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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.
We are now going to discuss an incredibly powerful part of Drupal, the ability to use PHP code within a page's content. PHP has access to many of the inner-workings of your Drupal site allowing to essentially rewrite the site on the fly. However its power can also lead to unbelievably huge security holes and a relativity small error could make your entire site unavailable or even destroy critical information. The example we will give was taken from the drupal.org site and has been shown to be safe. The first thing that we need to do is to turn on the PHP filter module. To do so go to Administer and Modules and then scroll down until you see PHP filter, turn that on. Scroll to do the bottom and click Save Configuration. The second thing you will need to do is to turn on the Input format call PHP and make sure that the PHP evaluator is turned on within that input format. To do so go to Administer, scroll down to Input formats, click on it and go to the PHP code choice and click configure. I scroll down here and turn on the PHP evaluator just in case it's not on. Usually it will be but sometimes you might turn it off for safety, go down to the bottom and click Save Configuration.
Now we are ready to enter PHP code, but first we need a place to enter it. I am going to create a block that I will put in the top right-hand corner showing an endorsement, explaining how wonderful it is to live underwater. To create that block, we go to Administer and Blocks and then add a new block. We will call the block Endorsements and the Block title as well will be Endorsements. If you have a Rich Text Editor, such as FCKeditor turned on, it's best to turn it off before you start playing with PHP code. You might end up entering styled HTML that could interfere with your code. But first we are just going to enter plain text, if you are a premium member of lynda.com or received this course on a disk you have an Exercise File 15_02 which includes a text document containing all of the text you are about to see.
I am going to go there now so I can copy and paste the text. For the Endorsements Block, I just copy, Command C on the Mac or Control C on a PC and paste it in there with Command V or Control V on a PC. In this case we have HTML code in here so we are going to make sure that our Input format is Full HTML, scroll to the bottom and save the block. Now we have to enable that block by bringing it into that right column and then move it up to the top. So we scroll down, there it is Endorsements; I will move it into the Right sidebar and save the block. Then in the Right sidebar once again I will bring it up to the top, scroll to the bottom and save the block, and there it is. Now we are going to turn that into dynamic content, thanks to PHP; we have three endorsements and we are going to rotate among the three.
To do so we will go back to that block and edit it, again we have the Endorsements block right here and click configure. Now I am going to go back to our example file and copy and paste the PHP code. Here's the code. I copy it, switch back to my site, erase what's there and paste it. Don't worry if you don't understand this PHP code, although of course if you are working with PHP code in your site you should know exactly what it does and how it does it. We also have to make one more change, which is to change the Input format to PHP.
We will open up this turn down triangle and click on PHP code. Then go to the bottom of the page and save the block, there. We now have a random endorsement up here, we can show that it's random by repeatedly reloading the page. Let's go Home for example, that's the same one but if we Reload, there is a different one. One more time and again there is the other one, of course you might get two of the same ones in a row because that's the way random numbers work but you can see its dynamic content. If you need help for how Drupal handles PHP code you can always get it by going to any Create content page like create Blog entry, go down to Input format and then click on the More information about formatting options. Up here it gives you information about all the HTML that shows up in Drupal and if you scroll down to the bottom, you will see all of the details on how it handles PHP code.
You can use PHP for content pretty much anywhere Drupal accepts inputs using Input formats filter, that is, wherever you are given a choice of Filtered HTML, Full HTML or PHP that includes blocks as well as the body fields of most node types. There are dozens of bits of useful and interesting PHP code on the drupal.org web site, where they are called snippets. Just be sure you remember to turn on the PHP module and PHP Input format to make them work and more importantly be extremely careful about the code you use.
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