Installing Drupal; Core Modules
In this the seventh installment of my blog series on I will be covering installing additional Drupal modules to add function and features to your website.
Now you have your CMS and I know that you are chopping at the bit to get into the meat of adding content but you need to develop the functions of the site before hand. A majority of these functions are created using additional scripts to your CMS. Just like your computer, your site has an operating system in the form of a Content Management System or in this case Drupal which handles a lot of the most basic functions involved in publishing web site content. However just like on your computer you want to add additional programs to add features to make your life easier and improve the look and feel of your website.
The relationship between a CMS and it's modules, plugins and addons is a lot like a business group. There is a boss that manages the over all operations of the group and then there is a group of workers that specialize in certain areas that are crucial to the success of the business. In this case the CMS is the boss and the module and themes or templates are the workers. Just like any work environment the some workers have influence over the boss, some workers rely on other works to do their job while others or workers outside of the group to complete their work or work completely on their own. Also like any work environment there are conflicts from time to time.
Thing to remember with modules is they are small worker bee scripts that often rely on other modules or additional scripts to function correctly. In some cases because the scripts are developed independently conflicts between modules can happen. As much as it seems a pain in the ass, it is always best to install modules one at a time. Then if there is a conflict you know right away what is causing it. Of course this isn't always the case when it comes to a suite of modules like the core modules that come with a standard Drupal installation or say the views modules. Since they were developed and tested together there shouldn't be conflict with them or the modules they depend on.
Often with Drupal there is a core group of modules and then a number of smaller modules that rely those modules to function correctly. Think of it like constructing a house, The foundation supports the walls that support the roof and their combination allows you to furnish the house with electricity, plumbing and all the things that make a house a joy to live in.
Your Drupal site will come with a number of modules already installed and a few basic themes(which I'll get into in the next installment). Once you sign in as the administrator of the site and the page reloads a toolbar will appear on the top of the page. This is only viable to those with admin permission. It is not a bad idea to look through the different sections of the admin section of your site because you will be using all of it at some point. At this point however we want to focus on Modules, so click on the tap and it will pull up the module page.
On the module page you will find a number of modules with small boxes on the left hand side. The boxes that are checked are the ones that are currently enable and running on the site. To start with you are going to want enable a few of the core modules before moving on to installing additional modules. Depending on the profile you installed there should be a number of basic modules already enabled but I would suggest enabling the following core modules depending on your site and your needs:
- Aggregator - This module allows you to pull RSS and other news feeds into your site and helps with distribution of your content. This would be helpful if you post a blog or other content to a different site and would like to add it to your site's content.
- Blog - This will create a content type for just blogs with can be helpful when using other modules like views to group content
- Book - This will also create a new content type but also the ability to structure content in the form of a book with its own navigation. The book will add chapters, sub chapters and pages that can be ordered as you need.
- Contact - Creates a site contact form and allows you to create additional contact forms to fit your needs.
- Forum - This will create a basic forum for interaction with users of the site.
- Poll - Allows you and members of the site to create polls
- There are other modules that help with development, updates, error reporting and content translation. I would suggest that you enable those that you think will be helpful.
To enable the modules, click on the checkbox next to the module and then click on "Save configuration". Once the page is loaded it is best to go to the modules you have just enabled and click on the links next to them on the left hand side.
- Help - Will open a page with details about the module and a link to the module project page on the Drupal website. Depending on the developer of the modules there will also be helpful links to configuring the module and permissions. If you install the Advance Help module it will open the "readme" file that is often the only source of information provided by the developers.
- Permissions - Will open the Permissions page and jump to the section that deals only with this module. With Drupal you can create what is called "roles" or different membership levels. On the permissions page you check off the roles that you want to be able to use that function of the module.
- Configuration - This link will take you to the configuration page for the module to make adjustments as needed.
After installing a module or group of modules, it is a good idea to check Status Reports located at admin/reports/status. You can get there by clicking on "Reports" and then "Status Reports". Here you will find an overview of additional steps you may need to take to get Modules to work, conflicts and other problems with your site. Don't worry if you forget this step because Drupal will post warnings at the top of the admin pages if there is something you need to address.
In the next installment I will move on to installing additional modules to the site.