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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.
The video "What is Drupal?" gave you a quick tour of core Drupal. That is the standard version that you can download for free from the drupal.org web site. You can learn how to use core Drupal by watching my course "Drupal Essential Training," which is also on lynda.com. This video tells you how Drupal Gardens differs from core Drupal. In some ways, it's an overview of the entire rest of this course, especially if you already know Drupal. Basically, Drupal Gardens is core Drupal, but with a few changes that make it easier to use and more flexible. Most importantly, it's completely hosted and maintained by the company that created it, which is named Acquia.
As a result, you don't have to install or maintain any part of it, and I can tell you from tech support mail I get that hosting is a big part that stops a lot of people from having their Drupal sites. To sign up for Drupal Gardens, you go to drupalgardens.com. I'm already on Drupal Gardens and have signed in. You can poke around and see exactly what comes with Drupal Gardens, read some of their marketing material, and so forth. And then down at the bottom, it gives you a little bit more information about pricing and features and so forth.
The most important thing to know about this is that their basic level, which is known as Super Drupal, is free. It's completely free. The only thing about this basic level is that it will show ads on your site. If you want to stop that from happening, you have to upgrade to Superer Drupal or Superest Drupal, and then they have another level if you want to have an even bigger site, called Most Superest Drupal. These prices, of course, will vary. So I recommend that you come back to this page when you're ready to get started and see what the current pricing is. I do want to mention before going on that Acquia isn't the only company that fully hosts and maintain Drupal.
There is another one called Buzzr, which you can go to it Buzzr.com. That's their biggest competitor, and it's put together by another large Drupal company named Lullabot. If you're interested in hosting Drupal, I recommend you check out both Drupal Gardens and Buzzr. But we're just going to talk about Drupal Gardens. While it makes Drupal a lot easier, it has some limitations on what you can do. The biggest two are that you can't import an existing site. If you've already built a Drupal site somewhere else, you'll how to completely rebuild it again on Drupal Gardens.
Drupal Gardens is best for those sites that you're just starting at with from the beginning. The second limitation is that you can't add any modules or custom programming or ready-made themes to your Drupal Gardens site. You have to use what they give you. Now having said that, what they give you is really quite impressive. I'll show you that by going to a site that I just created, lynda.drupalgardens.com, and again I'm logged in as the administrator, so I have certain abilities that an ordinary visitor to the site wouldn't have. We have here the Theme Builder, and of course you could change themes.
This one is called Campaign. I'm switching it over to the Minima theme. Then once you're there, you can actually change the styles that you see in front of you. So let's change this, for example, and make it a much bigger headline at the top. There we go. You can create and modify themes within Drupal Gardens' own interface using what they called a Theme Builder, and that's what you see here. But the hundreds of themes that are available from drupal.org and private vendors, they're all off-limits. You will learn about the Theme Builder in several videos later in this course, starting with "Understanding the Theme Builder." Now this Theme Builder is really amazing.
I should mention that if you are using core Drupal there is a module that's very similar to this. It's called Sweaver at drupal.org/project/sweaver. Another limitation of Drupal Gardens is, just as with themes, you can't bring any contributed modules or custom programming that you're using Drupal Gardens site. A list of such contributed modules is at drupal.org/project/modules. Again, you can use those on core Drupal, but not Drupal Gardens. The last big limitation of Drupal Gardens is that you don't have direct access to the server, except through Drupal Gardens' own interface.
So you can't do such geeky things as increased PHP's memory allocation or set a custom HT access file. Well, some techies will decry this loss of control, Drupal Gardens isn't really intended for them. It's for people who'd rather never have to deal with such details. Now having said that, there are a few geeky things you can do through Drupal Gardens. First, you can host several sites from one Drupal Gardens account. It's set up as what they called a multisite system, and to see that you go up to My sites here, and it shows you a list of all the sites that you have control over.
You'll learn more about this multisite system in the video "Getting Started with Drupal Gardens." The second geeky thing you can do is you can make the site accessible through a custom domain. You might have noticed that the domain up here is drupalgardens.com, and if you go to anyone of your sites, it's the site name .drupalgardens.com, lynda.drupalgardens.com, or whatever. You can change that into such-and-such.com, whatever your domain is, pretty easily, although that feature is only available for paid accounts on Drupal Gardens, and to do that, once again, you go back to My sites and click Manage Domains. That will give you instructions on how that works.
I'll show you more about that in the video "Adding Custom Domains." Now I mentioned earlier that you can't import an existing Drupal site into Drupal Gardens. However, you can export sites that you created in Drupal Gardens and then host them anywhere you like. To do that you go back to My sites, and over here the More button next to whatever domain you want to handle tells you how to export it. I'll show you how to do that in the video "Exporting Your Sites." That covers Drupal Gardens' high points, but the best way to understand it is, well, to use it.
The video about getting started with Drupal Gardens will help you sign up and create your first site.
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