Posted: Jul 03 2014

I've been working on a Drupal 7 installation profile and accompanying theme for the past couple months (demo site here). Both the profile and the theme are meant to be "starter kits" for designers and frontend developers when working on Drupal projects.

Prometheus and Atlas - the profile and theme, respectively -  are where most of my Drupal projects start these days. They represent an approach that works well for me, saves loads of time and takes advantage of a lot of the contemporary frontend tools and tricks. While they aren't completely done - lots of stuff on the margins to take care of - they are in good enough shape to share, get some feedback on and hopefully find a collaborator or two.

Posted: Jun 16 2014

A common scenario that Drupal developers and site builders run into is the challenge of keeping the database in sync between the dev, testing and production versions of a site. Web hosts like Pantheon (highly recommended) make this a snap, but what if you're using a VPS or some other hosting that doesn't have that functionality? One popular option is to use Drush, but that isn't a good fit for everyone.

Backup and Migrate (BaM) can be a great tool for helping with this sort of problem. In this post we'll talk about using BaM for this task and include a very handy companion service that makes things even easier. What I often see with site builders who are using Backup and Migrate is the manual downloading of backup files and then doing a manual restore from the downloaded file.

A great alternative to that process is setting up an Amazon S3 bucket (cloud storage) where you can directly place your backups from Backup and Migrate. Once each version of the site has the S3 bucket set up, keeping the database in sync becomes a snap.

Posted: Jun 02 2014

If you make websites for a living, then you're well aware how tough it is to keep up with everything that goes into creating a top-notch site. Something that often gets overlooked is usability testing. It's one of those things that many clients can't afford - or perhaps don't see the value of - and so instead of testing things, we rely on common patterns and trends to help us along.

Below are a few resources that discuss common web design patterns that may be hurting your site more than they are helping. I have to admit, a couple of these surprised me. Hopefully you'll find them useful as well.

Posted: May 04 2014

A lot of the time, when someone talks about making a website responsive, they mean that the layout will change depending on what device is being used to view the site. But there is more to responsive design than that. Perhaps an even more critical factor is the performance of the site, particularly on mobile.

At its heart, responsive design is about opitimizing the user experience across a wide range of devices. This can be a hard job, no doubt about it. But we've been making things harder than they need to be.

A major culprit has been the choices that are made with recent design trends - large images, lots of JavaScript libraries and even the continued use of carousels. This has led to swelling page sizes, with the current median page size of a top 500 website now coming in at over 1.5 MB - 33% larger than the year before!

What follows are some tips on evaluating responsive websites across different devices. We'll see how to use several tools and techniques - using a real website as an example - that can provide hard data on how your site is going to perform on mobile devices and help identify problem areas.

Posted: Apr 27 2014

What follows are a few observations and suggestions that are distilled from my experience of having worked on dozens of web projects involving responsive web design (RWD).

First of all, I'd like to say to those of you not yet using responsive design in your work, the time has come. It's not a bandwagon, it's not a fad. In 2014, web design = responsive web design. More or less, anyway - the separate mobile site can sometimes be great for those with large budgets, but for the vast majority of sites, it's RWD or bust.

Posted: Apr 24 2014

In the post on base themes that I wrote earlier this week, I pointed out that core adds a lot of CSS to your site that you may not want. If you find yourself overriding this CSS in your themes, you definitely have some bloat that you could trim down. You also run into this issue quite a bit with contributed modules. Views, Flexslider and Superfish are modules that typically add a lot of CSS I don't want.

So how to get rid of this potentially unwanted code?

Posted: Apr 20 2014

Why do so many of us use base themes? The easy answer is that they can save us time and potentially make us more efficient. Sometimes they can also act as common ground for development teams. But I think a more complete answer is that they act as a useful crutch, particularly when first learning Drupal theming or responsive design.

At some point we all had to build our first Drupal site or our first responsive site - probably under deadline - and we looked to a base theme or framework for help. It allowed us to get the job done on time and within budget, but perhaps without fully understanding everything that was going on under the hood.

Over time we probably learned most of the base theme and developed a deeper understanding of responsive design, but the framework eventually became a comfortable place. We stuck with it, happily soldiering on until one day...

Posted: Mar 16 2014

Last weekend in Orlando was the 2014 edition of Florida DrupalCamp. It was a great event with loads of outstanding presentations and community building. What follows are some materials from the event and well as links and resources to topics that were discussed in some of the best talks.

One slight bummer is that not all of the talks could be recorded as planned due to some technical issues. That said, I still have some excellent stuff to share so that you can get a flavor of what the Drupal community is talking about these days whenever it gathers (hint: Drupal 8, Drupal 8 and also sometimes Drupal 8).

Posted: Feb 16 2014

Want to learn what's on tap with Drupal 8? Maybe spend a little time in a warm and sunny place? Then Florida DrupalCamp 2014 might be just the ticket for you. Being held March 8-9 in Orlando, this year's event will feature outstanding speakers who will shine a spotlight on the upcoming release of Drupal 8.

Having been lucky enough to participate on the organizing committee this year, I've seen all the hard work that's gone into what is shaping up to be a great event. Not only will it be an excellent opportunity to get up to speed on what's happening with Drupal, socialize at a rockin' after party (thank you Pantheon!), but you'll even have a chance to give back with Community Day. Here are a few details of what we have planned.

Posted: Jan 13 2014
Update: Aventura is now available for free on GitHub. Read below for the original write up on what is included with the installation profile and theme. If you don't use Git, you can download the zip file directly.