Improving administration skills
Video: Improving administration skillsMost of this course has addressed specific features of Drupal. Now, I would like to give you a few additional tricks, learnt from experience that will help you administer your site well. These are all optional, you can take them or leave them, but I found them to be helpful. First tip, for speed, I suggest getting used to the exact URLs of the administration pages. For example, we go to Administer and of course we know that is /admin. One of the more common ones that you might use is let's say Blocks that is /build/block. All of the administration pages are first by their category and then by their name and after you have done this a little bit you will see that your browser will auto complete. So let's try that I am going to localhost/admin/build, I could just use my arrows up and down to go to the one that I want. I find that saves me a lot of time.
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Drupal is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) for a variety of platforms. It has a robust user community and easy-to-use administration features. Drupal Essential Training covers all the important aspects of installing, configuring, customizing, and maintaining a Drupal-powered website. Instructor Tom Geller explores blogs, discussion forums, member profiles, and other features while demonstrating the steps required to make Drupal perform. He also teaches fundamental concepts and skills along the way, including installation, backups, and updates; security and permissions; flexible page layouts and CSS; menu navigation; and performance monitoring and disaster recovery. He also discusses how to select and install the community-supported modules that further expand Drupal's capabilities, and gives experienced PHP programmers tips on customizing page templates. Example files accompany the course.
- Understanding the inner workings of Drupal
- Creating stories, pages, blogs, forums, and polls
- Managing users and comments
- Setting and customizing themes
- Exchanging content via RSS
- Stopping comment spam with a CAPTCHA
- Launching a site and joining the Drupal community
Improving administration skills
Most of this course has addressed specific features of Drupal. Now, I would like to give you a few additional tricks, learnt from experience that will help you administer your site well. These are all optional, you can take them or leave them, but I found them to be helpful. First tip, for speed, I suggest getting used to the exact URLs of the administration pages. For example, we go to Administer and of course we know that is /admin. One of the more common ones that you might use is let's say Blocks that is /build/block. All of the administration pages are first by their category and then by their name and after you have done this a little bit you will see that your browser will auto complete. So let's try that I am going to localhost/admin/build, I could just use my arrows up and down to go to the one that I want. I find that saves me a lot of time.
The second way that you could quickly to go an area of the administration interface is to click on Administer and then instead of scrolling up and down hit Command+F and just type in the name of the thing that you are looking for. For example, Contact form and in this browser, which is Safari, it lights up, so it's very easy to find and then you can click on it. The third tip is to sign up as another user and then leave that user logged in, in a different browser entirely. So here we are in Safari with the Administrator logged in, but I am also logged in as an ordinary user, fishyjoe, in Firefox. This is good because it shows you exactly what the site looks like from the outside. It's easy to get tunnel vision as the Administrator.
The fifth tip is to follow the twin laws of sufficiency and necessity. By that, I mean add only those modules and features that you think you are going to use and then leave it alone. Try to avoid the temptation to overload your site with features that ultimately will complicate matters. However, if you do need a certain feature or a certain theme or something else like that don't be shy to add it. For my sixth tip we will have to go back to the Administration interface and from there to Permissions, which I'll find a way I just showed you by typing in Find and Permissions and there we are. Get to know this page and get to know it well. So many times when something is not working on your site it's because Permissions actually haven't been set correctly. It's a large page, but it could be made easier if instead of coming here you go to Administer By module and then go to the Configure Permissions you need for the particular module.
However, I do suggest going and taking a look at the Permissions screen from time to time just to make sure that things are right. If anything goes wrong you know you can usually fix it here. My seventh tip, I have repeated time and time again in the course, but it bears repeating. If you ever have problems or you need more information or you want to stay in touch with the community go to drupal.org, it's the centerpiece for the entire community. Finally, I can't stress this enough, backup regularly and occasionally practice restoring from your backups. A backup is no good if you don't know how to restore from it. Administering any system can become a full-time pursuit for the obsessive person. Fortunately, Drupal doesn't usually require that much attention, but the more time you spend playing with it and touring the resources on drupal.org the better off you will be.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Drupal 6 Essential Training .
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- Q: While following along to the installation instructions in the “Installing WAMP and Drupal on Windows” chapter in the Drupal Essential Training title, an error occurs when attempting to open the local host page. Nothing appears except for an error reading “WAMPSERVER server offline.” What is causing this?
- A: There is a known problem with some versions of WAMP that include a version of PHP (5.3) that some versions of Drupal is not compatible with. See http://tomgeller.com/content/tips-running-drupal-windows-using-wamp#comment-831 for more information.
If that is not causing the issue, reference the tips at http://tomgeller.com/content/tips-running-drupal-windows-using-wamp.
If you don't see the solution at either of those links, try using another AMP stack, such as XAMPP or the Acquia stack installer. See http://tomgeller.com/content/what-hells-wrong-drupal-wamp for discussion about these.
- Q: After installing XAMPP and running Drupal for the first time, the Administration menu does not appear. What is the reason for this?
- A: There are several possible problems. Here are some likely solutions. (These may also solve problems encountered with other AMP stacks.)
- Increase XAMPP's PHP allocation.
- Check to make sure all XAMPP's paths are correct and that permissions are correct. If the database information appears, but not Drupal's supporting files, and an included theme is being used, the supporting files will be in the /modules folder.
- Another solution is to not use WAMP or XAMPP. One option is to use Acquia's Drupal Stack Installer ("DAMP"), which can be found at http://www.acquia.com/downloads. However, that installs Acquia Drupal, which is a version of "normal" Drupal extended with additional modules. If only core Drupal is desired, see the instructions at http://acquia.com/blog/kieran/try-drupal-7-alpha-your-laptop-or-desktop. (The instructions are for Drupal 7, but will work for Drupal 6 as well.)
- Q: In the "Using the example files" movie, the method of importing information to the database is shown, using the backup in Chapter 10. When attempting to do this, the following error is shown: "No data was received to import. Either no file name was submitted, or the file size exceeded the maximum size permitted by your PHP configuration. See FAQ 1.16." The system is running the latest versions of Apache, PhP and MySQL, on Windows Vista. What could be causing the problem?
- A: This is probably caused because your AMP stack allocates too little memory to PHP.
That's especially true if you're using WAMP, which only gives PHP 2MB of memory, when it really needs at least 16MB.You'll see the issue if you go to the MySQL-controlling phpMyAdmin screen (probably at http://localhost/phpMyAdmin) and click "Import": The maximum file size allowed is 2,048K. That's only 2MB, and the databases for most Drupal sites are much larger than that. (The example site for Drupal Essential Training gets as big as 5MB.) The video "Installing WAMP and Drupal on Windows" shows (at around 3:30) where the php.ini file is, but here are some more-complete instructions to increase that memory limit.
- Click the WAMP icon in your system tray.
- Select "PHP". In the side menu, select "php.ini" to open a file containing PHP's configuration options.
- Search for the line, "upload_max_filesize = 2M".
- Change it to "upload_max_filesize = 32M" (or whatever you like).
- Save the file and restart WAMP. (Better yet, restart your computer entirely to be sure. I'm frankly not sure whether it makes a difference.)
- Now go back to that "Import" screen in phpMyAdmin: You should notice that the limit has changed.
- Q: I don't remember the default username and password used demonstrate Drupal.
- A: The default username used in the course is "admin"; the default password is "booth".
- Q: How can I change Drupal's administrative username and password?
- A: If for some reason the default exercise file username (admin) and password (booth) don't work, you can change them in the database itself using phpMyAdmin. (This technique is demonstrated in a video from Chapter 8, "Recovering from disasters".)
- Open your Drupal database with phpMyAdmin.
- Go to the "users" table. Click the Browse icon.
- For the row where uid = 1, click the Edit icon. (Note the value under the "Name" column: That's the administrator's username.)
- In the "pass" row, select "MD5" under the "Function" column
- In the same row, enter your new password under the "Value" column.
- At the bottom of the screen, click the "Go" button. You should now be able to log in with that username and new password.
- Q: In Windows Vista, the WAMP icon disappears from the system tray after a certain amount of time. How do I get it to reappear?
- A: To make the WAMP icon reappear (so that you can access localhost, phpmyadmin, php.ini, etc.), you have to activate the "start WAMP server" icon (from start menu, desktop or wherever). The system tray icon will reappear.
- Q: My .htaccess file disappeared. What caused this?
- A: A few times during the Drupal Essential Training video series, the instructor says to copy a Drupal installation by selecting all the files in the folder and then "dragging and dropping" them, either to a server or another location on your local computer. This is not the best way to do so, as the hidden file ".htaccess" will not be copied.
There are two ways to get around that problem:
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- When installing Drupal for the first time: Instead of copying files from the Drupal folder, move the entire folder to its target location and rename it. This is the easiest solution for those without experience with Unix.
- Use the command-line interface to copy the .htaccess file.
- Q: In the video, the instructor says the current version of Drupal is 6.3, but on the drupal.org site, the latest version is 6.17. Which is the newer version of Drupal?
- A: Drupal 6.17 is newer than version 6.3. For some reason, the the version numbers go 6.3, 6.4... 6.9, 6.10... 6.17. It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s the order.
- Q: My WAMP phpMyadmin will not allow me to upload the exercise files. It returns this message: "No data was received to import. Either no file name was submitted, or the file size exceeded the maximum size permitted by your PHP configuration. See FAQ 1.16." There was no previous database to drop, so what do I need to do to make this work?
- A: This is a common problem, caused not by Drupal, but by WAMP. WAMP only allows you to upload files of 2MB or smaller, which is much too small. The solution is detailed at http://tomgeller.com/cant-import-a-drupal-site-in-windows.
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