Content Management Systems

Assignment 2 — Web Architecture Fall 2009

Assigned: Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Due: Sunday, October 4th, 2009


Web Content Management Systems can be convenient and powerful ways for resources to be delivered by a server to a an audience. The goals of this assignment are to set up a WCMS, learn how it manages resources, and to explain some of the differences between coding by hand and the use of such a system.


To complete this assignment, follow the instructions below, then use the WCMS as a platform for answering the questions that follow.

We will begin by installing the Drupal WCMS:

  1. Begin by reading about Drupal, and browsing the Web site for the project:
  2. Skim the first section of the Drupal Getting Started guide entitled "Understanding Drupal":
  3. Download Drupal from here:
  4. Use an FTP client or similar tool to move the downloaded archive to a public directory on a server of your choice. In the case of the iSchool server, this is the public_html directory.
  5. Extract (aka unzip) the contents of the archive into this directory. This will create a new directory containing the drupal installation entitled "drupal-6.14"
  6. Create and configure the settings.php file per the details here:
  7. Create a directory at sites/default/files, and give it write permissions:
    • by command line this will be: mkdir sites/default/files; chmod o+w sites/default/files
    • by FTP tool, create the directory, then edit its properties (probably by right-clicking it)
  8. If you need to configure your database, do so now by following the instructions here: If you are using the iSchool server, you can skip this step.
  9. If everything is set properly, browse to You should see the install screen, as shown here:
  10. Once you start, Drupal may give you some errors. Hopefully there won't be any, but if so, handle them as needed. Google will be your friend at this point.
  11. Follow the on-screen instructions to get Drupal installed. You will need your database information along the way, which you should have received this via email from Gary Lum.

Once you have successfully installed Drupal, please use the system to write an entry comparing and contrasting the advantages of a CMS system vs. coding by hand, or not using such a system at all.

When that is complete, browse the modules that are available, and configure the site to enable an RSS aggregator. Add an RSS block to your site that pulls a feed from one of your favorite blogs (such as the example here: Finally, create a navigation block that points to various dummy pages on the site that you have made.

Once complete, please send a link to your drupal installation to

Extra Credit:

For extra credit, complete the above, then observe how the Drupal database changes as you add, edit and remove content to or from it. Also, browse through the modules and themes on the Drupal Web site, and find and install some that might be useful or aesthetically pleasing. As you do so, observe how the database is altered.

The changes to the database can be observed in a number of ways, although the easiest is likely the iSchool phpMyAdmin login page.

Finally, as an additional post to your new Web site, explain what you did, and how that affected the Drupal database.


  • You can play with Drupal and many other open source WCMS’s on
  • To log into the iSchool phpMyAdmin, begin with your iSchool username and password, then use your MySQL username and password (you should have been emailed this from Gary Lum).
  • More information about phpMyAdmin can be found here:
  • More information about the iSchool installation and usage of MySQL can be found here:
  • For the commands above, it may be easier to log into your server via a shell than to do it with your FTP client – if nothing else it’s a useful exercise. To do this on Windows, the easiest way is with the putty.exe program. On a Mac, it can be done via the terminal and the command ssh username@server. In both cases, the server name is, and your username is your usual username. The port you will want to use (if necessary) is the default, 22.

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Last modification: Thursday, 17-Dec-2009 23:41:46 CET
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