Archive for January, 2010

The new Drupal 7 interface

I must confess, I’ve never been a huge fan op Drupal. I know it’s a powerful application framework. I know it is very extensible. I know there are lots of free modules around that fit almost every need. So what’s not to like then? I’ll tell you: the interface. I’ve used all major content management systems in the last couple of years, and Drupal is the clear winner in terms of clunky and annoying interface. It was clear that the user experience was not much of a concern for the Drupal team.
So for that simple reason, I never really considered Drupal when starting a new project.
But when Drupal 7 was announced, it got me interested again. A Drupal User Experience Project was set up to improve the, eeeehm… user experience, so it looked like they were aware of the problem and were getting ready to tackle it.
2 years of development later, Drupal 7 Alpha is finally released, so time to forget about the past and give it another try.
The install procedure is very nice and easy, and is pretty similar to other systems. Then, once installed, the interface showed up, and it was… a fail!
Maybe my expectations were too high. But, you see, I’m a hug fan of Metalab. They do fantastic jobs on web interfaces. Simple, beautiful, and efficient. Or take for example CampaignMonitor. It shines in simplicity and user friendlyness. If you are getting used to working with those kind of applications, Drupal 7 is pretty disappointing. I do realize that Drupal is a much more complex system then most other applications, since Drupal is more ‘generic’ and closer to a framework. But still, I believe they could have done a much better job. So I’m afraid that even the new interface will continue to scare beginners, and not much progress will be achieved in this field.
So for now I’m still not going to use Drupal 7 for regular websites, and maybe when the stable version is out I’ll give it another go. Until then I’ll stick with WordPress or Expression Engine.
P.S. I’m evaluating Drupal here primarily as a CMS system for websites, not so much as a framework for building applications. For websites, you just want it work out of the box, looking good and simple for the client, without the need for custom coding.

drupalI must admit, I’ve never been a huge fan op Drupal. I know it’s a powerful application framework. I know it is very extensible. I know there are lots of free modules around that fit almost every need. So what’s not to like then? I’ll tell you: the interface. I’ve used all major content management systems in the last couple of years, and Drupal is the clear winner in terms of clunky and annoying interface. It was clear that the user experience was not much of a concern for the Drupal team.
So for that simple reason, I didn’t consider Drupal that often when starting on a new website project.

But when Drupal 7 was announced, I got interested again. A Drupal User Experience Project was set up to improve the, eeeehm… user experience, so it looked like they were aware of the problem and were getting ready to tackle it.
2 years of development later, Drupal 7 Alpha is finally released, so time to forget about the past and give it another try.

The install procedure is very nice and easy, and is pretty similar to other systems. Then, once installed, the interface showed up and, it was… a fail!

Drupal 7 interface
They did a good job on better organizing the different actions in categories that are clear and make sense, but what keeps annoying me is the fact that the interface is still not intuitive and in my opionion a bit of a mess. I don’t know really. When I saw the new WordPress 2.7 interface some time ago, I was really excited by the huge progress they made. With Drupal 7, I can’t say I’m impressed.
Maybe my expectations were too high. But, you see, I’m a hug fan of Metalab. They do fantastic jobs on web interfaces. Simple, beautiful, and efficient. Or take for example the CampaignMonitor software. It shines in simplicity and user friendliness. If you are getting used to working with those kind of applications, the Drupal 7 interface is pretty disappointing. I do realize that Drupal is a much more complex system then most other applications, since Drupal is more ‘generic’ and closer to a framework. But still, I believe they could have done a much better job. So I’m afraid that even the new interface will continue to scare beginners, and not much progress will be achieved in this field.

So for now I’m still not going to use Drupal 7 for regular websites, and maybe when the stable version is out I’ll give it another go. Until then I’ll stick with one of the alternatives.

Final note:
I’m evaluating Drupal here primarily as a CMS system for websites, not so much as a framework for building applications. For websites, I just want it to work out of the box, looking good and simple for the client, without the need for custom coding.
I’m also aware that you’re free to design your own interface, but not having to do that looks as one of the major advantages to me.

Naming your files

When I was creating the WordPress theme for a blog last week, I had to conclude once again that file naming is something that could use a little more attention. Too often I see file names that just don’t make a lot of sense.
In the case of WordPress themes, by convention you need to name your stylesheet “style.css”. The thing is that the “css” extension already states that the file is a stylesheet, so why name it “style”? I would never name my spreadsheet “spreadsheet.xls”, of my text files “text.txt”. These are actually pleonasms, like white snow or cold ice.
As for stylesheets, I prefer some naming like “website.css”, “cms.css”, “global.css”, or “reset.css”. A name that actually tells you something about the purpose/content instead of the obvious.

Zend Famework now has a similar convention. The default layout view should be called “layout.phtml”, located in the directory “layouts”. Eeehm, when a file resides in a folder “layouts”, you might expect it do be a layout file, right? So why name it “layout”? Wouldn’t “default” be a much better choice then (like how it was back in ZF 1.7)?

Well, maybe I’m whining over a detail here, but to me things have to make sense, even the little details. Or am I failing to see the logic in these aforementioned naming conventions?

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