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Enabling the blog features of Drupal

Out of the box Drupal comes very close to supporting blogging. A blog is, after all, just a sequence of website postings listed in reverse chronological order. By default when you post a new page on a Drupal site the teaser is listed on the front page, then when you post another page its teaser is listed before the previous teaser. After posting a few pages you've got a list of items on the site and the teasers for each item is listed in reverse chronological order. While this is sort of like a blog there are a few blog features which can be enabled to make Drupal more of a blog.

Basics of Drupal administration

If you recall the overview of setting up Drupal for Blogging, there is a little bit of configuration to do to enable the blog features. Enabling the blog features requires a little bit of skill with Drupal administration, so let's do a quickie tour of it first.

On the front page of your newly created site is a welcome message which explains some options. It's all very well and good what is said on this page and worth your time to read. The important thing is the link named 'Administer'. This link leads you into the land of Drupal Administration.

Installing Drupal

Before you can install Drupal you must have a capable web hosting service. The minimum requirements are MySQL 5.x and PHP 5.x support, and there are somewhere around a zillion web hosting providers who offer this level of service. It's best if the host runs on Linux (or another Unix-like OS) but it is possible to use (gag) Windows.

The official installation instructions are on the Drupal site.

Blogging using Drupal

Drupal is a very feature-rich and comprehensive content management system. While Drupal is very flexible and can be used for nearly any kind of web site, one of its main core competencies is as a blogging platform.

Blog Theme module for Drupal

The Blog Theme module allows individual users to select different themes for their personal blog pages. Drupal allows easy switching of themes in that there is a theming layer which is very flexible in making the presentation of a drupal site customizable. This Blog Theme module uses that facility to allow a different theme to be used for blog postings by each user.

Activity Stream module for Drupal

The Activity Stream module for Drupal is a form of aggregation for Drupal. You configure it with a list of RSS feeds and it makes copies of (new) items as postings on your site. The idea is to collect all your "activity" from across several websites and collect all that on one site.

Adding links to menu, and improved menu implementations

The Drupal menu system allows for multiple 'menu' structures. Out of the box it comes with a 'Navigation' menu that includes the 'create content' and other interesting choices. It may be enough for you to leave that menu in its default form. Additionally Drupal has a 'Primary Links' and 'Secondary Links' menus which can be populated with links. Drupal also allows site administrator to create more menus, and menus are available as Blocks allowing the menu to be placed on the page.

Improving site navigation with Drupal

It's important for website usability that your website be highly navigable. Here's some ideas to improve navigability. Or, without using $50 words, here's some ideas that help your users find their way around your website .. or to help them keep from getting lost.

CAPTCHA, Captcha Pack, reCAPTCHA

A Captcha is a method of displaying something readable to a human being, but which a computer program is unable to read. The human being is then instructed to enter that information into the web page. The web page software then can check what the human enters, and if the entered value matches then the software can be assured it was a human being. It's a kind of reverse Turing test.

CAPTCHA and other methods to reducing SPAM

SPAM (the unwanted extraneous content that floods the Internet, not the barely desirable canned meat product) can infest an unprotected Drupal website. There are ways to prevent SPAM on a Drupal site. Otherwise you're likely to be spending lots of time removing the infestation. I sure was early on in my career with Drupal.

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