Drupal tips, tricks, tutorials

CAPTCHA, Captcha Pack, reCAPTCHA

A Captcha is a method of displaying something readable to a human being, but which a computer program is unable to read. The human being is then instructed to enter that information into the web page. The web page software then can check what the human enters, and if the entered value matches then the software can be assured it was a human being. It's a kind of reverse Turing test.

CAPTCHA and other methods to reducing SPAM

SPAM (the unwanted extraneous content that floods the Internet, not the barely desirable canned meat product) can infest an unprotected Drupal website. There are ways to prevent SPAM on a Drupal site. Otherwise you're likely to be spending lots of time removing the infestation. I sure was early on in my career with Drupal.

Liveblogging drupal 6 beta 3 installation

7:20 Unpacked distribution and moved files into webserver docroot

$ mv drupal-6.0-beta3/* .
$ mv drupal-6.0-beta3/.htaccess .

7:21 Set up database in the control panel

7:22 Connected with web browser to website. I'm taken directly to the Drupal install screen and can choose to install in English or other languages. To install in a different language requires downloading a language pack and unpacking it into the directory. This could be made smoother, I suppose.

Directory-like browsing of Drupal taxonomies

In my case I like using freetagging taxonomies, which results in lots of taxonomy terms, and then I like to arrange those terms into a hierarchy. Using a hierarchy helps the visitor understand the vocabulary lists by clumping related terms together. Unfortunately the default view of taxonomy term lists is not to my liking. It simply lists (using a pager) teasers for the nodes having a given taxonomy term. I want the taxonomy term list to do some more useful things including:-

  • List related and child terms
  • Give a description (optional) of the term

Fun or useful doodads

The Drupal community has developed or incorporated many useful gadgets (doodads) that supposedly improve the user experience.

WebSnapr Preview Bubble and Snap Preview Anywhere both extend links to external websites to have a popup window that shows a preview of the page being linked. This should help with letting your visitors know that it's an external link, and what's on that destination. These add to page download times, however.

Customizing the display of Drupal taxonomy elements

By default when Drupal displays a node all taxonomy terms associated with the node are displayed together at the top (or bottom) of the node. While this is really convenient you might want to display the terms in a different way. sort taxonomy links ($terms) by vocabulary ($vid) and Display taxonomy terms broken out by vocabulary are two ways to change a theme so the terms are displayed separately based on their taxonomy.

The Drupal Taxonomy system

Taxonomy is the classification of things into categories and types. The most widely known example of taxonomy is the taxonomical classification of plants which works by describing several characteristics.

In Drupal taxonomy is a relatively simple categorization system. The administrator defines one or more taxonomies, and adds terms to the taxonomies. A taxonomy can also be thought of as a category. Terms can be thought of as keywords. A taxonomy (or category), then, can be thought of as a group of keywords (or terms).

Some notes on using and configuring the Drupal content management system

Drupal is a content management system especially attuned to building online community websites. It has many powerful features and to my eye its most important feature is the community surrounding its development. I have built many websites using Drupal and find it to be very useful.

Drupal and clean URL's

What do I mean by "clean" URL's? The URL is of course the string appearing in the browser location bar, and means 'Universal Resource Locator'. Theoretically the URL is used by computer software and maybe it doesn't matter to the user what the URL contents are. However people do share URL's with each other, they read URL's over the phone, write them down on note paper, post them on billboards, etc. For those human uses it is helpful to make URL's useful to humans.

First impressions of Drupal 6

Drupal is moving forward, and the team is getting ready with Drupal 6. I'm doing a test installation and live-blogging what I see as I do it.

I first went into my web hosting control panel, and added a new mysql instance. Since the Drupal 6 beta 1 page says this beta version should not be used on production sites. We've resolved most errors reported so far, but there are outstanding known issues in bold letters, I'm not converting a production site (yet). Instead it's a test site on one of the "spare" (unused) domains I own.

Installation steps were:-