New Drupalcon session: Make administration sexy!

To share my discoveries regarding making Drupal administration quicker, easier and sexier, I've added a session for Spring Drupalcon called "Make administration sexy!

Navigate - A new Drupal module to ease Admin navigation woes

Whirlwind tour of the Navigate module:

A couple of days ago I released a new Drupal module called Navigate. Navigate is basically the second version Super Nav, which I put together so that I could move my clients over Drupal with a less painful acclimation period. Drupal is awesome in so, so many ways, but as has been repeated over and over - it's just not set up for site administrators to find what they need and get there fast.

There have been some relatively simple modules put out there to help tackle this problem, and they work surprisingly well, like the ever-popular Admin Menu, and Teleport. DHTML menus helps reduce page reloads while navigating through sub-menus. All very cool stuff that shows us just how it doesn't take that much work to layer some additional tools onto Drupal's fantastic infrastructure to address some of the usability issues there.

Navigate is a multi-purpose, customizable navigation tool that hides nicely if some of your admins decide they don't like it. The video above demonstrates some of the major features, like re-usable widgets, ajax-search, favorites, and collapsible menus. In a matter of seconds, you can build your own navigation widget set to get around Drupal the way that works best for you. Re-sorting widgets, adding new widgets and deleting widgets are all done via drag-and-drop with ajax, so no page reloads are needed.

I've put together what I hope is a decent widget API so that module contributors can easily hook some of their features into Navigate widgets. API documentation will be forthcoming.

For users of Super Nav, this is a bit of a different beast, and much more tame. Super Nav used a frameset to separate navigation from the theme, which kept the Super Nav issue queue bustling with problems. I tried my best to bend framesets to my will (and it's surprising what you can do with javascript in that respect), but the release of Navigate marks the end of an era for me. While I once thought that bringing framesets back out from their slow decline over the years might help tackle navigation issues, I now I have a more seasoned, practical view.

My hope is that the Drupal community will enjoy this new contribution, and that it does some part in demonstrating a possible solution for integrating administrative tools with otherwise user-based theming.


Grokking Drupal dates and time zones

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I've run into a surprising amount of trouble trying to get time zones working properly in Drupal via the Date module. For instance, the date in the database might not align with the displayed date in the node, and when I go to edit the date in CCK, it displays yet another date. It's gotten so bad that I've had nightmares where calendars are bludgeoning me with timestamps, complaining that I just don't understand them, why don't I understand...

So I finally decided to dig a little deeper, and it's actually some simple stuff that I can summarize in a few bullet points:


MySQL plans to slap Drupal. Geek fight!

A couple days ago I attended the monthly Boise geek-together (The Boise Web Technologies Meetup) where we had a round-table discussion on our software development process, mostly regarding web applications. There were folks there from a number of different disciplines, ages and experience, and it was nice to hear how different-sized organizations set up their systems.


Drupal Evangelism - Bringing it to the schools

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One of the associations / groups I volunteer for is one of ITT Technical Institute's advisory committees. For anyone wondering why, the answer is that they asked and I said yes. They have a couple meetings a year and there's free lunch. Free lunch! Beat that and I'll join your advisory committee, too.


Using the ClickHeat Web Service on a Drupal Site

Since it doesn't look like there is currently a Drupal Module available yet for ClickHeat, I thought I'd just to a quick how-to integration until someone puts together a module for it (maybe me!):

  1. Download ClickHeat and unzip / unpack it.
  2. Upload the whole clickheat folder to your root web site folder
  3. Visit the clickheat folder in your browser, as in mysite.com/clickheat

Drupal, meet Client. Client, meet Drupal. A short introduction to the Drupal CMS

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When a client comes to Implied By Design to design them a web site, they are typically not concerned about the machinery running the site. It just needs to look snazzy, attract customers, and in general just do what it's supposed to do. And that's perfectly fine. I'm even glad, because it lets us get down to the business of getting a web site done without too many distractions.


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