Category Archives: Code

Reorganizing Stories

So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to build a great featureset in Drupal that would make it easy for someone to start their own story archive, either as a community, or as a single person setup. I’ve got ideas on how to make it a closed system as well, but that hasn’t been worked on yet really.

But as I also use WordPress here I’ve wondered, could what I do in Drupal be adapted to do the same in WordPress? Could I have a nice front page with all the story information, then have the chapters organized and easily paged through in WordPress… I’m thinking it’s possible. Not sure though.

I’d love to try, or find plugins that would allow me to do the same thing I do in Drupal in here. WordPress is great for simple stuff actually, and there is a reason I haven’t completely went Drupal on this page, if only so I can keep up with what WordPress for my own use. 

I’m still thinking on all the subjects.

Streamlining and simplifying – What can be done to make good things simpler in a site build.

So I’m developing the sites again, trying to figure out what broke the story creation process on the original site, and I get to thinking. As I’m basically rebuilding from scratch trying to find the problem here I was wondering what I can do to make things better. This goes through from content viewing to content creation. It’s difficult though as I can’t do much as I wanted. I’m just trying to get through it all.

I’ve been trying for instance to do from scratch what I used modules for in some cases before. Trying to limit the number of modules needed SOUNDS like a GREAT idea. Use some panels and views and you SHOULD be able to pull it off. What’s not to improve on with that sort of thing. But the thing is that I’m not a coder, and I’m not sure how to go about recreating functionality that a module already makes use of.

There are some that will always say that you need to minimize the number of modules used. The more you use the slower things get. And there is a good logic behind this. Fewer modules means fewer resources. But at the end of the day you are really trying to prototype, deploy and maintain as easily as possible. For a lot of us, myself included, that means you have to look at things from the perspective of what you can do.

Taking that into account and looking at it fact is that the basic site needs really only need a few modules to run in general. The rest of the modules are just integration of other items and the like. Things like CKEditor, Fivestar voting, Disqus comments, and Twitter/Facebook integration are all just modules that really you don’t do anything but set and forget hopefully. They can’t be modifier and frankly it’s best to just use an available module for them.

Everything else really comes down to a couple of modules, views and panels. Everything else is for all intents and purposes an extension of these modules. When you figure that, it becomes less about finding more modules and more about creating more views. That way things turn out better.

Panopoly – Drupal Panels put into good use.

So, with the heavy lifting of DS done I’m playing around with different ideas of how to fix things in the site. Simplify workflows, reduce called items, things of that nature. So I installed the Panopoly distribution into the darkscribes.org/development folder. I’m using the rebuild of Dhampir Dreams as a test of this so that I can get more knowladge before pondering how it can help me on DS. Installation of panopoly is the same as it would be for a default Drupal install so I’m not going to go into that part. That’s not where the interesting bits are anyways. Those are the Panopoly apps that you can install into your setup. They are basically layouts for various types of content. News, Pages, everything can be done differently. IT also makes use of, and frankly makes usable the panels in-place editor. Which allows you to select, move, edit, or delete content blocks on a pages panel layout without having to go to admin/structure/pages. So far I haven’t gotten to creating the content or the story pages I intend to be on Dhampir Dreams just yet. I’m going to do that one at a time as I rethink my default workflow. However it is interesting to note that instead of the default Drupal content types, Panopoly condenses it down to three things: News posts, Content pages, and Landing Pages. News posts are things like this. A post of information and such that gets popped into a page of news. That part isn’t too bad really and I kind of like it. All my posts in one page on the system and organized for me so I just have to modify things slowly. I’ll probably go into it more as I delve into such things and double copy posts to see how they work. Contant pages are things like the About Me pages or the others that I really need to work on. They are just straight up pages that have different contexts in both my mind and the mind of the developers of this distribution. I’m not entirely certain how it will look when I finish working on it but we will see as we go.

Drupal Distributions – Getting the work done faster!

So, Darkscribes is almost done and now I’m trying to conceive the redesign of Dhampir Dreams. While I’m doing that I’m also looking into what I have available to me. I don’t want to have to spend too much time spinning up a Drupal install but I also don’t want to do this completely from scratch if a lot of my use cases have been handled already. This is where the Drupal Distributions and GetPantheon.com’s offerings come in.

First off, a Drupal Distribution is a uniquely packaged version of Drupal. It provides it’s own modules and structures in order to allow for a completely new system. It has Drupal at it’s core, but it’s the way it handles things and sets things up as default that makes things different. If you didn’t know it was a Drupal Distribution you would be very justified in thinking they were totally different. I’m interested to say that is not the case.

Another way Drupal makes it easier to deploy things is the Features Module. I could take everything I’ve built for DS and turn it into a Features module, and then install the created module into another Drupal based site and have a good setup there. All the basic structures and everything built into the system. This saves time when creating a lot of sites that have similar needs. Like Darkscribes, Dhampir Dreams needs a way to organize stories and chapters under them, even if I don’t need to have a way to give everyone access to everything they need and it’s just me. It saves time and gets a site deployed much faster.

The best thing is that the entire process is open source, so you have access to the code and the ability to change what you need or want and spin your own distribution. That seems a lot of work though so I’m looking at ways that have already been worked on and have a lot of good structure even if I am not using it right now. I’ll keep working on them. The really good thing is that the Drupal-to-Drupal migrate module makes it where I could take the DS data, and drop it into the site dev I’m working on so I can get a good look at everything. It’s just stuff to work on and play with right now, maybe it will develop into something new and different. I just don’t know yet.

Data – Handle with Care!

I’m sitting here, still fighting the migration fight on the Darkscribes system. I’ve actually gotten good results with the Drupal Feeds module to get everything in slowly but surely. I’ll probably start working on other things as time goes on when it’s done but first it has to be done. Now I’ve messed around a lot with certain options in Drupal and now it’s time to discuss them.

First I was trying to use Migrate module. This takes everything direct from the old databases and creates content that way. It was SUPPOSED to be relitivly easy, but unfortunatly it was anything but. Mostly because I could never figure out how to get the damned thing to see the other databases. It’s a total failure to launch on that side.

So I started working on feeds and I have made more progress with it then I ever have with migrate. Thing is that it’s all csv files which sounds easy if you know what they are. But it can be extremely tedious as you work on the tables. Especially as I’ve learned more and more about it and tried to get everything into the system. I’ve managed to do pretty well so far, but I’m still cleaning data and improving on things. one issue is that I’m probably going to have to delete data before import, as some of it just doesn’t look right.

Working the Angle

I’m building up the site at the moment. Trying to figure out what to put here, what to put on Darkscribes.org and just basically working on the giant todo list that is my web development for these two pages. I’ve Got a lot of stuff to do all said and done as I work on these things. One of those things is the ever present specter of content migration from the purgatory of the old database into the on display Drupal site. Strangely enough getting everything functioning with regards to creating from scratch is easy, it’s getting the old stuff in that is hard.

It’s another reason I am seriously considering moving DhampirDreams.com back over to Drupal. I’ve got a ton of work already don on DS that I can just for all intents and purposes drop in here and create a site from, then do a wordpress migrate into the site. However I’m not sure that is a good idea or not yet.

I actually am considering trying to build DD as a Drupal 8 dev site as that is looking to be a very good build to work from. I like the direction the Drupal maintainers have went with it but I’m still at a loss on what to do with it all. Probably should spend less time thinking of features and more time writing stories and articles all around honestly.

Here is the ToDo for Everything.

  1. Migrate legacy content into Darkscribes.org
  2. Create User specific views of content for Profiles.
  3. Build Group specific views of content
  4. Find a way to add social media to Darkscribes/Drupal without too much mess.

It’s not a big list I know, but it’s a bear to actually do. The Legacy content is very different in structure from Drupal. User views take a bit to get just right and it’s just as much of a bear with group views. And don’t get me started on the pain and agony of Social media.

I also have to get back to writing, adding content as I go and getting things working. I’m hoping to eventually at least be able to add a piece of content to both DS and DD at least Daily in some way shape or form. I’m not sure if it will matter long term but that is the short term hope. I also want to add an Op-Ed or other featured piece of content to both sites Weekly.

Well, I’m just going to go back to work on this.

Laters.

Amarok 2 Media Transcoder : Got to think Low Level

Was discussing QTScript calls planned for and already in Amarok 2 in the freenode channel tonight. Seems a good portion of the functionality I’d need for my media device script would need to be added into Amarok as it stands. Which means I’m back to C++ for the entire process, and to build what needs to be included into Amarok 2. Little bit more work than I was thinking when I first thought to try this.

Continue reading Amarok 2 Media Transcoder : Got to think Low Level