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.
What Version of Drupal Does Georgia Tech Use (and What Should I Use)?
At this time, much of campus uses Drupal 7, and many of those Drupal 7 instances use a custom distribution known as Drupal Express. While Drupal 7 and Drupal Express are still supported, you may be aware that the current release of Drupal is version 8, and that version 9 is slated to be released in mid-2020.
If you are familiar with Drupal 8, are savvy with backend coding, and want to be ahead of the curve, then you will likely want to look at Drupal 8 for any new websites. Some of the necessary campus specific tools for Drupal 8 are now available, though they are not completely mature yet. GUI based access to Composer for managing Drupal 8 sites is now available on central OIT Web Hosting accounts, and there is a way for the experienced backend developer to access it from the command line.
If you are not already familiar with Drupal 8, the campus Drupal Express distribution of Drupal 7 is a perfectly usable option. However, you should try to avoid certain pieces of it as much as possible to make your eventual upgrade to Drupal 8 go smoother. Specifically, the Horizontal Landing Page, Vertical Landing Page, and Multipurpose Page content types are custom designs that are not going to be available in Drupal 8, nor will Super Blocks, another custom design tool made just for Georgia Tech. If you can get by building only Basic pages for now, you'll have less work to do when you upgrade to 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.