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Getting Started with Drupal

Drupal soupOver the last few years, we’ve written a lot about maintaining an online presence. When that presence takes the form of a website, WordPress is one of the most commonly used tools for building (whether you download and install it yourself or decide to use wordpress.com instead). It’s certainly a ProfHacker favorite.

There are times, though, when creating a web presence involves not only running a blog and/or posting relevant professional information, but also hosting a full-blown digital project. WordPress might be sufficiently robust to handle what’s needed—or it might not. In a lot of instances, Drupal might be a better choice. Drupal for Humanists does a good job of explaining both what Drupal can do, and when it might be better to use something else.

The site also has links to tools for getting started with developing a Drupal site, including Acquia Drupal and Pantheon. The former is software that you can download and use to develop sites locally on your own machine. The latter is likely a better option for teams working on site development, since the development site lives on Pantheon’s servers. Whichever you choose, it’s a good idea to choose a hosting provider to deploy your site once it’s ready; both Acquia and Pantheon offer hosting, but there are more economical alternatives.

If you choose Drupal, it’s also a good idea to search around for some good tutorials or other reference materials to get started, as Drupal’s learning curve can be pretty steep; the extra power and flexibility that Drupal can offer over WordPress also means additional complexity (at least in my experience thus far).

If you’ve used Drupal, what kinds of projects have you found it best suited for? Are there particular resources you’d recommend for learning Drupal or tools you’d recommend for Drupal development? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by runforcover]

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