When I woke up Wednesday morning I was looking forward to an always-fun and interesting meeting day on the newschoolyard.com project, for which I’m the platform architect. We’re working on a platform targeted at independent schools to maintain their own web sites, parent and alumni communities, and the whole project is really satisfying. Great challenge, great way to help bring innovation (and huge cost savings) to schools.
Well - had to be done. I needed to get my site updated from Drupal 5 to 6 in order to implement some better features and in general keep up with what I do for clients. It was also useful to go through the upgrade process on an existing site to get used to the pitfalls.
Overall it wasn't all that bad, but I did have to reimagine how I wanted to deal with some views, and recreate some of them from scratch. I haven't had time to really dig into the design, but this had to come first and setting a deadline helped move things forward faster.
Drupal is a quite capable platform, and I've used it quite a lot, both for work and for personal projects. Its Achilles heel though is the admin interface - with ultimate flexibility comes a lot of configuration choices. While the simple solution is to tell the client 'just don't look at that stuff' - it's not ideal, and can be intimidating. Enter some key modules: jstools, form_store and formfilter.
I was a bit annoyed with Drupal when I started working with it about a year ago. Much of the annoyance stemmed from my own inexperience with the platform, but a lingering issue is regarding META tags and Drupal's lack of native support for creating them dynamically. Eventually I found the 'nodewords' module, which does a nice job.
After seeing how much attention my last post on Drupal and accessibility got, and how much time we've been spending with it I realized that we've developed something really worth sharing: a lot of experience with Drupal and accessibility, and a bag of tricks and good practices to go along with it. So I've decided to write more on the topic and hopefully develop a resource for others struggling with the same issues.