Drupal Articles

Dear God: I Have Absolutely No Idea What I Am Doing

It all happened so fast. One moment, I had the innocent enough intention of changing the font-face of my blog's content from Verdana 12px, to Lucida Grande 13.5px. The next moment, I decided I should change the headers from Georgia to Palatino. After that I blacked out (or as Dave Attell likes to call it "time travel"), and then suddenly woke up to realize that I had begun to change the entire layout of the blog. Perhaps now is a good time to admit that I have absolutely know plan, and the direction I take the blog's design is dependent on my mood over the next few hours. Oh -- and I guess I'll be doing the design live on the site, so sit back and enjoy the show. My guess is that it will be about as entertaining as a 3 hour presentation on a city-transportation bond proposal. Enjoy!

How to Build the Ultimate Drupal Navigation System

This is a tutorial on the theory, and methods used to create this site's multi-level top navigation menu. The tutorial covers everything from obscure drupal php fuctions to generate custom dynamic menus, to advanced CSS techniques and practices. Warning: this tutorial will forever change the way you see drupal's navigation, and CSS. That's a promise (so long as you aren't already an expert).

Drupal Theming for the Masses


My name is Nick Lewis, and I'm a blogger and a "professional" web programmer/designer/consultant. My specialities are CSS, SEO, and drupal customization & theming. However, more importantly, I am a cyberactivist. Without going into to much detail on my political motives (which could best described as anarcho-left), one of my main goals is to expand the community of innovative open-source programmers, designers, thinkers, and developers. In one sense, I could claim I'm doing this as a "free gift", but that would be disingenious. It is my explicit hope that this guide will change the way you think about drupal, and perhaps even cause you to become obsessed with the possibilities. If this guide creates just one drupal expert who helps evolve our thinking, I think my sacrafice of time will be worth the return in a very real sense.

Web Development:

Horizontal Navigation Menus in Drupal Using CSS (Part Deux)

In our last episode, we learned how use the "float" and "display:inline" css-sledge hammers to knock drupal's nested vertical lists into displaying horizontally. Moreover we acheived this feet using three simple css rules that apply to all lists in our top-nav div to infinity. We rejoiced at the simplicity of our solution, and for a short while we believed that everything was okay in our world.

Today, the complexities of CSS will smack our rosey cheeks, burst our bubbles of optimisim, and send us hurdling back to reality. This tutorial offers nothing but blood, sweat, and tears. You will expect things to make sense -- and IE Explorer will make you look like a fool for it. However, it is a timeless truth that anything worth attaining requires sacrafice; and those who sacrafice their sanity to learning these bits of obscure knowledge will be one day kings of drupal theming, and standards based design -- they may even trick the entire drupal community into thinking they are "experts" ;-)

Drupal for Education Crushes WebCT

This may be the most significant endorsement of Drupal I've ever seen. Charlie Lowe just asked his Technical writing class to give an end of course evaluation comparing Drupal and WebCT. For those of you with sex lives, WebCT is a proprietary CMS for education that costs roughly $5000.00 a year, not including support fees. Drupal on the other hand is a completely free, and open source CMS that can be used for everything from education to politics to pornography. () Asked his students to "Reflect on your experience using Drupal (the software running the course website) in comparison to your previous experiences using WebCT in your classes".

Using CSS to Generate Expanding Horizontal Navigation Menus in Drupal

Not to toot my own horn, but everyone loves this site's top navigation menu. I've received more questions about how I did it than I can answer. As a result, I've decided to write a tutorial on it. Before beginning this tutorial, the reader should be somewhat familiar the following:

Also, be sure that you have installed PHP-Template, and a fresh copy of Box_Grey on hand.

A Practical Tutorial on Drupal's Menu System

In this tutorial, I will explain how to generate custom menus that are fully controlled from the menu administration page. (path: [www.yourdrupalsite.com]admin/menu). These menus can be enormously useful. The can be used for everything from custom user interfaces, to navigation menus. In addition, since they are hooked into Drupal's core, they can be dynamically updated.

In writing this tutorial, I've assumed that the reader already understands to some extent:

  • Drupal Themes
  • How to copy and paste
  • The value of attempting something for the first time. 

theme_menu_tree() = your new best friend

Alright, we're going to call a php function. O, non-php programmers do not flee in horror. PHP is easy, unless you're paying me, in which case its very difficult.

Mambo Vs. Drupal:

I’ve noticed a recent tsunami of interest from potential clients in content management systems. Often, there is a tendency among these clients to “shop around” the dozens of open-source content management packages. They go to the various websites, and look at product features, see who is using the systems, and treat picking an open source CMS as though it was a car. For them, it is like picking between a Mazda or Toyota. Unfortunately, this tendency is misguided. Picking a CMS is a lot more like picking a stock to invest in.


Using PHP to Dynamically Switch Drupal Themes and Templates

One powerful trick to improving the way a drupal site flows is switching page templates when certain PHP arguments return true. This is a quick tutorial on how to do that.

Step One: make three copies of page.tpl.php and the name them "frontpage.tpl.php", "admin.tpl.php", and "inside.tpl.php".

Step Two: Open page.tpl.php with an editor. Erase everything.. and I do mean everything, we're building this from the ground up. (get the coffee ready)

Step Three: copy the following code into page.tpl.php:

<?php if (arg(0) == 'admin') { include "admin.tpl.php"; } if ($is_front) { include "frontpage.tpl.php"; return; }else { include "inside.tpl.php"; ?>

Step Four:Test to make sure that indeed your different templates are

A Profession of Space-fillers

I've been around journalists my entire life, since I was a little kid, and I haven't met more than five in three-plus decades who wouldn't literally shit from shame before daring to say that their job had anything to do with truth or informing the public. Everyone in the commercial media, and that includes Hitchens, knows what his real job is: feeding the monkey. We are professional space-fillers, frivolously tossing content-pebbles in an ever-widening canyon of demand, cranking out one silly pack-mule after another for toothpaste and sneaker ads to ride on straight into the brains of the stupefied public.


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