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First, lots of downloads

April 27, 2010 by Steve

Go to and download the latest release of Drupal. (At the time of this writing, that is Drupal 6.16, which is what this site is based on.)

To make this site, you'll also want to start with all of the following modules. (I'll add more later for very specific purposes, but this is what I consider essential for starting out.)

  • Administration Menu - When logged in as a site administrator, this module uses JavaScript to put all the administration menus in a slim pull-down menu bar across the top of the window. Priceless! Soon as the site is up and running, we'll enable this first.
  • Vertical Tabs - this is a helper module that makes the administration UI a lot cleaner and easier to manage. Not strictly required, but it will make the rest of this setup easier.
  • External Links - puts little external link icons next to links that lead off site, allows you to set them to open new windows. (Also puts a mail icon next to mailto: links.)
  • Views - Gives you a very flexible way to show data on your pages. Hard to configure, but replaces dozens of individual little modules. (Often used with CCK, the Content Construction Kit, which lets you edit what fields will show up on your pages, but I don't need that here.)
  • Printer, e-mail and PDF versions - printer friendly, e-mail this article, and PDF version links from each page. PDF making requires other toolkits, I'm not using it. I just wanted this for the printable version from each article.
  • Links Package - A set of modules that lets you enter web links as individual articles, and attach arbitrary numbers of them to other articles. CCK would have let me attach a fixed number of links to all articles, this lets me attach any number of links to any article.
  • Nodewords - allows you to control the meta tags on each of your pages, important for search engine optimization.
  • Page Title - lets you control the HTML title of each page, the title that appears at the top edge of your browser window.
  • Token - exposes internal variables like 'title' and 'user-name' for use by other functions. (Required by PathAuto.)
  • PathAuto - automatically generates meaningful URL path aliases such as, which makes your site easier for both search engines and people to figure out.
  • Poormanscron - lets you trigger the site cron jobs periodically without having to negotiate with your web host.
  • Skinr - a theme utility module, allows modifications to theme blocks to be made on the fly. I used it to give the "About the Author" block rounded corners.
  • Taxonomy Breadcrumb - Automatically generates breadcrumbs (Home>Lab Notebook) based on the categories you assign.
  • Newswire theme - a clean-looking yet flexible theme that had just about all I wanted.

Drupal recommends that all your contributed modules be put in the sites/all/modules directory rather than being mixed in with the core modules. Likewise, your downloaded themes should go in the sites/all/themes directory. Get all this stuff unpacked and in place before you go on to the next steps.

This is a pretty big list of extra things to download, and we're not done yet, but each of these has a specific purpose, which I will cover as we go through the setup of the site.


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