gregh's blog

Drupal can be Pretty, a Religious Experience

Drupal sometime gets a bad name because designers have a hard time theming the site. It is true that you need to know more PHP than a designer ever wants to know, but if you get a good theme implementor, working along side your design, you can get sites look like this: Vintage Faith Church:
Vintage Faith Homepage
Vintage Faith Picture 3
My church needed a website that they could updated more easily than flat HTML files through Dreamweaver, and one that would use an in house designer, with custom art an photography donated by the community. They also have a Drupal developer willing to theme and implement the entire site. (Showcase page on DrupalCon, Boston, vote for the designer! (I just implemented it))

A Drupal Reference, jQuery in Action

Well, Drupal's visibility is surely rising. I bought a jQuery book for reading on the long flight home once Boston DrupalCon, 2008 is over (yes, I will blog about it later). In jQuery in Action in the introduction, the author is giving examples how jQuery is taking the JavaScript world by storm, 'winning the support of major websites such as MSNBC, and well regarded open source projects including SourceForge, Trac and Drupal' (emphasis added).

Three cheers for Drupal and for the start of another great DrupalCon.

DogParkUSA.com, A Drupal/Google Maps site on a dime

I have written up the complete case study/showcase description at http://drupal.org/node/224003. Here is the intro quote:

Dog Park USA is a testament to the leverage Drupal as a Content Management Framework (CMF) gives web site developers. With the large array of core and contributed modules, and a bit of experience, the short time it takes to get a functioning site up and ready for content contribution can be astonishing.

Since my wife and I are developing this site in our spare time, our limiting factor is time. Re-inventing the wheel is not something we want to do, and with the speed, breadth and depth of Drupal, its contributed modules and its great community, we didn't need to.


The article contains brief descriptions of how we created the desired functionality through Drupal's module, links to all the pertinent module, themes and support documents, followed by some points of customization that really made the site our own.

Boston DrupalCon will be great, best ever (until the next one)

Even though I will only be able to attend Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday until lunch (a company off-site is scheduled the same week), the proposed sessions were more than enough for me to make the trip out. Glad to know that Dries' State of Drupal will be on Monday, and I am hoping that the schedulers frontload Monday/Tuesday with the best sessions. There will be more than I can physically attend I am sure.

Drupal Link To Us Module

Quickly wanted to announce that I have created a Link to Us module that creates a page to display uploaded banners that can be used by others to link to your Drupal site.

The module will create well formed SEO links with full title, alt and anchor text determined by the node title, taxonomy term or other pages that are directed to the module. This allows users or writing contributors the ability to use consistent banners to link to your site. Also, link campaigns have a natural page that can be used to establish consistent, well formed links.

A demo can be found at the sponsoring site.

Drupal.org possibly over using nofollow attribute

I know I missed the initial discussion when the 'rel=nofollow' attribute was attached to all 'Filtered HTML' content by turning on the 'Spam link deterrent' function, but I believe using the nofollow attribute on all these posts is detrimental to Drupal.org. It is true that link spam is always an issue for major sites, but the current solution is not fairly applied and is detrimental to search engine results.

First, when most links are marked as nofollow, the true internal (or organic) structure of the site is discounted, and the programmatic menu links are the only form of organization. Secondly, the users that have access to the 'Full HTML'filter don’t get their links marked, while the rest of us are marked as nofollow, which seems less than fully equitable. I am only bringing this up since I believe it may impact the future growth of Drupal.org, even if just a little bit.

Blogging with my wife

So my wife's dog park site is still picking up steam, and we decided to see if a regular blog will help with backlinks, traffic and in general round out the site a bit. Her dog blog was super easy to set up in Drupal. Since we won't be opening up blogging for everyone, I decided to make a CCK node type, and a few custom views to recreate the blog feel that is needed. I made a separate free tagging vocabulary for her to use, as we placed Tagadelic on to create a tag cloud. As always, theming took long than the module setup, but the whole thing done in just a few hours. Now we just need to publish a regular stream of dog pictures, info and news along with the steady updates of new dog parks.

Ruby on Rails, PHP and/or JavaScript

Over the last quarter, I have been doing small scale investigations into Ruby on Rails as an alternative to the PHP/Drupal solutions that my company currently employs. Here is a slightly edited transcript that I gave our COO recently, concerning some of my conclusions.

IDEs for Drupal and more

For the company I am employed at, we are maturing in our development skills and in the complexity of the website projects we embark on. Since coming on with the company in January, we have all been using HomeSite as our development tool. But since it has lots of shortcomings as just a really good text editor, I decided to test out a few other IDEs to recommend my company switch to. I compared Eclipse with the PDT (PHP Development Tools) plug-ins and ActiveState's Komodo (while passing on Zend Studio, since we do develop in PHP, we are branching out into other languages as well. The following is the comparison and recommendation that I sent to our COO for consideration. Any comments or further options are welcome so I can update my full recommendation.

Google Maps, Drupal and Dog Parks

I am always so amazed at how Drupal lets me get straight to the new/important stuff. With the great Google Maps module, Views and Imagecache with Thickbox for galleries and some custom material, I was able to throw together a local dog parks site for my wife (the regional maps and actual dog park pages are further along). Since all these cool modules were already contributed, I was able to work quickly on a tool to let other sites embed the content we have collected (hopefully the point of differentiation from other such sites). This is where using Drupal really let me shine as a developer. I can quickly get to the point of the new/exciting development, since so much ground has already been broken with Drupal core and contributed modules. Read on for a fuller explanation.

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