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