The Eviscerati.Org/Drupal 7 Changelog

Submitted by C B Wright on

People are noticing that the change from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 brought with it a few changes in the way the site works… and that some of the changes are more accurately described as “regressions,” since in some cases the site has lost functionality that it used to have. This post is an attempt to list as many of the changes that I can think of so you’ll know what is different.

A quick note on advantages

Drupal 7 has a number of advantages over Drupal 6. Most of these advantages are administrative—they cleaned up the interface on the back end making it easier for me to turn things on and off, configure widgets, and otherwise add and update stuff. For the most part, the differences on the front-end are superficial. However, Drupal 7 is apparently a lot more HTML 5 friendly than Drupal 6 was, and a lot of the newer versions of modules I’m running are making more use of that. I have no opinion, at this point, as to whether that actually makes things better.

The only other thing that I’ve noticed is that the site seems to run a little faster than it used to. This is purely subjective on my part and I have no idea if that’s actually the case or if I’m still being seduced by the New Car Smell.

That out of the way, let’s move on to The Stuff That Changed:

Webcomic Pagers

I’m using a new module to control the previous/next pagers that you see on my comics. This module is called Flippy and it’s feature set is not quite as broad as Custom Pagers, which is what I used in Drupal 6. The upside to Flippy is that it actually works with my D7 installation—Custom Pagers wouldn’t work no matter what I tried.

Unfortunately, what Flippy doesn’t do at present is work with another module called Views. The Views module allows you to create customized… views… of specific pieces of content, and on the main comics page, I use Views to display the latest Help Desk, Kernel Panic, Old Skool Webcomic, and PCtown when they update. I haven’t found a way to create this page without Views, and I haven’t found a way to page through all the comics without Flippy… so, for the moment, there are no pagers on the comics splash page. You’ll have to click in to the full view of any comic in order to get to the first/previous/next/last links. Also, at present Flippy won’t allow me to place links both above and below the comic, so the l inks currently only display below the comic.

Finally, currently there is no way to display the “x of y” counter that I’d provided with D6 version of the site.

I intend to have these missing features return. I just need to figure out how.

Fiction Menus

If you go to the main fiction page, you’ll see that the tab for each story has a menu, just like each comic has on the comics page. The menu has, at minimum, a link for the home splash page, the table of contents, a link to podcasts, and an “about” link that talks a bit about the story.

This menu exists only on the tabbed blocks on the main fiction page. Back on the Drupal 6 site the menu was visible pretty much everywhere. That’s because in Drupal 6 I was running a module called Content Templates which allowed me considerable latitude when it came to hacking the way Drupal displayed content. Content Templates doesn’t work with Drupal 7, and in its place I’m using a module called Display Suite which can, in theory, do everything Content Templates could—but I’m still learning it.

What I’ve done to ameliorate the loss of the menu is to put all those links in the sidebar, right under the search field.

jPlayer Javascript Issues

This is a tricky one. I use a widget called “jPlayer” that is a little player that can be used to play the podcasts I publish directly from the site. Drupal 6 supported jPlayer version 1.2, Drupal 7 supports version 2.1.

When I first activated jPlayer on my site (before I put it back online) my browser started throwing javascript errors left and right. Doing a little Google research it appears that jPlayer and some other jQuery-based content doesn’t play well with versions of Firefox and Chrome that use the Firebug plugin. However, it also appears that the caching tools provided by Drupal 7 alleviate the problem. I don’t really know why, but once I turned on caching the problem went away.

I’m monitoring this problem. If caching takes care of it, so much the better, but if this problem returns I’ll yank jPlayer and replace it with something else.

Footer

This is a minor thing, but the footer now displays a more elaborate version of the site menu.

Site Forums

I’ve added discussion forums to the site. I had them briefly on the Drupal 6 version, but the D6 forum features were kind of unwieldy and they didn’t get used much. They still probably won’t get used much, but I think it will be useful to have a discussion area where people can comment on things without being at the mercy of an automatic script that disables comments after 30 days.

Plans Going Forward

In every instance where a piece of functionality was lost, I intend to bring it back. I don’t have a timetable for it. The important thing (for me) is that the installation appears stable, and I’m now on a “safe” upgrade track for at least the next few years. I also have every hope that the radical changes that took place from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 will not be present when it’s time (a few years from now) to move from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, because I’m really not willing to go through this level of pain again.

Did I miss anything?

If you’ve noticed any changes from the old site that I haven’t covered here, please leave a comment and let me know.

Comments

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Yeah...

... I discovered that this weekend as well. Trying to figure out how to fix it.

--
Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Not sure if this is proxy-related or not...

but I'm getting lots of "Script taking too long" warnings from the main /comics page. They do eventually clear, but it takes a minute or longer (unless I click Stop Script, which I typically don't do). I am behind a proxy server at the moment so I'm not sure if that's related. FF 14.0.1, WinXP.

It's the javascript thing above.

Are you running Firebug on Firefox?

--
Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Perhaps I misunderstood, but

Perhaps I misunderstood, but shouldn't this article have ended up in the "I Only Read It For The Articles I Swear" RSS feed? I would never have seen this if you hadn't referenced it in the comments for Wednesday's comic.

Hm. Well...

... this is where taxonomy gets complicated.

Any post I make that has to do with the site--changes made to the site, bugs, potential downtime, etc.--goes into the "Site News" bucket. SN is supposed to be the administrative news area. The articles RSS feed doesn't incorporate Site News at the moment, it's just for essays.

Perhaps I should include both. At the moment the main RSS feed incorporates Site News posts but no other feeds do.

--
Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Firebug

I have it installed. I don't normally turn it on, but it's there. Actually, just now FF crashed (after getting the "script may have stopped responding" message for Script: www.eviscerati.org/comics:27 ), and when it restarted I didn't get the hangup. Maybe FB got turned on the last time it was running and I didn't realize it? Anyway right now it's fine :) .

Well...

... I changed the video player from jPlayer to the WordPress audio player, and it doesn't seem to have the same problem. Hopefully it never comes back!

--
Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.

Perhaps you can make another

Perhaps you can make another RSS feed just for SN? I'd rather not have to keep the main RSS feed just for the Site News. Of course, I can say this blithely, because I have no idea how complicated it is to make an RSS feed.

It's pretty easy...

... I just didn't figure there were people who would be interested in a Site News feed. :)

It'll be up by this evening.

--
Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.