Withdrawal symptoms are a terrible thing…

I’m going to indulge in a little unnecessary self-pity for a moment. I miss my computer. My new processor will arrive on Tuesday according to UPS and it can’t happen a moment too soon for my tastes. It’s not that I don’t have access to other machines (obviously) as I have my laptop as well as the Linux box I set up and then there’s Anne’s and Courtney’s PCs, but none of them are my baby. Most of my tools and my games are on my primary box. Not that there’s a whole lot game-wise I have a huge interest in playing right now with the exception of the City of Heroes beta that will end right about the same time I get my PC back up and running. I’m still annoyed at my own clumsiness over the whole thing, but you live and you learn.

Still, my laptop has helped to alleviate some of the symptoms to a degree. I’ve been able to continue to work on getting the new version of MovableType up and running properly and I’ve dismantled the Alpha test installation so I could re-install Drupal to play around with for a bit. I’m still considering possibly switching SEB from MT to Drupal if I can get a handle on how to do things with it mainly because it already does some of the things I mentioned the other day as hoping to see in MT3. Threaded comments, an integrated user registration system, and the ability to track all the new content since your last visit. It’s the closest thing to a cross between a full-blown CMS system and a blogging package, though it’s not without its faults. A rather complex template system for one thing. Seeing as part of the reason I’m thinking of switching is to add some features that would be of benefit to my regulars I’d love to hear what some of you folks think of Drupal. You can check out my test install here.

Hmmm, seems I went from whining about my PC being dead to talking about what I’m trying out in the way of new blogging packages. Nothing like a little distraction to make one forget their troubles.

13 thoughts on “Withdrawal symptoms are a terrible thing…

  1. I’m populating one of my sites using Drupal and if the experiment is successful and there’s a feasible migration path, my other sites may follow suit.

    My main interest is to determine if Drupal plays nicer with HTML-formatted static pages than my usual PostNukes do.

  2. As you might see on the test page, I’m wondering how a very long comment thread might hold up as the text box shrinks. Maybe someone else can carry my little experiment a little further than I did.

  3. If you change the appearance and layout of SEB, I’m going to be disappointed. This site is so easy to read, comment to and search for stuff on that I can’t imagine changes will be good for it. Editing of comments would be a nice option but there should be a time limit of 30 minutes or so to do so. Otherwise people tend to come back two weeks later and remove stuff causing comments after it to make less sense.

    As for requiring people to register before they can comment, this will tend to compromise conversations and the comment pool will get smaller.

    In the end, what makes this site relevant and interesting is your direction and design skills Les, so I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but I like the one of a kind look and feel of it. I hope you change only what you need to to keep maintenance bearable.

  4. I’m very new to Drupal myself, but it doesn’t seem particularly hard to make the display format match the current SEB.

    What I wonder most about are how the comments will work out. Are new comments since your last visit visually highlighted so that it’s easy to keep track of new comments even in a nested display?

  5. Sounds like I’m not the only one considering Drupal. Brooks, I’ll hop over and play around at your site a bit as well. I’m curious how well it’d handle deep nesting of comments as well. Of course, there’s more than one way to display comments in drupal which could possibly mitigate any problems the default display might develop.

    Brocks, I appreciate the kind words about my meager design skills, but as Elwed has pointed out it probably wouldn’t take too much to convert the current layout over to Drupal. It might not be an exact conversion, but a lot of what I am doing with hacks here are replicated by modules for Drupal. One of the things I’m hoping to provide which isn’t possible at the moment with MT is the ability for folks like you to submit content that would go into a queue for consideration for posting on the main page. From what I’ve seen it’s even possible to set up Drupal to be similar to Fark.com in that anyone could submit stories and then the regulars can vote on the submissions and anything which passes a certain threshold of votes would then be published to the main page. I don’t know that I’d set things up like that initially, but it’d be cool to have access to a few things that would make SEB a little more of a community site. As for comments, I’d set things up so that unregistered users could still comment though I think Drupal names them Anonymous Coward.

    Elwed, not sure if Drupal highlights new comments or not. It looks like what it does is list off all the new content anywhere in the site.

  6. Les, this looks like an appropriate place to pose a question/suggestion that has been in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks. It appears that MT3 assigns a sequential serial number to each comment. These serials are visible (at the end of the full address) on the status bar when you put you cursor on either the [go] at the end of Recent Comments or a User Name at the foot of one of your posts on the main page.

    If feasible, would you consider making these serials permanently available—perhaps by including them at the end of the wrote the following header? That way a properly constructed link to another thread would open at the right place

  7. You mean setting things up so comments have their own ‘permalinks’? Sure, that’s easy enough to do. I set things up so the comment id was attached to each comment intentionally so I could do the little most recent comments trick on the left that would go straight to the comment intself. Adding a permalink would be simple enough. I’ll do it now.

  8. OK, if I’ve done this right then this link here should take you to VernR’s comment about making comment permalinks available.

    Is this what you were thinking of VernR?

  9. I should do my homework and check to see if new comments can be highlighted or not - it’s not like I don’t have plenty of test installs myself… If it doesn’t do it out of the box, it may not be all that hard to patch it in.

    Speaking for myself, the taxonomy and node model is what makes Drupal so attractive.

  10. 1. We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into Drupal’s comment module.  The number of SQL queries issued by the comment module is constant, and does not depend on the number of comment threads (or the amount of comments).  The comment module’s performance should not be an issue. 

    2. New comments can be tracked using the tracker module.  For authenticated users, new posts and comments are marked (visually highlighted) with a red asteriks (by default).

    3. Lastly, it is straightforward to create a Drupal theme that looks like the current SEB theme.

  11. Thanks for the input, Dries. The more I play around with Drupal the more I like it. It’s still a little confusing trying to figure out what’s where and I’ve not even looked at the theme templates yet, but overall it’s impressive. Though I did spend 20 minutes trying to figure out where the setting that turns on the option for user’s to pick which template to use and never found it. I know I’ve seen it before, but can’t remember where.

    Elwed, when I checked the test install earlier today I noted that all the new comments from Brooks were marked with a red NEW so it does appear it makes it clear what’s a new comment and what isn’t. I haven’t played with the Books module yet, but it sounds like that can be used to make FAQs and the like.

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