Impressions after Day One

When all the bugs get worked out, Drupal Gardens could be greatness.

Positive:

  • I like the overlay concept for adding content and editing the site, as opposed to the WordPress style of leaving the page to make edits.
  • The appearance section for editing styles is spiffy. If you don't know how to style using CSS, this is big.
  • I like the ability to override with my own CSS in the advanced tab.
  • The text editor totally rocks. Best I've seen in Drupal.
  • Now that I know that a completely custom theme can be created right within the interface, I'm on board. The idea that I can create themes for clients, but they can host with and rely on Drupal Gardens for updates is a big benefit. And the fact that they can use their own custom domain names? Oh yeah, I'll send clients here. When can they start?

Negative:

  • Right now, it's slow. After making appearance changes and punching Save or Publish, there were times I'd watch the spinning wheel for anywhere from two to five minutes before my changes saved. I fully expect that to be fixed throughout the beta process, so shouldn't be a concern later. It really slowed down my developing, though, and made for some frustration.
  • My Advanced CSS would disappear. It came back after a refresh. This is a known bug, as I read in the forum. On the plus side, it made me create my CSS in Dreamweaver, and copy and paste it into here. Now I've always got a backup of my current CSS.
  • Sometimes hard to grab the regions that I want to edit.
  • Did I saw it's slow right now?
  • Just like any Drupal theming, it can be tough to find the proper CSS divs to style what you want to style.

Utlimately, even through the minor bugs, it's better than I expected. One of the complaints about Drupal has always been the lack of quality themes. I think Drupal Gardens will change that, now that I've seen the potential for theming within  Drupal Gardens.

Starting with Drupal Gardens

Today I activated my Drupal Gardens beta test invite. I'm going to start my first Drupal Gardens site with one goal: recreate my Wavebrain Solstice blog theme in Drupal Gardens. In this first blog post, I'll liveblog my efforts.

10:51am. Activated site.

11:47am. So far, I've managed to set my layout to two-column and start some CSS styling. I've got my page background and my header background incorporated into the design. Since I haven't yet found any type of image library here to store these images, they are hardcoded links to my own webhost. Is there a way to upload images to my own image library that I haven't found yet?

I really want to remove the text site name, since I uploaded my own logo, but I haven't yet found where I can do that.

Also, I'm working in Firefox 3.5.8 on my MacBookPro. I started working in Safari 3.2.1 unintentionally, simply because when I clicked the link in my Beta Invitation email, it opened in Safari. Had to move to Firefox because I could not browse to upload my logo in Safari. Bug? Unsupported?

11:52am. Lunchtime. I'll be back.

12:40pm. And I'm back. I really like the WYIWYG editor I'm using in this right now, much more than the editors I've tried in Drupal in the past. Is this a Drupal Gardens editor, or is this to come in 7, or have I just not stumbled across whatever module this is? Best I've seen yet for Drupal.

1:41pm. The theming is moving along. I just hid the site name with display:none to get rid of it; if anyone knows how to not show it, as you would using Drupal via your theme configuration. let me know. Couldn't find it, and got tired of looking at it.

All I'm doing at this point is customizing a style sheet and updating it through the "advanced" tab in "appearance." Utimately, what I think that will mean is that it will be a piece of cake to theme for Drupal Gardens using this method for themers. It's taking me a little time simply because when I first created this Solstice theme, I used the Fusion base theme. I'm just having to view the source code that Drupal Gardens is creating, identify what's what, and rework my old css to match up with the divs that Drupal Gardens uses.

My next two tasks are to try to determine what's setting the width on the sidebar so I can enlarge it, and to eliminate the gap that I think is being caused by a "banner" region between my header and content areas.

One thing I wish existed, which actually may and I'm missing it, is a reset button for appearance items. Say I want to try styling a blog post title differently. I do that through the interface rather than the CSS, and save it. I couldn't find anything that would let me go back to the way it was if I didn't like it on one single title to get it to match the other titles. I'm probably just missing something or doing it wrong. That's okay, this is one big fun experiment right now.

1:53pm. My browser crashed. Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.4; en-US; rv:1.9.1.8) Gecko/20100202 Firefox/3.5.8 GTB6. Suspect it was Drupal Gardens related, but don't remember what I was doing when it crashed.

2:51pm. I'm getting there. I discovered how to upload background images, so I can take that hard coding out of my custom css that was pulling the images off my webserver. Still having problems changing the width of the content and sidebar areas.

4:17pm. Calling it a day. I've still got styling to do, but the basics are in. Will resume possibly tomorrow to finish it up.

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