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Drupal Feed Importer Failures

Modern web site software - like Drupal - simply provides a web-based front end to a database. For a traditional web site, the front end retrieves articles and formats them on HTML pages. A more sophisticated web site allows more sophisticated access to the database.

If we embrace this vision, we build a new web site by importing databases. On Drupal, that means we use the Feed Importer. I have finally gotten the Feed Importer to work, after several hours of banging around.

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A really simple Drupal 7 example module

DrupalA couple of months back I attended DrupalCamp Twin Cities, to try to improve my understanding of Drupal. It was a good event and, thanks to an enlightening talk by Tess Flynn, I now see how the incoming path is converted into code execution. 

This week I took the next step: I wrote the simplest possible Drupal 7 module from scratch. Although I had several examples to work from, it took several attempts to get things right. And now, here it is: Rick's Testie Drupal 7 Module (zip file). 

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Drupal 7 Conversion - Finally!

Drupalcon Chicago 2011Drupal 7 was released for "production" a little over a year ago at the Drupalcon Chicago. Upon returning from that event, I put a week or so into trying to convert from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. This produced a series of disappointed-sounding blog entries as my attempts failed. I kept trying every few months, hoping that a new D7 release, or an improvement in my Drupal skills, would yield success.

I've finally succeeded.

I implemented an AMP stack on my Mac. "AMP" means "Apache," "MySQL," and "PHP;" it required me to install MySQL and hook it all together. Then I moved the laborious conversion process to my desktop. My efforts succeeded a few weeks ago, but I was stymied when I tried to deploy the converted site onto my GoDaddy hosting. I finally tracked the problem down - where else - in the .htaccess file defaults.

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The Danland Theme

I've migrated to the Danland Drupal theme. Danland is stable and it looks great right out of the box. Moreover, I find I have trouble with themes that use a dark-color background instead of a light or white one. The off-color looks fine when things work well, but fails miserably when anything goes wrong. I'm enough of a tinkerer to appreciate expressive error messages.

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A Temporary New Look

The web site now sports an incomplete custom theme. My earlier theme was rendered obsolete by a Drupal upgrade.

And that was atop unexpected down time: the upgrade process went poorly and I had to roll things back and try again.

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Drupal 7: Not Ready for Prime Time

I've just spent an unsatisfying weekend with Drupal 7. I made several unsuccessful attempts to upgrade from Drupal 6.20 to Drupal 7. Although I had carefully built a copy of my active site, and tried to experiment only with that site, the side-effects managed to damage the live site as well.

Everything is back and stable on Drupal 6.

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Migrating a WordPress User List to Drupal

I'm always annoyed when I register for a web site only to have my user ID mysteriously disappear. The "scouting.org" web site has recreated itself about four times in the past decade. Each time has led to re-registration by the entire user community.

Therefore I decided to make a strong effort to retain my user community while migrating my site. The easy part was to contact those who provided email addresses and tell them what was happening. The hard part was to deal with passwords.

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Blogging in Drupal

WordPress is well designed for blogging. I got used to the TinyMCE editor and easy-to-reach features to import graphics when using WordPress. I also got used to less sophisticated things like paragraph breaks and section subheadings. And I like the email alert when there's something to moderate.

I was appalled to discover that these things are omitted by default in Drupal.

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Migrating Blog Entries from Wordpress to Drupal

This process looks deceptively simple. WordPress happily exports all entries into a nicely formatted XML file. Drupal has a "WordPress Import" module that appears to do a comfortable import. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, in Drupal, everything comes down to a question of surprising choices for defaults. At least, if you are expecting ease of use, the default choices seem surprising.

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Overview of Drupal Migration

The migration did not go without a few hitches, but it went as smoothly as might be expected for such a thing.

My inexperience with Apache's .htaccess files caused an unnecessary delay and a lot of "500 Internal Server Error" messages.

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