Welcome to Your Site
So, you've set up a raw Drupal site, or have been handed the keys to a site – but you don't know much about where to go from there. (This manual assumes you've already got a fresh site and administrator access to it. If not, see Getting Started at drupal.org.)
First things first: Welcome to Drupal!
Your site is built on Drupal, an open-source content management system. What that means is:
The software behind the site is built by a global network of volunteers. Their goal is first to create the ideal software that they themselves want to use, and second to share that with anyone who wants to make use of it. The "source" – the programming code that makes up the software – is open for anyone to view and modify.
That's different from traditional proprietary software owned and sold by the developer: You can only use proprietary software under the specific terms allowed by the developer, and generally can not see or modify the source code at all.
With open source, you don't get a developer or vendor ready to lead you by the hand, but you don't get the handcuff treatment either. With assistance from friendly folks in the open source developer and user community, and a little self-learning on your own, you'll benefit from the freedom.
Content management system:
Drupal isn't for making static, fixed web pages. It stores your site's content – articles, pages, blog postings, images, and so on, as well as information like your site's name and layout – in a database. Drupal then generates your site's pages "dynamically" from that database, following rules that you set.
Anyone with permission can add or modify the database's content from a normal web browser, with no special software. When you make a change, such as changing the name of a menu item, or changing the site's logo, you're making that change to the database that all pages are generated from. That means the change is instantly made throughout the site, without your needing to modify a dozen pages individually.
A content management system isn't the best solution for all web sites. But it is for many web sites.
More about Drupal
Drupal's home base is at http://www.drupal.org. You can learn a lot there to enhance these instructions, especially from these sections:
Drupal Handbooks: Lots of info; a bit overwhelming!
Drupal Cookbook: Part of the above handbooks, concentrating on basics for new Drupal users. Helpful stuff!
End User Guide: Also part of the handbooks. Information focused on the non-administrator user – helpful both to you, and to any site visitors to whom you give permission to add comments, create content, or otherwise interact with your site.
Drupalace.com features the following in addition to EDAM:
Drupal for Beginners: A one-page overview of what Drupal is, who it's for, and what you should expect. A good place to start!
You're in charge
As administrator, you're in control of your own site. You add and modify content, set the site's basic rules, control its functionality, and so on. Drupal makes that task far, far easier than it would be with an old-fashioned static web site, letting you wield great features that would have taken a small army of webmasters not long ago.
Ways you can control how the site works include:
- You can configure the site in many ways, changing settings and enabling functions.
- You can set different privileges for different types of user, such as anonymous visitors, staff members, top administrators, and so on, determining what each user can and can't do.
- You (or a system administrator) can add new features to Drupal through software called modules. A very active community of Drupal developers is constantly releasing improved and new modules.
- You can easily change the overall graphic appearance using ready-made layouts called Themes.
As with all powerful things, though, there's some learning to do, and there will be questions. EDAM is one of many resources to help you out. Read it and try things out as you go.