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Initial set-up of your site

ACO has set up new sites for much of the English faculty. Here's some info on how to start up, if you are one of the people who has a new site. (Click on the headline or on "read more" to get the full story.)

NOTE: Thanks to ACO, we can change the themes of our sites: go to Administer>site building>themes and try some options.

Several colleagues have made faces at the name of this new system we're using, which is drupal. It's an English transliteration of a Dutch word meaning drop. The Dutch originator of the system wanted to call it "dorp" which means village, but made a typo in registering the domain name, and ended up with "drop." He translated that English word into Dutch (druppel) then transliterated it as drupal. So the word belongs to the time-honoured canting language of Dunglish, source of so much hilarity on the English Renaissance stage. (Most of this information is from the Wikipedia. Not the Dunglish part. That's original.)

The system is like a lending library of lego parts. You can build your site, and use it how you like, without having to know how to make plastic bricks from scratch. The immediate advantages to us are that faculty can maintain their own professional profiles, and staff can easily make changes or additions to the department's web presence.

Setting up your site

  1. Log in to the site. The button is on the bottom of the page, and you use your UW userid and password, same as what you use to get email or to crack open your workplace desktop computer.
  2. Click on "Administer" in the left hand (navigation) menu. The page displays titles of all the ways that you can alter the way your site looks and works. You won't have to have much to do with this section in the future, but there are a couple of things I want you to check, and a couple of changes to make.

Administrative business

  1. Under "site configuration" on the page, go to "input formats." Make sure that "full html" is checked as the default. Without this, your site will not display images. Click on "set default inputs" if you have made a change. Always click on this button or its equivalent (e.g., "save changes," "save," or "submit") before you leave a page, whether administrative or content. Otherwise you will lose what you have done.
  2. Under "site configuration," go to "site information." Make sure your name is in the "site name" box and your email is in the email box. In the "slogan" box, put whatever you want to appear on every page in the black bar that goes across the main space on the page. I have "Katherine Acheson, Department of English." Click on "save configuration." 
  3. Under "site building," go to "modules," and make sure the following are checked: blog, book, menu, poll, upload. Leave anything else that is checked as it is.
  4. Under "site building," click on "blocks." Blocks are parts of the page. For some of these you can control where they appear, and what content they have. For instance, I configured the "recent blog posts" block so that it would appear on the right side of the page. If you want to have the same thing, find the block called "recent blog posts" and use the drop down menu to select "right sidebar." Save that. Then go to the "configure" button to the right of the block name, where you can change the title of the block. (I called mine "Research Diary"). Your blog post titles will show up there, with the most recent first.

Creating Content

You should see "create content" in the navigation menu. If you click on it, you will get a list of the kinds of content you can create in the main page space, and brief descriptions of each type.

For our purposes, I recommend that you use page for material that will stay in place, and that should be listed on the navigation menu. On my site, for example, "CV" and "Teaching" in the menu refer to pages. I recommend that you use story for material that has a shorter shelf-life (i.e., an announcement of an upcoming talk, or a story about an alumnus) and is not essential to the main purpose of the site (which is to provide information about your professional life to interested strangers and acquaintances). A story will appear on its own page, but its title will appear on the front page of the site. It will not normally appear in the navigational menu. This is a story, for example. Use blog entry for bloggish-type things, perhaps more subjective, perhaps more time-sensitive, whatever you think. These are just recommendations.

The first thing that you have to do is to create your bio, much as it is in the present Departmental website.

(Before creating your bio, there is an optional piece of business you can undertake. Drupal truncates stories on the front page to "teaser" length, and I prefer the bio to be full-length. To create an exception for your bio, do this before you start your page: Administer>Content Management>Post Settings. Change "length of trimmed posts" to "unlimited". Make your bio. After you've finished making it (see instructions below), go back to "post settings" and change the "length of trimmed posts" back to 600 characters. If you look at my bio, and the "story" beneath it, you'll see what effect this will have; the bio remains in full, but other stories are truncated to teaser length.)

Creating your bio page

  1. Click on "create content"
  2. Click on "page." What you see here is typical of all the blanks for all the content forms. You can see the box where you put the content in, but there are a lot of other options and things to take care of. Most are incidental, but you should look at each of them now, and get a sense of what choices you have. 
  3. Put the title of the page in the box.
  4. Click on "menu settings." For other pages, such as "CV," you might want to create a menu item. Name the item, and then use the drop down list to select where you want it to be displayed. If you want it to go on the left sidebar, go right to the top of the list and choose "navigation." If you want it to go under something else that you've already established (e.g., a particular course under "Teaching"), select that.
  5. Move your cursor to the box. You can import text from word files, using the "paste from word" command, or you can cut and paste from your existing bio. Check the formatting -- you can change things as you would in a word-processor, by highlighting and selecting the formatting option, or by clicking the formatting option, typing what you want, then unclicking the option.
  6. Add images: there's a little button with a mountain on it that means add image. Place your cursor where you want the image to appear. Click on the mountain to open up the small image-adding window. Click on browse server (this is the university's server). That opens up a big window. If you want to upload an image from your computer, click on "upload," "browse" (select the file), and "upload" again. The image should upload to the server, and appear in the window on the lower right. Click on it, and it should bring you back to the small window you started with when you clicked the mountain. Here you can resize the image (in pixels. For guidance, my images are about 100 pixels wide, and this whole text box is probably about 600). Click "ok" and the image should be placed in your page.
  7. Once you're done the text, look at the items listed in red underneath the text. Input format should already be "full html," so that's okay. If the page is part of a book you are working on, there are some options about how to organize it under book outline. Revision information is only really important if you are collaborating on something; it's where you can add notes about why you've made revisions. Comment settings is important, in that you want to select the right one; I think for a CV or bio, you want to "disable" comments, but for other stories and blog entries, you want them on "read/write." File attachments can be used to upload syllabuses etc., although they will only be available to people who are logged in to the site (there are other ways of attaching files for other people; later). Authoring information should already say your name, so don't worry about that. PUBLISHING OPTIONS is very important. You must click on the title of this to drop the menu down. For your bio, you want "published" (which means can be read; not a draft), "promoted to front page" as it is going to be your front page, and "sticky at the top of lists" so that if you add material to the front page it stays at the top.
  8. Click save.
  9. There, you've made your first page. For a cv, do the same, but make a menu item for it, and do not promote it to the front page or make it sticky at the top of lists. Same with teaching.
  10. Offering files for download: if you want to have people be able to download files if they are not logged in (e.g., someone from outside the university community wants your c.v.), do this: highlight text that you want people to click on to get the file. Click on the "link" button. Choose "browse server" in the window that opens up. Go through the same process you did for the image, except this time with a file (a pdf, say). By the end of it, you should have made a link from which anyone can download the file. 

Making changes to content

You can edit content by going to the page and clicking on "edit." Remember to save your changes. You can also manage content by going to "Administer" and "manage content." From there you can click on "content" and see the list of all your pages; you can delete or edit any.

A small note on page identification

Drupal assigns content pages (pages, stories, blogs, whatever) file names that end in /node and a number; for instance, this is "node/28." If you edit menus in the "site building" section, you sometimes need to know these titles so that the menu item can link to the right page. You can make a note of the node number when you are working on it, or check it by going to "manage content" and then to the node. If you need to put in the node reference, you just put node/number, not the whole url for the site. More than you need to know at this point, but something that has frustrated me in the past.


That's all I know for now. Please ask me questions, and if I can't answer them I will pass them on to ACO or IST. And play around with things -- try making a poll, or starting a book. I'm not familiar with some of these functions, but I'd like to know how well they work.