Humanities Division Drupal Hosting Guide

This document is intended for groups or projects who are building Drupal sites/modules on their own/through third party contractors for hosting on the Division's production web cluster.

Site/File System Access

For Tier 1 affiliates no file system access is given. You may email us a sites folder or theme/modules and we will install them for you. Intra-divisional units and Tier 2 affiliates may request direct SFTP/Shell access to their Drupal sites folders. All users may have as many Drupal based users as they like and may manage those user lists themselves. All access is managed through the University's CNetID system. We can accommodate users without CNetIDs as well if required. Please contact us for details.

Calendars

We currently support the University's central Bedework system. Our Drupal environment has some custom written Bedework modules that may provide a more integrated calendar experience than the default widgets from IT Services. Using our Bedework modules may require some extra CSS in your theme to get the calendars to better match your site.

Module Updates

Our monitoring systems alert us when any site has modules or themes that need to be updated. By default we will install all security updates immediately and any bug fix updates within a week or two of release. Usually updating modules either causes no problems or makes things better. Occasionally though, updating modules can break theme code that relied on bugs or APIs in old modules. For the most part we briefly test all updates on our test servers first before and will alert you if we think a module update might cause a problem. If you would like some other arrangement (i.e. more notifications about routine updates or specific instructions to not update certain modules, etc) let us know.

Solr Search Integration

We run production level Solr servers for use with our Drupal sites. Solr is useful for providing advanced and high performance search features for web applications. Drupal has several Solr Integration modules (Apache Solr Search Integration and Search API Solr). Some of our Solr uses include faceted searching of thousands of past courses on departmental web sites and providing fast web based searching to large research data sets. Intra-divisional units and Tier 2 affiliates may request Solr cores for their Drupal sites (or for other purposes).

Paths/URLs

In order to work effectively, the test and production sites have different URLs. Specifically we use yoursite.uchicago.edu and yoursite-test.uchicago.edu. All sites must have their own CNAME and its accompanying test CNAME (we can register these for you).
 
Using multiple URLs effectively requires avoiding absolute paths in the theme and site config. We can help troubleshoot issues with this and have a number of tips for removing many common uses of absolute URLs. We highly recommend the pathologic module for correcting user supplied internal links.

Required Modules

The following modules are required for all sites in our production environment. We will enable and configure them. Please don't disable them. Let us know if you think there may be a conflict between your site and one of the required modules.
  • Secure Login - Ensures logins and admin sessions are performed using a secure connection.
  • LDAP integration - CNetID login and directory lookups
  • Nagios - Integration with our monitoring systems. Tells us when your site is down and when it needs updates.
  • Varnish - Integration with our Varnish HTTP accelerator. Varnish makes your site faster.