Building a Social Networking Site

How to Buy a Website
Okay, so you are in the market for building your own social networking website. It’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. Writing the code to do this from scratch would be pretty hard, but using a Content Management System, like Drupal to build it is much more reasonable. This of course means you must know Drupal, or hire someone that does. For social networking site I strongly recommend building a drupal social networking site.

Getting started, well the first thing to do is get a clean install of Drupal to work with. You do this by installing Drupal core on your server. If you’re not sure how to do this then visit the link at the bottom and go to my page on setting up a CMS on your server.

Now that you have a clean install you are ready to get started. I am going to give you some exact modules to use with your social networking website, so take good notes in case you can’t navigate back to this article. Before I do though, here are the basics of the site that I will be mentioning:

1. You want users to be able to become friends, right?

2. You want users to be able to write private message to each other through your site? duh!

3. You want users to be able to make a profile with their own pictures and information? Hope that’s in your plan.

4. You want some sort of live wall on your site where people can see updates about their friends.

5. You want to let your users upload something to the site and share it.

Does this sound right? If it’s a social networking website, this type of functionality is probably what you are looking for. Now let me tell you how to do it.

First thing to do is install the needed modules. Do this slowly and add the little settings you want to each module before going on to the next.

Install Chaos Tools, Views, Entity Tokens and Rules. These are not in Drupal core, but they are generally pretty necessary with Drupal sites.

Now we are ready for the fun stuff. Next, I recommend adding a module called Flag Friend. This adds a flag to the site automatically to user profiles, which are core Drupal. That means very little work for you. It adds the accept friend request, approve, block, deny, the works, for you. It’s easy.

Now we are rolling. My favorite messaging module, and the easiest to configure, is Privatemsg. The module will automatically associate itself with users also. That means you now have users that become friends and write messages to each other. That’s pretty good so far. If you have issues with either of the first two modules check the permissions first. This is a key part of any social networking website.

Making a profile is really easy. Navigate to configuration – account settings – manage fields. There you can add all sorts of fields to the registration profile, about you, interests, photos, etc. Then go to manage display to determine how you want it to appear when it’s live.

If you want your users to be able to upload something to the site you follow a similar process. Navigate to structure – content type- create new and then create whatever you want them add using the fields again and the field display options.

Last thing, and the most complex, is the live wall. I recommend using the Heartbeat module with the rules module to do this. Just install both and they will work together and automatically give you an activity wall for friends. Now you just need to display that wall somewhere on the users profile and whenever a user logs in they will only see the content that pertains to their particular account. Adding some more advanced functionality with Heartbeat is doable too. I will post an article on my site sometime soon about Heartbeat.

That’s it. You now have your own Drupal social networking site. Not that hard was it?

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