Provisioning and install script for a speedy Drupal workflow

I made this script and the database backup, dump, and SVN commit script because I was determined to spend as little time as possible doing sysadmin while setting up dev and staging sites, so that I could spend as much time as possible developing (e.g., the fun stuff). With one command the script can:

  • 'svn up' a version controlled database, and upload it to your database
  • Run queries against database to set preferred site defaults
  • 'svn up' site docroot
  • Copy over fresh "files" directory from another site (e.g., production). Note, not a good option if you have your "files" directory version controlled.
  • Set owner:group file permissions on all site files

How to
The script should go in non-public, secure directory, which is somewhere below the site doc root. I haven't tried running it with permissions less than sudo, though it may be possible. Invoke by doing:

sh path/to/


28 March, 2009

Easy (and free) way to test local sites with iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices

So you have a virtualhost set up for Apache and your local site is running at http://yoursite.local and everything is working great on your computer. Now you want to test that awesome responsive design you've been working on with some other device(s), so you try to go to yoursite.local which won't work unless you want to modify the host file on the device(s), which is something you can't even do to an iPhone/iPad without jailbreaking it. Gah.

So, then you try to access the site with your device by just using your computer's IP address + the path to your docroot (for instance - great idea and now the site at least sort of loads, but all the links to the CSS/JS and image files are broken...

In my own search to avoid jailbreaking I finally figured out how to enable normal-looking-pages access to devices following a bit of trial and error. The whole setup to enable this is done on the computer your site exists on - no need to fiddle with any of your other device(s) settings:

15 February, 2009

Three little lines of code that you may learn to love

Assignment: Create a highly customized page/node in Drupal and:

  • Be able to develop the page/node using our text editor of choice and avoid the time-consuming and not-intended-to-be-developer friendly Drupal node-editing interface
  • Optionally be able to decide whether to have the page/node be editable by the via the Drupal UI or not.

Sure, we could do this by creating a page-node-xx.tpl.php template file (where 'xx' is the node id number), but that's just a major hassle later on when updating/theming things and it won't give us the flexibility of being able to let an end-user edit things.

In this case, the thing to do is to create a file called my-file.php (.php because we want our text-editor to still recognize it correctly), put it in our theme folder, check the PHP input filter on the node itself, and then place this code in a node:

// Include a file with the rendering of a node so that you can edit in text editor and just refresh without having to use Drupal UI
$filename = 'my-file.php';
$path_to_file = drupal_get_path('theme', 'your_themes_name') .'/'. $filename;

What this will do is look for the file you placed inside your theme folder called "my-file.php" and render it. Which means that you make changes directly to my-file.php without having to touch the node itself and thus simply refresh your node anytime you make changes to the file.

This method has the advantage of:

  • Saving a ton of time and headaches of dealing with the Drupal interface and doing without your favorite code editing tool.
  • After you're finished you'll have the option of choosing to replace the include-code with the final code inside your file so that an end-user can edit it within UI...
  • ...or you can just keep things like this and be able to do cool things like check the code into version control, which means that you basically get many of the benefits of a tpl.php file without the cost of one.

Enjoy and happy coding. :-)

UPDATE: if this all sounds like a good idea to you, head over to the project page for Save-to-File which was inspired by a conversation in the comment thread below.

22 March, 2008

Advanced Theme Construction Kit (ATCK) updated for Drupal 6

The Advanced Theme Construction Kit, which integrates a derivative of the Yahoo grids CSS library within a Drupal framework, was updated and released for Drupal 6 today.

Something new
After religiously following the changes to Drupal 6's theme-layer for many months now, as well as actively coding a Drupal 6 module for the past month and a half, I was thinking that upgrading ATCK was going to be a snap...

In some ways it was, but the Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 theme conversion was by far the most complicated theme update I've seen since being involved with Drupal (4.5 onward). As it turns out the Drupal 5 template.php file for ATCK was almost completely useless, and it was with great thanks that I (again) borrowed heavily from Hunchbaque's template.php in order to get the desired granularity for classes/id's.

One area I did depart from core and the Hunchbaque theme on is the handling of css files. Allowing for the possibility that there is something that I'm 'missing', I can't say that I'm currently very happy with Drupal's new method of adding stylesheets via .info files, nor with the functions that Hunchbaque currently uses in it's template.php to add IE-only css. The core method of stylesheet handling makes stylesheets a bit of a pain to refresh, and I found both methods to be unreliable with respect to conditionally adding stylesheets.

In the end 'old fashioned' conditional statements were implemented within page.tpl.php, and a custom function added to template.php. Along with being reliable, this combo provides the ability to tell Drupal to NOT import specific core css files (e.g., if you don't want the node.css file loaded - simply add a line to the function inside ATCK's template.php and node.css never gets loaded).

Something old
The most satisfying part of the upgrade was that the centerpiece of ATCK, the Yahoo Grids-inspired CSS library, did not require a single change. So this part has proven to indeed be modular and Drupal version independent. :-)

Future development plans for ATCK
* Possibly add the edit functionality that the Zen theme has introduced to make managing blocks and views easier.


HigherVisibility is looking for assistance!

15 March, 2008

Dev Mashup: Building a dual MySQL 4.1 and MySQL 5 dev environment in OS X 10.5 Leopard (and more)

I've been wanting to upgrade to MySQL 5 for a while now, and after hearing that MySQL 5 is required for Drupal 7 I decided to bump up my upgrade schedule, pronto. If all one wants is MySQL 5 then that is easy enough -- go download MAMP and you're done. But what if you want to be able to dev on MySQL 4 for projects that require it for whatever reason (e.g., clients who are run it and are not willing/able to upgrade MySQL at the moment)?

Well, with not a lot of effort - it very easy to have a PHP 5, PHP 4, MySQL 5, and MySQL 4.1 environment - all sharing the same doc root and servernames (e.g., urls):

Step one:
Configure Apple's native Apache, PHP, and add a free-standing MySQL 4.1 install (since MAMP comes with MySQL 5, right). Here are two good links to get you on your way to doing this:
Install Drupal on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
Working with PHP 5 in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

...if you are migrating a free-standing MySQL install from a previous install you may want to check these articles out (1, 2) as well.

Note: Getting all of this totally set up and working right, including setting up your virtualhosts and /etc/hosts file, before installing MAMP will pay off.

Step two:
Download MAMP and follow the readme.txt instructions and/or use these links to setup the basics:
HowTo: Create a local environment using MAMP
Install a Local Web Server on Mac OSX

Step three:
Now it's time to integrated these two completely separate environments so that you can keep a common doc root, virtualhosts, and urls, and systems tools (we'll get terminal access going for MAMP's MySQL):

We'll make it so that we can keep all of our sites, no matter which enviroment they require, in a common place -- and so that no matter what we're running we will always be able type in "localhost", or and know that it will take us to our doc root (instead of having to remember to type "localhost:8888/" for MAMP:). Relatedly, doing the steps below lets us keep common server names (e.g., 'mysite.local') across environments.

So now:

* Change the docroot in MAMP's httpd.conf (line 368) to:
DocumentRoot "/Library/WebServer/Documents"

15 February, 2008

Announcing the Advanced Theme Construction Kit (atck)

I am pleased to announce the official release of the Advanced Theme Construction Kit (atck) (project page):

atck was developed in a production environment for purposes of quickly building css and xhtml valid Drupal themes from scratch without having to un-theme an existing Drupal theme to do it.

atck components include:

1. WYSIWYG grid builder
A browser-based grid builder which produces starter code for a page.tpl.php file. The grid builder itself was originially built by Christos Constandinou and it uses a modified version of Yahoo Grids which is more flexible and easier to customize. With Christos' permission it, and the supporting css, has been customized so that it works for Drupal themes and so that it is css3 valid. Access the builder online (FF only!), or download it and run it locally. [builder cannot be on because of MIT license]

2. style.css [separate download because of BSD license]
style.css contains only the css needed to support what the grid-builder outputs, as well as some general 'resets'. The only modifications one should need to make here would be if they want to make their layout a fixed width and/or a different width (default widths are in %).

3. page-layout.css and template.php
These files are where the visual styling of the site happens. The source of these files is from a combination of code from the Hunchbaque theme and some changes/additions which I added in order to provide baseline settings I prefer and/or provide more granular settings. The beauty of these files is the simplicty of them - they include as little markup/styling as possible to avoid complexity, while at the same time putting many helpful tools/comments at your finger tips so that you can accomplish what you want.

4. page.tpl.php
A sample page.tpl.file is included as a reference for finishing your own page.tpl.php file using code output from the grid builder. Note particularly the variable names for the blocks, regions, menus, etc. (at this point the builder does not include those items)

5. fix-ie-6.css and fix-ie-7.css
These files are included for purposes of providing IE-only css to each of the respective versions. By using conditional comments like this we keep the main css files hack-free and atck css3 valid.

Please keep in mind that this is an initial release - comments, contributions, etc welcome! (please file such things at the project issues queue though)

21 October, 2007


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