Trying out Drupal as content management system


I installed the Drupal 5.0 beta 1 release yesterday and the installation was so easy it could rival WordPress’ famous five-minute installs.

I’ve long wanted to try the open source content management system and for several months now, “try Drupal” has featured prominently in my someday/maybe lists (plural because I kept transferring and playing with new task managers). It became prominent after I found out that The Onion is being run using Drupal.

Drupal installer DRUPAL INSTALLER. The 5.0 beta release of Drupal comes with a web-based installation script. Click on image to enlarge.

The new release comes with a web-based installer that simplifies the setting up of Drupal, After I downloaded the release and I uploaded the files to my test site, I was greeted with the installer when I opened the page, with the notice that I should add write permissions to the settings.php file.

I changed the permissions of the file and when I reloaded the page, I was asked to fill out the settings for the database. I entered the MySQL database name, user, and password and after clicking on Save Configuration, the web-based installer set up my Drupal site in a little over a minute. I was then prompted that my Drupal site had been set up and that I should remove the write permissions from my settings.php file.

I opened the site, created the administrator account and spent an hour or two going over its administration capability. I’d probably be spending a lot of time on Drupal documentation in the coming days as I want to be as familiar with it as I am now with WordPress.

Drupal admin DRUPAL ADMIN. The website administration page in Drupal. Here, I’m activating clean and search engine-friendly URLs. Click on photo to enlarge.

It took me several months to be familiar with WordPress to the point that I could tweak it to my needs and create my own themes or port non-WordPress templates for my sites. I just wish it would take me a shorter time to be as familiar with Drupal. I’ll probably delete the whole installation and try putting up the current stable version because the modules haven’t been ported to the 5.0 release yet.

Why bother learning a new content management system?

I’ve long been fascinated with CMS after I found PHPNuke several years back. The thought of just publishing, changing designs and managing pages on the click of a button fascinates me. Playing with CMS packages is therapeutic for me, it is a relief from my newsroom deadlines. Since discovering PHPNuke, I’ve tried countless PHP/MySQL CMS packages. I’ve only stopped playing with various CMS packages after I focused on trying to learn as much as I can on WordPress.

WordPress is an extensible system. I’ve used it for a couple of magazine sites. I’ve made it run a news portal using a still unreleased theme package (soon, I’ll release it soon) and a couple of plugins. WordPress can be used to run a news website by changing the way it displays content.

But other CMS packages like Drupal have been engineered to run community and news sites out of the box. They also have more capabilities on user and community management.

I have several projects in the pipeline and while I initially planned on using WordPress, there is this nagging thought that maybe these projects are better off managed by Drupal.

For this non-geek, “I want to be a Drupal ninja” tops my Christmas wish list this year.

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