Upgrading and redesigning tomgeller.com on Drupal 7

22 February 2011

I’ve been watching Drupal 7 for almost two years now and have been champing at the bit to start using it. I launched the promotional site for “Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide” in Drupal 7 — how could I not? — about a month before Drupal 7’s official release. Now I’ve also taken the opportunity to combine tomgeller.com and gellerguides.com (my portfolio site) into one. The new one is at tomgeller.com, of course; for the moment you can still see the old version (with comments closed) at http://temp.tgeller.com.

The upgrade itself wasn’t so bad, although I ran into more error messages than I expected. But merging the two sites was frankly harder than I expected. There are basically three options for transporting nodes:

  • Feeds: This is my favorite tool except for two things: There’s no way to bring over node comments in D7 (yet!), and I was stymied for hours until I realized that it demands Unix-style line endings. (On the Mac you can force those in the Save dialog box of TextWrangler.)
  • Node Export: Again, no way to bring in comments, but otherwise handy. Despite its name, it handles both exporting and importing — which is good, because there’s still no D7 version of Node Import.
  • Migrate: Requires substantial custom programming, and is therefore a non-starter for me. People who can use it say it’s great, though.

I mention these options — and a lot more — in the paper I wrote for Acquia, “Migrating a Web Site to Drupal”. (That link takes you to one of my Panels– and Quick Tabs-based portfolio pages, which I’m very proud of.)

Beyond node migration, there were other surprises. For example, messages that Drupal automatically sends to users — to confirm their membership, for example — use old-style tokens like !username instead of [user:name], and have to be changed manually. I missed a theming change that threw some baffling errors, and had to drop some functionality because the modules weren’t ready. Then the statistics table stubbornly refused to update properly — until I moved the site to its host.

So what’s the prognosis? I agree with TimOnWeb.com that your situation dictates whether to upgrade to (or build anew on) Drupal 7. The “7.0” label is psychologically powerful, and I made the mistake of believing that its “release” meant that major problems had all disappeared. They haven’t; there’s still a lot of work to be done. (Speaking of which, please continue to support developers who are working on 7.x projects!)

Having said all that: The proof is in the pudding. tomgeller.com is up and running on Drupal 7, with a hell of a lot of functionality I’d been withholding while on Drupal 6. Enjoy this forward-looking time for all its worth.

Web development

2 Replies to “Upgrading and redesigning tomgeller.com on Drupal 7”

  1. Drupal 7 functionality
    I was curious what functionality you had been withholding with Drupal 6? Was it features that were not available with Drupal 6?
    Since you mention blogging with Drupal, I thought of some questions. Do you use Drupal alone for your blog or do you use another tool such as WordPress? I actually use WordPress along with having a Drupal site. The reason I do this is because I don’t know if Drupal has any modules for broadcasting ones posts to the Social web. At least, not that I am aware of. I was interested in something like Network Publisher that lets you broadcast your posts to facebook, twitter, linkedin.com and etc. Maybe I should get up to speed with module development.

    1. The whole thing is on Drupal
      Hi, Bruce – thanks for writing. Now that I look back at my post, I don’t know what I meant by “withholding functionality” on Drupal 6. I think it was that I didn’t bother to build out something that I believed would be easier in Drupal 7 — but now I don’t know what that might have been. Sorry.

      Anyway: Yes, this site is entirely done in Drupal. A prime example of a simple blog in Drupal is the site of Dries Buytaert, Drupal’s creator, at http://buytaert.net .

      I haven’t done much with social media, but there are LOTS of modules that help you broadcast to Facebook et al. For one thing, I believe you can do some of that through simple RSS (which is built into Drupal). But then a search for “Facebook” on the modules page at http://drupal.org/project/modules returns 61 hits, some of them even relevant. 🙂 Also note the “social media map” that Acquia produced for DrupalCon London, at https://association.drupal.org/files/social-tube-infographic_0.pdf . (That nonbranded version is part of the Drupal Association’s “Biz Connect” page at https://association.drupal.org/bizconnect/tools .)

      Good luck!