June 2014

First Post

I am a new Drupal Developer having worked with Drupal for over 1 1/2 years. Drupal is a CMS platform that has a lot of complexity to it. After being laid off over a month ago I have decided to pursue Web Development as a new career. I have read that there is a lot of demand for Drupal Developers so it sounds like a good field to get involved with, I feel pretty comfortable with the basics of the Framework (I went to a workshop and was told emphatically that Drupal IS a Framework) but when it comes to the finer points I am definitely lacking. The purpose of this blog is to keep track of my progress and to document the discoveries I make as I uncover and learn about the intricacies and capabilities of Drupal. BTW, I am the Web Host of this Blogging site and it is done in Drupal. I will also be working to make it more user friendly as I move forward so just be patient. It may be lacking in a lot of blogging capabilities right now but I hope to be making many improvements and additions as I continue on this journey to become a TRUE DRUPAL GURU. Any questions can be sent to DrupalTech@SuburbanWebSolutions.com

Frustrating Afternoon/Evening

In my previous post I said that I would use this blog site as my guinea pig in my quest to hone my Drupal skills.  

First on my agenda was to install a text editor so users can do some styling to their posts.  I chose CKEditor at the editor and got it installed easily enough and tested it.  All was good until I attempted to add a comment to a test post.  The comment window had a grey color to it and when I typed, no text would appear.  

I checked Google and Drupal.org but was unsuccessful in finding the problem.  I even went as far as to install another editor (TinyMCE) and had the same problem.  Plain Text worked fine but Filtered and Full HTML would fail.  

After many hours of checking permissions, and many other themes I finally isolated the problem to the themes.  I finally decided to go back to basics and enabled the Drupal default theme, Bartik, and checked the comment window and everything was fine.  

Lesson learned is to go back to default when there is an issue that defies logic.  And now that I have isolated it to the theme, next time I feel motivated I'll have to troubleshoot one of the themes to see if I can correct the issue.

More to come later.

Solved: The Case of the To Wide Toolbar

Yesterday I wrote about my efforts to install a text editor for blogging and comments.  I originally tried to use the combination of WYSIWYG & CKEditor (and later Tiny_MCE) but could not get comments to work (but was able to do blog posts).  It turned out to be caused by a few different issues:

 WYSIWYG was set to use the theme's CSS.  Once I changed it to to use the system default CSS I was able to edit the comment box. 

 Even though I can now edit both documents the toolbar for "FULL HTML"  was to wide so it extended off of the desktop and off of the screen.  This issue is also related to the CSS and in the research I did there was no definitive fix for it.

Even though I finally got the editor to work, I was dissatisfied with the toolbar. It looked so bad I decided to try out the CKEditor Module, the one that I kept reading about where it was suggested not to use it.  In hind sight I'm guessing they meant not to use this module with the WYSIWYG module (which required the use of the CKEditor plug-in).  

I found this module to work perfectly.  It installed with no issues or complications and it looked great.  The toolbar is responsive so it resized very well with the screen width.

Having resolved this I can now move on. 

Scattered Sunday

Turned out to be a scattered day.  I was comparing distributions looking for something suitable for my class reunion site.  I did the last one which was fine for a static site, but I am wanting to make it more interactive, user friendly and also a tool to make the committee's lives easier.  

I looked at 2 distributions, Corporate Site (https://drupal.org/project/corporative_site) and Web Experience Toolkit (https://drupal.org/project/wetkit).  Corporate Site was a good "starter" distribution but did not have many 'built-in' features (they would have to be added later).  Web Experience Toolkit was a huge install, and afterwards I kept getting 503 errors about session time outs.  I'm guessing that it was not liking how 'slow' my system was or that it was not optimized very well (which may be the case).  I abandoned both distributions because I do not have the time to add on LINUX optimization to the time I'm spending learning my way around Drupal better. 

I may have to build the Website from scratch (which in the long run may be the best utilization of my time at this point in time).

I was talking to a friend a few days ago and he told me about AEgir and how he uses it to manage all the Drupal websites on his server.  So on an impulse I went on Google, found the instructions on how to download and install it and I added it to my server.  

The install went really well.  I run all my Drupal sites on a LINUX VM on top of Windows 2012/HyperV.  I decided to run it off LINUX because it was much easier to find directions for LINUX than for Windows.  

And now the fun stuff begins.  Figuring out how it works.  I'm not finding much documentation or tutorials on how to use AEgir but I'm sure that has more to do with my concentration being really scattered at the moment.  My original plan was to work on learning Views better, but I have not been focused on that for a couple of days.

So today I hope to get back on track and put AEgir on the back burner, postpone the reunion website till later in the week and concentrate today on Views.

Wish me luck!

Back on track?

The last couple of days I seem to be doing better at refocusing on the task-at-hand.  Last night I finally completed the tutorial I started on "Photoshop CS5 for Web" on Lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com/). I have been on Lynda.com for almost as long as I have been working with Drupal.  I find video tutorials are the way to go for learning.  I guess that is because I'm more of a "visual" person.  I learn better by seeing rather than reading (though I have read through many self-taught disciplines over the years).

Before going through the Photoshop tutorial I also went through:

  • Drupal 7 Essential Training 1/13
  • Drupal 7: Creating and Editing Custom Themes 2/13
  • Google Analytics Essential Training (2010) 4/13
  • CSS: Page Layouts 5/13
  • Responsive Design Fundamentals 5/14
  • Creating a Responsive Web Design 5/14
  • Photoshop CS5 for the Web 6/14

The best thing about the tutorials is that I get a certificate that is easily shared on LinkedIn (which can't hurt).

Since I finished the Photoshop tutorial I'm now back on track with learning Views.  I am now engaged with the course "Drupal 7: Reporting and Visualizing Data" which deals with handling and manipulating data, as well as how to present it in a node.  So far it's been making a lot of sense (and of course there have been the thoughts of, "OH!! That's how you do that!!!"). 

Now I have to take a break and go to my part-time gig, but I will defiantly be back to the tutorial after I am done and back home.

Good day yesterday

Was a productive day yesterday. I got a lot accomplished with my tutorial. I'm understanding views a lot better now and am a lot more comfortable with manipulating data with drupal. I SO pick up things much easier when I observe how its done. In the tutorial he went over the different display formats like tables, HTML lists, grids and jump data (which is more like drop down menus). 

This tutorial has me feeling so comfortable with views that I was dreaming about it and how I might use views to make one of my current web sites, nibahai.org (http://nibahai.org/), more user friendly and also present the data there in a more pleasing and effective way. The tutorial is definately helping with my creative juices (which I have been needing).

Another thing that was touched upon was content security. He mentioned a module called nodeaccess (http://drupal.org/projects/nodeaccess) that allows you to add permissions by content type so you can make a certain content type only readable to a particular role (or roles). This adds to the possibilities for sure.

Its been a while

I have been really busy the last few day. On Saturday I finished the Views tutorial. It was very enlightening and its nice to be able to understand the makings of the different content types. I ended up using what I learned the next day after starting the Commerce KickStart Tutorial. Unfortunately the distribution changed a lot since the tutorial was done. It was a struggle but I did get a version of Drupal up that allowed me to be able to follow the tutorial, but that also meant that I had to use my lesson on Views to recreate some of then different content-types used in the commerce package. I felt proud to be able to figure that out myself.

On Tuesday I had an interview with a client for a web maintenance position.  He is looking for someone to maintain his e-store, someone to update the merchandise, create banners, do general upkeep of the website.  The interview went well and for a final test he asked that I create a banner so he can see what kind of what I can do.  I have never done a banner before, but luckily since I completed the Photoshop Tutorial, I had an idea HOW to make the banner.

I was up till 2am on Wednesday creating it.  Its pretty simple but it is done.  I went through a lot of images looking for inspiration (which, I thought, helped a lot with getting my ideas set).  It was a little shakey working with Photoshop at first, but I got through the process, and though it took me 3 hours to get this done, I'm confident the next time I do this I will be able to complete it in a 3rd of the time.  

Since the 4th of July is coming up I decided on a patriotic theme.

Here is the final product.

I received an email from the client acknowledging he receive the banner.  Now I get to wait to see if he decides to hire me of not.

Distracted

My old gig has been diverting me lately but I haven't forgotten where I'm pointed.  

The weekend was productive.  I installed a CentOS VM on my Windows 2012 machine.  CentOS is quite different from Ubuntu but in doing some reading I decided it was best not to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04, but to instead go to CentOS.  It is the free LINUX that is based off Red Hat.  The install went off pretty well. 

After talking to a friend in Washington I decided to install Aegir on this server. Aegir is supposed to make maintenance easier, plus in makes it so I can better organize my sites more efficiently.  I had several issues with Aegir but finally got it up by Sunday night.  

I put a couple test sites on it, one was going to be for me to update my HS Reunion site (but have since decided to develop it on Aquia Desktop so it will be easier to work on it away from home).  The other site is to update a shopping cart from Zencart to Drupal.  The owner likes its though she said she founf the theme "dark".  My thought about the Commerce Kickstart distribution's theme it that it was bright.  (I guess I just don't see things as others <LOL>).

I went to the Fox Valley Drupal Group meeting tonight.  I had a great time meeting everyonre there.  It was much smaller than the Chicago Advanced Drupal Group, and they seemed friendlier than the Chicago Group as well.  

At the meeting I was explosed to a lot of the lingo of the Drupaliers.  Some of whioch even made some sense.  I guess all the tutorials and reading I have been doing is starting to wear off on me. In all 17 had RSVP'd while 10 people actually came to the meeting.  

It's getting late so I will tell more about the meeting in my next post.

Been away and busy

I can't seem to catch a break lately. I started the task of learning Omega 4 (a theme creator module) so I can begin my next project, building a website for my class reunion. I figure this would be a good project to start practicing all the tutorials I have been going through.

 This last weekend the plan was to drive 6 hours, down to southern Illinois, to go visit our daughter. I saw that as a good time to get down with my theming lessons (wife would drive while I work on the laptop). I downloaded some tutorials on Omega and was all set.

 First thing that happened was some of the tutorials were the wrong version (note to self, next time be sure of the version). Then once I got started with the correct version I learned that I needed to get "sass" loaded on my laptop. So I spent a good hour fighting to download software while driving down I-57 (not a good plan around that area as the cell service is spotty and the data was pretty much nil). I finally (after 4 hrs.’) gave up and put the laptop away.

 I also found that installing it for Windows was not the easiest thing as well so I decided to throw a LINUX VM on my laptop. Again, not an easy thing to do (no, I did not do this in the car; I waited till we were at out friend's house where they have fast Internet.

 The first difficulty was deciding on software. The free application I always used before is now paid, so I had to go out and find another VM to use. I decided on VMware Player. Besides still being free, it also supports LINUX but only in 32-bit mode (which is fine for me since this is for a lab configuration).

 I drove back to return the favor to my wife. I ended up not doing much more on Sunday night.

 Once Monday started I found myself in the same situation as Sunday morning. I went into Aegir and discovered the database got hosed (the proper way to shutdown VMware was not as apparent and I must have shut it down at the wrong time> I took a stab at trying to fix the database but I was getting nowhere so I have started over again. I am saving the WHOLE VM at certain points so I should not have to start over from scratch again (knocking on wood).

 I am installing my platforms and sites on Aegir now so hopefully in the next hour I might be able to start back on tutorials (and I haven't even tried to reinstall Sass yet, but I did save the procedures from yesterday so I don't have to look that up again).

 Wish me luck!