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Drupal: A Guide For Managers

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Navigating the administrative backend of Drupal can be daunting.  Here are some helpful things to consider while managing a Drupal development project.

Clearing cache

Knowing how to clear cache on Drupal is critical. During the development phase, chances are you will be looking at the site as developers are working simultaneously. Clearing Drupal cache should be the first step in troubleshooting as changes such as theme or module changes might not take place immediately. The easiest way to clear cache from the administration menu is Administration > Configuration > Development > Performance > click on ‘Clear Cache’. If your site uses the admin menu module, a shortcut easily accessible at all times on the top menu bar. So the next time something doesn’t show up as expected, try clearing the cache first!

 

Basic Drupal terminology

A lot of scary words can be thrown around while describing project requirements and needs. In order to get a better understand of the inner workings of Drupal development, here are some common Drupal terms you should familiarize yourself to.

  1. Node – Pieces of content are known as nodes. They are stored in the database with an unique identifier known as a node ID.
  2. Content Type – Content types are the most basic categorization of nodes. A node’s content type defines what kind of node it will be. Each content type can be assigned a variety of fields and configuration settings. The default ones that Drupal ships with are “article” and “basic page”, but you can create your own as well.
  3. Field – Fields are the datasets that makes up a content type. They define the kind of information you want to be stored within each content type. For example, a Staff content type may consist of a First Name and Last Name fields, while an Article content type could have Body and Description fields.
  4. View – One of the most common way to display aggregate lists of data on the frontend is using the Views module. Views are very powerful as it can define what the end user sees through the use of specific fields, filters, and sorting criterias.
  5. Taxonomy – Taxonomy is the practice of classifying nodes through the use of keywords. A taxonomic structure consists of a vocabulary and its associated taxonomy Terms. A vocabulary is the overarching category made up of sets of terms to while taxonomy terms are the individual pieces.

 

Be aware of different user permission levels

Keep in mind that what you see while logged in might not reflect what other users might see. A lot of times when a client does not have access to something, it is most likely a permission problem. It is always helpful to have test accounts with various user roles so you can log into them and see exactly what other accounts are seeing.

Expecting manual configuration changes on production is risky
Things can become a bit sticky once a client is needing manual configuration changes made on production environment. If the right processes are not in place, the development environment can get out of sync very quickly. Always note the changes needed and make the changes to all the environments across the board so nothing gets lost. Another way is pulling the production database downstream periodically. You can also use the Features module to capture certain configuration changes so it is committed in the codebase (however, there are limitations to this module).

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