First Thoughts of Drupal- Part 2

Continuing on with the previous topic of essentially “what is Drupal?” we move on to the discussion of PHP and its importance in being able to build or maintain a Drupal website. (btw I’m totally assuming that you know that PHP is a programming language)

Since there is a giant piece of cake sitting on my desk (Happy Birthday Bob)…I’m trying to think of a cake analogy to describe the Drupal/PHP relationship….and the closest I can get is that Drupal is like the recipe that takes all the ingredients (PHP, database, web server, and operating system) and turns them into cake (a functional website), and from there you can put the frosting on (front end design).

You don’t need to know PHP in order to use Drupal and the available modules, but once you desire custom functionality you will have to dive into the world of PHP or find someone that can help you out.

I know…so now you’re asking, well….what is considered custom functionality? I’ll answer that by a super brief list of things that you can do without it:
• Create a Blog
• Give your site a new theme/look
• Create user profiles
• Put games on your website
• Online store (yay shopping!!)
• Integrate news from other websites
• Event Calendar
• Contact Forms
• Search box for site content
• Make a chat room
The more specific you are with the functionality you will notice a need for customization, but as you see for most common site features, it’s as simple as utilizing the hard work someone else did for you ☺

Ok, so say you need something super specific and you want to customize the functionality of your site, like the ability to automatically put all users that register in your site in the Nordstrom Personal Book system, that would require that you write code to get your site to do that as there is no existing module for it (I actually just checked Drupal.org to make sure), but on the flip side, if you just want something that automatically puts your users into a customer relationship management system and don’t care which one….existing modules are the way to go!!

People with varying levels of PHP can utilize Drupal, but you really don’t need to know any to build a feature rich website. If you were to learn PHP, or if you already know some and want to know if you are at a level of skill to utilize the full potential of Drupal…on a scale of 1-10, if you were at a 2-4 in PHP knowledge, you could become a Drupal all-star.

Comments

Cake, umm now I need to eat. Ok I am really starting to like this, this is really great inofrmation, how does drupal compare to the wysiwyg software like dreamweaver or some of the other web publishing programs.

I may be getting ahead of myself, but how do you set up a site?

Again you leave me wanting more, typical female...LOL cant wait for the next issue.

Drupal can't really be compared to dreamweaver really in that you don't create your site by coding pages.

It is a content management system. You do build your site, but you do it differently. They aren't called pages. They are called nodes. These nodes can be pages, but they also can be other custom things like a contact form or a display of stock data.

It might help if you know a little .html, but it certainly is not a requirement.

If you want more than the standard core functionality, you go look for a module that does what you are looking for. An example might be automatic resizing of images posted. In dreamweaver for instance, you add an image, set the size and then put it in your page. In drupal, you enable the imagecache module and then create a custom content type and it automatically resizes your image for you when you add it.

The only similarities between drupal and dreamweaver are that you use them to build websites. The two are really very very different.

If you want to try it out, go to www.webenabled.com and sign up for a free account. Choose the acquia drupal installation and voila, you have an instant drupal site to play with.

The learning curve is steep, but you will be well rewarded. The community also is excellent.

Ben

I agree. My PHP experience helped me a great deal when I first started messing around with Drupal. And yes, HTML helped as well.

The best thing about it, in my opinion, is that it empowers the end user. No longer would a web designer have to update photos, calendars, blogs, etc every single time the customer wants it done.....they can do it themselves!!

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