July 2008

Drupal: the beginning

After a server crash the decision to move from a home grown solution to a CMS for my pet project became more urgent. The move to Daisy CMS became impossible when I realised that the webhosting provider didn't support the necessary java version and when I couldn't get my own Cocoon based solution working in this setup.

Drupal installation quirks

It took me a while to get Drupal installed. Not because the actual installation process was difficult, but because it required much more manual steps than Daisy or Joomla or WordPress.

I decided to use Drupal 6.3, since it's the stable version of the time and with D7 in the making, I might as well settle for the latest stable version. It sounds like I'm (once again) ahead of time now that I'm a few days into the learning curve. Some modules are not yet ported to D6 and a lot of the documentation focuses on D5 or even D4.

So what did I run into

The quest for a WYSIWYG editor

The disappointment of the missing WYSIWYG editor was quickly solved when I found the TinyMCE module. Or so I thought.

Drupal's menu system

The essence of a good website is the ease with which visitors can find their way through the website. So navigation is important. I guess I'm spoiled with my own system where I only had to set the navigation once and the software figured out the correct language, but Daisy's navigation isn't bad either. It allows you to build a simple hierarchical menu where child items can be grouped by a parent that is either a simple group or a link to a page. A page link is created using the page ID.

Drupal's menu system - take two

Ok, so I was wrong. The primary links can be used for a hierarchical menu and I can even set the secondary links to the same menu and they'll automatically show the second level items, or so I'm told. Haven't tested it yet.

Drupal best practice

Just found out: put downloaded modules not in the default /modules directory, but rather in sites/all/modules or sites/default/modules. I simply moved them around and nothing bad happens.

Safari vhost quirks and 'access denied on /'

As I started on Drupal I came across an IBM tutorial that explained how to setup a Drupal developement environment with Eclipse. What they did was setup a virtual host in Apache by the name of 'drupal.development'. That worked fine in Firefox and I was happily configuring Drupal when I decided to use Safari to test the 'anonymous user'.

Drupal Clean URLs on OS X Leopard

As said before, I did a Drupal installation according to the IBM tutorial and created my own 'drupal.development' virtual host. During the installation of Drupal I noticed I couldn't get Clean URLs. Now that I'm working on integrating Gallery2, I really needed them. So I had to look into the problem.

First I had to check if mod_rewrite was installed using 'apachectl -M'. This resulted in an error:

So much for documentation

Documentation is always a good thing, yet I keep forgetting to write down what I did, 'because it's so obvious'. Well, it wasn't. I was hunting down an error for several hours that occurred on one domain, but not on the other with the same Drupal installation.

So for every one out there, especially my future self: switch off PHP safe mode. Drupal doesn't like it. More specifically: it produces an error in Module File System when creating the tmp file.

TinyMCE Module patching for IMCE integration

In the second attempt to use the TinyMCE Module it worked better. This time I wanted to integrate the IMCE module. Having seen how it worked on TinytinyMCE I thought it would be a piece of cake. Nope, this one also needs a patch. Luckily I found it here.