May 12, 2010

Tips to Theme with Drupal

Drupal has a fast growing user base and is one of the most popular Content Management Systems currently. The built-in functionality, combined with a plethora of freely available add-on modules, enables features such as eCommerce, Blogs, collaborative authoring environments, forums, peer-to-peer networking, newsletters, podcasting, picture galleries, file upload/download and much more. Here is a rundown of some Drupal tricks that can make “theme-ing” simpler.

1. Set up a quick “wireframe” site (simple line drawings that show the placement of elements on a webpage) using a simple theme. Show this and its HTML output to your web designer. Mark items like tabs and messages.

2. While working on a new theme, change your administration theme.

3. Learn Firebug for all front-end development.

4. Insert this inside any template file to see what variables are available.

This will make make verification easier.

5. Include page caching by substituting dynamic page elements in your theme.

6. For users who are not logged in, use absolute values such as “posted on {date}
at {time}”, rather than relative such as “{X} hours, {Y} seconds ago”.

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