Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Anatomy of a Front Page

I recently revamped the front page look at in preparation for an eventual (hopefully sooner rather than later) first release. In the process, I learned once again that all the wonderful contributors have made Drupal an excellent tool for designing web pages. With a simple combination of Panels, Views, and Drupal's own content type creation, I was able to achieve what you see there with no headache whatsoever. It was just too easy!

What isn't necessarily easy is knowing the tools exist to do something like that and how to use them together for your site. I decided to spend some time writing up my experience, including the preliminary thought processes and then actual configuration of the modules, so others could benefit from my fun. The voice in the tutorial is pretty informal, but I trust it gets the job done. Also, I'm just darn proud of the end result and thought I'd put this up to get some feedback while helping people, too. ; )

From the tutorial's introduction:

Purpose: Describe the thought processes and modules used to design the front page of, a site designed to be both an information portal and user/developer community.

Modules explained: Drupal's own content type creation, Views, and Panels.

Honorable mentions: Deciding on what to display, visual aids, "enhancing" the forums and Navigation menu.

The tutorial is available here:

The end result is visible here:

I'd love to have your feedback and get more ideas for easy, fun page creation!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

So long, Drupal 5.x (End of Life Announcement)

On January 15, 2007 (Drupal's 6th Birthday), Drupal 5.0 was released. Neil Drumm acted as the Branch Maintainer for the past four years up until one final commit on January 6, 2011 to clarify the PHP compatibility.
When Drupal 7 was released that meant that Drupal 5 was no longer supported. This announcement is merely a reminder of that fact. It is the policy (and, to large extent a matter of pragmatics) of the Drupal community to support only the current major release of Drupal (currently Drupal 7.x), and the previous release (currently Drupal 6.x). See Drupal's version info for more details on this policy.

Drupal 5 is no longer officially supported


What does it mean that Drupal 5 is no longer officially supported?
  1. You should not expect any of these issues to be fixed in Drupal core.
  2. The Drupal Security team will no longer solicit nor work to address issues that are reported in the 5.x branch of Drupal core or contributed projects.
  3. The Update Status module, introduced with Drupal 5, relies on XML from That XML is still used for newer versions of the module but may be changed in ways that break the Drupal 5 version of the Update Status module.
What does this mean for you?
  • If you are responsible for sites that are running Drupal 5.x, it's time to upgrade to 6.x or 7.x. See instructions on how to upgrade and a video on Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 upgrade. Note that 7.x is still relatively young so you may not be able to make that transition just yet.
  • Module, theme and project maintainers are encouraged to mark their 5.x versions as unsupported so it is clear to end users that these are no longer supported. You can do that by going to your project, clicking the Edit tab, clicking the Releases sub-tab, and unchecking the boxes for "Supported" in the rows for 5.x releases (screenshots below).
You may be thinking "Hey, let's keep Drupal number 5 alive!" You are not alone in this thought process. There is a Drupal Long Term Support group devoted to the concept but it has met with limited success so far.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Drupal 7 Module Development

Drupal 7 Module Development has been published by Packt, just in time for the release of Drupal 7. This book provides in-depth coverage of key elements of Drupal 7 and is designed for professional developers. Every chapter provides fully functional code samples illustrating the APIs and strategies discussed in the chapter. With this foundation, developers can quickly build sophisticated tools on their own by making use of the strategies and techniques exemplified in this book.

If you are a PHP developer or a Drupal user looking to dive into Drupal development then you will find this book an excellent introduction to coding within Drupal. Those with some Drupal experience will also find this an invaluable tool for updating their knowledge about the powerful new features of Drupal 7. Theme developers looking to extend their abilities will find this an accessible introduction to PHP coding within the Drupal environment.

About the book

The co-authors of the book have been collaborating since summer of 2009. We tried to write the book that we wanted, but could not find, when we started working on Drupal 6. That is, we tried to cover some of the more complex topics and bigger changes in the newest version of Drupal.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gospel Music Channel -

Headquartered in Atlanta, the Gospel Music Channel (gmc) is a channel that features uplifting music and entertainment, including specials, movies and series that the whole family can enjoy. gmc is the only TV network with every program certified as family safe by the Parents Television Council. DIRECTV, Verizon FiOS, and local cable systems bring gmc into roughly 50 million homes across the country. The brand boasts such popular shows as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Highway to Heaven, Promised Land, Sister Sister, Early Edition and Amen. The website receives about 750,000 monthly page views from 250,000 unique visitors.
The channel recently launched a full site redesign in conjunction with an upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6. The project team from Mediacurrent would like to share some of what they've learned from the design and build of the site with the Drupal community.


The old gmc site was in need of an aesthetic and architecture facelift. In 2009, the company added uplifting movies and series to its program offerings to better service viewers looking for faith and family-friendly entertainment. The old site had a limited social media strategy and the design’s navigation prevented it from optimally interacting and engaging visitors. During the discovery and strategic planning phases of the project there were several objectives that were established. The goals included:
  1. Upgrading the current Drupal 5 site to Drupal 6: The idea of jumping to Drupal 7 was discussed, but was determined to be too risky given many of the unknowns related to key contributed modules.
  2. Branding makeover: The gmc executive team wanted a more modern, contemporary website redesign that reinforced the brand’s expansion to beyond music. gmc's content has been expanding into originally produced movies and plays.
  3. Create a more immersive customer experience: The new site needed to integrate more social media and networking calls to action in order to bump registered users on the site. Thus, usability was at top of mind when planning functionality for the new site.
  4. Effectively integrating third-party tools: There were a number of applications being piecemealed on the old site that needed to be unified with Drupal-based solutions.
  5. Content import: There were large amounts of new assets (3100+ files, 2700+ nodes, and 2200+ taxonomy terms) that needed to be migrated over. During the rebuild, leveraging the core taxonomy system to build rich associations for relevant content was a major desire.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

New Drupal 7.0 Book: Foundation Drupal 7

Friends of Ed, a division of Apress, has published "Foundation Drupal 7: Learn how to use the Drupal framework to quickly build feature-rich web sites" by R.J. Townsend, with a chapter on the Fusion theme by Stephanie Pakrul (aka StephTheGeek).

Drupal is a content management framework that powers web sites from simple online brochures to more advanced sites including social networking sites, blogs, e-commerce sites, business portals, and more. It is free, open source software that allows anyone to quickly and easily build web sites. Its full range of modules—including user permissions, security mechanisms, JavaScript menus, image uploaders, WYSIWYG editors, and more— helps you easily create the foundation for a powerful web site. With its templating system (and a few tips and tricks), any graphic design file can be used to create a Drupal web site.

Foundation Drupal 7 covers all the topics necessary to quickly build Drupal-powered web sites, explaining in simple terms how Drupal works and providing you with concepts, tips, and code snippets for every step of the development process. From setting up a Drupal-ready web host and installing Drupal to using the administrative interface and configuring a site from start to finish, there is something here for everyone. In addition to thoroughly discussing all of Drupal’s core modules, this book reviews more than 50 contributed modules, including WYSIWYG HTML editors, JavaScript drop-down menus, web forms, and even the powerful Views module. Stephanie Pakrul (aka StephTheGeek), creator and maintainer of the Fusion theme, coauthors a chapter on how to lay out and add graphics to a site through Drupal’s administrative section. After reading this book, you will walk away with everything you need to know to quickly and successfully build a Drupal-powered web site.

Whether you’re an experienced Drupal site builder looking to expand your skills, a web developer or designer interested in learning Drupal, or a weekend hobbyist looking to build your first site, Foundation Drupal 7 will give you the knowledge and inspiration you need to bring your ideas to life.

What you’ll learn
  • Significantly decrease the amount of time it takes you to code a feature-rich website.
  • Understand how Drupal works and learn best practices to quickly integrate Drupal into every website you design.
  • Learn how to configure a server and manage multiple websites and staging environments using popular server administration software (cPanel).
  • Learn practical techniques to place Photoshop or Illustrator design files on a Drupal Content Management System.
  • Have a reference manual and cookbook at your fingertips for help with CSS, popular Drupal modules, website recipes, code snippets and more.
The primary audience for this book is web site designers interested in using Drupal to build web sites. The audience may have previous experience using Drupal but do not consider themselves proficient. They are familiar with coding a basic HTML/CSS web site, although these skills are not required to benefit from the book.

For more information about Drupal Development, Drupal Expert, Drupal Developer and Drupal Programmer visit at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DrupalCon Chicago Session Schedule Announced

The DrupalCon Chicago organizing committee is pleased to announce that the final session schedule is now available! This list includes more than 85 sessions representing the full breadth and depth of the Drupal community’s knowledge and expertise.

DrupalCon Chicago will be held March 7-10, 2011, and will feature content in six session tracks, including design and user experience, coding and development, implementation and configuration, theming, business and strategy, and community. Sessions are targeted at users of all levels, from those new to Drupal to the most seasoned veterans of the community.

These sessions join the previously announced keynotes by Dries Buytaert, Clay Shirky, and Jared Spool, as well as a wealth of content that will be offered via pre-conference training sessions, the exhibit hall Day Stage, Birds of a Feather sessions, Core Conversations, sprints, and more.

While the official hotel for DrupalCon Chicago is now sold out on several of the dates of the conference, there are several alternate hotel options available within easy walking distance of the Drupal Tower. For those looking for help making travel arrangements and arranging transportation to/from Chicago’s airports, our travel agents are standing by.

With only about a month left until DrupalCon Chicago, now is the time to purchase your ticket at:

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