Jan 25 2006
Jan 25

I've spent the last 40 work hours or more trying to figure out how to get Drupal to display a right side bar box that says "Ann's Class - 4th Grade." It gives one pause. 40 hours? Forty hours? Well, er, yes. But that's what happens when you get sucked in by a program like Drupal. You're fascinated and intrigued—then challenged and stimulated—and finally, wild-eyed, defiant and obsessed with beating the damn thing at its own... Ah-hm. So anyway, there I was, side-bar-boxless. I tried displaying bits of the post information from node.tpl.php in a custom block, and actually got a little box that said "Ann's Class - 4th Grade," as nice as you please. Problem was it continued to say that on Mary's 3rd grade class pages and Joann's 2nd grade section. It was back to the drawing board. I tried snippets, taxonomy modules, and a number of hacks of Taxonomy Context. I wrangled and wrestled code, ripping it out here and jamming in it there, and after all that work, I still didn't have a box that would display correctly on the various sections of the site. Oh, I had a box. I even had the text I wanted. I just couldn't get the text to display in the box. I ask you, what was a girl to do? That's right. I cheated. At pretty much the end of my tether—and way past my rudimentary knowledge of PHP—I popped open the CSS file, gave the box a little padding to prop it open, and absolutely positioned the text from one side of the page to the other. Job done. Yet even as I grinned and wiped my hands with satisfaction, I found myself glancing around a little furtively. Would anyone notice? Would anyone realize that my clever coding was nothing more than a clumsy, cloddish PHP fake? A CSS imposter. A pile of smelly coding do-do. I considered going back to the module and trying again to hack it into shape. But the memory was still too fresh. The pain too recent. I would live with it. Shamefully, yes, but I would get by. Then this afternoon on the drive to pick up the kids from school, I suddenly realized that CSS had, once again, come to my rescue. And who was I to spit in the eye of a champion? Maybe a PHP purist would rather slit her wrists than hack a script with CSS. But so what? I bet a PHP purist knows a lot of PHP, too. In my world, a hack is a hack is a hack. And until I can learn to harness the power of Drupal and PHP, the power of CSS will just have to do.

Jan 20 2006
Jan 20

Has anyone ever put


up at the top of their Drupal template page.tpl.php? If I were to print my var_dump source, it would be 181 pages. Granted when you var_dump $GLOBALS, there is some recursion, but that still seems like a lot of variable generation.

I can think of a couple things to do, namely more aggressive unset use, more discouraged use of the global keyword, or just putting to RAM what is actually needed.

AFAIK, Drupal loads every variable stored in the database to memory on every page load. I hope I'm wrong about that. It seems to me like a properly indexed database would be quicker if it only pulled variables it needed on every page load plus what a specific module needs for its operation. Someone should benchmark (which will probably end up being me if I want to know the answer) to see if storing Drupal core vars as a serialized string would be faster to unserialize or to pull from several database rows.

Is it an issue? I can't tell from just the preliminary var_dump output, but perhaps spending some time with APD will uncover some waste I can submit a patch for. I doubt developers are spending a lot of time comparing alternative scripting implementations for speed improvement.

Jan 17 2006
Jan 17

I have recently converted a few article "groups" into books. I basically went through certain taxonomy lists and used the "outline" tab for each one to add it to a top-level book page. The result that I found was that I got a much higher percentage of click-throughs with the book navigation than from a taxonomy listing.

Drupal Book Navigation

Taxonomy Listings are Boring?

The original reason for converting from a listing to a book was because a client of mine was unhappy with the "text heavy" appearance of the listing - she wanted the feel of a portfolio. I had a hunch that the book module might be the answer when I noted that another area of the same website (Wedding Packages), which was a book, was doing well. Meaning that over half of the visitors were navigating from beginning to end.

Book Module to the Rescue!

So I converted the Wedding Gallery to a book. See the before and after here:

Everyone Seems to Love Drupal Books...

The client and her staff reported that they thought it was now "fun" to click through the pages. Visitors seemed to like it as well and the traffic through the Galley increased. It was so successful that I grouped a several of my articles book-style:

Jan 11 2006
Jan 11

The new year has started and, with it, my resolve to find time for this blog. Between keeping up with clients and trying to spend more time with the family, this site got put on the back burner. Also, I have to admit I was tired of writing it—a little bored with reading and writing, talking and thinking so much about CSS. I needed a break from it.

Don't get me wrong. I still love CSS. (Yes, I actually typed those words. Can you believe it?) And I still think web standards are important. In fact, the more I learn about the web, the more convinced I am that they're crucial. I just felt that was all I was writing about. The web doesn't need another Jeffery Zeldman wannabe. Not when it has the real thing.

So, I needed a hiatus from the blog. I needed something new. And boy, did I get it! I can tell you in one word: Drupal. However, since I'm constitutionally unable to be brief, I'll elaborate. One thing I've noticed this past year is the increasing prominence of content management systems, or CMS. Most large sites and a lot of small ones use some sort of CMS. This blog runs on one, Moveable Type. They seem to be everywhere. But MT has been my only experience with CMS. Up until now I knew nothing about them. They sounded complicated and scary. A little out of my league. So, of course, I had to find out all about them.

But where to start? Then I read somewhere that Drupal was the most difficult but also the most configurable of all the open source CMS. Well, that clinched it. The word configurable has always been a favorite of mine—ranks right up there with mod, plugin and hack. If you ask me, there's not much that's more fun or fascinating than fiddling with a program to see what you can get it to do. What can I say? It's a personality flaw. The inner geek in me struggling to come out.

So I downloaded Drupal and spent a week picking over the files, completely bewildered and lost. Drupal is written in PHP, which I don't know, and that certainly didn't help. So I bought a book or two on PHP, got on the Drupal forums and read the manuals from cover to cover. Slowly I began to make sense of the program, and I have to tell you, I am thoroughly impressed. In fact, I'm hooked. Drupal is powerful, well-designed and highly customizable. Yes, the learning curve is a little higher. But once you get over that hurdle, there's not much you can't do with Drupal. And you don't have to do it completely alone. The support forums are pretty helpful, and the documentation is superb.

By the Way

You may have noticed the change in the subtitle of this blog. I've only been in professional web design for a year now, but "breaking in" just didn't feel right anymore. I'll always be a newbie. I just can't resist trying and learning about all the new stuff that pops up on the web every 3 minutes or so. But I don't feel as new to the web, itself, anymore. After all, I've been casually playing around with web design for almost ten years—and taking it seriously for one. I've got my web legs now. But there will always be a new regions to explore and discover...as long as there is someone to think them up.

Jan 10 2006
Jan 10

Just a quick note: Drupal 4.7.0 beta 3 is available now, fixing more than 100 bugs since the last beta. If you have any further issues or suggestions for 4.7 — now is the time to speak up, file bug reports, post patches etc.

I haven't had too much time for Drupal development recently, but I guess I should really start updating the poormanscron module now (finally!) and help with getting the German translation up-to-date...

Jan 08 2006
Jan 08

I recently made my first cron contrib module for Drupal, DB Maintenance. Since the DB Maintenance OPTIMIZE TABLE query locks the database tables it queries, I don't want just anyone to access cron.php anymore. The restriction I added was for the Apache .htaccess file that manages the clean URL rewrite rule.

<Files cron.php>
  Order deny,allow
  Allow from
  Deny from all
</Files> is the current IP address of deekayen.net, which is needed instead of when you run cron.php with lynx or wget as the documentation strongly suggests, which means isn't the remote IP when Apache receives the request. I only put in so in the future, if I need to access from localhost for some reason, I can.

Jan 07 2006
Jan 07

Langemark's Cafe is Gunnar Langemark's personal/professional website. It syndicates content with a focus on Information Architecture, Semantic Web, Web2.0, User Experience - and Drupal!

Langemarks Cafe - Drupal Information

He features quite a bit of Drupal related news, inlcuding this story mentioning Advanced Web Design. Thank you, Gunnar!

As you would expect, his website is powered by our friend Drupal. His Drupal category has an XML feed available for those who are interested.

Jan 07 2006
Jan 07

After I was back from a short vacation without Internet access, I was surprised to see a post by Robert Douglass titled "Uwe Hermann's Drupal article in PHP Solutions is out" on the drupal.org main page. At that point I didn't even know that the article had been published ;-)

Robert wrote a short review of the article which outlines the main content. In contrast to my last article which was a general introduction to Drupal, this one concentrated on some specific (probably more advanced) topics instead: multi-site install, l10n+i18n, search engine optimization, and AJAX(-like) user interfaces of the upcoming Drupal 4.7 release.

The printed article should be available in multiple languages (German, French, Polish and Italian, at least). There might be a free online version as soon as the next issue of PHP Solutions is published, but I'm not entirely sure.

Thanks a lot to Robert Douglass for the review and to Drupal's Benevolent Dictator for Life Dries Buytaert who reviewed an early draft of my article and provided helpful suggestions!

Jan 04 2006
Jan 04
Posted by chx on 4 Jan 2006 at 16:15 UTC

Someone under the pseudonym "Liz0ziM" sent a false security alarm to BugTraq without first contacting the security team:


This vulnerability is fixed in Drupal 4.5.6, 4.6.4 and onwards. Drupal's new XSS filter mechanism takes care of all vulnerabilities listed on http://ha.ckers.org/xss.html (and even more).

If you have already updated to at least 4.5.6 / 4.6.4 then you are safe and you do not need to take any action. If you have not updated yet, then we advise you again to do so ASAP.

Dec 21 2005
Dec 21

CNet is running a story about GoodStorm, a site built on Drupal and the open source ecommerce package I authored. Very impressive indeed! Way to go Team GoodStorm.

Dec 13 2005
Dec 13

Yay. Ruby on Rails 1.0 has been released 39 minutes ago. I will probably check it out for real now (although I usually use Drupal for web development work, of course).

They sure have some funny quotes on their website ;-)

“Ruby on Rails is astounding. Using it is like watching a kung-fu movie,
where a dozen bad-ass frameworks prepare to beat up the little newcomer
only to be handed their asses in a variety of imaginative ways.”
--Nathan Torkington, O'Reilly Program Chair for OSCON

Dec 01 2005
Dec 01

You might have already noticed, but I'll re-iterate nevertheless: the Drupal project has released Drupal 4.6.4 and 4.5.6 which fix three security vulnerabilities. Everyone running a Drupal site is advised to upgrade, as always.

Multiple people were mighty busy yesterday preparing, finalizing and testing the patches and advisories. I was one of them, although I was more like lurking around trying to look busy ;-) Anyways, I have sent the respective advisories (DRUPAL-SA-2005-007, DRUPAL-SA-2005-008, DRUPAL-SA-2005-009) to the "usual suspects" today: Bugtraq, Full Disclosure, and the php-sec mailing list. The advisories have already been picked up by Secunia and a bunch of other security sites...

Btw: I finally received news that my domain was transferred to my new web hoster today, which led to a short downtime. Everything should be fine now. If you notice any problems, please drop me a note.

Oct 24 2005
Oct 24

I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing right now. I'm at work in my underwear, pillow marks on my face and am eating breakfast while posting a blog entry. Yup. I'm a work-at-home freelancer now.

There's nothing about my university job I didn't like. My peers were great to work with and had a real collaborative spirit. I had a kick-ass office that allowed my inner-introvert to hide and crank out Drupal code. And of course the job security and benefits would make any family man sleep soundly at night. So why the job change?

Last weekend Cori and I jumped in the car and saw our friend Stuart once again rock the inner chambers of the Omaha Healing Arts Center. If you've never seen Stuart play, besides performing he'll purposefully and obviously try to connect with you during the show. He doesn't stare up at the ceiling or close his eyes when he plays. He looks at the audience. He looks at you.

During the performance all I could think about was here's a dude who's living the way he wants to live: intentionally and aligned with the Bodhisattva vows. It blows me away when I think of the courage it takes to sometimes perform in a bar full of drunk people and sing songs of mysticism and love. That's some serious Buddha nuts.

Which leads me back to my resignation from the university. Sure my job has the tangible perks but I want to be closer to the Mystery. I want my heart to be as happy as the rest of me was at the day job.

So, here I go. Into less comfortable territory but with more conviction then I've had before. Let's see what unfolds, shall we?

Oct 22 2005
Oct 22

Here's a bunch of smaller updates which probably don't warrant extra blog posts, but might be interesting nevertheless:

  • On the right-hand side of my homepage you now have three new blocks which should simplify site navigation. Each contains a weighted list of tags (tag clouds) for my blog, my podcast, and my photoblog, powered by Drupal's tagadelic module. Of course, the "traditional" navigation menu is still there.
  • There's also an RSS feed for comments on this site now, courtesy to Drupal's Comment RSS module.
  • On the lower left-hand side of my homepage, there's another new block. It shows where the visitors of my site come from in (almost) realtime. This is a service provided by MapStats (I already talked about it earlier).
  • I have uploaded updated versions of my bashrc, vimrc, and muttrc config files.
  • My podcast is now listed in iTunes (thanks Daniel Reutter for adding it). You can subscribe by clicking on this button: Subscribe to my podcast in iTunes!. The amount of people who subscribe to my podcast have almost doubled, figures went up from 30 subscribers to more than 50 today! If you're reading this and subscribed through iTunes: thanks ;)
  • My video iPod will (probably) be shipped on October 31, and it'll take a few more days until it arrives. Arghh, /me wants it now!
Oct 06 2005
Oct 06

The annual report from usability expert Jakob Nielsen:

  1. Legibility Problems
  2. Non-Standard Links
  3. Flash
  4. Content That's Not Written for the Web
  5. Bad Search
  6. Browser Incompatibility
  7. Cumbersome Forms
  8. No Contact Information or Other Company Info
  9. Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths
  10. Inadequate Photo Enlargement

I agree with all of them, especially number 3 (Flash). I'm starting to like most of the AJAX sites popping up around me, but I have yet to find a Flash site which I really like.

Oct 01 2005
Oct 01

Green Leaves
Two Flowers

Bear in mind, I'm no professional photographer or something — I just happen to own a crappy 1.3 MegaPixel camera and take photos with it from time to time.

The photoblog is (again) implemented with/on my existing Drupal site by abusing the taxonomy system.

Comments are welcome.

Sep 15 2005
Sep 15

Yesterday, I launched my own podcast (I had threatened to do so earlier). In an unsurpassed effort of creativity I named it Uwe Hermann's Music Podcast ;) This is a pure music podcast (no talking / ranting by me), featuring freely available (mostly Creative Commons licensed) music from various artists and various genres, see my announcement for details.

On the technical side, I have integrated the podcast into my existing website and blog (which is powered by Drupal 4.6.3). The podcasting was possible almost out-of-the-box (as most things are, if you use Drupal). I only applied this small patch which creates an <enclosure> tag for every MP3 to which I link in the respective node. I use the standard "blog" node type to create the podcast entries, put them all in the category "Uwe Hermann's Music Podcast" which I have aliased to http://www.hermann-uwe.de/podcast. The RSS feed for the podcast is simply the standard Drupal feed for that category, which I aliased to http://www.hermann-uwe.de/podcast/rss.xml. Simple, eh?

As I only link to external MP3s that's all I need. If you want to create your own recordings for your podcast, I recommend the audio module by Colin Brumelle of Bryght.

Of course, as I based the podcast on Drupal, you can comment on any podcast "show", refer to them via trackback etc. etc.

I'm eager to hear your opinions, comments and suggestions. Oh, and please feel free to suggest free music which you like. If I like it too, I'll happily play it ;)

Sep 14 2005
Sep 14

A lot of people have already blogged about the new Planet Drupal. It's about time to get my act together and blog about it, too.

I have been submitting a few patches for Drupal's aggregator module recently and working closely together with Dries (Drupal's Benevolent Dictator for Life) to create the planet. He mercilessly reviewed (and applied!) my patches, commented on my ideas and suggested lots of improvements. Without him the planet wouldn't be here today.

As I already stated in the original announcement, we run the planet using Drupal, of course (dogfood etc.), and not the (otherwise quite nice) PlanetPlanet, which most other planets use.

The now improved aggregator module is capable to create a Planet site like Planet Drupal in a few minutes and mostly out-of-the-box, requiring no changes to the code. There are a few minor issues which we need to sort out, but the Planet is there now, and you can subscribe to it in any RSS feed reader.

Sep 03 2005
Sep 03

Ingoldesstat-finden Logo

I have recently built a homepage (based on Drupal, of course) for quite an interesting not-for-profit project called Ingoldesstat-finden.

Some history background:

A document of Charlemagne ( or Charles the Great) from 806 mentions for the first time a "Kammergut" (estate) he owned, namely Ingoldesstat — which later became the city Ingolstadt (not too far away from Munich). Yes, that's the Ingolstadt you know from Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. Ingolstadt will celebrate the 1200th "birthday" in 2006...

The project:

The aim of the archaeological project Ingoldesstat-finden is to find the exact place where the first settlers of Ingolstadt lived. Some recent findings indicate that the original Ingoldesstat was not where the city center is today...

The project, lead by Hans Strobl, has many volunteer participants, ranging from archaeologists, historians, art restorers, designers, photographers, videographers and — finally — a computer science student who created their website ;-)

There's a photo gallery which documents the excavations, findings, activities and people behind the project. I also set up a group blog so that all people involved can blog about what they do... It was a lot of fun for me to work with these people to get the site up and running and I'm curious how it will develop — my hope is that it will become a lively site with lots of discussions.

The thing that fascinates me most about this project is that so many citizens of Ingolstadt take part, help with excavations, wash findings, take photos etc. etc. I'll probably also take part in some of the archaeological stuff in the future. Expect to see me "digging in the dirt" soon, in the truest sense of the word ;-)

Aug 27 2005
Aug 27

drupal.org has moved to new servers today. After a short downtime the site was up again and faster than ever.

As I reported earlier, Drupal asked for donations for new server hardware. And received them. Lots of them. The server move today was the first step to put that money to good use. More will follow.

Aug 22 2005
Aug 22

I played a bit with the colors of my blog theme. I'm no usabiliy expert, but I think it's a bit cleaner now and looks better.

Please report if I have broken something.

Aug 17 2005
Aug 17

I cleaned up my blog a bit, today (various smaller updates, removed spam comments and trackbacks from my moderation queue etc.). While I was at it, I also tried some new Drupal modules:

Funny new stuff. Tell me how you like it.

Aug 15 2005
Aug 15

Everyone using Drupal should upgrade ASAP to the new Drupal 4.6.3 (or 4.5.5 if you're running 4.5.x), as a serious security vulnerability has been found in the third-party XML-RPC library Drupal ships with. I sent the security advisory to Full-Disclosure, Bugtraq and the phpsec mailing lists, so hopefully everyone will notice and upgrade.

Aug 09 2005
Aug 09

I released a first version of my Drupal security.module yesterday. The module is sort of an intrusion detection system for Drupal sites. It helps the site admin to check and ensure the security of his Drupal installation. Read my original announcement for more details.

The code is in ALPHA stage, so don't expect everything to work, yet.

Jul 14 2005
Jul 14

Drupal Donations Thanks Poster

Lots of good news for the Drupal project:

The future looks bright...

Jul 10 2005
Jul 10

The Drupal website has been down for two days now. They haven't received a response from support and hence cannot fix it (sounds familiar to me).

On the long run, Drupal will migrate to the Open Source Lab (OSL) which offers lots of services and already hosts many popular Open Source projects like Mozilla, Apache, and Debian.

To be able to do this, they need a new server (free rack space and bandwidth are provided by OSL) for which they are seeking donations now.
It's also planned to create a non-profit organization which will hold the funds, so the donations will be tax-deductible...

Jul 03 2005
Jul 03

The Bryght guys (a bunch of very competent Drupal developers) seem to have a lot of fun while coding...

Jul 01 2005
Jul 01

As most of you probably noticed, the design and structure of my homepage and my blog changed quite a bit a few days ago.
That was me upgrading to Drupal 4.6.1, which makes my life a lot easier, has a bunch of new features (e.g. my blog now has del.icio.us-like tags) and bugfixes, and most importantly fixes a serious security issue.

Two days ago I tried to help a bit with the new Drupal 4.6.2 release, which mainly fixes two major security problems. The first one is an issue with incorrect input validation, resulting in the DRUPAL-SA-2005-002 security advisory. The second one fixes a problem in the XML-RPC library shipped with Drupal (and Wordpress, and PostNuke, and...), resulting in DRUPAL-SA-2005-003.
It was quite a fun experience for me, the release was coordinated and discussed on IRC, we had lots of peer-review of the advisories and release-announcement, testing the patches etc. Thanks to all who participated and made this such a great experience.

Jun 24 2005
Jun 24

Woah, three of the modules I've written for Drupal are among the top 12 downloaded modules.

May 05 2005
May 05

I'm happy to announce that my (German) Drupal article has now been translated (not by me) and will be published tomorrow in Issue 55 of the (English) Linux Magazine.

It doesn't appear to be available online, unfortunately.

Apr 06 2005
Apr 06

Jonathan Chaffer has written a very interesting article which explains how the CMS Drupal (which powers this site, btw.) uses many OOP principles and Design Patterns without using PHP's class keyword. It's written purely procedural, while still using the best features the OOP world has to offer.

The main message IHMO is this: OOP != classes.

Mar 26 2005
Mar 26

I was having trouble getting SSIs to work on this site. Usually my host is good about stuff like that, but maybe they were having an off week. Unfortunately, I really wanted to include a list of links on my sidebar, but didn't want to hardcode them in as I expect them to change fairly frequently. I needed to find a work-around.

I went looking for a solution on some of the MT sites I'd discovered, but didn't find anything that really satisfied me. I didn't want to set up another blog. SSIs weren't working. I was stumped.

Then I reread parts of the MT manual and saw the answer. Modules. Wow. I was wondering what those things were.

All I had to do was format my two lists (with <ul> and <li>, but no other code). Then I created separate module templates for each list. Finally I put the line

<$MTInclude module="NameOfMyModule"$>

on each of my templates where I wanted a list to appear. And that was it.

Now each time I want to updated a link list, I only have to change the one module and my list will be updated throughout the site.


Mar 23 2005
Mar 23

For a number of years now I've been a Gossamer Threads' Links devotee. Some people sit around on Sundays doing the crossword puzzle. I like messing with the code in Links. There are all sorts of fun mods to add to the basic script, and I have to admit I've tried most of them. But lately, with a new business, I've been too busy to fiddle with codes and mods. In fact, I've gradually weaned myself off Links. I was feeling pretty good about it, too.

So, wouldn't you know it? About a month ago someone suggested I subscribe to their RSS feed. Huh? It sounded like something from the ICU ("Oh, yes, they finally took Harold off his RSS feed. He'll be eating solid foods again any day now.") Then Nick Usborne of Excess Voice did a piece on RSS and invited people to try signing up for Bloglines and giving his RSS feed a try.

A little uncertainly, I bumbled through the Bloglines registration, not sure what the heck they were talking about half the time. Would I find myself on life support by the end or, worse, inundated with spam? But once I saw some of my favorite e-newsletters listed, I started to get the hang of it. Pretty soon I was signing up for feeds right and left, feeling like a kid let loose in a candy store—Yeah!, I'll take three of those!

Well, of course, this only made me more curious about this whole RSS thing. Who is putting out all this information? Why do they do it? How do they do it? "Blogging"? You're kidding, right?

Still, I can't very well call myself a proficient web designer if I don't even know what a blogger is, can I? So I decided I'd better find out what it's all about. Better yet, let's see how they do it. In fact, let's take a look at some of the software they use like WordPress and Movable Type. What's that you say? Configurable? Plugins? You mean… [brief moment of respectful silence] Mods!?

And so, another MT addict is born. I'd finally kicked the Links habit, only to be introduced to Movable Type. Plugin heaven.

It's a dangerous world out here.

Mar 16 2005
Mar 16

drupal.org currently carries a story by its author Dries Buytaert where he compares the popularity of CMSes (and blogging systems and forums) using the Alexa traffic ranking service. There's several nice graphs included, so have a look.
Also, there's a similar service called g-metrics.com which can be used to create nice graphs from the number of hits Google returns for a given keyword. See the graph for Drupal for an example.

(via Peter van I. via email and drupal.org)

Mar 11 2005
Mar 11


I am somewhat proud to announce that an article written by me about the free CMS Drupal, has been published by the German Linux journal Linux-Magazin. It's available in their Sonderheft Linux-Magazin 2/2005: Web Edition (a special issue about web publishing).
Unfortunately the article is not available online, so you'll have to buy the magazine to read it.

My article gives a broad introduction to Drupal, covering the installation (and some troubleshooting) as well as the basic concepts like nodes, users, roles, permissions, themes, modules etc. I briefly introduce some important contributed modules, explain how one usually installs modules and give a short overview of what will be new in the next release, Drupal 4.6. There's also a tiny section about the history of Drupal, and I provided links to some interesting Drupal-stuff like the Custom Blocks repository (which has recently moved, so the URL in the article is wrong), the Drupal Theme Garden and the Drupal API documentation.

If you happen to have read the article, I'd be happy to get some feedback.

Mar 09 2005
Mar 09

The first release candidate of of Drupal 4.6 is available. You can already check out the soon-to-be-released new version of Drupal, but bear in mind that some bugs and issues will have to be resolved until the final release.

There will be some great new features and improvements, check out the ChangeLog.

Jul 24 2004
Jul 24

My latest Drupal project is a collaboration with John VanDyk, author of the Metadata Plugin for Manila. John also wrote a great walkthrough of Drupal's life-cycle that's worth reading, especially if you've never stepped through Drupal before. I've known and worked with John for many years, and this project is something we've wanted to build for quite a long time. It's a metadata-centric approach to content management.

Most content management systems use metadata only at the presentation level, lumping it in the same category as 'user navigational aids', such as breadcrumb trails. We feel metadata can easily drive both content AND functionality given a solid framework of schemas, metatypes and actions. In otherwards, metadata becomes a collection of tools used to shape the presentation and behavior of your site. Drupal has a foot forward in this arena with the taxonomy module. Our goal is to extend taxonomy module in three areas:

  1. Open vocabularies. User's should be allowed to add terms if they have permission to do so.
  2. The ability to render terms as any HTML form field, instead of select boxes only.
  3. If a vocabulary is storing numeric information, it should be stored in the database as a numeric type. The same holds true for string terms.

On a larger scale, we're also creating the ability to add metadata schemas to existing node types. We're not declaring new node types, but extending them with user-defined attributes (aka vocabularies). Say for example you want weblog entries with 'word of the day' and 'song of the day' features, here's how you'd do it:

  1. Add a new metatype (aka vocabulary) called 'word of the day'. Choose the string data type and specify that it should be displayed as a textfield. Optionally assign actions to the metatypes, such as validators and display properties. Do the same for 'song of the day'
  2. Create a new schema that extends the original blog node type. Name it and add your two metatypes.
  3. All schemas you create are visible on the 'create content' page. Click on your new blog schema and you'll notice the 'word of the day' and 'song of the day' form fields are present. Your blog entry is the same as any other blog entry except you've extended the definition of what it means to be a blog. The behavior of this metadata is much like the current behavior of taxonomy views, allowing you to list all content with like terms.

And there's no reason why you can't have multiple blog schemas as well! Now that makes life interesting, doesn't it? Imagine a corporate intranet where each department wants to use blogs to track different types of information. Schemas would make this approach much easier than manually writing different blog modules for each department.

Hold on, there's more. Once a metatype is created, it can be attached to any number of schemas. For example a keywords metatype will probably have the same function for most schemas. It is even possible to have hierarchial metadata values since we're building on top of Drupal's taxonomy system.

So far I have been very surprised how little the Drupal core code has been modified for this project. At this stage I can't offer any timeline on when we'll be finished, but if you're coming to OSCON, look us up and we'll be glad to show you a demo :-)

Jun 24 2004
Jun 24

The img_assist module has been added to the Drupal contributions repository and with it several updates.

  • Previewing image thumbnails can be filtered by image categories so you don't have to view them all at once. (screenshots)
  • The generated code snippet can be viewed before it is inserted. This allows you to manually copy the code and paste it somewhere else.
  • There are now Drupal 4.4 and CVS HEAD versions of this module.

Here's the official Drupal project page to download the module.

Jun 09 2004
Jun 09

The latest module i've concocted for the next release of Drupal is designed to make adding images to content easy without getting too caught up in HTML. It acts as a frontend to image.module, and thus does not upload images by itself. Here are the screenshots.

So what makes this different from all the other image-adding modules? I have no idea, i didn't look. But here's a list of things this one does:

Quickly add images

Step 1. Choose a thumbnail
Step 2. Click 'Insert image snippet'

Add borders, captions, adjust alignment and more...

With no need for any third party libraries.

Resizing maintains aspect ratio

When resizing an image, the dimensions of the image are locked by default in order to maintain the aspect ratio.

You control the output

The HTML code snippet generated by this module is user-defined. For example you can make all your images float to the right by default, or even link to the larger image.

Track where images are used

This module records to locations of all the links it generates. This allows you to generate blocks that inform your users where else this image appears. You can do this by enabling the 'Image reference' block. The block will be visible on the node/view/ page of any image with references.

Creates pure HTML with no Drupal filters

Previously in order to add an in-line image to a node you either had to use an image filter or straight HTML. This module creates the best of both worlds. The end result is HTML that does not need to go through the Drupal's sometimes expensive filtering system. And better yet, if you ever update your original image with a new one, the image links will still work. This is because the generated code snippet is using a reference to the image ID instead of the actual file.

Image Preview

You can view what the image will look like before changes are committed.

Only an interface

This module does not upload images, it only inserts images that are already on the server into content such as blogs and stories or any node type. This makes it a great interface for the image module.

So, in order to use this module, either you need the aforementioned image module installed or you need another module that does the following:

  1. Stores images as nodes
  2. Creates a database table called 'image' with at least the following column names:
    • image_path: the path to the image from the Drupal root.
    • width: image width
    • height: image height
    • nid: the node id of the image. Images must be nodes.

And now the download link:

Jan 06 2004
Jan 06

This tutorial is designed for the CVS HEAD tree as of Dec 30, 2003.

This tutorial assumes that you have successfully installed drupal and are ready to creat your first user account. If you haven't made it this far yet, be sure to revisit the INSTALL file that comes with drupal as well as the online documentation.

Creating the superuser account

The first step after a successful installation is to create the superuser account. This account allows an user to bypass all Drupal permissions and perform any action on the site. Only one account can be the superuser account, and it is strongly recommended that this account is used only when necessary and not for everyday use. The first account you create in Drupal will be the superuser account.

Go to the main page of your Drupal site and click the Create new account link

Click the Create new account link

Enter an username and E-mail address for the superuser, which in most cases be yourself. After clicking the Create new account button and submitting the information, you receive a special message about the power of the account just created and a login button to click and enter the site.

After you login, you probably want to change your password to something that's a bit more personal. Change your password and any other account settings you wish. When you're finished here, we jump into administering the site.

Where's the Admin Interface?

The admin interface is accessible in your user block which organizes all the actions you can perform on the site. Since your the superuser, you have access to the admin interface via the Administer link.

Accessing the admin interface.

You'll notice that in the admin interface the site still maintains the same look and feel of the current theme.

Since your logged in as superuser, you get the 'Administer' link which is the entry point into the admin interface. Go ahead and click on it. By default the admin interface displays a briefing of the most recent system events on your site. These are called messages, and will come in very handy when users are reporting problems and detecting suspicious activity on the site.

Underneath the Administer navigation tree is seven links. Here is an overview of each section:

  • content- manage all content that has been posted to the site. You can also navigate to a particular item of content and edit from there as well. In most cases this is an easier approach unless you need to do batch content editing. You can also set global properties for your content here, such as which content types (such as books, stories, and pages) have comments or revision control enabled by default.
  • comments- By default the comment module is enabled in drupal. Here you can manage and moderate comments.
  • accounts- Create and modify users, user groups(in drupal it's called roles), and set role permissions. We'll visit this section shortly.
  • configuration- This is the most important part of the administration interface for the administrator. You control site-wide settings, themes, blocks, the installation and configuration of modules, as well as filters for submitted content. Get familiar with this section, folks.
  • taxonomy- Manage how content (even images) are categorized.
  • messages- Detailed site monitoring statistics. The initial admin screen is the brief version of what you see here.
  • help- Drupal documentation.

Setting Permissions

Drupal's default install is locked down pretty tight and nobody except the superuser has permission to view content. If that doesn't float yer boat, then let's take a look at changing it.

Navigate to administer » accounts » permissions. This page shows rows of permissions that each role can perform. By default there are two roles: anonymous user and authenticated user. The anonymous user is any user that visits your site and is not logged in or doesn't have an account. So with a clean drupal install, nobody can do 'nuthin except the superuser. The authenticated user role is the default role a user is assigned when after they create an account.

If you want a site that's open to the public, you'll want to check the access content permission under anonymous user. Most permissions can be divided up into two categories: access and administer. Access permissions control whether or not a role is allowed to view some form of content. Administer permissions generally control features such as modifying and configuring a feature. Be warned that some permissions are dependent on each other. For example, if you check 'administer site configuration' but not 'access administration pages', you'll never make it to the site configuration interface. Currently the only way to figure out these dependencies is through sheer determination and common sense.

A Crash Course in Module Management

You've probably already got a couple of modules you want to install or uninstall. To do that go to: administer » configuration » modules. If the 'status' column is checked, it means the module is installed. To disable it, uncheck the column. To enable a module, simply check the column.

What really happens when I enable a module?

Each module has the ability to build it's own configuration page. These pages live under administer » configuration » modules. Usually after you enable a module, this is the first place you want to look in order to tweak the new component.

A module also has the ability to add it's own permissions into drupal. For example, adding the path module will create two new permissions for you to manage.

Modules can also add new filters, blocks and even their own independent links. Sometimes after you install a module, you mat need to go to the help link and learn more about the newly enabled component.

Matt, respond to these questions:

I installed Drupal, but I would need some more detailled Tutorial, than the Documentation on this website. I could create some pages and they are visible in the main navigation block, but I don't know how to deal with Taxonomy, how to link the pages between each other...Is there a very basic Tutorial about using Drupal somewhere? Thank you very much!

I would also include a "usual suspects" sections for trouble shooting errors. Things to answer questions like "Why does it keep going back to the front page" and "I didn't change module X but now it suddenly stopped working."
c0c0c0 (aka "Dan")

From working with people, it is my experience that the first thing they want to do is (1) add some content (typically a static page) and (2) link to it from their main page.
Dries Buytaert :: http://www.buytaert.net/


About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web