Magnificent work! - a couple of questions...

They have: 18 posts

Joined: Feb 2009

Hi,

What a gorgeous site.

I'm thinking very seriously about basing a small community site on drupal and I have a few questions. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First let me congratulate you on what you've managed with this site.

I came across the Padded Cell article while searching speculatively for Drupal as an alternative to VBulletin. I expected to find neither an article articulating almost every annoyance I've had with VB, nor such a stunning implementation of a drupal alternative. The pages feel lighter and snappier, everything works as it should and the forum looks sharp and elegant - something I have never been able to say about VB. You've done a superb job.

How much PHP did it need to configure the drupal modules this way? Mine is shallow to say the least. My needs would be far simpler than yours - the community I have in mind wouldn't need new post counts, portfolios, mark forums as read or post subscriptions, but a slick appearance would be essential.

How much PHP work goes into the drupal default to bring about this sensational transformation?

Thanks!

He has: 131 posts

Joined: Jun 2008

Well I'm not a moderator of this site but I can give you a few tips as I have used drupal for several sites.

You don't need to know a lot of php to make it work, unless there is a problem and than you need to debug it. Most of the drupal "modules" are free and are found on the Drupal website.

The hardest part for me so far was creating a theme, It seemed a little complicated at first, but once you get it you can create a sort of template for yourself and just add in your css.

This Link may help you as it lists some of the modules that were used on this site.

Have fun with drupal Smiling

They have: 18 posts

Joined: Feb 2009

Thanks cmoyer, I'm sure I will do, particularly if I can get by without comprehensive PHP. Something about the logic makes my brain impervious to it, try as I might. I hope Drupal is going to tear off the ceiling above my ambitions.

Megan's picture

She has: 11,363 posts

Joined: Jun 1999

Hi Nigel,

Sorry we didn't get back to you sooner - JeevesBond should be along soon with all the details.

We did have to write a couple of modules to implement the functionality we need. One is user stats, which keeps track of all the post counts for individual users. JeevesBond also wrote signatures for forums (which does what it says!). He also wrote a mdoule that converts vBulletin forums to Drupal (vB to Drupal).

If you have simple needs you probably won't have to get into the code yourself. Everything is there unless you're trying to do something specific. An alternative is to pay a developer to build in any extras.

JeevesBond's picture

He has: 3,955 posts

Joined: Jun 2002

Heyup Nigel, sorry for not replying sooner. We're glad you like the forums Smiling

I have been working on an article that will cover all this, but just haven't had a chance to finish writing it up. In the meantime, most of the specifics can be found in these two threads:

- http://www.webmaster-forums.net/twf-feedback-and-announcements/how-did-y...

- http://www.webmaster-forums.net/twf-feedback-and-announcements/forum-mod...

How much PHP did it need to configure the drupal modules this way? Mine is shallow to say the least. My needs would be far simpler than yours - the community I have in mind wouldn't need new post counts, portfolios, mark forums as read or post subscriptions, but a slick appearance would be essential.

The level of PHP skill required really depends upon how deep you want to theme. Smiling We did a lot, and it was with Drupal 5, so there was quite a lot of work involved. However, if you start with small changes, and use Drupal 6, you should be able to create a decent forum with only a little knowledge.

You could start with a minimalist theme, which looks like a good basis for what you're trying to achieve (I've yet to find OneTrueTheme(tm) which provides the perfect basis for every site, or I'd recommend it). We used Grid Inspired, but you should try a range of themes to get what you want. Then use HTML/CSS changes to get the look you want.

We also started out with a graphical comp (just a drawing of the site in Inkscape -- nothing flashy), so we knew exactly what we were working toward.

Some interesting modules:

  • http://drupal.org/project/views - everyone needs this, so much so that it'll probably be in Drupal core in version seven. Smiling
  • http://drupal.org/project/advanced_forum - although it aims to be a bit of a vBulletin/phpBB clone, Advanced Forum is worth keeping in mind. Frankly though, it's probably overkill for your needs.
  • http://drupal.org/project/user_stats - one of mine, again probably overkill for what you need but the 6 version has some nice IP address tracking stuff included to help catch spammers. This will also give you post counts, but you'll need to know Drupal theming (or use Advanced forum) to get them working.

That's all I can think of for now, let us know if you have any specific questions. Smiling

a Padded Cell our articles site!

They have: 18 posts

Joined: Feb 2009

Thankyou both for the replies - and especially for those links. I think one of the most daunting aspects of drupal (as well as the most mouthwateringly exciting) is the overwhelming number of modules and it's tremendously helpful to be given a few leads.

Reading your accounts of the process has also given me a sense of how satisfying it must be to contribute to the project - it's something I hope I can aim for - one day when PHP is a second nature to me.

Although my forum needs are basic, I suspect some of my other needs are actually pretty complex. One of my aims is to link blog entries to forums by category. Recent entries in any particular category would show up above the thread lists in a separate block. For instance, the Events forum would have the two most recent Events blog entries above them - side by side, with title, teaser, author and a graphic. The same for each of the other forums. Is this likely to be difficult? Thanks again! Smiling

RTFVerterra's picture

He has: 109 posts

Joined: Dec 2008

nigelfinch wrote:
How much PHP work goes into the drupal default to bring about this sensational transformation?

Hi nigelfinch, I made two community sites using Drupal, but I cannot write any php code. All I can do about php is cut the code and paste it to the right place. That's all I know, but I successfully build the forums sites. I am not sure though if you can define my work with the words sensational transformation Smiling

Here are my links in case you need to look my output:
http://forums.mathalino.com
http://www.mathalino.org

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