The Drupal CMS

Something I’ve been dealing with recently is configuration of Drupal CMS-based websites. The, TalkDesign, and Online Zoologists websites all were based upon CivicSpace, which itself was a package of modules running Drupal underneath. What with changes in the server software, I was noticing some accumulated problems with the sites, and recently switched them over to use a somewhat newer release of Drupal in the 4.7 series.

The upgrade process was an adventure in itself. When they say to turn off all but the core modules and to set the default theme to “bluemarine”, they really, really mean it. Oh, and make sure that you are logged in as “admin” (user 0) when you do make a backup of your current database. With one of my sites, I had to step back and try again.

A big issue in the upgrades was that I wanted an additional user role, and when I tried making one under the old system, half of my permissions table got cleared, and I couldn’t restore the system to its previous state. So the new installations all permit the additional role. Something that perplexed me for a while was that in a group of about 6 nodes, some allowed the new user role edit permission, and some did not, while all of them, I thought, ought to. I eventually found a comment on the Drupal site about a set of permissions I had forgotten about, which is that each input format can be permitted or excluded from use by the user role. So beyond the node permissions, there was an additional set of permissions to be set.

One thing that changed was that I was using the “interlaced” theme under Drupal 4.6. Under 4.7, though, the version does not seem to show sidebars, which makes navigation pretty difficult. So at the moment I am using the “pushbutton” theme for 4.7 on all the sites. The AE site has a modified header background image. At my level of knowledge, Drupal theming is a time-consuming activity, and so I don’t know when I might get a change to do any more theme tweaking. I’d like to develop a PHP-based theme. I did one of those as a demonstration for NCSE, and there is a lot of potential for customization there. In the meantime, though, the “pushbutton” theme is working just fine.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.