Drupal, Nuketown and You

If you’re wondering why Nuketown’s been pretty quiet for the last few weeks, it’s because I’ve been continuing to work on the beta. I’ve got a design that I like — it needs some tweaking, but it accomplishes my goal of changing up the site enough to be different while retaining enough for it to be familiar.

The challenge is Drupal. Specifically, Drupal 4.7. Drupal is an open source content management system, and I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the last major release, 4.6. The new version, 4.7, is a pretty major release, far more so than its .1 increment would indicate. Database and coding changes abound, with entire sections having been reworked and rewritten.

These changes were a bit disconcerting, but the real challenge is the same in 4.6 or 4.7: getting my design to work in Drupal. With the earlier incarnation of the Nuketown Beta, I used a heavily modified version of an existing Drupal template to drive the site (templates controlling the look and feel of the site). It was ok … but it didn’t feel like the sort of leap forward I was hoping for. The new visual design accomplishes that, but it means I need to get off my ass and create a Drupal template from scratch … which isn’t all that easy.

On the plus side though, I am making progress. One of the problems I ran into with Drupal, that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to surmount, was handling the front page. On the new site, the front page will have a big photo (or maybe Flash teaser … I’m not sure) promoting a given story or feature. That’s a radical departure from the rest of the site, and Drupal doesn’t like radical departures. Fortunately I found the Front Page module, which allows me to have a home page that’s based on different code and layout than the rest of the site, which nicely solves that particular problem.

So how long is this going to take? I have no idea. As a thirtysomething geek dad, the days of staying up until 3 a.m. every night coding are long gone, so I’m working on this at odd moments over lunch or when I can snag some free-time after Sue and StarGirl have gone to bed. Right now, I’m shooting for either late May or early July (not June, since that month will be spoken for, what with Sue due with Baby #2 in early June and all).