Improving Drupal's Administration Options

A common complaint with Drupal is that it's administration is confusing.  This is because, like much of Drupal, it requires some assembly.  Today I'll go over some of the things you can do to improve this.

Navigation

By default there are three modules which can help you quickly navigate the admin area of your website:

  • Toolbar (black bar at the top which displays the admin menu)
  • Shortcuts (gray bar under that where you can put your own bookmarks)
  • Overlay (allows you to access the admin without losing the page you're on)

There are also some additional modules that can help, some of the more popular ones are:

Permissions

Another thing that is a common problem is that normal users end up with too many permissions, and it's overwhelming for them.  You can use the built in roles and permissions to limit these down.  Roles are used to define a set of permissions, and then you can give any number of roles to users.  A common mistake when doing that is to use it to categorize your users rather than define sets a features, and so you end up with far too many roles.

A common request is to have moderation of content and allow people in these roles to move content between different stages.  There are two modules that offer this functionality Workbench and Workflow.  Generally speaking workbench is simpler and easier to use, and workflow allows more complex interactions and rules.  Usually it progresses similar to these steps:

  • Draft
  • In Review
  • Published

Dashboards

Dashboards can also be really helpful to bring together content, users, comments, etc for easier management.  Drupal comes with a built in dashboard module, but there are also some additional modules which can help:

  • Workbench: A control panel for your content moderation.
  • Administration Views: A replacement for the built in content, comment, and user views.
  • Views Bulk Operations: Allows bulk changes to be done to content, comments, and users.
  • Rules: Can be used to send emails, etc when events happen, or can be used to write your own bulk operations.