10 Guidelines for New Drupal Developers

4 September 2014

Atlanta: Drupal is written in PHP and is utilized for the back end design. It is a free of charge and open source content management framework. It also pleases the necessities for a web application framework. Drupal developers do not require in-depth programming skills so as to set up and manage the basic website even if it offers quite a sophisticated programming interface for advanced developers. Any computing podium that is able to support a web browser is capable of running PHP and a database and that can be employed to store the contents is apt for Drupal.

If you are getting started with Drupal development, you have most probably found some situations that you didn’t know how to handle. In this article we will talk about some of the things you should become familiar with or know how to handle so that you can become more competent with Drupal.

Being a very popular platform, Drupal allows various website owners to attain their common objectives. Listed below are few of guidelines for Drupal developers.

Secure User #1  

User #1, Normally the admin account, is the owner of the site and holds much power over your Drupal installation. This is the account that you will require to keep the site advanced and carry out administration tasks. Make sure to keep this account safe as it’s a vital part of your site.

Back Up Your Database

It is suggested that you keep a backing of your database in a safe location just if anything goes mistaken with your site. The site must be separate from your website location, possibly on a different host or in your home back up system. You can make use of the Backup and Migrate module to back up the database and then shift the file to a new location.

How to Analyze the “White Screen of Death”

If you look through your Drupal site and get nothing but a white screen, it normally means that Drupal has come across a PHP error. This mistake, sometimes known as the “White Screen of Death” after Microsoft’s “Blue Screen of Death”, can be caused by some other problem but normally is a development error. If you locate yourself in this position you will need to PHP error reporting for your site so you can find where the trouble is.

Understand User Roles and Permissions

When setting up users on your website you need to be capable of understanding the “roles” those users will have on the site and which permissions those users can have. In the permissions section under User management, you can organize user permissions. Below are the default Drupal roles:

  • Anonymous user – User is not logged in
  • Authenticated user – User is logged into their account on your website
  • Admin user – User is logged into their account on your site that has administrative permissions

In the Permissions section, you can describe what every role can and cannot do on your site to avoid users’ access areas or making alterations to things they should not.

Dumping the Cache

When a page is requested in Drupal it is served from the cache if one is obtainable. This way, a page does not have to be produced dynamically every time a request is made. The advantage of this is the reduction in SQL queries and server requests being made. However, if your site starts to act oddly or you can’t see theme edits during development; you can employ the Flush Cache function to eliminate these cached files. The site will then recreate itself with the advanced files from the server.

Understand Theme Development Concepts

While there are hundreds of themes accessible for free or paid download, you may want to build your own custom theme. It is suggested to use a tailored version of the Framework Theme as a base as it has all of the added graphic elements such as icons, background, logos etc…and the CSS stylesheet. A theme consists of the following files:

  1. *.info
  2. page.tpl.php
  3. node.tpl.php
  4. template.php
  5. style.css

Deploy a Contact Form         

Most site owners need a contact form as a way for users to give site feedback or to get in touch with them, In the Drupal core, there is a pre-built contact form that you can enable and modify prior to deployment of your site. To facilitate the contact form, first enable the Contact module, which is optional core module. Then you can go to Administer -> Site Building-> Contact Form.

Now you have the basic contact form. You will probably want to make edits and changes, such as including new fields, categories and other information. You can also have the contact form email different addresses depending on the category chosen, which can be very helpful.

Using Views  

Employing views offers you a greater amount of control over the process of producing displays of your information. In the views editor, you can filter your obtainable nodes and publish them in grids, tables, lists, etc… and sort them. For instance, you could utilize Views to denote any of the following:

  • An alphabetical list by name and phone number in the Contact page
  • A grid of pictures for the Products page
  • A list of contact numbers and e-mail addresses for an internal contact list

Views are a convenient way to exhibit information in different ways that you may want to use across your site. Rather than having to build these grids, lists and other things by hand, learn to love Views.

Creating a Launch Checklist

After you have organized your site, got everything set and fine-tuned your theme it is time to launch your finished site. Below is a list of some things to do:

  • Setup a Cron Job – You may want your hosting provider to assist you set up a cron job. Drupal’s default script is located at /cron.php
  • Revise .htaccess - Ensure you have setup your permissions to your folders properly in your .htaccess file. You would also want to setup a friendly redirect from yoursite.com to www.yoursite.com to avoid being double listed by search engine crawlers.
  • Setup the Performance Caching-Your site may benefit from having caching turned on, which can improve page response times. Use the caching function to reduce calls to the database and create less demand on your server. You can find it in Admin -> Site configuration -> Performance

Setting Up Clear URLs

By default, in Drupal, the system employs an unfriendly way of developing URLS to your web pages, for instance http://mysite.com/?q=node/1 which is not possible to employ as a direct link and some search engines crawlers wont index these pages. In order to build better URLs that are easier to use and SEO friendly you require turning on clean URLs.

To do this, go to Administer -> Site configuration -> Clean URLs

Above you have some of the more common things you require looking out for if you are concerned in obtaining more involved with Drupal and you are a beginner. Contact Fortune Softtech Atlanta if you need any kind of assistance in Drupal CMS development.

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