Tech Interlude #2 – I Built a Drupal Thing!

Drupal was on my radar since August, when I went to Drupal Camp CT. (Read about those experiences here.) After camp, Life got in the way, so any tinkering with Drupal was put off to the side….for over six months.  With the ALA Elections coming (psst…I’m running for ALA Council with these awesome folk), and feeling inspired after learning Github*, now felt as good of a time as any to get back into Drupal.

(If you don’t remember what Drupal is, the short answer is that it’s a open source website content management system.  The long answers can be found here and here.)

I had a local server and installation complete from Drupal Camp CT, which made the learning process easier – the back end was all finished.  In the space of two days, I had some modules and themes installed, customized the theme I chose for the final site to my liking, most of my content from my old site imported and streamlined, and the site residing on a local LAMP server we made from a desktop PC I received in an office computer lottery.

You will see now that if you go to, it redirects to this blog. Later this week, I will be registering as a domain, and will redirect there. (I paid for for two years through Weebly, and still have a year to go on the plan – easier for me to redirect than try to figure out how to cancel. Plus, a whole bunch of business cards with and a conference looming means we think of something quick and dirty.)

Here’s a sneak peek:

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.50.41 PM

The new main page

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.50.53 PM

The landing page for all my projects, before and after library school

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.51.12 PM

Sample project page (from one of my library school courses)

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.51.24 PM

The list of technology competencies that keeps getting longer and longer…

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 7.52.04 PM

The Contact Me Page

Lessons learned from this very intense course:

  • Writing down your passwords is not always necessarily a bad thing.   Doing the local (XAMPP on the Macbook Pro) to the LAMP server migration was tough, because I did not remember what my XAMPP database login and passwords were.   We were able to get this completed thanks to the Drupal Backup and Migrate module.  (Did I write down the login information for the LAMP server? Yes.)   Using a service like LastPass is also on my shortlist, just in case the notebook gets damaged or destroyed. 
  • Installing a rich text editor should be the first thing you do.  It makes creating and migrating content so much easier. I know HTML tags, but they take time to type out, and then you have to worry about ensuring tags are nested and closed properly.
  • You will come up with one way to organize your content, then scrap it for another, and then another, and then another.  The screenshots above are from iteration #3 of the site.
  • Themes.  Oh Themes.  All the themes.  Looking at all the themes (462 for Drupal 7 alone) is like going down a rabbit hole, but absolutely necessary to find the ideal theme for your site, one that combines functionality and usability with appearance.  It took me about 20 tries before I settled on the right theme – and even that required some customizing – I didn’t like the original font, and with a little knowledge of cascading style sheets (CSS), I got it looking the way I wanted.

Would I recommend learning Drupal? Yes.  You may not be able to pick it up in a weekend – some people call the learning curve a learning cliff.  The best ways to learn it are to (a) attend a local Drupal Camp or Drupal meetup, and (b) just go in and play around, break things.  If you really need a quick and dirty Drupal solution, Drupal Gardens is the way to go.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface with Drupal.  More experimentation to come.

* Thanks to Andromeda Yelton, who causes trouble in a good way. By the way, did you know she’s running for LITA Board?  You should go vote for her. Also, she built this which is just full of adorableness and tell you LITA members and prospective members how you can get involved.

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4 Responses to Tech Interlude #2 – I Built a Drupal Thing!

  1. Great job, Kate! We can talk Drupal when you come over. 🙂

    • librariankate7578 says:

      Thank you! Potluck will be a geeky Drupal potluck, that’s for sure.

      Just finished the last page – the only one I had to create from scratch, our ALA Think Tank for Council Page. New domain gets registered tomorrow and we hopefully go live tomorrow night….

      • godaisies says:

        Oooh! I look forward to seeing it.

        Thomas is learning Drupal too so he’ll be able to contribute. I’m now opening your Github entry to see how you learned that process.

  2. Pingback: I am Powered By Drupal | The Librarian Kate

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