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Drupal Administration Explained

This chapter from Drupal 7 Explained: Your Step-by-Step Guide explains the basic concepts of your Drupal site. When you finish, you’ll understand how to navigate around your site and how administrators manage your site.

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This chapter is from the book

At the end of this chapter, you should be able to

  • Understand the difference between the administrator and visitor areas of your Drupal site.
  • Understand the visitor area of your Drupal site.
  • Understand the administrator area of your Drupal site.
  • Make your first Drupal site changes.

The Administration Menu Explained

At the end of Chapter 3, “Drupal Installations Explained,” you installed your new Drupal site and logged in. Congratulations! You’re now ready to explore your Drupal site.

Across the top of the site, you now see a horizontal, black administration menu, as shown in Figure 4.1. This menu is the most important part of your site. Almost everything you want to change and modify on your site can be accessed from here.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1. The administration menu in your Drupal site

The links in this menu are organized according to how often they’re used.

On the left side of your menu, you can see a Home icon, plus a Dashboard and Content link. These are three of the links you click most often.

On the right side of your menu, you can see Configuration, Reports, and Help links. Configuration and Reports are links that are used less frequently. These contain settings and maintenance functions. The Help link contains documentation.

Now take a look at each link in turn.

Home Icon

Click the Home icon, as shown in Figure 4.2.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2. The Home icon on the administration menu

Whenever you click this Home icon, you’ll always be taken back to your site’s front page, as shown in Figure 4.3.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3. Your site’s front page


Click the Dashboard link, as shown in Figure 4.4.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4. The Dashboard link on the administration menu

You can now see three boxes on the screen, as shown in Figure 4.5. This screen gives you helpful information about what’s going on with your site:

  • The Recent Content box shows what’s new.
  • The Search Form box enables you to search for any content on the site.
  • The Who’s New box shows you new site members.
    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5. The Dashboard screen

You can also customize this screen to show the information that you want. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Customize dashboard link that you see in the top-left corner of Figure 4.5. You now see a screen, as shown in Figure 4.6. There are two more boxes available: Recent Comments and Who’s Online.
    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6. Customizing the Dashboard screen

  2. Drag and drop the Recent Comments and Who’s Online boxes into the main area so it now looks like Figure 4.7.
    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7. New areas on your Dashboard screen

  3. Click the Done button to finish customizing the dashboard.

It is also possible to add more boxes to this screen. We’ll show you how to create those boxes, called “blocks,” in Chapter 10, “Drupal Blocks Explained.”


Click the Content link, as shown in Figure 4.8.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8. The Content link in the administration menu

You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.9.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9. The Content screen

This screen gives you a list of all the content that has been added to your site. At the moment, that’s a grand total of zero content items. However, if you have a lot of content, you can use the filters at the top of the page to find content easily. Figure 4.10 shows how you can search by the status of the content.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. Searching for content of a particular status

You can also search for content of a particular type, as shown in Figure 4.11. Chapter 5, “Drupal Content Explained,” explains the difference between an Article and a Basic page. In Chapter 5 you also see how to create more types of content.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11. Searching for content of a particular type

On this screen, you can find and manage your content. The Update Options drop-down, as shown in Figure 4.12, enables you to manage your content in bulk.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12. Options for managing your content

Finally, on this screen, you can manage comments on your site. You can access the comments area via the tab in the top-right corner, as shown in Figure 4.13.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13. The Comments tab

You can use tabs like this often during this book. It’s a common method of navigation in Drupal 7.

Click the Comments tab. You’ll now see the screen, as shown in Figure 4.14.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14. The Comments screen

In the top-right corner, there are also some smaller links, as shown in Figure 4.15. These enable you to access either Published Comments or Unapproved Comments.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15. Links on the Comments screen

You can also use links like this throughout this book. Be careful and look out for these because they’re often easy to miss.

There are also two other Content links in the administration menu: Add Content and Find Content. These are marked in Figure 4.16.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16. Add Content and Find Content links in the administration menu

The Find content link takes you back to the Content screen you have been looking at already.

The Add Content link is the most important link in the entire site. After all, you are using a Content Management System (CMS). Everything you do with Drupal in this book is designed to help you add content to your website.

Click Add Content, and you see a screen like Figure 4.17. As mentioned earlier, Drupal provides two types of content: Article and Basic page.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17. Add Content and Find Content links in the administration menu

Underneath the two content types, you see a brief explanation of what their purposes are. The Article is described as being for time-sensitive content such as news, press releases, or blog posts. The Basic page is described as being for your static content, such as an About Us page.

The next chapter creates several examples so that you can understand the difference between these two.


Click the Structure link, as shown in Figure 4.18.

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18. The Structure link in the administration menu

You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.19.

Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19. The Structure screen

The short explanation of this Structure screen is that it contains the main fundamental building blocks of your site.

The long explanation of this Structure screen will take several chapters. You explore blocks in Chapter 10, “Drupal Blocks Explained,” Content types in Chapter 5, “Drupal Content Explained”, menus in Chapter 8, “Drupal Menus Explained,” and taxonomy in Chapter 6, “Drupal Fields Explained.” In this book, you also add several links to this page.

For now, notice that, as with the Add content screen, there are short explanations under each link:

  • Blocks: Configure what content appears in your site’s sidebars and other regions.
  • Content types: Manage content types, including default status, front page promotion, comment settings, and so on.
  • Menus: Add new menus to your site, edit existing menus, and rename and reorganize menu links.
  • Taxonomy: Manage tagging, categorization, and classification of your content.


Click the Appearance link in the administration menu. You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.20.

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20. The Appearance screen

This screen contains the design for your site. Designs are provided by themes.

Bartik is the theme used by your site at the moment. Bartik is responsible the blue-and-white color scheme, plus your site’s layout.

Seven is the theme used for your administrator area. Seven is responsible for the white background and gray tabs in the top-right corner.

Drupal provides you with two more options for your colors and layout: Garland and Stark. Both are currently in the Disabled Themes area.

Chapter 9, “Drupal Themes Explained,” shows you how to modify and replace your theme.


Click the People link in the administration menu. You now see the screen shown in Figure 4.21.

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21. The People screen

This People screen has a list of all the users who are registered on your site.

You can create new user accounts via the Add User link.

As with the Content screen, there are filters at the top to help you search for users, and there also Update Options to help you manage users. These are shown in Figure 4.22.

Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22. Filters and options on the People screen

Finally, there is a top-right tab called Permissions. Chapter 13, “Drupal Users Explained,” goes into that area and shows you how to control user permissions on your site.


Click the Modules link in the administration menu. You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.23. This area contains all the features on your Drupal site. Each module has a description beside it showing what it does.

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23. The Modules screen

This list is sorted alphabetically at the moment, so it starts with Aggregator and ends with User. Your version of Drupal might have more modules than this lower down the page; however, the modules between Aggregator and User are the default modules shared by all Drupal sites.

You can add more modules via the Install New Module link in the top-left corner. You see how to do that in Chapter 6, “Drupal Fields Explained,” and then Chapter 7, “Drupal Modules Explained,” gives you even more details.

For now, take a look at one module in detail. The Comment module is shown in Figure 4.24. There are eight pieces of information or useful links:

  1. Check box: Is this module enabled? If you don’t want anyone commenting on your site, you can uncheck this box and click Save Configuration at the bottom of the screen. Comments will be instantly turned off for your whole site.
  2. Comment: The module’s name!
  3. 7.18: The module’s version number. This will increase while you use Drupal because new versions will be released with improvements and bug fixes. You see how to update to those new versions in Chapter 14, “Drupal Site Management Explained.”
  4. Description: This explains what the module does. This explanation is fairly clear; although, not all descriptions will be so easy to understand.
  5. Requires and Required By: This area tells you if the Comment module needs other modules to operate. This area also tells you if the Comment module is needed by other modules to function.
  6. Help: If you are unsure how to use a module, click this link for a more detailed explanation.
  7. Permissions: This takes you to the Permissions area you just saw on the People screen. It enables you to decide who uses this module.
  8. Configure: If there are any settings for this module, you can find them by clicking this link.
    Figure 4.24

    Figure 4.24. The Comment area in the Modules screen


Click the Configuration link on the administration menu. You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.25.

Figure 4.25

Figure 4.25. The Configuration screen

This area has the settings for the main features in your site. As you add more features to your site (and remember, you do that by adding modules), this area becomes larger.

Often, these settings are the same that you can get to from the Configure link (refer to Figure 4.24).

You don’t have a whole chapter dedicated to this Configuration area, but you visit it throughout this book, often when you set up new features.

Now take a look at just one of these configuration options. Click the Shortcuts link, as shown in Figure 4.26.

Figure 4.26

Figure 4.26. The Shortcuts link on Configuration screen

Click List Links in the center of the next screen. You now see a screen, as shown in Figure 4.27. Notice that there are two links: Add Content and Find Content. These are the same two links that you can see in the gray area of your administration menu.

Figure 4.27

Figure 4.27. The Shortcuts screen

As you’ve seen, it can sometimes take two, three, or four clicks to reach some areas of your site. If you link to those areas from these Shortcuts, you can access them more easily and quickly.


Click the Reports link on the Administration menu. You now see the screen shown in Figure 4.28.

Figure 4.28

Figure 4.28. The Reports screen

This area contains reports about the health of your site. Here, you can find out whether there are any problems with your site, whether your site needs updating, what people are searching for using your search box, and similar useful information. Chapter 14 explains more about this area.


Click the Help link on the Administration menu. You can now see the screen shown in Figure 4.29.

Figure 4.29

Figure 4.29. The Help screen

Now look at one example. Click the Dashboard link under Help topics, as shown in Figure 4.30.

Figure 4.30

Figure 4.30. The Dashboard link on the Help screen

You now see the screen shown in Figure 4.31 with an explanation of the Dashboard that you saw earlier in this chapter.

Figure 4.31

Figure 4.31. About the Dashboard

This Help area is something that can become more useful as you become more experienced. When you first use Drupal, some of the terminology here may be confusing. However, by the end of this book, you will hopefully understand the large majority of these terms.


Click the Hello link on the Administration menu, as shown in Figure 4.32.

Figure 4.32

Figure 4.32. The Hello link

You now see the screen shown in Figure 4.33. This is your own user profile.

Figure 4.33

Figure 4.33. Your own user profile

Click the Edit tab under your name, and you see the screen shown in Figure 4.34. From here you can edit your username and password. You can also change the email address that your site uses to send you notifications.

Figure 4.34

Figure 4.34. Editing your own user profile

Lower down on this screen, there are only two other settings that you should change. Those are both shown in Figure 4.35:

  • Upload picture: You can click Browse and add an image to your profile.
  • Locale settings: You can choose your time zone.
    Figure 4.35

    Figure 4.35. More editing of your user profile

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