Discovering Drupal, Admiring Its Accessibility

Something I wanted to do on the first month of 2012 was to learn new stuff. I’ve been hearing about this thing called Drupal from many people, so I thought of learning it just to see what all the happiness is about.

Below I’ll talk about my experiences in learning Drupal and a few interesting things I discovered as an advocate of accessibility.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world. (taken from drupal.org)

Using Drupal, you can set up a site, create different types of pages, and quickly add and edit information in your pages. This is, however, just a small percentage of the things you can do using this content management system.

My Drupal Shenanigans

I first downloaded and installed XAMPP on my computer. XAMPP is a free and open source web server package. You need this in order to install Drupal on your machine. I then started a number of its services such as the MySQL database service.

Next I downloaded and installed the latest recommended version of Drupal. This is where things got interesting. Here, I created a new database for Drupal and went through a series of steps to configure Drupal on my computer. It took me roughly half an hour but I finally installed it on my PC.

Drupal.org has a very detailed set of instructions on installing Drupal on XAMPP. I followed these steps and to me they were quite easy to carry out.

Once I set up Drupal, I was able to start playing with it right away. I created a homepage and added text, created other pages, inserted images, created a simple footer, explored different themes, used the WYSIWYG feature, and set up a small blog to document my progress. Somewhere along the way I messed up my site’s menus and did some other spectacular booboos, but I had a nice time solving them. There are still many things I need to learn and I’m glad that the Drupal.org site has an extremely large amount of resources for learners like me.

Oh, and did I mention that Drupal provides a great deal of accessibility? From the moment I installed Drupal to the time I was working on my local site, I was able to access and use the functions, options, and fields in Drupal’s site development pages. Many of Drupal’s themes also include the most important accessibility features such as a “skip to content” link, accessible edit fields, and headings for different page areas.

The Drupal Accessibility Group

It doesn’t end there though. Drupal also has an excellent group for people like me who are both Drupal users and web accessibility freaks. I joined the Drupal Accessibility Group and found lively discussions between its members about Drupal’s accessibility. I posted a question of my own, and helpful experts like Mike Gifford (@mgifford) were there to give their clear answers and share additional relevant information. This along with Drupal’s overall accessibility definitely made me a devoted follower of the Drupal project.

My Drupal Plans

I’ll continue learning more about Drupal and applying the stuff I’d learn on the sites I’d make. The next major step for me is figuring out how to upload my site on the Net. Seeing how Drupal supports accessibility, I will certainly use it in the future web sites I’ll create and develop.

Drupal rocks!

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3 Responses to “Discovering Drupal, Admiring Its Accessibility”

  1. Jeff Says:

    You improve accessibility by choosing one of the more advanced themes for Drupal such as Adaptivetheme (http://drupal.org/project/adaptivetheme) – this theme includes ARIA roles, improvements to some of the forms (uses more nested fieldsets in the advanced search form), and is HTML5 + responsive. The theme was developed with the help and feedback of the Drupal A11y group. You should check it out – its a “base theme” and there are a bunch of styled “sub themes” which extend the base. Rock on, and great little plug for Drupal and its accessibility – we certainly take it very seriously!

  2. jojomccid Says:

    Great job Julius! I also want to learn about Drupal since I was introduced to it during one of our visits to ATRIEV a few years ago. I remember you were also there when one of the foreigner explained it to us. I hope I can still have more time. 🙂

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