click on an area of your backend you will see that there are tabs, sections, and subsections. These are important because they have specific options. You should also know, that tabs are parents of sections while sections are parents of subsections.

Content

Content items, in Drupal, are called nodes. In order to create one, you need to go to the Content menu. Here you can see comments, files, and your own content. To create your own content you should press the blue button to Add content.  Here you can write the title, tags, images, text and other important options such as menu settings, comment settings, URL path settings, authoring information and promotion options. The last step is to click save and publish your content.

Now when you click content you can see the title, content type, author status, update time, and operations.

Structure

Here, you can see block layout, comment types, contact forms, content types, display modes, menus, taxonomy, and view. Here you can build your website. You can put multiple elements on your website in many places.

With structure, you create sidebars, blocks and other useful and interesting areas for your website.

Appearance

Appearance offers you an overview of templates available for your website. Here you can also see updates or you can edit a theme. You can create a new logo, you can select new colors and so on.

Extend

Extend is the place where you see an overview of the installed modules. They offer you additional features. In the list of modules, you can see the one that is activated, you can also activate and install your custom modules.

Configuration

This section allows the super user to edit multiple settings, like account settings, site information, content authoring, user interface, media, development, regional language, search and metadata and web services. Here is a more detailed tutorial on Drupal configuration tutorial

Users

The user list shows those who have access to certain information and can edit the website based on permissions and roles. Here you can create a user with specific roles which will have specific permissions. Also, you can edit or delete users as you wish. Here is a special post on Drupal user management

Reports

Reports allow you to see statistics regarding your Drupal website. You should go at reports where you can see available updates, recent log messages, field lists, status report, top access denied errors, top page not found errors, top searches, and top views.

Content Types

Content types is the feature which makes Drupal different from other content management systems such as Joomla or WordPress. Most of them have a title and a body. In Drupal, each item of content is called a node and each and each node belongs to a single content type, which defines various default settings for nodes of that type such as whether the node is published automatically, where it is published and whether comments are permitted. Every content type has fields with specific information regarding that content type. With content types, you have more control over how content is added to your website and you can even go way beyond the typical “Title and “Body” fields.

Creating an Article

To creating an article in Drupal, you need to go to content menu, then add content. Usually, you have only one required field for an article: the title. In Drupal, you have multiple options for an article such as summary, body, text formats: basic HTML, restricted HTML and full HTML. If you don’t write a summary, Drupal automatically takes the first paragraph from your body to create a teaser article. Depending on which text format you use you can also use HTML tags such as <p> for paragraphs in restricted HTML, Javascripts in basic HTML or any kind of scripts for full HTML.

Other available options for an article are the tags field and image uploader located below the body.

By the right, there are a lot of options such as visibility and publication settings. From there, you can create new revisions, you can provide a menu link, you can turn comments on or off, you can write a URL alias, you can edit the authoring information writing the date, time and author and the promotion options where you can check if you want the article to be promoted to front page and to be sticky at top of lists. These settings are set up when you create your content type and an editor doesn’t need to change options. You can always override by modifying them.

When you are ready you can press the blue button to save and publish or the arrows next to the button to select save and unpublished. If you click to publish the article will be available for frontend users and visitors. If you have the proper permissions you can click edit and you can edit the article. After you finished editing, you can press save and keep published or save and unpublished.

Creating a Basic Page

To create a page you just need to press the shortcuts menu and then the basic page. By default, a basic page is represented just by a Title and a body together with the options available for an article excepting the tags field and the image uploader. Basic pages are easy to provide a menu link. You will need to write a menu link title, a description. Additionally, you should choose the parent item and write the weight. Don’t forget to save and publish. You will see the page near your home button on the front page.  You can also delete or edit the page directly from the front end.

Inline Editing

You can inline edit a content type directly from the front page by hovering the mouse cursor over the title and then pressing the pencil icon that appears to the right. Near the pencil will appear the button configure block. Here you can edit the block description, title, shown tabs, visibility.

If you click on the pencil you have three options: quick edit, edit and delete. Quick edit lets you edit your node right on the front end and you only need to hover over the fields and edit the changes as you wish. For an article content type, you cannot edit the image from the quick edit window.

Using CKEditor

The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for Drupal is CKEditor. It is available when you create or edit a content type, especially an article on the dashboard. If you change to the text format: full HTML, you should have a full version of the CKEditor.

To configure CKEditor, you need to go to the configuration and then at text formats and editors. Here you can see that Basic HTML and Full HTML use CKEditor as a text editor and they both have the Administrator role. The basic HTML can also be used by authenticated user.

If you want to modify these options, you just press just configure and here you can rename the text format, select roles, select text editors and then let the buttons of the editor they can use. You can create button group name, you can drag and drop buttons to the active toolbar. You can also enable images together with the options for images such as sizes, upload buttons and so on. You can even edit the allowed HTML tags for the specific text format.

In the end, you save your new configuration and go to an edit area of an article and you can see the new active toolbar.

Creating a New Content Type

To create a new content type, you should go ahead at the structure and then content types. Here you press the blue button named add a content type.

You will then give a name to the content type  and add description. You can also have the submission form settings where you can rewrite title into anything else. Also, you can edit the publishing options, display settings, menu settings.

Now click save and manage fields..

Adding Fields to a Custom Content Type

To add fields to your new custom content type you should click add a new field, select a field type and call it whatever you want. For an image field type, you can write default options such as an image, alternative text, title or allowed number of images. Click save field settings and now you can set out all the settings such as a help text.

You can also check the required field. You can allow specific file extensions, change the file directory, maximum and minimum image resolution together with the maximum upload size. You can turn on or off the alt field, the title field or the requirement of alt field. Click save settings and now you will see what fields you have available for your custom content type.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is simply categories. To set up a taxonomy, you need to go to structure and taxonomy. Here you can add vocabulary. You write down the name and the description. After you saved, you can add terms to your vocabulary. You can add new terms each time after you saved by writing name and description.

Managing content

You can see a list of all available content on your website by clicking on content. It doesn’t matter what type of content they are, you can filter them after published status, you can search for type, language or title. Also, you can reset the filter.

You can choose one or more content at the same time and choose what you want to do with selected content such as delete, sticky, unsticky, promote, publish, save, remove, and unpublish. This is the easiest way to manage content. You can delete a singular note from the operation buttons and also from there you can edit one.

 Additionally, you can see other information regarding files such as MIME-Type, size, status, upload date and changed the date. You can filter files by file name, mime type and status.

Content Revisions

Here, you need to edit a content from your front page by adding more content. Next, you can see a new tab on the specific content type where you can see who updated and when the new content was. You can also see the old versions and you can revert if you want.

Creating content with Devel

The Devel module allows you to test your content types by  using some fake content which you can easily add and also, you can easily remove it. You can use the Devel module which you can download from the Drupal website and install. Once installed you will see under the development block Devel, Devel generate, Devel Kint and Devel node access. You need to activate just Devel and Devel generate.

To generate a lot of content, go to configuration and then at generate content.  Here you can select what content type you want to generate and you can also delete all content. Also, you can select the date, the maximum number of comments per node, maximum number of words in titles and set the language. After you have generated the content you should go to content and there is the dummy content. On the front page, you can see your content also.

Displays

Drupal will by default output the last ten notes created that are promoted to the homepage. On the bottom, you can see the pagination with 1, 2, 3, next and last buttons. This is not exactly appealing so Drupal allows us to set up what it calls view modes.

Click on structure, content types and you can update the layout for a content type. At the operations, click the manage display. Here you will see that there is a default tab and a teaser tab. Click on teaser mode and you can see the fields which are activated. You will then have to change these in order to have the desired display.

To do this, first, you need to change the layouts. So go to structure and display modes and then view modes. Here you can add a new content view mode or edit and delete the ones you want. You can add new view mode. The existing ones are not available for every content type so go to structure, content types. Here click manage display, scroll down to bottom and click custom display settings and check the nodes you want to have the specific display settings.

Next step is to edit the display you want. You can use drag and drop to order the fields, you can modify label and the format. Once you finished, you save and see your changes on the front page.

Views

Views, selects, orders and presents your content or any part/ combination of it based on the criteria you define.  To set up your views you need to set the display, format, fields, filter and sort.

A view can be added from structure and views. Here you enter the view name, description, view settings, page settings, block settings and so on. There are already some default views created by Drupal. After you finished, just click save and edit in order to have access to displays. You can also see a preview of the existing content. Click save and you can go to your website where you can see a new button with the custom content type. So you have a landing page for that specific custom content where visitors can see the list of content.

To create a block you just change the block settings when you create a view. Setting up the proper options you can create widgets for your sidebars such as recently created content.

To create a table with fields you create a page and as page display settings you choose a table and create a menu in main navigation with the help of views.

Layout

In Drupal, themes give you the general layout, look and feel of your website. A theme can be applied to your Drupal site without changing the content and it can modify your color scheme and where the blocks are placed as well as all of the formatting for your text and images.

Blocks are information that can be displayed on various parts of your website. Block go into block region and block regions are determined by your theme.

Menus give us the navigation for our site and they can be changed by themes.

In the design area, we have blocks, themes and menus. Themes can be installed and set up at any time.

Go to structure and block layout to see the blocks for your current theme. You can configure and place blocks here. If you want to configure a block, you can display title, set the items per block, override title, set the visibility options for content types, pages and roles and set the region.

To manage menu, go to structure and click on menus. Here you can see the default menus. To edit your main navigation menu, click on it and you can edit the title and edit administrative note. Also, you can re-order menus with drag and drop. You can create submenus also by dragging and dropping in the proper position.

If you want to add a link to an external website, you should first make a view and then the menu link. For a link to your internal website, just go to add menu link, write menu link title, link, description, check enable, select the parent link, show as expanded if you want and also you can select the weight.

Users Management

User management or people management as is commonly known in Drupal is complicated and critical. You can manage people by going at people menu. People, in Drupal, are assigned to roles that have permissions. Permissions can control what people can see and what they can do.

There are also other roles such as administrators, authenticated users and anonymous users. You can check what each role can do. Also, you can add new roles such as intern, editor, author, and contributor and so on.

Updating Drupal

Please, remember to backup your website before you commence any update. Updating Drupal is something harder to do than updating most content management systems. You need either FTP access of SSH.  To update go to reports at available updates and you can see if there is a recommended version. You can go to update tab and there you can see automatically updates for your modules, however, to update Drupal you need to download the new Drupal and upload it overriding the old Drupal folder.

Don’t forget to make a backup first of all. Next, go to configuration, development and then into maintenance mode and check the putting site into maintenance mode. Remove the core and vendor directories together with all the files in the top-level directory. Upload your new Drupal folder, re-apply any modifications to files and run the update.php file by going into your browser at http://your-website.com/update.php and follow the displayed steps.

Next check if everything is ok by going at reports and at the status report.

To backup and migrate or just backup, it is a good idea to install Backup and Migrate module.

Now you can use Drupal for exactly what you want.

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