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Drupal at UC Davis

Drupal services at UC Davis

Information and Educational Technologies (IET) provides Drupal development and hosting services.

We maintain a UC Davis distribution of Drupal that includes most commonly-used modules, a UC Davis branded theme, and custom features that can be enabled with a click of a button.

If you're interested in exploring Drupal, please don't hesitate to get in touch by sending an email to

Privalsky Lab Drupal7 Website

Several months ago I ported the website for our lab (Marty Privalsky's lab in Microbiology) over to Drupal 7. Have a look at it:

If you like the theme, let me know and I can give you a template for it.


How to learn Drupal

Lately, my shameless evangelism of Drupal has brought me to the same question over and over again:

What are some good resources for learning Drupal?

The biggest problem with this question is the very wide variety of people asking, wishing to learn the very wide variety of topics that could possibly fall under the category "Drupal". Here's an example: A grad student recently asked me, "Shawn, how much does your own web site cost?" Me: "Uhh..." Where do I start? Probably not with CCK and Views. Probably not even with the concept of a CMS.

Another example: my brother is working with a professor on a site that archives, indexes, and tags CSPAN videos and transcripts... on a homegrown web system. EEK! Let's talk about this for a second.

For those who want to learn Drupal, the obvious direction in which to point is; specifically, to the handbook pages. Even though Addison Berry has been doing a remarkable job with the documentation, I'm not sure I should point everybody to the main page... Not at first, anyway. I'm sure the redesign will be an improvement, but there's just so much information it's easy to get lost. I'm going to do my best to compile some of the resources that have helped me, and hopefully will help you.

Let's start with the easy stuff:

What is Drupal?

  • About Drupal - This is really the nutshell version. Drupal is software. Drupal is a way to make web sites. Drupal is a programming framework. Drupal is a community of people. Drupal is so many things, it's up to you have the vision of what you want.
  • Drupal Overview - A very nice essay that really gets into depth about what the software does, and what it can do for you.
  • DrupalEasy's explanation - Short, sweet, and to the point.
  • Volacci's explanation - Covers all the important stuff.
  • Get Involved - Above I said that Drupal is a community. This cannot be understated. It's too important to overlook that Drupal is what it is because (I would say fundamentally because) of the people involved. Don't think that you cannot be involved because you're new. As we're learning over and over again, new people bring fresh perspective that's often lost once you become a code ninja. Get involved. Really. Please. Now.

Who uses Drupal?

  • According to the Drupal Project Statistics, there are about 150,000 active sites using Drupal. In reality, that number is artificially low because it's only looking at sites that phone home using the Update Status module.
  • Given the sheer volume of sites, there's no comprehensive list, of course, but several sites, including this one (more here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) have taken the task of assembling lists. They are by no means complete.
  • If you're wondering whether a specific site is built with Drupal, just run it through

Time to get your hands dirty

  • Download Drupal - If you have a computer or server already configured with Apache, MySQL, and PHP, you can just download the Drupal code and install it. However, most people don't even know what those three things are, so fortunately, there's an easier way.
    • Acquia provides commercial support plans for Drupal, but they also provide an easy stack installer that just installs everything you need to get started with Drupal.
  • Beginner's Cookbook - This really gets into the parts and pieces that make Drupal work for you.
  • Screencasts and videos - The visual thing really works for me.
  • Lullabot's intro video - You gotta pay for this one.

Books - Yeah, those paper things...

Podcasts - Steady stream of ongoing knowledge. Be sure to listen to the past episodes.

  • Lullabot - Easily the most popular podcast about Drupal. Always good information in here.
  • DrupalEasy - Just getting started, but already some great stuff. Ryan's a nice guy too. I met him at Drupalcon DC
  • Acquia - This one is usually pretty advanced.

Training - Sometimes, you gotta pay someone to teach you something.

  • Lullabot - Yup, these guys are everywhere. They provide week-long workshops across the country. Usually, Portland, OR, and Providence, RI.
  • Do it with Drupal - Put on by Lullabot. The first one was last year (2008), and it was excellent! They'll probably do it again this year.
  • Drupalcon - Over 1400 people came in March, 2009 to Washington DC. Remarkable.
  • Bay Area Drupal Camp (BADCamp) - A two-day event in Berkeley. Highly recommended. Free, too!
  • Drupal Dojo - Pretty advanced training through the web. They do live screencasts with an IRC backchannel.

Local Community - The Drupal community is tens of thousands of people worldwide, with local groups meeting in every corner of the world... including ours.

Wanna start writing code?

Drupal 6 version of UCD Theme

Last November, I ported the UCD Drupal Theme to Drupal 6. Of course I never bothered to share it, so now it's there.

Go to the UCD Theme page to download it.

If you don't have access to that page yet, contact me and I will grant you access.

Drupal, the coolest thing no one knows about

Having been tasked with rebuilding a behemoth of a dreamweaver website, I decided it was time to look to the future: the Content Management System. Single-handedly keeping up with 55 people's computer needs, updating a website on a daily basis, maintaining rotating off-site backups, helping 7 aging servers keep up the good work, and being a receptionist on occasion, I realized I could not do it all. The website alone was taking up huge amounts of time. Drupal, it seems, may save me in part. I met up with Shawn DeArmond at the school of education to discuss alternatives, and thus my admiration for all things drupal was born. I had my department pick up a book, Using Drupal by O'Reilly books and I have been deep in it since.

And yet, such a simple thing as hooking up authentication into CAS is proving very difficult for me. Most of the time Drupal is very good to me. It does things for me I did not even know I wanted to be done for me, and it does it all with ease at a good price too. But there are days like this one that challenge me and transport me from the world of answering phones and questions, to doing what I do best... try to solve problems.

Thanks Drupal.

Back to my topic. Drupal is one of the most powerful open source web-application type packages of software I have ever used. And yet no matter where I go, I get people scratching their heads. Why does no one know about Drupal?

Welcome to

I have created this web site to serve a couple purposes.

First, this site is demonstrating the latest work on the UCD theme for Drupal. I built this theme using the UCD web template and it is, as is everything in the Open Source world, a work in progress. If more people are interested in helping develop this theme, I will set up a CVS (or SVN) repository to aid development.

Next, I'd like this to be a place where UCD folks who are actively working with Drupal can have their own Drupal blog. This would be an opportunity to showcase your latest Drupal creations, detail a cool procedure you've developed, or talk about anything else Drupal. If we get some good content, I'll attempt to get it added to Planet Drupal, and we can get some international notoriety.

Lastly, I would like to create a list of UC Davis Drupal sites. I suppose it would be more for example than anything else.

If you're interested in participating in any of this, please let me know. (Login required.)

Shawn DeArmond
School of Education