Tame Your Trolls

Internet trolls (read more about classifications) are a nuisance everywhere these days, and especially if you find them on your site. Troll Reduction has many techniques such as:

  • simply banning each one, but this can be seen as oppressing voice
  • making troll comments invisible to everyone except themselves
  • hiding negative rated comments
  • humiliation techniques, such as disemvoweling (removing the vowels) bad comments

Some clever Drupal module developers have come up with a fast and easy solution for any busy administrator:

  • Troll Misery creates seemingly random errors and lag of all sorts.
  • Troll Cave hides your troll away in the doghouse, making their handiwork invisible.

If you’d rather not see trolls on the internet at all, check out LifeHacker’s post on removing trollish comments.

Going from ASP.NET to PHP/Drupal : Part 3

In ASP.NET, you can do pretty things like hide and display panels, fancy authentication, etc, etc, but really the meat and potatoes of ASP.NET lies within it’s forms. That is, building the form, handling postbacks, triggering events within the form, validation, and handling the data generated from the form.

In Drupal, I would have to say that it’s core lies around content creation. That does not mean that it doesn’t support forms or anything of that nature. Now, Drupal forms are code intensive. As hard as I tried, I could not escape the terrible looking long listings of code that constitues a Drupal Form. While there are modules that do some some form generation for you – if you want anything special that is not already a module, or if you want to arrange or skin your forms just so – then you are going to need to do it by hand. To call yourself a Drupal Developer, You MUST Learn Forms.

The same is true with Drupal themes. There are some very pretty already-made themes that you can pick up. However, for fine grained control, and an appropriate level of Drupal comprehension, you must learn how to create your own themes. When you start to do your first themes, the best word of advice is to start by copying an existing theme, and modding that one to your liking.

Going from ASP.NET to PHP/Drupal : Part 2

Let’s dig into the basics of Drupal quickly.

A Drupal module is a functionality complete object (or component of another module) that can be installed to Drupal. Drupal modules are the butter to Drupal’s bread. Most everything you want to has already been done, and made easy with a module.

A block is a box of information that can be displayed on various parts of the website.  Blocks are essentially the UI of some funtionality.

Drupal comes with some predefined content types, such as a page. Pages are for information that rarely changes, like mission statements, or contact information. Stories are sometimes changing information, like news, events, etc.

One of the best ways to learn something is to go do it! It took me about an hour to acquaint myself with all of the Drupal menus and functionalities and content creation system.

Drupal CCK and Views are two must-have that are for anyone who wishes to do anything beyond Drupal’s out-of-the-box functionality. CCK defines new types, like a class full of view-set-modify’able variables. CCK creates new Content Types. For example, you might create an Image Post type or a PhoneBook Entry type.

Once the type is created, you make new instances of the type (ie, PhoneBook Entry ‘bob smith’) like you would a new page. Now that you have some data to work with (mind you Drupal maintains it’s own database!), we probably want to display it in some manner. This is where Views comes in. Views organizes and creates the way you might desire to view this data – for example, perhaps as a specialized listing, or perhaps categorized, etc, etc, all of this is done with Views.

Installing Drupal on Your Windows Machine

When you are trying to learn Drupal for work or personal development, the cheapest, easiest, and fastest solution is to install it on your local machine.

However, if you are not a super super nerd with lots of experience with apache, mysql, and the works, I can guarantee you will run into a snag very quickly.

Firstly, Drupal needs a *AMP environment – that is, it needs Apache, MySQL, and PHP. To my knowledge, you cannot just install the three on your windows machine and have everything groovy. If you try to do this, you will have problems, they will be frustrating, and it will waste your time. Instead, let’s go for a program already designed for specifically this purpose.

Xampp's Intuitive Control Interface

Here is an excellent video tutorial on how to get started with XAMPP for Windows. The presentation then goes on with how to get started with Drupal as well, keep watching. When you get to the point to where it starts to walk you through the installation of Drupal and editing files and moving things around, don’t do that. Instead, STOP, point your browser to your localhost drupal directory, and then follow the drupal installation wizard. Everything is much faster easier and pain free. The only thing you might encounter is drupal asking you to copy/paste/rename a settings file, dont worry this is normal.