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Drupal Gardens Essential Training

Starting discussion forums


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Drupal Gardens Essential Training

with Tom Geller

Video: Starting discussion forums

Drupal Gardens' strength isn't just that it lets you build web sites; I mean dozens of programs do that. It lets you build social web sites where members can interact with each other. Along the way, they increase your site's value because interactions are filled with content that can help future visitors. We already went over how people interact through comments in the Managing Comments video, and I didn't really put the pieces together for you, but you already know how to let people create entire nodes on your site as well. You would just create a content type and grant the permissions that you would need to the roles as appropriate.
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  1. 29m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 39s
    2. Previewing the finished project
      1m 29s
    3. What's new in the late 2011 update?
      5m 28s
    4. What is Drupal?
      5m 8s
    5. What is Drupal Gardens?
      5m 57s
    6. Getting started with Drupal Gardens
      5m 35s
    7. Getting help
      4m 1s
    8. Using the exercise files
      39s
  2. 17m 40s
    1. Using the administrative overlay
      2m 54s
    2. Using the dashboard, toolbar, and shortcut bar
      5m 36s
    3. Touring the newly created site
      3m 55s
    4. Configuring the site
      5m 15s
  3. 59m 47s
    1. Creating and managing content
      11m 11s
    2. Creating and managing content types
      10m 35s
    3. Embedding YouTube videos and other media
      4m 5s
    4. Subscribing to RSS feeds
      4m 49s
    5. Categorizing RSS feeds
      5m 1s
    6. Managing tags and taxonomies
      5m 50s
    7. Creating dynamic pages with simple views
      4m 29s
    8. Creating complex information collections with Views
      8m 59s
    9. Creating image galleries
      4m 48s
  4. 37m 50s
    1. Working with blocks
      10m 26s
    2. Setting up rotating banners
      7m 45s
    3. Understanding menus
      7m 27s
    4. Setting up contact forms
      7m 7s
    5. Adding and removing functionality
      5m 5s
  5. 54m 54s
    1. Managing users
      6m 28s
    2. Adjusting user permissions
      6m 35s
    3. Managing comments
      7m 7s
    4. Slowing spam
      5m 20s
    5. Starting discussion forums
      9m 3s
    6. Creating blogs
      4m 41s
    7. Setting up mailing lists
      4m 50s
    8. Allowing users to rate content
      4m 21s
    9. Using best practices for online clubs
      6m 29s
  6. 44m 35s
    1. Getting feedback with webforms
      6m 14s
    2. Publishing RSS feeds
      6m 40s
    3. Taking advantage of social media
      9m 33s
    4. Emphasizing external links
      2m 44s
    5. Improving search engine optimization (SEO)
      7m 30s
    6. Internationalizing sites
      8m 6s
    7. Tracking site usage with Google Analytics
      3m 48s
  7. 34m 40s
    1. Understanding Drupal themes
      5m 44s
    2. Understanding the Theme Builder
      5m 25s
    3. Switching, saving, and copying themes
      7m 13s
    4. Introducing custom CSS
      6m 51s
    5. Refining selections in the Theme Builder
      5m 48s
    6. Exporting themes
      3m 39s
  8. 48m 31s
    1. Changing the site's color palette
      2m 32s
    2. Changing the site's main logo and favicon
      5m 22s
    3. Changing the column number and arrangement
      5m 7s
    4. Adding background colors and images
      6m 29s
    5. Changing element spacing and borders
      6m 11s
    6. Adjusting typography
      4m 24s
    7. Using fonts from outside sources
      5m 7s
    8. Inserting raw CSS code into themes
      6m 57s
    9. Adding visual effects with JavaScript libraries
      6m 22s
  9. 14m 18s
    1. Finessing theme design
      7m 51s
    2. Eight ideas for modifying themes
      6m 27s
  10. 23m 38s
    1. Monitoring sites
      4m 11s
    2. Duplicating and deleting sites
      4m 23s
    3. Adding custom domains
      3m 48s
    4. Using exported sites outside of Drupal Gardens
      3m 46s
    5. Hosting exported Drupal Gardens sites
      7m 30s
  11. 51s
    1. Goodbye
      51s

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Drupal Gardens Essential Training
6h 6m Appropriate for all Jan 05, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Author Tom Geller demonstrates how to create and publish a complete web site with the powerful tools in Acquia's hosted service, Drupal Gardens. The course shows how to leverage the pre-built page layouts and add custom styling using the ThemeBuilder tool; integrate rich site features, such as surveys, user ratings, and media galleries; and push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also covers transitioning from a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Creating and managing content and content types
  • Embedding videos and other media
  • Publishing and subscribing to RSS feeds
  • Setting up blocks, banners, menus, and forms
  • Allowing users to rate content
  • Managing comments and spam
  • Tracking site usage
  • Collecting feedback with web forms
  • Duplicating and deleting sites
  • Adding custom domains
  • Changing the site's main logo and favicon
  • Adding visual effects with JavaScript libraries
Subjects:
Web CMS
Software:
Drupal Gardens
Author:
Tom Geller

Starting discussion forums

Drupal Gardens' strength isn't just that it lets you build web sites; I mean dozens of programs do that. It lets you build social web sites where members can interact with each other. Along the way, they increase your site's value because interactions are filled with content that can help future visitors. We already went over how people interact through comments in the Managing Comments video, and I didn't really put the pieces together for you, but you already know how to let people create entire nodes on your site as well. You would just create a content type and grant the permissions that you would need to the roles as appropriate.

And you learned how to do that in "Creating and Managing Content Types" and the video on adjusting user permissions. The next step is to let them talk directly to each other in forums. That's what this video is all about. Now we used the Campaign template when we created this site. If you used a different template, the Forum module might not have been turned on, so the way you would do so is going up to the Modules link here and scrolling down and turning on the Forum Module and then clicking Save configuration at the bottom.

But we don't need to do that since, of course, our forums are already turned on. Once that module is on, there is a new page at /forum. That is at the end of your domain name, just F-O-R-U-M. You can also go there by clicking on this link in the Main menu in our Campaign template. It takes you to the same place. If you don't have that link in your Main menu, you can add one using the skills you gained from watching the video about understanding menus. Right now, our forum is pretty dull. There is only one board with a generic label "Discussion." Let's juice that up a bit.

The way you do that is by going up to Structure and then down to Forums. Here we see that one discussion board called Discussion. We can change that name if we want, by clicking the Edit link here and just I'm going to change it to General discussion. Scroll down and save. You can add forums as well. I'm going to add just a couple of forums. First one will be--let's say Road Trips, and I'll put in the Description: "Have a good one? A bad one? Tell us about it." Scroll to the bottom and save.

And I'll put in just one more. I'll call it Finds in California. Favorite restaurants, views, and monuments, and save. Once you have these forums, you can reorder them, as in many other places on Drupal Gardens, by grabbing this compass-like icon and just dragging it around and then clicking Save again at the bottom of the screen. There is another link up here called container.

I'll explain a little bit more what containers are once we look at the forums themselves, but for right now, I am just going to add a couple of those. This one is going to be Around California, and I won't put in a Description, and I'll add another container called Around this site. Scroll down and save. Let's go back and take a look at what our forums look like now. I'll do that by closing the overlay and letting the screen redraw.

Now you see we have our container here, Around California, and a container here, Around this site, and then we have our actual boards. You'll notice that we don't have a listing of how many topics are in containers. That's the difference between containers and forums. Containers are really just to separate out and categorize the forums. You can't post directly to them yourself. In fact, if I click up here on Around California and say, Add new forum topic. I am just going to say, "Test subject" and scroll to the bottom and say Save.

See I'm told I can't actually add that topic because it's a container, not a forum. So I'll just close out of that overlay now. In order to get back to my forums, I'll just click on Forum. You can, however, add topics into the forums themselves. Before I do that, I'm going to rearrange this a little bit, so that forums appear correctly inside the containers. Once again, you go up to Structure and Forums, and then you can drag them around. I think General discussion goes into Around this site and Road Trips and Finds in California are both in Around California. There we go.

Now when we close out this overlay, it makes a lot more sense. Let's try posting something in General discussion, and I'll say Add new forum topic. This is a great site. I just wanted to say thanks. Scroll down and save it. Now when we go back to our forum, we see that we have one topic and one post in there. If we drill down further into General discussion, there it is.

This is a great site. Now this is a great way for you users to talk to each other, but I want to point something out. I am going to switch back to Google Chrome where I'm visiting the site as an anonymous visitor. I click on Forum. Let's say I'll look in there. I think it's a great site, too. I want to comment on that as well. So I click there. I can post the comment the same as I would to any other node. However, if I go back one screen, I'm not able to post a new topic entirely. I would have to log in first in order to do that.

You can change that behavior, as you learned earlier in the video about permissions, by going up to People and Permissions, and then scrolling down to the Node group. You see, a forum topic is really just a node of the forum type. There it is: forum topic content. You could say, create new forum topic content and get that to anonymous users if you wanted, or authenticated users, or so forth. This is an important thing, by the way, which is that authenticated users don't naturally have the ability to post new forum topics.

You have to grant it to them. That's a good security device; however, it does mean you should check out your site as an authenticated user, not as an administrator, before you launch it, or you'll find, why is nobody posting anything in the forums? Well, they are not able to. Just to recap a few things that might not have been so obvious as we went along. The structure of forums is such that, at the very top level, you have forums as a group, and you turn that on with that module that I showed you, the Forums Module. You can go to the page that shows all of the forums by going to /forum, or if there's a menu link, just clicking on the menu link that says forums.

The page of forums contains two types of entity: One is a forum itself which in turn contains topics and each of those topics in turn contain comments. It also contains containers which can contain forums. Is that all clear? There are two things at the top level of forums. They can either be containers or forums. And one thing that I didn't show you before, to complicate things even more, is that forums can contain other forums, and I'll show that by going to Structure and Forums.

And let's say Road Trips, I wanted to add another forum that was by region, let's say, Northern California road trips, and I'll make its Parent > Road Trips and save. Then go back to our Forums page, go to the Front Page and Forum, and you see how that hierarchy works. The last thing I want to show you is a few of the settings that are available, which will change what your forums look like.

Once again, we go to Structure and Forums and then go up to this Settings tab. Toward the bottom here, you have something which will let you change how they're sorted. The best way to leave it, in my opinion, is to simply have the newest ones at the top, because that's what people start reading. And once you start reading a forum, you'll come back often and you just want to see the new stuff. The Topics per page lets you decide how quickly the page will load. If you have a low number, it will load quickly, but on the other hand, people will have to click more if it's a very busy forum.

The Hot topic threshold changes the icon that people see when they look at the list of forums. I'll go back and show you sort of what that looks like. If the threshold for Hot topics was lower than the number of topics that was in a forum, you would see a special icon saying, hey! This one is very busy. Go here first. So that's what that setting does. One last thing: if you decide to open your site to forums, you'll really have to monitor the comments, as we described in the video about managing comments. You'll also have to monitor nodes of the forum topic content type. For extra help in that, watch the Slowing spam video to keep forum quality high.

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