Last updated September 18, 2013. Created by xamount on February 19, 2007.
Edited by webbroidrupal, Manjit.Singh, NancyDru, LeeHunter. Log in to edit this page.

The Drupal Cookbook (for Beginners) helps Drupal "newbies" by providing a walkthrough of a common Drupal Setup. You might also be interested in this whirlwind video

Background

This handbook was originally written for Drupal 5. While the information is generally transferable to Drupal 6, some buttons, links, and menu items have been renamed or moved. Every attempt is made to keep these handbooks current.

The intent of the Cookbook is to help the new Drupal user create a typical site. At that point the user will be better equipped to diving deeper into more advanced features.

Terminology

This cookbook requires a basic understanding of the General Concepts of Drupal. Additional resources for understanding terms used in Drupal include:

Conventions

The Cookbook and other documentation on drupal.org uses the following standard for indicating site navigation:

Administer >> Access control >> User management >> Roles.

The above example tells the user to click on "Administer" in the navigation menu, then "Access control", then "User management", and then "Roles".

Working with Drupal

Here are some general reccomendations:

  • Use a test site that uses the same Drupal version and modules as the target site. Use a copy of the live database. Avoid development on a live site.
  • Don't try to make the "perfect site" on the first attempt. Muddle through for a while. Stressing over the perfect solution can lead to frustration.
  • Start by learning the basic functionality of Drupal. Find out what Drupal can do before working towards a specific goal. Once comfortable with the "core" features and behavior, move on to more complex contributed modules such as Views, CCK, and Organic Groups. These modules and some others require a good bit of understanding to master. The power and flexibility of Drupal and its modules will become apparent over time.
  • If you need a custom theme, customize one of the default themes before creating starting from scratch. Refer to the Drupal 5 theme guide or Drupal 6 theme guide.
  • Limit the number of blocks, images, and graphics that clutter the page.
  • Participate in the forums, the Documentation Team, and IRC.

Get support through Drupal.org

Before posting to the Drupal.org site:

  • Search to see if the subject has already been covered to avoid having duplicate postings & issues. If Drupal's search fails, Google will often point to the right references. To use Google to limit the results to Drupal.org include in the search field site:drupal.org
  • Ask one question per post. The issue tracking system can only handle one at a time.
  • Don't hesitate to ask the question again and add I'm a newbie, can you say this in easier to understand terms, please?
  • Before posting, read the tips for posting in the Drupal Forums. Try to describe the situation/case completely. Explain what has been done so far and what you are trying to achieve.
  • When requesting changes don't demand or threaten to abandon Drupal, and certainly don't resort to name calling or derogatory comments. Often times the best way is to jump in and ask how to get involved.
  • In general you will see core versions written as 5.x and 6.x or a specific version as 5.18 or 6.12. Contributed modules are listed with a core compatibility and a version number, such as 5.x-2.5 or 6.x-1.6, which mean "Drupal 5 compatible, Version 2, release 5" or "Drupal 6 compatible, Version 1, release 6." This way, if you see "5.x-2.5" you can know that it means a module release rather than a core release.

For example, if a page is not showing up correctly, be prepared to provide the following information:

  1. A descriptive title
  2. Operating system and browser name. Version information and a list of potentially relevant plug-ins you are using are often important.
  3. Version of Drupal (5.x, 6.x etc)
  4. Any contributed modules
  5. The versions of PHP and MySQL being used, as well as the name/URL of the hosting provider. To see which versions of PHP and MySQL (or other database) that the site is using, in Drupal 5 navigate to: Admin >> Logs >> Status Report, and in Drupal 6: admin >> reports >> status.

Things to keep in mind

A common mistake when approaching a solution to a problem in Drupal is to make an assumption about how Drupal works. Drupal is a unique and powerful platform that is probably quite different from other solutions you may have encountered.

Start simply by making something visible, then celebrate what you have accomplished. Taking one small step at a time will lead to a better site. Don't indiscriminately add many contributed modules right away. Get comfortable with modules one at a time. Modules that are not appropriate or used should be disabled and uninstalled.

As with most things worth mastering, there is a learning curve with Drupal. But there is lots of support available as well.

Looking for support? Visit the Drupal.org forums, or join #drupal-support in IRC.

Comments

Because so many pages call for the user to install a module (e.g. 11 things to do; another way to edit content), the user is warned up front that he must have learned how to find and install modules (see the Installation Guide). Also a danger is that the links to modules are often to Drupal 6 versions, not the current Drupal 7 version, so use the module search feature in the basic Drupal site.

different page id's but seems to be no different.

Wherever you go, there you are - Buckaroo Banzai

Hello and thank you for the cookbook. However, I have a question. I'm fairly new to Drupal but successfully made a trial site using Drupal 6 about a year and half ago. For various reasons I didn't do any more work on it until I revisited it last week. Now I'm trying to get back up to speed with where I was, so I'm re-reading the cookbook. However, it now seems to be a blend of Drupal 6 and 7. Actually, it starts out referencing 5.x and 6.x, but as soon as you get to "Creating Content" it now seems to be written for Drupal 7. I'm not yet ready to upgrade to 7, so is there a beginner's guide somewhere that can help me with version 6? Thank you very much for your help.