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Drupal as a Data Organizer on Your Personal Computer

Do you have have many bits and pieces of data on your computer that you would like to store in an easy-to-use, searchable database? Have you been using text files, URL bookmarks, Post-its, etc., to try and keep things handy? How about Microsoft Access, or other database applications?

I have to admit that I have used a combination of all those over the years. Yet, I end up spending a lot of time looking for things on my PC. I have been looking for some kind of simple database application where you can keep pieces of information related to my “work in progress” in a way that I can find things quickly.

A Content Management System (CMS) that you can easily install and customize might do the trick. I have tried using Drupal, one of the widely-used open-source CMS on a Windows PC as well as a MacBook and have been quite happy with it.

I agree it sounds complicated, and I admit, I thought so too. I had used Drupal to organize project documentation at work, and also to set up a web portal before. Drupal is a Swiss Army Knife among the CMS, and that’s what I liked most about it. It lets you create many types of ‘content’ – basic pages, articles, books, blogs, forums, and many other highly customized types. So if you just need a simple searchable Post-it application, you can just use the basic pages. If you are working on a research paper, the article content type might be your perfect drawing board. And there is book type if you are working on a book — you can build your book with chapters, etc. Blog type is great to create a personal journal on your PC. Forum is really a more specialized form of the blog, and it very handy to organize your content under different headings.

All the above types can have ‘tags’ which give you a very easy way to search. There is also the more advanced ‘taxonomy’ feature that Drupal is famous for.

So, if there is a simple way to install Drupal on your PC or your Mac, you could take advantage of all these great features and build your personal database that is literally at your fingertips.

Drupal is a web-based application, So you would need a web-server running. Apache is the most common option for this. Most CMS including Drupal store the content in a database. For that you could use MySql, or just use the Sqlite database that just stores everything in a file.

How easy or difficult is it to install an Apache server and MySql on a PC or Mac? Thankfully, there are some incredibly easy to use open-source packages that you can use: XAMPP for Windows, and MAMP for Mac are really simple to download and install. In a few minutes, you can have a web-server and if you prefer, a database server running on your PC.

One you get your web-server running, you can install Drupal in a few more minutes, and you have all power of a very versatile CMS on your personal computer!

I have setup Drupal on my Windows based work laptop, as well as my personal MacBook, and it has proved incredibly useful. In fact, the draft of this blog post was created as a forum post on Drupal on my MacBook. I wrote this in one sitting, but there are several other posts that I am working on, and they will all stay as work-in-progress posts on Drupal on my Mac. I am also writing some technical articles that I expect would take a few weeks to complete, and I am developing them on Drupal on my Mac as ‘articles’.

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