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Building with Drupal Gardens

From: Drupal 7 New Features

Video: Building with Drupal Gardens

This video will show you a way to get started with Drupal 7 in a managed environment, that is where someone else has already installed it and does all the work to keep it updated. The service is called Drupal Gardens and it's from Acquia, the same company that produces the AMP Stack we saw in the video earlier about installing the AMP Stack. Besides simplifying maintenance and including lots of useful tools, Drupal Gardens has an amazing Theme Builder that gives you a really high level of control over the look of your site. To get signed up with it, go to drupalgardens.com.

Building with Drupal Gardens

This video will show you a way to get started with Drupal 7 in a managed environment, that is where someone else has already installed it and does all the work to keep it updated. The service is called Drupal Gardens and it's from Acquia, the same company that produces the AMP Stack we saw in the video earlier about installing the AMP Stack. Besides simplifying maintenance and including lots of useful tools, Drupal Gardens has an amazing Theme Builder that gives you a really high level of control over the look of your site. To get signed up with it, go to drupalgardens.com.

I've already created an account, so I'll just log in. Once you've logged in, you see a list of sites that you've already created. I'm going to start creating a new site by clicking up here and naming the site. I'll call this lynda2 and continue. The next option you have is to choose a template. A template is a collection of features that are turned on or off and also a group of pages that it will either include or not. For example, we have this Campaign template where most of the modules are turned on, Product template where everything is turned on, a Blog template, and then a Create your own template where it starts with everything turned off and you can just turn them on individually as you like.

I'm going to go with the Campaign template. Scroll down and say Create site. Now this installation should look familiar to you because in the background, Drupal Gardens is actually installing a new instance of Drupal on its servers. There it is. Our site is now installed. It offers you some help, which I'll just close for right now. You'll notice that it looks very much like ordinary Drupal that you would install yourself. However, there are quite a few changes underneath the hood. First of all, you have this My sites button and if you want to go back to that list of sites that you saw at first, just click there and there we are.

I'm going to go back to editing our site by clicking on it and then start exploring the menus that we have to see what some of these differences are. First of all, a Drupal Gardens site comes with some sample content. That's just to show you exactly how the site works. If we close this out and start exploring, you'll see okay, well there is a sample article, some comments, the blog has a sample post or two, and so forth. If you want to create your own site from scratch, and you understand exactly how everything works, which probably you do, you could go back and then just delete all of these.

Continuing on, let's take a look at what's under the Structure menu. There are some additional choices here, specifically Mailing lists and Media Types. Again, I won't go into the details of what everything is, but these let you do additional things on your site without installing any new modules. This is a good time to mention, not only don't you have to install new modules, but you can't install new modules. Essentially, you're stuck with the modules that are included with Drupal Gardens. So you have to decide for yourself whether it's going to give you enough functionality.

The good news is that if it doesn't, you can actually export your entire site from Drupal Gardens, load it up on your own computer, and then start playing with it just as if it's a customized distribution of Drupal that you created with all of your content and so forth. It's very handy. I give a lot of credit to the Acquia folks for allowing you to do that because a lot of hosted sites like this don't let you just take your site off. You're sort of locked in with them once you're there. Anyway going on, I'm going to close out this administrative overlay, because doing so makes Appearance available.

Now this is how you select a theme, but also how you modify themes. I'm going to come back to that because it's the biggest thing in Drupal Gardens and it's going to take a little while to explain. Continuing on, one of the differences in People is that the roles are a little bit different. First of all, you have some new roles that don't come with core Drupal. Blogger, Editor, and so forth. You also have this distinction between site owner and administrator. This is because Drupal Gardens is a hosted service and although you own your site, you don't own everything on Drupal Gardens.

It's a bit of a distinction, but don't worry. You'll still be able to administer your site as much as you need to and again, if you don't find that you're getting enough access, you can remove your site from Drupal Gardens and start it yourself on your own server. Continuing on to Modules, you'll notice that the Add new module has gone from here as well as the Update tab. As I said, you can't add your own modules, but if you look through the list it really is a huge list of things that we're added onto it. There is a Gallery function, some additional statistical functions. Continuing on, basically Configuration and Reports work pretty much the same as in Drupal 7.

Of course, there are additional choices on Configuration because there are so many extra modules, but we don't have to go through those. Now the big thing in Drupal Gardens is the Appearance tab. When we click on that, it brings up the Theme Builder. Of course, you can switch themes very simply just as you could in Drupal 7 by selecting the new theme and then saying Publish. When you publish a theme you have to name it. I'm just going to call this lynda2-theme. And it's done.

Now you notice this text appeared that it's now live. As you work on a Drupal Gardens site, it's actually there. It's available to the whole world. So you have to either take your site offline, which you can do in the Configuration as you normally would with Drupal, or just be sure that you know what you're doing as you go. What I usually do is I design the whole site first before announcing it and then if I have to do any tweaks, I'll take it down briefly while I make the changes. I won't go through all of the Theme Builder, except to say that it really is amazing. Not only can you select different themes, that's the simple part, you can also change all the colors, which really gives the whole thing a different look as you scroll through.

The Layout, you can change how many columns there are. In this case we have one column on the left and one on the right, but we could have just the left-hand column or both of the columns on the right like so, or we could change it back to its original layout. The Styles tab is where you have very strong control over the CSS in the site. Let's just take a look at that. Let's say that I want to change these menus up here. I click on them and then I could change, for example, the spacing that's around them, make it bigger, smaller. I could add a little bit of a border to each one of these.

I could add the border on top if I wanted. You could see once you start messing with that, you have all kinds of possibilities for design. I'm really very impressed with this feature especially. As with Borders & Spacing, you can also change the Font, so instead of Helvetica, well, let's say we want it a little bit bigger. We want it to be all caps. We want it to be a different face entirely, Georgia let's say, and then publish and it's done. It's actually live at that moment. But let's say you're not getting enough control from the Theme Builder.

Well, the Advanced tab lets you put your own custom CSS that overrides whatever Drupal Gardens has already given you. Of course in order to do this, you have to know CSS and you can learn CSS on several video series on lynda.com. The last neat thing about Drupal Gardens is, as I said, you can export the entire site or you can export just the themes. I'm going to do that right now by clicking Export. I'm going to export it as lynda2 and save it. I'm then going to go to my Download area, which in this case was the Desktop and open it up.

When I open it up, you can see that it's a theme very much like one that you might create from scratch. Now the Theme Builder is not quite as flexible as creating something from scratch. If you want to learn how to create a Drupal theme from scratch so you have all that control or to be able to modify the one that you get out of Drupal Gardens, see the lynda.com course Drupal: Creating and Editing Custom Themes by my friend Chris Charlton. But I have to say even though you get a lot more flexibility when you program your own theme, as Chris shows you how to do, I think this is really a remarkable tool.

I'm excited to see the explosion of designs that Drupal's going to see as a result. I don't know whether you can tell, but I am really impressed with Drupal Gardens. It's not the only host at Drupal solution out there. In fact there are dozens of ISPs that as Internet Service Providers that have some kind of one click install for Drupal. Some of them even handle such matters as updates, but Acquia has really gone whole hog to make Drupal Gardens useful. In fact, I'm working on a course right now specifically about Drupal Gardens for lynda.com.

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Drupal 7 New Features

29 video lessons · 7959 viewers

Tom Geller
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