Installing Drupal 7 and First Impressions
The first step to fulfilling my New Year’s resolution of converting JohnNemec.com to Drupal 7 from Wordpress is to get everything installed and the first piece of content in place. For Drupal 6 veterans this may be a lot of review, but I’m hoping there will be something in here of interest. We’ll begin by setting up the server and installing Drupal 7. Once installed, we’ll look over the configuration settings and the new layout. Finally we’ll create our first piece of content.
Getting Everything Setup
This may be a duh moment for some of you, but the first thing you’re going to need is a server and a domain name (or a LAMP system installed locally - but I'm not going into that here). You have many different options, but my personal recommendation is HostGator. At HostGator you can get both your domain name and hosting. Save a little money and use the coupon code JohnNemec1 and receive $9.94 off of your package price!
I’ve created a subdomain, drupal7.johnnemec.com, which will not only be the testing area thoughout the creation process of the new JohnNemec.com, but also a place for you to watch the progress of the site creation.
Once you have your hosting and domain name squared away, you’ll need to download the Drupal 7.0 release. Don’t worry, it’s free. Just pick the newest stable version under the Recommended releases, which at the time of this writing is version 7.0.
There are a few more steps we need to take. First we need to setup our database. Using Cpanel, H-Sphere or whatever means of database creation you prefer, make an empty database. Also, make sure you’ve created a user with full access to the schema. Remember your database and user name for later.
Installing Drupal 7 is as easy as ever. FTP the unzipped Drupal 7 software to your server and visit your site to begin the installation process.
If you’ve used Drupal 6, the installation screens are a bit different, but different is good. Now with Drupal 7 you have two options right out of the gate, Standard and Minimal. It describes what each one is for you, so I wont duplicate the content, but I did chose Standard, which will install the commonly used features pre-configured.
Oddly enough, I’ve decided to go with English as my language. But if you have other needs, there is a link that will show you how to install Drupal 7 with other languages.
Assuming your server passed all of the requirements, and they will if you picked HostGator, you will now be presented with the Set up Database screen. Now you need to enter the database information I had you save above, and if your database is hosted elsewhere, you’ll need to change localhost to your database host address.
I will openly admit, I have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes, but once you click save, Drupal 7 will begin installing. The final screen is for the site information and I’m going to assume you don’t need any help filling this information in.
Brief Tour and Configuration
Out of the box, Drupal 7 looks great! Without touching anything, it looks like there is some form of Admin Menu at the top, of course, only time will tell if it has everything we need. The new fresh design makes the site almost useable, but we’ll design our own eventually.
When clicking on the anything in the Admin Menu, there’s a pleasant surprise, everything pops open in a lightbox. It’ll take a bit of getting used to, but I can already see some advantages. One being, I’ll always know when I’m in an admin area.
Looking about, one change I want to make a note of is the Blocks, located under Structure. It seems to me, at first glance, that you can set different block areas for different themes. So, with this knowledge, we will need to keep in mind that we are going to have to build two different themes, one for the site and one for the admin area.
Finally, the last piece of configuration we need to do is enable the modules that come with Drupal 7. I’m not going to go through and explain each module; there is a nice short description for each one. But I will note that I did not turn on Blog. This is because I’m not running a multi blog site, and never enjoyed hacking the Blogging system in Drupal 6. But since I am running a blog, I’m going to need a blogging content type.
Normally for a blog I would create a content type called News or Article, but in the infinite brilliance of the Drupal community they’ve developed a new content type for you, the Article. The Article is used for time-sensitive content like news, press releases or blog posts. Perfect!
Creating our first piece of content
OK, so we have our basic site running, now it’s time to plug in our first piece of content. Conveniently, there’s an Add Content link located on the gray bar in the Admin Menu. I’m adding an Article and filling it with dummy content.
Out of the box Article offers a Title, Tags and Body area. Title and Body are pretty self-explanatory, but I’m making the wild assumption that the Tags are a free form Taxonomy that’s already preconfigured. Save your content and give it a look.
It may not look like much, but we’ve done a lot today. We’ve created a database, installed Drupal 7, configured our system (a little), and created our first piece of content. Some of you may even have purchased a hosting package and domain name. Next time we’ll do even more. We’ll create our Taxonomy, start building/placing blocks for our blog, and get the basics for our site navigation.
As always, if you have any suggestions on how to do something better or some idea of what we can do to, let me know!