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Building a Tasty Backend, Jennifer Tehan

I’m in Leeds for the Drupal Camp Yorkshire conference, blogging and tweeting about the event.

For all of the interesting developments going on in the web, I’ve often felt that the backend doesn’t get the attention it deserves. So I was excited about Jennifer Tehan’s talk, which apparently did the rounds of UK a while back. The main big development is that her ‘tasty backend’ is available as a Drupal install file: it’s not on the official site as of yet, but is available on Github. There’s also a demo available.

Drupal is not a CMS, it is a CMS framework

Tehan pointed out a common misconception about Drupal: that it’s a CMS. No, “it is a framework rather than a CMS”. This is both a curse and a blessing: the curse is that it isn’t a nice admin experience off the bat. The blessing is that you can change it.

Some of the key elements of her package are the following:

  • Removing unneeded fields. Generally things like the commenting sections just confuse people and can cause trouble later on.
  • Moving the edit form into vertical tabs. This is unusual, but what I like about it is that it gets around there being streams of content that you may or may not have to fill in.
  • Creating custom dashboards and menu bars. This means that content admins have a well resolved place and that the don’t have the access to break things.

This also goes on to another bugbear of hers: never give the clients user 1.
“If you give your clients user 1, you have failed”. (She only hands it over with a disclaimer that doing so could break the site and she would have to be paid to help fix).

I’ve had a person hate of the publish/unpublish functionality on nodes. While this isn’t in the package since altering UI names gets into Drupal core and field streams, there was a suggestion that ‘save as draft’ module is a good improvement. It may get rolled into the newest version of the profile.

The video from her talk is available on Youtube

And for those who want a quick glance, her slides from an older talk are also on Slideshare.