The popular, powerful Drupal may seem a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, but for those looking to start out, here are some recommended resources to start learning the ropes.
The popular, powerful Drupal may seem a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, but for those looking to start out, here are some recommended resources to start learning the ropes.Drupal is a free, open-source content management system, and its flexibility and ease of use have long made it a favorite in the content management community. Drupal is probably a better fit for a content-rich site than a simple blog -- consider WordPress, TypePad, or Blogger if a basic blog is what you're looking for. That said, Drupal has a bit of Swiss Army Knife in it -- with enough time and determination, it can be adapted to do just about anything.
Getting Started: The Drupal.org site itself has deep and comprehensive documentation, including a number of excellent, free online manuals such as the Drupal Cookbook (for New Drupallers), which is a great resource for new users. It assumes that you know very little about running servers, setting up a database or tweaking PHP, and instead gives a step by step walkthrough for setting up your first site. This is the kind of new-user-friendly attitude that the Drupal community exudes.
One of the keys to Drupal's flexibility is its highly customizable themes, which can be applied to drastically change its user interface. A Google search for "Drupal themes" will return dozens of free and commercial options, and an adept coder can build custom themes. Two good places to start are the Themes section of Drupal.org, or for a more visual guide with previews of each theme, the Theme Garden is an excellent resource.
Another feature driving the adoption of Drupal is the spectrum of available plug-in modules. These modules extend the platform's core functionality, and range from WYSIWYG editors and anti-spam tools to community features such as calendars and forums. Drupal has the benefit of an active, helpful community of developers working to improve and support both the core platform as well as the modules. Again, the Drupal.org site is a great place to start, with its solid Modules section. Another outstanding site is DrupalModules.com, and its very helpful module finder features.
Finally, knowing that you're not alone as you muddle your way through starting out with a new CMS can be reassuring. I recommend checking out the Forums on Drupal.org for lots of rookie questions and helpful answers, as well as Lullabot, which provides Drupal consulting, but also hosts great free resources such as Drupal-centric podcasts and how-to articles.
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