I created a post a couple of months ago about how I was learning Drupal for an up and coming project; well that project finally went live this week. Huzzah! It wasn’t all smooth sailing; there was lots of trial and error, head scratching and a few mini panics, but I got there in the end. It’s amazing what you learn over the course of a project. Any future Drupal projects will be so much quicker and easier to setup due to the fact that I now actually know how to use Drupal!
So anyway here are a few things I learnt along the way:
- There are some very simple yet powerful templating rules you can use to style your website. Learning how they work will really help you style specific pages and blocks.
- Looking for some functionality that is missing by default? I bet there’s already a module that does the job. Check out Drupal modules, this excellent website lists and rates thousands of Drupal modules which you can install and use.
- If you do find a module that adds the functionality you need, double check that there aren’t other modules about that do it better. Since Drupal has been around for some time, many modules haven’t been updated in quite a while so they may just be occupying the name space. It’s always best to check before you dive into using one particular module as it may not always be the best route to take.
- Learn how to use the Content Construction Kit (CCK). If you are missing a type of CCK field, look for an additional module; I’m sure there will be one you can install that does the job. You really can make content types do anything you want with CCK.
- Learn how to use the Views module. I really can’t express this point enough. The Views module is without a doubt one of the most powerful additions to any CMS I’ve ever come across. With it you can take any content and display it however you like on a page. The layout is a little intimidating at first, but once you get your head round it you will have a dynamic site up and running in no time at all.
- Install the ImageCache module. It ties in with both CCK and Views allowing you to upload and display images on your site however you need to. If you add a new image preset the module will automatically iterate over old images so you never have to go in and manually adjust images if you change your site design / functionality.
- One thing I missed from Drupal was the ability to add parent / child nodes. Luckily theres a module called Node Hierarchy that will add this functionality. It even handles the breadcrumbs and Views for you. Note: Make sure you don’t have ‘Taxonomy breadcrumb’ enabled with Node Hierarchy as the breadcrumbs won’t work. I learnt that the hard way!
Hopefully other budding Drupal users found the tips helpful. I’m still a Drupal novice, but now I know the basics the site possibilities are endless.