The beginning of my Drupal journey

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I’ve just finished setting up my Debian desktop, and in it the files I’m going to need for my present works (the rest of my files are in backup), and so I’m ready to begin studying on how to use Drupal CMS — both locally in my computer and in my web host. I actually already have working Drupal installations in both locations. (It’s been a bit of a challenge, setting up Apache and PHP in my PC, because I chose not to use LAMPP.)

Learning Drupal now is not how I initially planned my computer studies, but I’ve realized that familiarity with Drupal is of the utmost importance (more important than learning about Debian), and so I’m prioritizing this study. And the reason for this urgency is this: In the job application I sent to our provincial government, I’ve said that, besides writing, I can also create and manage my own websites. With WordPress I can certainly do that. However, I don’t want to use WordPress anymore, and having knowledge about Drupal will be a big plus for me. That is, if ever I’m offered a webmaster job. It’s just a possibility.

And so my present goal is to be able to build a working Drupal website using only the core software and its bundled modules, and without doing any coding at all (which I can’t do anyway). Because of its reputation that it is difficult to use, and also that it is aimed primarily to web developers, I thought that I’ll have a very tough time ahead of me learning Drupal. However, this might turn out to be untrue after all, because I’ve already discovered that, like WordPress, Drupal also doesn’t require programming skills to be able to build websites – unless you’d require heavy customization and high complexity. Unlike WordPress though, Drupal does offer more power and is highly configurable, and so, yes, it’ll be more difficult to learn.

Moreover, with this journey in the works, I’ve already decided that Drupal — and not Textpattern — is the CMS that I will use for my main websites in OnlineBibles.net. Even this personal blog of mine, which uses Textpattern, I will later migrate to Drupal. And the main reason for my choice is not because I don’t like Textpattern (the truth is, I really like Textpattern), but because of the variety of databases that Drupal supports – not just MySQL. Specifically, Drupal supports MariaDB (a drop-in replacement for MySQL) and SQLite (a database consisting of a single local file). The first, MariaDB, is the one that is used by my web host, and so I won’t have any compatibility problems in the future if I use Drupal. The second, SQLite, allows me to run a Drupal installation in my computer without turning it into a full-fledged web development server.

Textpattern, sadly, only supports the original MySQL. And though this blog is running in MariaDB without any problem, present MariaDB and MySQL developments foretell that this compatibility will be lost or diminished in the future. Therefore, for this reason alone, it is much better for me to use Drupal than Textpattern.

Drupal is an enterprise-level content management system, capable of handling very heavy traffic. It is also an already well-established open-source project, and has a lot of people behind it, including organizations. My faith in God about my future success demands that I use this CMS, for it can handle whatever God has planned for my works, and it will remain a viable CMS for decades to come.

Furthermore, Drupal is the perfect balance between a minimal-core-plus-plugins model, like ClassicPress, and an all-in-one model that has all the features, like TikiWiki. The first model makes you dependent on a LOT of plugins (or modules) just to run a decent website; the second gives you a very bloated software. Drupal, on the other hand, already has a lot of core modules bundled with it – modules that you can turn on or off according to your need. Of course, there are many external modules available for installation, but only if you need them.

When I first heard of Drupal last year, when I’d just decided to go self-hosting, I was overwhelmed. This is clearly the perfect CMS for my works, I thought, but it was far beyond my computer skills. And so, disheartened, I compromised, and I tried to learn WordPress instead, and then ClassicPress. When those didn’t work out for me, I’ve tried Textpattern. It’s clear to me now that these compromises have just been stepping stones, providing me with the necessary knowledge and skills, so that someday — right now! — I can finally tackle Drupal head-on. I am ready.

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Categories Computers, Personal

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