I just wanted to say that I kind of screwed this blog up by not posting my progress anymore. But that's okay I guess, 'cause nobody was reading it anyway :-)
But here's the good news, the website did get finished, and it also has a blog. So if you're interested in what I'm up to now, or you're curious if I'm going to screw this new blog up too, have a look at http://www.nicolasdecorte.be
When you’re a web designer, or any other kind of programmer you’ll probably be familiar with following problem. You’re thinking about your newest design, making sketches, writing down your thoughts perform some tests and there it is… The Light… You have a superb idea!
And there you go, you start implementing. You program the screens, the backbone and whatever other thing you need to program, and then it’s time for the big moment. You press the button (or enter or anything), you’re expecting the best, the really best, ‘because let’s face it… you are the best… But the system says: “Nope, ain’t gonna do it”.
Yes, it’s sad but true, you got an error.
So you curse a little, browse through the code to see if you can find anything that shouldn’t be there, you start downloading half the internet, you curse a little more, you smoke 10 cigarettes in one hour like that’s going to help, and at the end… hopefully… you find a solution. Now that ruined all the fun didn’t it? Isn’t that one of those situations where you want to rip your head off?
Now here’s a case study:
In Drupal, I wanted to implement a fancy image gallery. As I’m not the kind of guy who wants to invent the warm water all over again (you may call it lazy if you want), I started browsing the web for solutions. And there it was, the image gallery I’d been dreaming of. So I read the manual, implemented the module, everything was ready to upload the first image, and BAM! An error:
Unable to create scaled Thumbnail image.
No man lost, maybe this module isn’t exactly bug-free, so I downloaded another fancy image gallery module (although not as fancy as the first one), implemented it, but again the system said “Screw you, ain’t gonna happen”.
So I started browsing the internet, downloaded thousand and one different tools, patches, and all other crap, but still nothing.
But then I found a forum, which stated that this error actually didn’t have anything to do with Drupal, but with my PHP installation… When I thought I was a specialist who could install Apache with PHP with my eyes closed I may have done something wrong after all. Next thing I knew I was messing up my installation, editing my PHP.ini file, adding new lines, deleting them again, adding them again, starting the web server, stopping it, restarting it… You know the drill, don’t you?
So are you wondering what solved the problem? Well… I was editing the wrong php.ini file. Whenever I found out which file was actually used it was piece of cake, and the upload of images worked well.
Isn’t that always the case? It’s those small stupid things which keep you up all night searching for a solution. It happens very rarely that I spend my time searching for a problem that appears to be a bug in the software. 99 percent of the time it’s just one stupid mistake.
That really makes me wanting to screw my head loose and put it on a stick!
I didn’t get any inspiration… I’m the inventor of travel blogs. In fact, I’m the inventor of blogging!
Now I have to tell you something that’ll blow your mind, so maybe you better sit down first.
Okay, here we go: The first sentence of this post is a big lie, I didn’t really invent blogging…
You can’t believe it, do you? I KNOW! It sounds strange but it’s the truth…
I have been reading several blogs in the past, mostly because Google came up with them when I was searching for something. I wasn’t really following any, I just read the information I was looking for, and if it was very interesting, I also read some other articles on the blog.
At that time I thought blogging was something for people with too much time.
Why would anyone want to write technical articles? Most of the information can be found in books or on professional websites.
And why would someone want to write personal stuff? An online diary… wasn’t the purpose of a diary that it’s personal? Something you hide in a box with a lock under your bed?
Don’t worry, in the meantime I’ve changed my opinion! Bloggers are people who have something to say which might interest other people. And even if it helps only one person in the whole wide world, that’s one more than if he kept his idea for himself.
But back to the topic. You need to know that I really like travel stories. I regularly buy books from Peter Moore
But next to the “real” travel writers, there are thousands of “amateur” writers who post their stories for free on the internet. Some of them do this on websites like BootsnAll
That’s how one day I stumbled upon the websites of Marc Moxon
The website of Marc consists of stories he has written about his travels, and Matt mostly writes blog posts about his is travels together with travel tips. But the thing they have in common is that they love travelling and they love writing. It’s not their purpose to earn big money with it (and honestly, I don’t think they are), but I’m quite sure they’ve been helpful to one or two persons.
Well this is where I got my mustard. This is what I wanted to do too!
So I started reading about blogging and bloggers. This is how I got to know the Art of Nonconformity
Another inspiring blog is In the Hot Spot
The last blog I want to show you is Men with Pens
Now to finish, I’ll let you in to a little secret. I know I’ve let you down in the beginning of this post, but I’ll try to make it up to you.
I may not be the inventor of blogging, I even may not be the inventor of travel blogging, but the idea of writing a blog about the creation of a website is totally MINE! Maybe someone else has done it before me, I don’t know, but I promise that I came up with it all by myself!
Here it is…my first Drupal tutorial! The reason why I wrote this is because it took me about a day to figure out how I could link different secondary menus to certain primary menus. I couldn’t find much helpful information on the web, so here goes…
What I wanted to do is following:
On the top pane of the website I have the primary menu with several items. Then on the left pane, I wanted different secondary menus, displayed depending on the choice in the primary menu.
Are you still with me?
I’ll give an example: Let’s say that my primary menu consists of the options “Articles” and “Photography”. When someone presses the Photography button, a sub menu needs to appear in the left pane with the options “Travel photos”, “Portraits” and “Projects”. When someone presses the button “Articles”, I want a sub menu in the left pane with “Travel articles” and “Web design articles”. Do you see what I mean?
To be able to follow this tutorial, I expect that you had a first touch and feel of Drupal. It might also be useful if you already played a bit with menus and blocks.
Also note that this tutorial is for Drupal v6.*
Enabling the Path module
First of all you need to enable the “Path” module.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Modules
In the category “core-optional”, search for the Path module, check it and press Save.
The primary menu
First we want to create our primary menu which will appear on top of the screen. We will use the “primary links” menu which is installed by default.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Menus > Primary links
Go to the tab Add item
We don’t have a page or story yet, so in the path field, we’ll just fill out “node/add”, as proposed by Drupal. In the Menu link title field we fill out “Photography”, and we leave the other options as they are. To finish we press the save button.
Now we do the same for the Articles menu. We can set the path again to “node/add”.
Note that by changing the weight of your menu item, you select where it will appear in the menu. The lighter the item, the higher (or more to the left because we work with a horizontal menu) it will appear in the menu. For Photography we took weight “0”, so if we take e.g. “5” for Articles, the Photography item will appear first and the Articles item will appear last. Let’s say we take “-5” for Articles, the order will be the other way around.
* HINT: don’t let your weights follow directly on each other. Maybe later you’ll want to insert a new item between two existing items, and if you don’t have any “free” weights in between, you’ll need to change the weight of your other items too.
Now go to the tab List items, and you’ll see your newly created menu items.
The next step is to determine where your primary menu should be shown.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Blocks
Search for the Primary links block and change the region to “header”. You’ll notice that the block now appears in the header section.
Don’t forget to press the Save button.
The secondary menus
The next step is to create our secondary menus. The most logical solution seems to be the use of the predefined “Secondary links” menu, right? Wrong! Because we want to create several different secondary menus, we’ll need to create our own menus.
Let’s start with the submenu for Articles.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Menus
Go to the tab Add menus
We give our menu a name and a title, and we press Save.
Now a new empty menu has been created.
You might also want to do the same for every other submenu you want to create (e.g. Photography).
Note that we didn’t add any items to the menu (yet).
Next thing we need to do is define the location of this menu, which we do (similarly to the primary item) with blocks.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Blocks
You’ll notice that by creating the Articles menu, the system also created an articles block. You change the region of this block to “Left sidebar”.
Now press the configure operation of your Articles block (it’s next to region).
This is where we can set when a certain block is or isn’t shown. Let us have a look at the possibilities:
User specific visibility settings: Custom visibility settings
This is where you can define if a user can hide a block or not. We don’t want our users to hide our submenu, so we take the option “Users cannot control whether or not they see this block”.
Role specific visibility settings: Show block of specific roles
Who should be able to see our submenu? Everyone, I guess… So we just don’t check anything, because nothing seems to mean everything here.
Page specific visibility settings: Show block on specific pages
This is where it gets interesting. Here’s where we define on which pages the menu should be shown.
I can already think of a couple pages that’ll certainly need this menu: the default “Articles” page, the default “Travel articles” page and the default “Web design articles” page. But then what? For each article, we’ll probably create a new page, does this mean that after creating every new article, we’ll need to add it to this setting? That seems very time annoying and time consuming… Indeed, but there’s a trick!
Let’s just leave this setting as it is for now, press Save, and we’ll come back to this later.
Create content for the submenu
Now let us start creating the default pages for our articles.
First things first, the default “Articles” page, which appears when the Articles button in the primary menu is pressed.
Go to: Create content > Page
Give the page a title and enter some content in the body
All other settings can be left as they are, except for the URL path settings where you fill something like “articles/articles”.
What we’re doing here is a way of grouping our pages. The first part (before the slash) is the name of the group, the second part is the name of the page. I propose that you group your pages similar to your primary menu items, but you can go as far in this as you want, creating several subgroups. E.g. if you’re planning to write a lot of articles about different CMS, you might want to create “articles/webdev/CMS/Drupal” and “articles/webdev/CMS/Wordpress”. You can think this all over before you start, but if you feel like extending your groups later, it’s not a big deal.
You press the Save button, and your first page has been created.
Now we want to link this page to the “Articles” button in our primary menu.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Menus > Primary links
Press the edit operation for the Articles menu item, and change the path to “articles/articles”, or whatever url path you defined previously.
Press save, and your page is linked.
Now let us create a page for your first submenu item “Travel articles”.
Go to: Create content > Page
Similar to the Articles page, you enter a title and some content.
Remember that we didn’t create new items in our submenu? This is because we can do that directly here, which can save us quite some time.
You click on menu settings and fill out following settings:
- Menu link title: how you want to call your submenu item (here it’s “Travel Articles”)
- Parent item: Select the name of your self-created submenu (here it’s “Articles”)
- Weight: similar as in the primary menu, you should already know how this works, right?
Now the only thing that we still need to do is define the URL path. We put it in the same group as the Articles page, but we call the page “travel-articles”.
Press the Save button, and our second page has been created. Now you can do the same for all other pages, don’t forget to group them using URL path, and to enter Menu settings, if you want your page to appear as a menu item.
The secondary menus (part deux)
Let’s get back to where we left earlier.
Go to: Administer > Site building > Blocks
First of all make sure that the “Articles” block is put in the Left sidebar region. If this is not the case, change the region and press Save.
Choose the configure operation of the Articles block. Scroll down to “Page specific visibility settings: Show block on specific pages”, and choose the option “Show on only the listed pages”.
Then you have field where you need to enter all the pages where this submenu should be shown, but because we’ve grouped our pages using “URL path”, we can easily use a wildcard to define our pages. Here the wildcard will be “articles/*”
Now the submenu will be shown on every page where the URL path starts with “articles/”.
Of course we now want to see if it works. Let’s follow this test case:
1. In the top (primary) menu, press “Articles”. Now your default Articles page should appear, and on the left pane you should see the Articles submenu with the items you’ve created.
2. Press on an item in the Articles submenu (e.g. “Travel articles”). Your default page for that item should appear, and the Articles submenu is still available on the left pane.
3. Press in the top menu on “Photography”. Now you should see whatever page you’ve set as default for Photography (if you following this manual, it will probably be “node/add”), and the Articles submenu disappeared. Similar to Articles, you’ll need to create a submenu for Photography.
In case this test process failed: You might have done something wrong and you’ll need to start all over again.
In case this test process is successful but it doesn’t do what you expected: I’m sorry to tell you that you probably spent a lot of time reading the wrong tutorial.
In any case, you can certainly post a comment with your ideas and/or doubts.
Yes…it’s true… I finally decided to put the old website down.
While I was reviewing the progress of the new website, it came up to me that it became time to leave the past behind and start looking at the future. Sounds quite philosophic, doesn’t it?
According to my (current) planning, I should be able to put the new site online on the first of November, which is in about two months. As this blog is also progressing, I noticed an increased number of visitors to www.nicolasdecorte.be who ended up viewing the old site. This is why I thought it would be nicer to put an under construction message instead.
The thing with under construction messages is that they all look alike: a couple of roadwork signs and some text saying that the website can’t be entered. BORING! Everybody has seen this a thousand times and to be honest, how many times do you return to see if there’s already any progress? Probably not much huh…
Therefore I wanted something else, something that wouldn’t just scare the visitor away.
After renting the Hollywood movie the Bank Job last week, I noticed the cover of the DVD was in newspaper style. It consisted of small articles and pictures which attracted my attention and made me want to have a closer look.
Now I knew what I wanted: an under construction page in newspaper style. I didn’t want to put too much work in it, after all it’s just a temporary page, but still I wanted it to look professional, so I started searching the internet for some kind of template. Soon I found exactly what I wanted on the GTemplates website.
Please have a look at www.nicolasdecorte.be and let me know what you think about it. Do you think it’s better that a regular under construction page? Are you attracted to read at least one article?
The only fear I have is that when you see this first, it might look like this is the actual website and not like it’s under construction. You probably have to read a bit before you notice that this is only temporary…
For those who still want to enjoy the old version, it’s available at www.nicolasdecorte.be/V2