Development

Controlling Your Blocks

We just considered the content area of a page. Now let's look at the regions and sidebars.

There is a default feature in Drupal that allows you to add blocks to your pages. If you read Create a Design Plan, you know this.

The illustration on the right shows the sidebars and regions where you can place blocks of content to form your page. You can control when blocks appear with the following conditions:

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Panels

Panels is a combination of composite, node form settings, and several other layout modules on steriods. It's similar to composite in that it allows you to change what content is displayed in the content area and how it is displayed.

Recall the lists below. With the exception of those items noted, Panels allows you to control if, when, and where these items appear on your page. As you make changes to Panels and add modules to your site, the list of items available for you to include in a panel increases.

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Node Form Settings

It might be a simple thing but have you ever wanted a page that didn't show the node title? The Node Form Settings module provides several add/edit form settings that can help with usability, including the option to hide the node title. These settings for this module are controlled at the content type, not at the node itself.

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Controlling the Content Area

Let's start by looking at the content area of the page.

Common, simple page layout

On the previous page, the items listed below are typically seen in the content area; their appearance and placement being contolled by the modules that generate them and the theme that puts them in their place.

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The Devil is in the Detail

If you reviewed the chapter on Create a Design Plan, you saw the illustration below on Wireframes Details. It illustrates a typical looking page in a Drupal site using the Zero Point theme (or one similar).

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Overview of Drupal Content Layout Modules

Description: When you build pages in Drupal, you typically plan your layout and assemble your pages within the structure defined by your theme. This concept is discussed in the Planner's Guide chapter Create a Design Plan.

In this short tutorial, we will expand on these concepts and explore how you, as a builder, can change your structures and layouts without editing your theme.

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Create a Development Inventory and Plan

If you have read the last two pages you might be thinking "enough!" I have my inventory, I have my strategy, now another inventory? You're kidding. And what does the planner have to do with this, whatever "this" is?

"This" is simply a list of your development strategies so that you can plan when to implement each strategy in the development process. The inventory also allows you to distribute the development effort across the development team. So bottom line, "this" will help you identify

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Identify Development Strategies

Assuming you have read the previous page Create a Feature Development Inventory and you are a builder or developer, maybe you are motivated to review all the requirements first before diving into building a site.  Let's assume this is the case and consider creating some development strategies. But before we do, what does a Drupal planner need to know about this? The planner needs to be ready to provide feedback and clarification. Read on to see what I mean.

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Version Control

When you were planning your content, one thing you may have decided was to maintain copies of nodes as they were changed - tracking revisions is a common way to refer to it. Keeping and tracking revisions allows you to return a node to its previous state when someone on your team accidently changed the text to something you didn't want. Why not apply this same strategy to web development. Track the changes made to your site so you can back out changes that don't work.

Planning Version Control

There are several ways to manage version control.

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Development versus Production

If you need custom coding, where will code be developed? Where will code (core, contributed, and custom) be assembled? Where will code testing occur? Where will user testing occur? Where will the initial content loaded? In contrast to development, where will the live (i.e., production) site be hosted? "Where" is defined by both the physical box (web server) and it's domain.

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