Developing A Personal Blog in Drupal

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to set up a basic, no-frills personal blog using the open-source content management system, Drupal 6. We'll assume you've already downloaded and installed 6.x successfully and that you have some familiarity with web and CMS terminology. You should already have played around a bit with Drupal and have set up a local test site for yourself.

Step 1: Site Configuration

The first thing you'll need to do is set up the basic elements of your blog via your admin panel. Navigate to the administrator link >> site configuration >> site information.

You'll now need to fill in some fields that ask for basic information about your blog. Enter the blog name and your personal email address (or an address you set up specifically to receive email from your blog). There are some other fields here that you can customize if you wish, such as slogan, mission, and footer -- these fields simply allow you to display more information about your blog. You can leave them blank if you prefer. Fields named anonymous and default front page can be left as they are for now. When you're done, click Save Configuration.

Step 2: Configuring Date and Time

Date and time settings are especially important when setting up a blog, because you want to be able to customize how your blog presents and organizes posts and comments by date. Just like before, go to site configuration. This time, select Date and Time. The fields you will need to set up here are pretty self-explanatory, and you can configure them however you like. After setting your time zone in the Default Time Zone field, you can leave the rest of the fields set to their defaults or change them if you prefer.

Step 3: Working with Blocks

We now get to the "nuts and bolts" of Drupal -- blocks. A block is basically a set of related content that is always going to be located in the same specific place on your blog. To set up your blocks, go to your admin panel just like before. Click on Site Building >> Blocks. You'll notice that there are some blocks already set up for you. You can change these in any way you like and also add some of your own in a later step.

Look at the User Login block. Its purpose is pretty obvious -- to let people with accounts sign in to your site. In the middle of the screen, you can change where the User Login block displays using the drop-down box. If you don't want a user login block on your site, it can be set to "None". Go ahead and move the User Login block to a new location using the drop-down box now.

Next, click on the configure link on the right side of the screen. This will let you set more advanced settings for your block, including the title and visibility. Go ahead and set these however you like (or leave them alone) and then click on Save Block.

Now you can go through the rest of the blocks. Decide which ones you will want to use on your blog and set the ones you don't want to None using the drop-down box. You can also play with the configure section for each block you want to use. Keep in mind the fact that you can always go back and select or change your blocks later on.

Step 4: Creating your own blocks

Now that you've seen how blocks work in Drupal, it should be pretty easy to set up some of your own blocks. One example of a block that you might want on your page is one that displays the title of the book you're currently reading.

To add the custom block, click the Add Block tab at the top of the blocks page. You will see a new set of fields that are used to specify configuration details of your new block, including a title, description, and contents. Your contents can be just a line or two of plain text or some HTML if you desire. Go ahead and fill out this info however you like. If you wanted to add the current book block, for example, you could name it "Currently Reading" and then type the title of the book into the contents field. When you're done, select Save Block. Set up any additional blocks you're going to want on your blog.

Step 5: Creating Stories

In Drupal, a "Story" is a simple type of content that is well-suited to blogging. In brief, it consists of some text, a title, and if desired, a "teaser". You can add each entry for your blog in the form of a "story".

Once again, in your admin panel, navigate to Create Content and then Story. You will be presented with some simple fields, including a title and a body. Go ahead and type up your blog entry (or just make up a "hello world" entry!) Now you can customize your story using the links and dropdown boxes. The first one is Input Format, which may be useful to you later on if you want to use HTML. The Comment Settings specify whether users are allowed to leave comments. Authoring Information can be set so your post is marked with your name (or someone else's name on a group blog) as well as the date you wrote the post. Finally, Publishing Options specify how this story is to be presented on the blog -- you will want to select "Published", but you can also make it "stick" to the top of your page (always on top) and choose other options. Play with any of the options you don't understand so that you can see how they work.

When you're finished, click Save, and your blog will be published! Take a look at your test site to admire all your hard work!