Installation of Instant Indicia


Instant Indicia was based on Drupal 6. We strongly recommend that if you are starting to build a new online recording website that you use Drupal 7 and the IForm module since Drupal 6 is no longer the preferred version of Drupal.


Before you install Instant Indicia, as well as the warehouse you need to make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  • Support for PHP 5.3 or higher
  • The MySQL 5 database server is installed
  • A tool allowing you to access the MySQL database server such as PhpMyAdmin, MySQL Query Browser or CPanel
  • The cUrl extension for PHP is enabled
  • Although not a fixed limit, it is recommended that the PHP memory limit be set to 64MB or higher

If you are using a web hosting package or a web server managed by someone else and are in any doubt about these prerequisites then please contact your web host who should be able to confirm if your server supports them.

If you are installing Instant Indicia on a local machine for test or development purposes, then there are many tutorials on the web on how to install PHP and a webserver such as Apache. PHP version 5.3 or higher is required. The following guide explains installation of PHP, Apache and MySQL on Windows: An easier alternative is to install a ready made ‘stack’ with a set of predefined components all packaged into one install kit. Rather than install each component individually, you might like to consider installing a stack, that is a single installation which packages all the things you need for the web server. Here are a few examples for your consideration:



Any operating system

These are handy packages consisting of an Apache web server, MySQL plus the typical tools you might want to install onto a web server.Whichever you choose, please make sure you install a version which includes PHP 5.2.x or (preferably) PHP 5.3.x, as PHP 5.4 is not yet supported.

This tutorial assumes you will be using the web applications PhpMyAdmin or have access to CPanel for your database management tasks. CPanel is supplied with many hosted web accounts to provide various utilities for managing your website including creation of databases. If you are using a different tool for database management then the steps should be the same but using the different user interface provided by your tool. You might be wondering why a database is needed at all when the Indicia data is stored on the separate warehouse. This is because your website’s pages and other settings are also stored in a database quite separate to the warehouse (which is only concerned with the actual biological records and other associated data). For example, when you create a page to add to your website to act as a home page, this is stored as a record in the MySQL database. When you add a record of a species to the system, this record is created and held in the warehouse.

Installation procedure

Installing Instant Indicia involves almost exactly the same process as installing Drupal 6, with a few extra bits for the Indicia specific stuff. It may be handy to have more information on installing Drupal in general which can be found at There is also a video on installing Instant Indicia available at

Copy Files

The first step is to copy the Instant Indicia files into the folder on your website where you would like to run your website from. This could be the htdocs folder supplied with an installation of XAMPP, the public html folder of your hosted website, or possibly a sub-folder within one of these locations. If the folder is on a remote server you may need to use an FTP program such as FileZilla to upload the files. You can download the latest copy of Instant Indicia from the Indicia Downloads page then unzip the file to obtain the full set of files required (including the Drupal files). Once copied, your file structure might look something like this example, where I am setting up Instant Indicia in a subfolder of a website called naturewatch:

The files required for Instant Indicia

Once the files have been uploaded to the correct location, accessing the folder using your web browser should display a page allowing you to select whether to install a basic installation of Drupal or the Instant Indicia version. Here are some examples of how you can work out the URL to access:

  • If installing on a local machine that is running as a local webserver and you copied the files into the root folder of your webserver’s websites directory (htdocs if running Apache) then you can access http://localhost.
  • If installing on a local machine that is running as a local webserver and you copied the files into a subfolder of your webserver’s websites directory (htdocs if running Apache) then you can access http://localhost/subfolder replacing subfolder with the name of your folder.
  • If installing on a remote machine using FTP into the root folder (normally called public_html) then you can access the page using just your domain name (e.g.
  • If installing on a remote machine using FTP into a subfolder then you can access the page using your domain name and the subfolder (e.g.
Selecting the Instant Indicia installation profile

For now, we’ll leave this part of the installation as there a couple of other tasks to undertake before proceeding.

Create a settings file

Using the same tool you used to upload the files (e.g. FileZilla, Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder), find the folder at sites/default. Inside this folder there is a file called default.settings.php. Create a copy of this file and rename it to settings.php, leaving the original file in place. This is the standard way to create a file for Drupal 6 to store its various installation settings.

For more information on this see

Create a database

The last step in preparing to install Instant Indicia is to create a MySQL database. The MySQL that has been installed on your web server is a database server, that is, it is an application designed for storing and retrieving data. The database server stores data in discreet buckets called databases, with each database being created for a specific purpose. Thus, it is possible to have a single database server provide storage facilities for multiple applications by having a separate database for each application. So, we need a database to store our Instant Indicia site’s information in. The following paragraphs explain the database setup process, but if you want more information this can be found in the Drupal installation documentation.

Using CPanel

If you are using a hosted web account with CPanel then you will probably not have the password required to create databases in MySQL yourself using PhpMyAdmin, but there is a tool provided within CPanel for creating databases. Look for the Databases section and click the link called MySQL Databases to access it.

Accessing MySQL via CPanel

The CPanel MySQL databases tool provides you with a box to type in the name of your database and a Create Database button, it is as easy as that. Note that CPanel may enforce a prefix for your database name to allow it to keep your database separate from those created for other websites on a shared web server.

Using PhpMyAdmin

If you are using PhpMyAdmin and have the required password for administering MySQL, then follow these steps to create the database:

  1. Using your web browser, access the phpmyadmin site and log in. This will typically be at the location, or http://localhost/phpmyadmin if developing locally.
  2. Or, if you are already logged in, click on the Home button in the toolbar near the top left, then select the Databases tab. The Databases tab should show a box allowing you to input the name to create a new database. If this box is missing then it is likely that your MySQL database is part of a shared server so you do not have access rights to manage permissions in this way. The instructions for using CPanel should be used instead.
  3. In the Create new database box, enter the name of the database you want to create. Name it something that helps you remember it is for the site you are building. Press Create when ready.
Creating a database using PhpMyAdmin

Create a user

The database you have created will currently only be accessible to the MySQL administration user account (normally called root). When something needs to connect to MySQL to get to the database, it has to login to MySQL using a username and password. This applies whether it is a person (such as you) or a process (such as the Instant Indicia website) that is connecting to the database. Rather than let the website login to MySQL using the super-user root account which would make things less secure, we will create a user account for the website to use when accessing MySQL. This user account will only have access rights to the database you created so cannot damage other parts of the server if it is hacked.

Using CPanel

To create a user account for your website to access MySQL using CPanel, go to the MySQL Databases section of CPanel as described for creating the database. Further down the page is a section called MySQL Users, with an option to add a new user by specifying a username and password. Just fill these boxes in and click the Create User button. If this is a live database, then it is very important to make the password a strong password containing a combination of letter, numbers and punctuation. There is a Generate Password button for creating passwords which generates a random, strong password ideal for this purpose though remember to take a note of the password if you use this facility. Once you have created the user, you need to grant that user access to the database you created earlier. At the bottom of the same page in CPanel, there is an Add User to Database section. Just select the user, select the database and click the Add button and you are done.

Using PhpMyAdmin

To create a user account for your website to access MySQL using PhpMyAdmin:

  1. In PhpMyAdmin, click on the Home button then select the Privileges tab. If there is no Privileges tab then it is likely that your MySQL database is part of a shared server so you do not have access rights to manage permissions in this way. The instructions for using CPanel should be used instead.

  2. Click the Add a new user link.

  3. Enter a user name, e.g. website.

  4. The Host option can be set to Local.

  5. Enter a password and retype it. If this is a live database, then it is very important to make this a strong password containing a combination of letter, numbers and punctuation. There is a Generate button for creating passwords which generates a random, strong password ideal for this purpose, though remember to take a note of the password if you use this facility.

    Do not tick any boxes in the Global privileges section – you want the user to be only able to use your new website database.

  6. Click the Go button, highlighted in red below.

Creating a user using PhpMyAdmin

That will create the user but leave you on the details view of that user. Several new sections will have appeared on the page, including one called Database specific privileges:

Database specific privileges using PhpMyAdmin

Simply select your new database in the drop down and PhpMyAdmin will take you to a view of the database privileges for that user on that database:

Database specific privileges using PhpMyAdmin

Tick every box in this section or click the Check All link to give your user account full access to this database. This is important because it lets Drupal and the various modules we will install create the database structure they require. Finally click the Go button.

Install Instant Indicia

The hard stuff is all done now, as you have a web-server ready to install Instant Indicia on. Using your web browser, navigate to the folder where your website will be running from. For example if your domain name is and you copied the Instant Indicia installation files into a subfolder of the public HTML folder called mainsite, then the address you need to navigate to is, or if you are using localhost then the link will be http://localhost/mainsite.

You will see the following page, which lets you choose from a default installation of Drupal, or to use the Instant Indicia profile. On the left of the page you can see that you are on the first of several steps required for installation. Select the Instant Indicia profile and click Save and continue.

Selecting the Instant Indicia installation profile

Because the Instant Indicia installation is currently only available in English, the installer will skip the Choose language step and proceed to verify that your server meets the requirements of Drupal. At this point you may see some messages informing you how to meet the requirements that are not met, but if everything has been setup as described so far the installer should proceed to the Set up database step.

If at this step you see messages relating to file permissions then you will need to correct these problems before continuing, for example there will be errors in the following circumstances:

  • Drupal’s installer does not have permissions to write settings to the settings.php file.
  • Drupal’s installer does not have permissions to create a folder at sites/default/files.

When installing onto a Linux, Unix or Mac server, note that file permissions will depend on the ownership of the file and you may need to use the chown command line tool to change the file ownership. More information on setting the correct file permissions for a Drupal installation can be found at

Setting up the database connection for Instant Indicia

This step lets you tell Drupal how to connect to your MySQL database that you created earlier. The Database type should be mysql because that is the name of the library Drupal will use to connect to MySQL. The second option, pgsql, allows Drupal to be set up using the alternative PostgreSQL database but not all modules are compatible with PostgreSQL so we will stick to MySQL.

Provide the name of the database, plus the username and password you created earlier for connecting to the database with.

There is an advanced options section which you generally do not need to touch. There is some more information on this section in the Drupal documentation on running the installation script. Click the Save and continue button when you are ready. Drupal will chug away for a few seconds whilst it sets up the database before proceeding to the next step.

Once the database is created, you will see the Configure site page. This page lets you set up various things like the site title and admin account which are required for all Drupal installations:

Setting up the site settings for Instant Indicia

At the top of the site you may see a note about setting the settings.php file to read only. Drupal will attempt to do make this change itself but if it does not have the capability to do so (which depends on the setup of the particular web server) it will request that you do this yourself. It’s not essential to do this for a development setup but does improve security a little on a live system.

The fields you need to fill in on this page are mostly self explanatory – the site name and slogan are displayed in the site banner and the site email address is used when the site sends out automatic emails such as those sent during the user registration process. The next section lets you define the username, password and email for an admin account that has full access to all functionality in Drupal. It goes without saying that if this is a live setup that the admin account’s password must be strong – the user interface will inform you of how strong your password is when you type it in.

The final section on this page – Server settings – can normally be left in its default state as Drupal will choose the best settings for your server. Click the Save and continue button when you are ready and Drupal will proceed to the Configure Indicia page where you set up Indicia specific settings.

The first Indicia specific settings page

The first thing to do here is to provide Indicia with some information about the warehouse you are going to connect to. There are several pre-configured warehouses available to pick from including one for localhost (if the warehouse is setup on your current machine in a folder called indicia) as well as the warehouses provided by the Biological Records Centre in the UK (BRC). To use the BRC warehouses you will need to obtain permission, which can be done by asking on the Indicia forum at If you have to setup for a different warehouse then choose the Other option and enter the path to the indicia site excluding the index.php part but including the trailing slash, e.g. “”. The second box in this section lets you configure a connection to the GeoServer URL. This is a non-essential extension to the functionality provided by Indicia so can be left blank for the purposes of this tutorial.

Further down the page you will be asked to input the website ID and password. This provides a mechanism for your installation of Instant Indicia to authenticate onto and communicate with the Indicia warehouse. The default installation of the warehouse comes with a demonstration website registration which can be used for installation purposes, so fill in the following:

  • Website ID = 1
  • Password = password

The next section of the configuration page lets you specify several API keys. These are effectively passwords that let your Instant Indicia site access various web services. For example when a map is displayed on the screen the map imagery displayed comes from a web service such as the Google Maps or Bing Maps services. When a user searches for a place name, the place name is looked up using a Google place search web service or the Yahoo! GeoPlanet web service. Using these web services is generally free as long as your site does not charge for access, though it is your responsibility to check the terms & conditions of the relevant services. For the purposes of this tutorial you should at least follow the link to obtain an API Key for Yahoo! GeoPlanet and fill that one in. The other API Keys can be left blank or filled in as desired.

Finally on this page is a map settings section:

The second Indicia specific settings page

This lets you set a default zoom and centre point for maps displayed by your site, though these settings can be overridden on a page by page basis. You can leave the map where it is if you are happy with the default settings, or drag it to a different centre point and zoom scale.


When using the map, hold the Shift key and drag a box to quickly zoom in to a specific region.

Beneath this there is a list of grid and spatial reference systems that you can tick to enable support for on your site. If you only want British National Grid references to be input then leave this as it is, otherwise you can opt to include support for the other reference systems listed.

If you need to change any of these settings in future, then don’t worry as there is a configuration page provided which lets you do that. When you are done, press the Save button to complete the installation and you will see the following page.

Installation complete!