Liveblogging drupal 6 beta 3 installation

Date: Fri Nov 23 2007 Drupal »»»» Drupal 6
7:20 Unpacked distribution and moved files into webserver docroot

$ mv drupal-6.0-beta3/* .
$ mv drupal-6.0-beta3/.htaccess .

7:21 Set up database in the control panel

7:22 Connected with web browser to website. I'm taken directly to the Drupal install screen and can choose to install in English or other languages. To install in a different language requires downloading a language pack and unpacking it into the directory. This could be made smoother, I suppose.

7:27 After reading about language packs, decide to just go with the default (English)

7:27 I'm told the directory 'files' doesn't exist. I simply 'mkdir files' w/o chmod'ing it to be writable, and the install script is happy.

7:28 Enter database parameters

7:29 Enter site settings. It has automatically detected that clean URL's will work, and has enabled them.

7:30 I'm told setup is finished and I can visit my site.

7:31 I see the welcome screen, go into administration and enable most of the modules

7:33 I'd heard the blocks config had been improved, so went there. In the past to rearrange the blocks you had to fiddle with 'weight' settings and make many page requests on each change. Now you just drag blocks around by clicking and dragging, and the UI takes care of automatically figuring out the weights. To enable a block, just choose a content area and the block automatically appears in that content area. This is much nicer, and I also heard this drag to rearrange things metaphor has been done elsewhere in Drupal.

7:35 Yup, the menus config has the same drag metaphor for rearranging things

7:40 I've been playing around and haven't found many different things. Some word choices have changed in the taxonomy area. In Drupal 5 the config area was named 'Categories' now it's named 'Taxonomy', and when you create a vocabulary in Drupal 5 there was a 'Freetagging' vocabulary type which is now simply called 'Tags'.

7:45 I noticed the options in adding/editing a vocabulary do not include the hierarchy choices present in Drupal 5 and earlier. Drupal vocabularies can have parent/child relationships between terms, and in Drupal 5 and earlier the vocabulary configuration had the administrator choose details of how the hierarchy is implemented for the given vocabulary. In Drupal 6 these details are not configurable, and when you edit/add terms you can set hierarchy relationships between terms. This appears to mean all vocabularies are now hierarchical.

7:48 What was called 'Access Control' is now called 'Permissions'

8:08 I have gone to the available modules to see what's there. The pickings are mighty slim. The first I've installed is AJAX Picture Preview which doesn't do what I thought it did. This module niceifies the process of uploading a users picture for their profile page. It works. Yawn.

8:12 The next module on the hit parade is Schema. This is pre-alpha so don't install it in a production site. However it's way cool, in that it helps you better understand the database schema used by Drupal. In Drupal 6 database tables are now defined using a structured data thingy, rather than by writing SQL. This should make Drupal more portable to other database systems besides brand-M. The Schema module adds some capabilities for dealing with the database schema from the admin screens. Looks very cool.

8:20 Next I installed the dhtml menu module. It's still in development for Drupal 6 which may be why it didn't work. It purports to make it nicer to access submenus by automatically opening the submenu content without having to do a page refresh.

8:25 Have run out of modules I want to try.

8:30 Am taking a look at the themes and downloaded a few.

8:32 Barlow is very nice looking. It seems to be a fixed width centered thing which would probably be good for a blog. It supports three column layout.

8:35 Deco is rather interesting in functionality, though I can't say the visual style is very attractive to me. It offers a large set of content areas giving you much more flexibility with organizing the blocks. Normally you can have 2 or 3 columns, with the center column being wide for displaying text. This has a "secondary right sidebar" which allows you to have two sidebar columns on the right-hand side of the screen.

8:38 Skyliner is rather weird. First the visual style has a cloud-scape background making it feel like you're floating in the clouds. Rather than having a sidebar for navigation and menus, there is a single column layout. Yup, single column. The blocks appear as a DHTML widget in the upper right corner, and if you click on a block header the contents scroll open and fade into being. You can then click on stuff and once you make a choice the contents fade out, and scroll back into place. This should give lots more room on the screen to display content, on the other hand I think user experience is poor. How is a user to understand what this is for, and how to use it?

8:42 Spooner doesn't have much to recommend for it.