Creating a Drupal Site on WebFaction

Drupal is an open source content management framework akin to Wordpress. Drupal is a free software package that allows you to easily organize, manage and publish your content, with an endless variety of customization. This tutorial will lead you through the steps of setting up a website based on the Drupal system on your WebFaction hosting plan.


1. Create a new Web Site

The first step to installing an instance of Drupal to use for your website is to create a new website on your WebFaction account. WebFaction allows you to create multiple 'websites' with your account, giving you the ability to create a unique URL for each. To create a new website, sign into WebFaction at http://my.webfaction.com, and navigate to your control panel. Once in the control panel, navigate to Domains/Websites -> Websites.

webfaction-new-website

The websites page allows you to create a new website. Click on Add New Website at the top of your page. The following window will appear where we can set the settings for our new Drupal website.

createnewwebsite-drupal

Set the following settings in the Create a new website form:

  • Name: drupal (This has to be a one word name)
  • Status: Enabled
  • IP address: Leave Default
  • Security: Normal website (HTTP)
  • Domains: Set this to be drupal.(your username).webfactional.com
  • Contents: Add an Application -> Create a new application. See the following for instructions on setting up a Drupal application, and what this means.

In the dialog that appears, we create a new Drupal 'application' on our hosting space. This is WebFaction lingo for install Drupal. Set up the new website to use Drupal with the following settings.

drupal734
  • Name: drupal (This name can contain no spaces.)
  • App category: Drupal
  • App type: Drupal (7.34)(The most current version of Drupal)
  • URL: Leave as default, this will match the URL you set in the previous window.

Click Save. Look through your settings, they should look similar like the following (slightly different to match your account). Once satisfactory, click Save to create your new website.

createnewwebsite2-drupal

A note will appear stating your website has been created. It will take ten to fifteen minutes for the servers to propagate and recognize your Drupal install. Go get a cup of coffee.

If you have waited a while and still do not see anything, try loading the site on a different computer or clear the DNS cache on your machine. To clear the DNS cache, follow the instructions to Flush the DNS cache on your machine at the bottom of the WebFaction Domains Help page.

Additional documentation can be found on the official WebFaction User Guide website, read more here for more on creating new websites and applications.


2. Navigate to your Drupal site and finish installation

Navigate to your new site. Use the URL you specified in the previous step, in my case, http://drupal.mitcivicdata.webfactional.com. When navigate to the site, you will see a link telling you are almost finished, . Remember it might a few minutes before the servers propagate and you see your site!

almost-finished

Upon clicking, the Drupal framework will continue to install on your site.

As Drupal installs, it will eventually load a screen where you can enter your information and credentials. Here you can create a password, set a default email for your website, and set your server settings.

configure-site

When filled out in a satisfactory manner, click Save and continue to finish setting up your site.

The default Drupal framework homepage will appear on your webpage. Log in and you can begin creating your Drupal site. There are a few more items though before we are completely done, see the following steps.

drupal-homepage

4. Log in to Drupal and begin customizing your site

Congratulations! You now have a fully functional Drupal installation in use on your web site. Drupal is a fully featured framework for developing your web site. Drupal is written in PHP, an extension of HTML. You will need to know some basics of Styling and Web Programming to dig in deeply. One place to start is the DUSPVIZ Code your First Web Page tutorial.

There are many tutorials that exist out there on Drupal. Here are few of the recommended sites.

  • MIT Drupal Cloud: The Drupal Cloud is a great resource and has some nice tutorials. Here is there resource page: https://drupalcloud.mit.edu/help/resources
  • Drupal.org - documentation and videos
  • lynda.mit.edu - you will find several video courses by searching for Drupal
  • Drupalize Me - look for the FREE videos or get a membership for $45/month.
  • Got Drupal? - scroll through blog entries for useful videos or access these within the topic headings below.

Additionally, this Getting Started with Drupal Cloud at MIT, tutorial is fantastic.

i. Modules

One of the core concepts of Drupal is modules. There are many modules that exist that add functionality to your site. The module site is located here: Drupal Modules

Documentation on installing Modules:

Drupal Module Installation

ii. Themes

Another core concept is themes. You can use two themes, one for what your visitors see and one for your admin panels. I would recommend using the same for both. Themes are frameworks that have been set up to help you with some initial styling and customization of your site. The theme home page is located here: Drupal Themes

Documentation on installing Themes is here:

Drupal Theme Installation

iii. Examples of Other Sites made with Drupal

Viewing galleries of existing sites give you an idea of what you can do.

http://drupal.com/showcases

5. View Drupal Files on your Web Server with FTP

You can use FTP to access the directories and files of your Drupal site. This can be helpful if you need to edit or manage any of the Drupal files and cannot make the changes through the interface. Opening your FTP client, you can access all of the files. As with other websites in WebFaction, we need to connect using SFTP. Details on how to connect via SFTP are located in our DUSPviz FTP tutorial.

Sign into the FTP with your WebFaction credentials, not the Drupal credentials.

The Drupal site, and installation that includes all folders, files, and content, is located at username -> webapps -> drupal.

drupal_install

In order to not miss any files when you are working on FTP, change your settings to make your hidden files visible. Do this in Cyberduck by following the instructions at the following link.

Cyberduck: View Hidden Files

Congratulations! You now have a fully functional Drupal based website you can customize and develop to meet your needs!

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