web design

The theming firehose (NB for designers & front-end developers new to Drupal)

Drupal markup in a Wordle

You theme with the mark-up you have, not the mark-up you'd like to have.

That's the essential truth that designers and front-end developers new to Drupal need to understand. You don't get to construct your pages from scratch, building out essentials, never a wasted div, never an extraneous class. No, you have to flip the entire process around. With Drupal you're getting markup shot at you from a firehose, and as a themer you need to sop it all up and make it pretty. Don't spill a drop.

What this means is that, by default, you're spending a lot of time debugging the theme you're building so that it handles all the different configurations, content types, page structures, etc. that the Drupal site is throwing at you.

You have to be braced for it. It can be overwhelming. You can feel like you're drowning. Don't worry. You'll get used to it after a few months. Mostly.

Make friends with Firebug.

Is the site logo content?

A brief exchange on Twitter with Jen Simmons (@jensimmons) and Morten Heide (@mortendk) about how to best incorporate a site logo into a Drupal theme got me cogitating on this question. Jen tweeted:

...What should go is the habit of hardcoding content into the theme. #separationplease #drupalwtf


"Content"? Hmmm. This got me pondering: Is a logo "content" per se? My immediate response was in the negative. But upon further consideration, I don't think it's all that clear cut; I'm definitely less certain today than I was yesterday.

This post is a bit of thinking out loud on this question. Comments welcome! (But no need to shout #wtf, okay?)

My DrupalCon San Fransciso session: Grok Drupal (7) Theming

The Way Drupal Theming Was

When I started Drupal theming in 2004, it was all a bit overwhelming. Back then, the core theme engine was something called Xtemplate, and it gave the impression to the n00b themer of being a great big mess. When you looked at the page template, it was one big blob of markup and logic, and it was very hard to figure out to change just about anything. What's more, it seemed to be very brittle: change something and you got the white screen of death.

And thus life was for the themer through Drupal 4.5 and the beginnings of 4.6.

New Drupal Theming Power

Then, in 2005, came the PHPTemplate theme engine, thanks to Adrian Rossouw (now with Development Seed), and the heavens opened up.

Web designers and developers, take the A List Apart survey

A List Apart Survey

The more the merrier (or at least more accurate). Take a few moments to fill out the A List Apart Survey. This isn't just for designers.

Drupal 7 freeze means time for a new tag: #D7DX

Yeah? Maybe?

[update: maybe not. see comments.]

#D7UX [Tweeted] is about Drupal 7 user experience work.

#D7CX [Tweeted] is about upgrading Drupal contrib modules to stable Drupal 7 releases when Drupal 7 itself is released. Over 100 contributed projects now bear this commitment, which is just awesome!

To me, that leaves #D7DX – a focused effort to get some rockin' Drupal 7 design themes going.

A cautionary tale regarding theme download sites

Via GigaOM:

Back in November, we looked at WordPress themes being distributed by third parties who’d embedded hidden code to allow the insertion of arbitrary content. Now a rash of sites are reporting that their blogs have been subverted....

...There are lots of reasons a hacker may want to inject code into a page:

  • To infect visitors by exploiting a browser vulnerability
  • To place ads they can then get revenue from
  • To embed links to blogs they own, improving their page rank
  • To entice people to click on links that lead them elsewhere

The clever thing about the WordPress hack was that it would check for code to insert into a page each time it was loaded, but if none was available, it would just sit there quietly.

Firefox 3 making online life much nicer

Today I downloaded and installed Firefox 3 Beta 4. I could not do it before, but now that the Web Developer tools are updated and Firebug has a 1.1 beta that works in FF3, that's enough for me.

I don't know about you, but on both Macs I use regularly, Firefox 2 was crashing all the time. Last night, while writing a blog post for BlogHer, my browser crashed at least a dozen times. On my Mac Pro, Firefox completely melted down -- twice -- requiring complete rebuild from the start, manually adding one plug-in at a time. But I had to stick it out because I need those developer tools. I cannot imagine working without Firebug.

The new UI is clean, and seems to take up a bit less space. And so far FF3 is fast. Me likes.

An Apple Store a day keeps the dreadful designs at bay

So we learn from Secret Notes:

Apple's stylish stores and computers, all of which feature unrestricted Internet access, have become such the hang-out and gathering place for MySpace junkies that the powers that be have elected to block the popular social networking site from its systems.

By the close of business Thursday, most Apple retail stores will have implemented the block, designed to reduce the level of loitering at the stores.

More likely Apple's design aesthetic just cannot brook dreadful MySpace page designs appearing within their bricks and mortar.

The horror! The horror!

OSCMS theming presentation: request for input

I've posted a request for input from those attending the OSCMS Summit regarding the theming session. If you're attending, please respond there. Or here, if it's convenient. We want the session to address your concerns and interests, and your help is requested.

CSS reboot of pingVision

The design of the pingVision site was driving me crazy.

pingVision, the old view

It really wasn't supposed to be the actual site design, but rather a temp theme to be cleaned up and spiffed up a bit. 18 or 20 months later (I actually don't know exactly how much later) I finally got around to replacing it.

pingVision, the new view

It's certainly different. Cleaner. Simpler. Too simple?

I'd started on this new design several months ago, but left the theme half-done in order to focus on client work. Finally I just had to spend a weekend tinkering with it to get it live on the site.



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