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Site building with Drupal 7, Dan Harper

I’m catching up with my notes from Drupal Yorkshire, which took place in Leeds last weekend.

While there’s a lot of excitement about the upcoming Drupal 8, in the meantime there’s still a lot of sites to be made with the current release. Which means that there’s still a need for talks about the practical considerations for building a Drupal 7 site.

In a refreshing chance to the minimal-documentation agile talks, Dan Harper talked about the nitty-gritty that he and the Curve team use for a recent football game site that they worked on. (I’m not entirely sure if this was a real site or not, as it’s not on their company portfolio. Funnily enough, my work Orange Bus have worked on a similar site for Fantasy League-style online betting using Drupal).

The most interesting part for me was actually a spreadsheet. A Drupal content one. It was actually released by Palintir a while back, but Harper and the Curve team find it useful for ensuring that they don’t miss anything strange to do with Drupal UIs such as flag or comment actions. The spreadsheet is available on Google Sheets.

Harper made some good points on modules that I know many newcomers don’t realise: often what is a module could be done with a content type and views or at worst break a site. It doesn’t help that the search isn’t great. The best philosophy is to read through the categories (sometimes the names are misleading, such as IP Geolocation) and look for modules that are well maintained.

He also reminded people to keep it simple: don’t use an entity when  node will do, and if you want to add complexity and fields to a taxonomy, use a content type instead. One that I wasn’t aware of was the problems with webform: Harper advised using it with caution as its hooks and fields are custom and so don’t play well with other modules/theming.

A revelation to a lot of people in the audience was using Entity View Mode. They’re a great way to drill down to particularly fields without the hit on performance that you get with the more usual views. Harper also rather controversially like Display Suite (though he admits it’s not particularly responsive).

The video of his talk is available on Youtube.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAS_0a0RS84&w=700]