Drupal Posts

Notes from DrupalCon Los Angeles

Posted: May 14, 2015

On Tuesday, Dries gave the best keynote I’ve heard him deliver. It included some very interesting Drupal history and it brought home to me how extraordinary Drupal really is. There were so many points in the project’s history when things could have happened differently - or not happened at all. To see a photo of the first DrupalCon attendees 10 years ago (27 people) while sitting among ~3000 Drupalists from around the world was pretty amazing.

There are so many people doing big, interesting things with Drupal. Despite concerns about corporate influence within the Drupal community, the project empowers a huge number of non-profits and institutions of higher education and it was great to see them so well represented here. It might be weird to talk about software as a force for good, but that’s really how I see Drupal. It makes a huge difference to a lot of organizations and the valuable work they contribute to society.

Drupal 8 and Backdrop CMS - A Brief Comparison

Posted: December 14, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to see Nate Haug deliver a presentation about his Backdrop CMS project and it's upcoming 1.0.0 release (Jan. 15). It had been a while since I had taken a look at Backdrop and I came away quite impressed with both its progress and direction.

Many of you reading this will be familiar with Backdrop, but for those of you who haven't heard of the project, it is the first fork of the Drupal project, and the source of a great deal of controversy and angst in the Drupal community.

Backdrop has been perceived as a threat by many Drupalists, but I think as we step through the features and approaches of the two projects, those fears will be at least somewhat allayed. My own take is that the two systems seem complementary instead of competitive.

Web Performance: A Guide to Building Fast Drupal Websites

Posted: August 24, 2014

What follows is part one in a series of posts on web performance that I've wanted to write for quite some time. I'll not only be talking about optimizing web performance generally, but also providing specific guidance for speeding up Drupal sites.

Although I'm not a web performance specialist or expert, I have taken a keen interest in the topic in my work as a frontend developer building responsive websites. I love building fast sites and have gained some experience over the years getting Drupal to shed some its inherent sluggishness. 

As a way of systematically tackling what can be a complex subject, we'll use the results of a test from WebPageTest.org, a Google-sponsored tool that provides very in-depth information about the performance of a site in nice, easily digestible chunks.

Headless Drupal? It Just Might Be a Bigger Deal than Twig

Posted: August 4, 2014

If you're a frontend developer or designer that has grumbled about the challenges of Drupal theming, you no doubt applauded the announcement that the Twig template framework was being added to Drupal 8.

It's a big upgrade, no question. If you're like me, however, you may sometimes want to build a completely custom frontend crafted out of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You may have looked at the cool stuff AngularJS or Backbone is capable of and wondered how you could bridge the gap with Drupal to enjoy that sort of freedom.

Fortunately, there are some folks that are already doing exactly that and sharing the results of their work. It's something called "Headless Drupal" and it's an approach that uses Drupal as a backend content repository and REST server.

A New Drupal Installation Profile and Theme

Posted: July 3, 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.

Quick Tip: Syncing Databases Between Drupal Websites with Backup and Migrate

Posted: June 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.

How to Remove Core and Module CSS from a Drupal 7 Theme

Posted: April 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?

The Case Against Drupal Base Themes

Posted: April 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...

Florida DrupalCamp '14 Roundup

Posted: March 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).

Florida DrupalCamp 2014 Puts the Spotlight on Drupal 8

Posted: February 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.