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Installing Drupal CMS

Building a Website Part 6

In part six of my blog series on creating a website, I will be covering installing Drupal CMS.  

 

So you have your domain, your host and you've decided on your CMS, so the next step is to install the scripts on your host server. If you decided to go with a all in one like Square Space you don't really have to worry about this, In fact you can just add content and be on your way. However if you decided to go your own, you have some work ahead of you and what the geek in me would call some fun. There is just something really rewarding about doing it all on your own. 

 

Anyway, there is a couple of ways to install a CMS onto your host server. Depending on who you choose as a host will decide what interface you will be working with. The most common will be cpanel. Your host will send you details on how to sign on to the cpanel. It is usually a url starting with cpanel. Once you login there will be a page with a great number of options that relate to your service, On here you can do a great number of things including setting up e-mails with your domain, creating sub-domains, url redirects, etc.. but right now let's focus on getting those scripts where they need to be. Most host cpanels offer a form of QuickInstall, Fantastico or some other install script that will allow you to install the CMS by filling in the username, password and e-mail. This is a little easier than doing it manually but often the CMS is out dated and will require you to update it later. I have also found conflicts with some of the scripts that these services add to the install. It is always best to install manually.

 

Each CMS has it's own method of installation and you will need to read the included instructions but for this example I'm going to run down the basic method to install Drupal. Also below is a gallery of screen shots of me installing Drupal to http://install.axiompiercing.com:

 

  1. First you are going to want to download the Drupal CMS from http://drupal.org/project/drupal. You are going to want to choose the latest version.  It will be a compressed file and doesn't take long to download.
  2. You are going to want to get the compressed file onto your server. To do this open the file manager from cpanel. Usually it will have a folder icon
  3. Next click on the correct file location that your domain is pointing to. This should have been included with your hosts introduction e-mail but usually this is either the  "public_HTML" or "WWW" folder. Most of the other folders contain other scripts that your host has installed on the server.
  4. Once in the correct folder, click on the upload icon, usually a folder with an arrow pointing down. This will open a folder on your computer so that you can navigate to the files location. Just like when you upload a photo to your social network or add one to an e-mail.
  5. Once the compressed file is uploaded to the host server, highlight the file and then click on the "extract" icon or right click and choose "extract. This will open the contents of the compressed file into a folder called "Drupal(version number)".
  6. What you will need to do is open the Drupal folder and move those files to the main folder aka "Public_HTML" or "WWW". To do this you need to highlight all the files and folder and then either the "copy" or "move file" icon at the top of the page. This will cause a box to pop up, with a folder location. The easiest thing to do is simply delete the "Drupal(version number)" and click "Copies File(s)" or "Move File(s)". This will move all the Drupal files and folders to the main folder where we want them.
  7. Next you will need to set up a database. Go back to the cpanel and click on "MySQL Database" or whatever Database interface your host provides. If you can't figure it out contact your host's support, that's what they are there for. You want to first create a database. Make sure that you write down the name of the database,
  8. Next you will want to create a user for the database. the user name and the password. I don't know how to stress this enough, Make sure that you write down the username and password.
  9. You want to give your database user permission to make changes to the database. Do this by choosing the database name and the user name and then giving that user all permission.
  10. Point your browser to your domain. 
  11. This will open the installation of Drupal. The first page will give you the option of the profile that you wish to install. Profiles are a custom install of the core CMS, themes and modules designed for types of websites. You can find them at http://drupal.org/project/distributions. The only really draw back is often the core Drupal is not current and will require updating the core CMS which can be a little tricky. Here you would choose the profile you wish to install. With the standard profile you get a few of the most used modules enabled and with the minimal profile there will be only the most basic modules enabled to make the site run.  Pick your profile and click "Save and Continue".
  12. Next it will give you the option of what language you wish to install.  By default it is set to English but if you click the link below it will give you instructions on how to install the site with a different language. Basically you install them in much the same way you did the core, by downloading the file from the Drupal site, uploading it to the correct folder and extracting the file.
  13. Next you will configure the database. To do this you will have to enter the information that you wrote down in steps 7 and 8.
    1. Database Type - In a majority of cases your database will be MySQL but if you don't know ask your server host support.
    2. Database Name - This would be the name of the database that you created in step 7. Usually this will have your hosting service username at the beginning. For example if your username with the hosting service is badbill23 and the database name you entered is drupal. The the database name will be badbill23_drupal. I bring this up because there has been a number of times that I have had errors on an install and after an hour of trying to figure out what was wrong, realized I forgot the username_ at the beginning. 
    3.  Database Userneame and Password - This is the username and password that you created in step 8. Remember that if you didn't give the user permission then Drupal won't install because it can not write to the database.
    4. Advance settings - In most cases this will not need to be changed or adjusted unless Drupal Fails to install. In most cases this can be caused by your host service using a different location or port for your databases. If your installation is failing try contacting your host's support or searching their support FAQ for information on database configuration because chances are it's a common issue.
    5. Click "Save and Continue
  14. When the page reloads it will open the Configure site page. A majority of this can be changed later but it's always best just to get it out of the way.
    • Site Name - This is the name that will be listed on the top of each page depending on your theme but will also show up in search results, notifications for memberships, updates, etc..
    • Site E-mail Address - This will be the address that will be used by Drupal to send notifications to the users of the site. It would be best to insure that your site's notifications don't end up in a spam folder to use an e-mail address that uses your domain
    • SITE MAINTENANCE ACCOUNT is your account information. Not only will this set up the e-mail address that the site sends you about members of the site and updates but this will be your site's administrator account. It is important that the e-mail address is correct because it will be tied into the admin account and your contact forms will send to this address. Also notifications for updates and members and password reset will be handled by this address.
    • Server Settings - Here you want to set your location and the time zone. When content is posted to the site it will use this setting to mark the time of the post.
    • Update Notifications - These will be set on by default and I would suggest leaving them alone. This will allow your site to notify you by e-mail when there is new members of your site and when modules and the Drupal core will need to be updated. If you are like me and don't have the time to check the site every day, it will come in handy.
  15. After you click "Save and Continue" Drupal will finish installing and when the page reloads, you will have a notification "Congratulations, you installed Drupal!" with a link below to visit your site.
  16. When you click on the link, you will be redirected to your new site. At the top will be the admin toolbar. Whenever you are signed on as the administrator of the site, the toolbar will be at the top of every page. It is a good idea to poke around and get a feel for where the settings are because you will be using these pages a lot.
  • Dashboard - Is an overview of the site.
  • Content - This is all the content that is posted to the site. From here you can edit, delete, publish or unpublish content.  
  • Structure - This covers the different ways that the site is structured including menus, blocks, content types, Taxonomy and controls how content is grouped. 
  • Appearance - This is where you change the theme and theme settings including the site's logo and favicon(the image that displays in the browser toolbar next to the site name),
  • People - If you allow membership to your site, this would be where you would approve and ban members. Also the permissions tab controls what your members and users can do on the site. 
  • Modules - This is where you install and enable modules to add additional functions to your site. Also it is a helpful page if you can't figure out how to configure a module or set permissions because a majority of them will have links to do so next to the modules name and if you have advance help installed there will be a link to the help page for that module. 
  • Configuration - This is the command center of the admin pages. Where you can control and set the functions of the site and its modules. This is also where you can adjust the site settings like name, e-mail and error pages.
  • Reports - Like the name says it is a group of reports about your site. This will come in handing when troubleshooting new modules and updating the site.
  • Help - The name says it all.

 

Alpha & Beta:

 

Now that you have your CMS installed you are going to want to install the modules or plug in you want before you start adding your content. Also you are going to want to set up your theme or template. I suggest that you do this before adding content for a number of reasons. The biggest is that from time to time, you may run into conflicts between modules or plugins and it's a great deal less frustrating to drop the tables in your database and re-install before adding content than to add all the content and have to do it all over again.

 

There should always be a testing period before committing to adding content. Of course, you are going to want to test out functions with some "Hello World" content but don't go nuts until you are set in what modules and theme you are going to be using. The biggest thing to remember is, don't worry if you screw something up. With the files already on your host's server, reinstalling the Drupal CMS can be as simple as dropping the tables and running the install script again. 

 

In the next installment I will be covering the installation of additional scripts or modules to add additional functions to your website.

 

Go to Part 7

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