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By Lauren Mackenzie | Thursday, April 24, 2014

Choose a Web CMS (WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!)

choose-a-cms-graphic

Can’t decide which content management system (CMS) suits your needs? It’s not an easy task. But by clearly defining what you want it to do—and being aware of your technical skill limits—you can identify the best CMS for your purpose.

Let’s start with the basics. A CMS is a software program that makes it easy for you to create and publish digital content on a digital device. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are the most popular and used worldwide. They’re in open-source format—which means they’re regularly updated by a massive global community to ensure they can support developing online technology. You can download them immediately for free but you have the option to pay for additional premium features.

By Tom Geller | Friday, February 15, 2013

Automatically Back Up Your Drupal Site's Database

You do back up your computer, don’t you? It’s an easy process, even if you don’t use a utility like the Apple Time Machine: you simply move a bunch of files from your one place to another.

But if you try that with your Drupal site, you’ll leave out the most important part—your site’s content and configuration. That’s because those parts live in your site’s database, which is stored far away from the site’s files. The solution is to export the database as a file, then save that file along with everything else. Doing that manually can be a pretty awkward procedure, but the Backup and Migrate module makes it easy. Here’s what I do:

  1. Install Backup and Migrate the usual way (shown in the section “Expanding a Site’s Capabilities with Modules” in Drupal 7 Essential Training).
  2. Define where you want Drupal to store private files by clicking Configuration > File  system. Be sure to secure the destination by following the link on that page. If you don’t, your raw database file could become accessible to everybody.
  3. Configure Backup and Migrate to save the database into that directory. (I set up a schedule to save it once a day.) The video Backing up with the Backup and Migrate module in Drupal 7 Advanced Trainingshows you how.
  4. Save that database file when you save the rest of the Drupal files.

A conservative strategy: Backup and Migrate set to save six months of backups.

One last step: Be sure to practice restoring from that backup to make sure it works, as a bad backup is the same as no backup! Note that this is not the same as a straightforward MySQL export: you’ll need to use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module itself to reestablish your site. But while unusual, I’ve found this procedure to be far easier (and more foolproof) than noodling with my site’s Drupal database manually.

By Tom Geller | Friday, February 08, 2013

Plan for Drupal 8, build for Drupal 7

Rumor has it that early computer maker Osborne folded because it promoted its next-generation (but not-yet-released) model over the adequate (but sellable) one. People decided to wait, starving the company of revenue.

But while Drupal 8′s release is mere months away, there’s no reason to wait. Here’s why you should build your site now, in Drupal 7:

  • Drupal 7 will be good for a while. The community officially supports Drupal with security updates for two major releases. Drupal 6 came out in early 2008; Drupal 7 followed in early 2011. If the pattern continues, Drupal 7 won’t be obsolete until 2015 or later.
  • You’ll (probably) be able to upgrade your site to Drupal 8 later, as core Drupal is always upgradeable. The potential problem is in add-on modules and custom code, which sometimes lag. The good news is the biggie: Views is becoming part of Drupal core.
  • The cost for waiting is too great. While you wait for Drupal 8, your site stays locked in your imagination. There’ll always be something “even better” on the horizon.

So don’t fall victim to the Osborne Effect—build your dream Drupal site now!

By Cynthia Scott | Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Drupal training released on the same day as Drupal 7

Drupal 7 is scheduled to release today—and in a happy coincidence, lynda.com’s first release of 2011, Drupal Gardens Essential Training, with Tom Geller, was also released today.

Kirk Werner was the training producer for this course. The day we talked about creating this course he went out to test Drupal Gardens for himself. When I asked him about the software, he told me that he found Drupal Gardens to be an amazing CMS solution, giving people the ability to make a great looking, custom site in less than 30 minutes.

In this course, 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 covers how to leverage its pre-built page layouts and add custom styling without having to learn CSS, using the Theme Builder tool, integrate rich site features, such as forms, surveys, and media galleries, and how to push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also shows how to transition a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site.

I caught up with Tom to ask him about his course.

How is Drupal Gardens related to Drupal 7?

It’s real Drupal, only without the server maintenance hassles of traditional, self-hosted Drupal. Think of it this way: What the WordPress.com blogging site is to WordPress, Drupal Gardens is to Drupal.

Drupal Gardens also differs from the “core” Drupal by including a lot of extra pieces. I think Acquia did a good job picking which modules to add: They really give you features you want, but that aren’t in core Drupal. On the down side, you can’t add modules (as you can with self-hosted Drupal). On the other hand, you can always export your Drupal Gardens site if you outgrow its functionality.

What skills will people need to use Drupal Gardens?

Not nearly as many as for Drupal! If you’ve ever used a publishing platform — WordPress, Blogger, MediaWiki, or even services like Facebook or LiveJournal — you’ll feel comfortable publishing in Drupal Gardens right away. Now, you’ll only use five percent of its power at first: It’s really that much deeper than those other programs. But that just speaks to how far you can go with it.

In your opinion, what’s the most interesting feature in Drupal Gardens?

One feature? I’d say it’s the Theme Builder, which gives you incredible freedom to change your site’s appearance. You get pixel-level control over the theme’s Cascading Style Sheets without having to learn CSS — although knowing a bit about its structure sure helps. I give a brief background about it before showing how the Theme Builder works.

But what most impresses me about Drupal Gardens is the whole package. It feels solid; there are no loose ends. Given Drupal’s flexibility, that’s saying a lot.

Are there any key features that have been added since you recorded your course?

Yes! In late December, when the course was in post-production, Acquia added a neat data-collection feature called webforms. Drupal Gardens already had something similar — the Poll module that comes in core Drupal. But webforms takes that concept much, much further. As with the Theme Builder, they improved webforms by giving it a more click-and-drag interface than you usually see in Drupal.

Since we’re planning to update this course on a regular basis, I’ll be able to update the Drupal Gardens course to include webforms the next time I’m at lynda.com.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just that Drupal Gardens really owes its life to two parties: Acquia, the commercial company that released it, and the Drupal community as a whole. It’s an excellent example of a community-built open-source project that’s been commercialized with intelligence and sensitivity. It sure helps that the same person created both Acquia and the original Drupal software.

By Samara Iodice | Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A lynda.com training producer learns Joomla, and practices what we teach

Video shot by lynda.com’s Taymar Pixley and Lucas Deming, and edited by Chris Chan Lee. Starring author Jen Kramer and training producer Samara Iodice.

You may be surprised to discover that behind every lynda.com author is a training producer, like me, who oversees all aspects of course production—from content development, to script review, to graphics creation, to booth and/or live action recording, and eventually publishing in the Online Training Library®. You may be even more surprised to learn that lynda.com training producers are not usually experts in the software for the courses they produce. In fact, often the first experience I have with a certain piece of software is in reviewing the early draft of a course table of contents in preparation for beginning work with an author. That doesn’t mean training producers aren’t extremely knowledgeable about the course content, but where the author must know details of how every individual feature of the software functions, the training producer is looking at something completely different—the overall educational integrity of the course and associated exercise files.

Some training producers are experts in some software programs—it’s often how our career path brought us to where we are. Some of us are experts in certain products; all of us are skilled in many products, are very technologically savvy, and learn new software quite easily. Before becoming a training producer at lynda.com, my software expertise was in the computer-aided-drafting (CAD) area, having used AutoCAD extensively in my previous career as an engineer, and also in the web design area, using Dreamweaver for the last several versions.

One area of web design I had become increasingly interested in was the use of content management systems (CMS) such as Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla to create web sites that could be more easily maintained than the traditional static web site. So, when the opportunity arose to produce a Joomla title with the very enthusiastic author, Jen Kramer, I jumped right in. I was particularly excited to learn a CMS because I’d been doing volunteer media work for a youth-run nonprofit, Everybody Dance Now, and the teenage leaders desperately needed a new, modern web site they could learn to maintain themselves.

So, after a week of recording with Jen Kramer, I had my first real taste of Joomla, and that, in turn, stimulated my appetite to watch many of the other Joomla and CMS offerings in the lynda.com Online Training Library®. Before I knew it, I had designed a new Joomla-based national web site for the young ladies of Everybody Dance Now, and was being called upon to design other chapter web sites around the country for the same organization, in addition to providing training for those chapters to maintain their own sites. It’s been a whirlwind of volunteer activity that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in, had I not fully immersed myself in the lynda.com Online Training Library® to learn a new topic.

Joomla 1.6 Beta Preview Course Trailer

Click to watch the trailer for Jen's Joomla course.

With the release of Jen Kramer’s Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview title last week, many people are wondering what Joomla and other content management systems are all about, and how they can apply this technology in their own lives. I’m hoping that sharing my experience as a training producer practicing what we, at lynda.com, teach will help inspire lynda.com members to investigate Joomla and all the various content management systems in the library, and discover these practical and highly-effective solutions for creating and maintaining a powerful web presence.

Watch Jen’s course, Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview, and learn more about Joomla at the Joomla web site.

By Megan O. Read | Friday, April 16, 2010

lynda.com author Tom Geller at DrupalCon San Francisco

DrupalCon

DrupalCon SF starts next week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. Keynote speakers include a White House representative discussing the migration of whitehouse.gov to Drupal, as well as Drupal founder Dave Buytaert discussing the future of Drupal.

lynda.com author Tom Geller will be a featured speaker in the Many Flavors of Drupal Training panel on Monday, at 9:45am. This year’s DrupalCon is projected to be the biggest yet, with 3,000 expected attendees, and 8-12 simultaneous sessions at any given time. Tickets are still available for this event.

By Megan O. Read | Friday, March 19, 2010

Author exhibitions at MoMA, new books, and upcoming events

Currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is the work of lynda.com author and interactive designer Brendan Dawes. The Cinema Redux project is part of the Action! Design over Time exhibition. This is Brendan’s second time exhibiting at MoMA. In 2008, Cinema Redux was featured in the groundbreaking exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind at MoMA. Two Cinema Redux pieces have since been acquired for the MoMA collection. A limited edition print from Cinema Redux is available from Coudal.

Cinema Redux of Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock), by Brendan Dawes.

An excerpt from the new book from James Ball and Matt Gottshalk, and lynda.com authors Robbie CarmanandRichard Harrington, From Still to Motion is available for a sneak peek. lynda.com author Ian Robinson and his wife Lisa shot most of the photography for this fascinating book on creating video with your Digital SLR. This book is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Drupal instructor Tom Geller is giving an online, all-day Drupal workshop on March 29th from 9am-5PM (CT). For more information, check out Tom’s blog, or sign up here—lynda.com blog readers get 10% off!

Join Anne Marie Concepcion for her InDesignSecrets seminar on Thursday March 25th in Secaucus, NJ at 9am (EST). If you can’t make the New Jersey date, check out the rest of the North American tour dates.

The CMS Expo in Chicago is coming up on May 3-5, and Joomla! Expert Jen Kramer is a featured speaker, and Core CMS Track Leader at the 2010 CMS Expo. Details and registration information available here.

By Megan O. Read | Friday, July 24, 2009

The latest lynda.com author news: Congrats, Chad! and Go, Tom!

megannews Hi friends,

Our fantastic lynda.com authors are at it again! Here’s the latest:

lynda.com author Chad Perkins has recently won the Seattle’s 48 Hour Film Festival award for sound design and composition. Big congrats to Chad! Here’s the winning video with awesome sound: http://vimeo.com/5546474

Tom Geller‘s brand new Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data training video was recently highlighted on drupal.org. Way to go Tom! You’ve been all over the Drupal world.

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