Drupal, before you begin: first five modules to install

Caring about your end-users is a fine thing, but in any car the passengers would prefer the driver to adjust the rear view mirror before taking off.

So, before you do anything to the theme or install any of those oh-so-cool features, deploy the following:

  1. ModuleMagic – it will save you time and effort installing other modules. Note: this module depends on your ability to set directory permissions, so in some overly restrictive shared hosting environments you will be in trouble.
  2. Site Documentation – will give you a nice long summary of your settings, nodes, web server, content types… everything there is to know. It will also catch some problems with orphaned nodes and blocks and may even fix them. Most importantly, it can run on a regular basis and save the reports for a later review. Yes, you can find every piece of this data elsewhere, but who has the time?
  3. Site Notes – small but useful, creates a new content type in Drupal, just for your notes. Extremely useful when you share site administration with others or just have to recall something six months later (I use this blog for that, since not all software has such a wonderful feature).
  4. Update Status – this one is so important, it is likely to be included into the core of Drupal 6. It will notify you of all the updates (including the ever-urgent security updates), and even send you an email! Make sure to read the FAQ on the module page.
  5. Backup – a great article on the subject is here. Some people swear by Database Administration module, but unless you really know what you need it for, it’s an overkill. Just remember to read the article on restoring from your backups – hundreds of people lost their data and their jobs because they had never checked if their backups actually worked!

Ok, now you have the first essentials. Go, build that site!

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