Where Do I Begin?

Where Do I Begin? kp37
Drupal Version

Whether you are an experienced Drupal developer / site administrator who has come to Georgia Tech, or an existing staff member asked to venture into the world of Drupal, you may be wondering how you should get started with using Drupal for a Georgia Tech website.

Should I Use Drupal for my Website Project?

It depends.  If you only need a simple site - in particular, one without integration to Mercury News and Events - then Sites @ Georgia Tech, a WordPress multisite system, may be a better choice for you.  Sites @ Georgia Tech does not require any technical knowledge and does not require regular patching or upgrades (that's all done for you by the service administrators).  You can even get the Georgia Tech branding theme on Sites @ Georgia Tech.

On the other hand, if you need to do a lot of customization and/or really want access to the back end of your site and you have strong technical knowledge for supporting a web application (i.e. knowledge in using Composer), then Drupal might be right for you.  In short, many larger units continue to use Drupal for their websites, but many smaller units have switched to Sites at Georgia Tech.

What Version of Drupal Does Georgia Tech Use (and What Should I Use)?

All new Drupal sites should be built in Drupal 10.  You can install Drupal 10 from scratch and customize it as you wish, but if you are building a site that needs the official Georgia Tech web theme, it is best to just use the Drupal 10 version of Drupal Express.  When requesting a new Web Hosting Account from OIT, simply request the Drupal Express option, which will automatically install everything you need to get started.  Please note that in spite of the similar names, there is little in common between the Drupal 7 Drupal Express and Drupal 10 Drupal Express. In particular, you cannot directly upgrade from Drupal 7 Drupal Express to the Drupal 10 version.

If you are building a site to be hosted on one of your department's web servers, but want to use the official distribution of Drupal 10, just download the GT Installer and use it to set up your site.

Important Note: At this time, a small portion of campus still uses Drupal 7.  If you own one of those sites, be aware that Drupal 7 support is waning and anyone still on Drupal 7 should be actively working on a migration to Drupal 10 or another content management system.  Our article "What is the Future of Drupal 7?" provides more information about the sunsetting of Drupal 7 on campus.  All Drupal 7 support will end in January of 2025!!!

Important Note: If you're still on Drupal 8 or 9, you should upgrade immediately to Drupal 10, as both Drupal 8 and 9 are past their end of life and no longer receive security updates.  Upgrading is very straightforward and far easier than upgrading from anything earlier than Drupal 8.

Sounds Good, How Do I Get Started?

The Installing Drupal section of this handbook offers advice on selecting a place to host your site and getting through the initial Drupal installation and configuration.  Some people like to set up a development site on their own local computer, and that topic is covered in the Installing Drupal section as well.  If you choose to develop in a hosting area separate from where your final site will be hosted, the Moving a Site to OIT Web Hosting section may be helpful, even if you're not actually moving the site to OIT Web Hosting.

Before and after you deploy your new site, be sure to review our Best Practices Checklist to make sure your site is secure and streamlined.

As you continue developing and maintaining your site, the rest of this developer's handbook can provide useful insights, helpful tips and troubleshooting guides, and pointers to additional information.  You can also join the Georgia Tech Drupal Team in Microsoft Teams and/or the Georgia Tech Drupal Mailing List, or join us at our regular meetings and drop-in help sessions for assistance.