How to build a website with Drupal 8

Drupal 8 is improved a lot over its previous versions.It is mobile friendly, feature rich, highly configurable, secure and highly extensible for various requirements. Before going further, let me briefly describe Drupal 8. First basic question may be What is Drupal, How it is different.

drupal 8 logoDrupal is a Content management system. You may treat it as framefork also but let me confine this discussion to Drupal 8 as CMS. There are several open source CMS like WordPress, Joomla etc. Basic purpose of all CMS is same i.e Content management but they all differ for the features they provide to users. WordPress is most simple with limited development features. On the other hand Drupal 8 is a feature rich CMS and offers lot of options for complex site development.

Initially Drupal 8 system look slightly complex but little understanding of terms and system makes it easier. Drupal complexity benefits users by offering several configuration options which other CMS does not so use Drupal 8 if you want to develop some website which is more than just few article pages or more than just a blog.

Creating a website with Drupal 8 requires basic understanding of Drupal system. If you understand Drupal 8 way of working, then you can create highly complex website easily. Drupal 8 has a core which includes kernel and several other modules.Core internal system includes routing of url requests, loading of files,modules,libraries,database etc. Core modules provides several inbuilt features like user, node (primary element which store individual content), taxonomy, forum, search, view etc.

In other terms,Drupal is flexible for adding new features , Drupal is flexible for look and feel of website. If you want to have some feature which is not available in default core package then you can download specific module for new feature and install it. Similarly you can change look and feel of website by changing the theme. Different types of themes are available for Drupal 8 website.

Lets start understaing the Drupal 8 system

Drupal 8 administration

The above Diagram shows different menu options available in Drupal 8 admin panel. Different features of Drupal 8 are divided among these categories.I just briefly state each of these option so that you can have basic idea of Drupal 8 administration.

  • Help – This section is for different help topics
  • Reports – The reports section provides options for different reports like error log,message log, available update etc.
  • People – This is place where you have options for user management. In addition, you can create different roles and accord permission to each role for specific task of website.
  • Configuration – This has options for configuration of website standard parameters like website name, email, region settings, date & time settings etc.
  • Extend – This section shows different modules installed in your Drupal 8 system.You can add new module, remove existing modules and activate/deactivate installed module.
  • Appearance – This section shows the installed themes in the system. You have option to install new theme, remove existing theme and control different parameters of theme for look and feel of website.
  • Content – This section has option for creating and managing content for website.Similarly you have option for comment management and file management in this section. Content may be just a Article for most of content management system but it has much broader role in Drupal 8 system. Content can be blog post, user profile, job posting,product review, product detail etc. Here these are different content type. Why are these different? Because each one has different fields for content insertion. A content type for a product detail may have fields like product pics, product title, product rating, product price, product specification, discount etc. Different types of website has their own specific content and its responsibility of Content management system to store content in database. You require a form to insert content in database and each form can have different fields.So the group of fields in a form represents specific information i.e content type. Most of the content management system provide only one type of content i.e article but drupal allows you to create multiple content type with each having specific input fields. The structure section of Drupal 8 administration allows you to create content type which we will see in next structure section.
  • Structure – This is the heart of Drupal 8 system. It allows to create structure of website. There may be a question ? What are the elements which define the structure of a website.
    • What type of information you want to display in your website – Create Content type
    • How you wish to group or link your content – Create Taxonomy
    • Each webpage has multiple section in template i.e Header, footer, sidebar etc.It means that webpage can be divided among multiple blocks so what you want to display in each block – Configure block in Block Layout
    • Where and how you want to display menu on webpage – Create and configure Menus
    • You created content type to store different types of information in database. But how you like to display information to viewers. – Create Views
    • Each site has contact us page. What fields you would like to display and how you like to display contact us page – Create and configure Contact forms.
    • Mostly websites include a comment system in their page to get feedback on their information. There are lot of parameters for a comment system. How can you create a specific comment system for you site – Create Comment types.

So in this way Drupal 8 allows you to control each and every bit of structural element. I will discuss each of the section in detail later but the broad idea of Drupal 8 system is must to avoid confusion while learning.

I will suggest users that first you check out easiest things then slowly move further. Drupal 8 has lot of features , dont get confused. First understand different sections of admin menu. I can say that first you develop understanding on sections Help, Extend, appearance, configuration,Reports,People. These six sections can be understood easily. Then you move on content section where default content types Article and Basic Page are available.Just create a sample article or basic page and view that individual piece of content on page.

The most crucial part is Structure. It takes some time to understand and practise. First you create a content type with simple fields.Then go again to Content section and add content. Here you select your recently created Content Type.Now insert some info in the fields.Check the saved result.

This is the begineing of Drupal 8 administration. I will discuss each of the section in next few articles. I hope that i could convey some understanding to reader. My objective is to convey basic understanding in simple terminology.