Site upgrade

Fri, 01/06/2012 - 17:10 -- James Oakley

Regular visitors to this site will notice that the layout has changed a little.

That's all that many of you will want to know. Those of you who are technically minded, however, may wish to read on.

The site is developed with Drupal. Drupal is currently on version 7, and the first release of version 7 was on January 5th 2011. That's 15 months ago. Drupal 6 is still fully supported, and will remain so until the final release of Drupal 8 (12-18 months away - probably). There's therefore no rush to upgrade a site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7.

Indeed, there's a good reason why rushing is a bad idea. The code in Drupal can be distinguished into two types. First, there's Drupal Core - the main code of Drupal itself, that every site will include. Then there is code contributed by a wide range of people that adds to Drupal's functionality. In Drupal-lingo, these are "contributed modules". When Drupal 7 came out, a lot of very common contributed modules did not have released versions that would work with Drupal 7.

Finally, all the modules I actually needed for this site have Drupal 7 versions. That means I can do the upgrade, so I have. There are a lot of improvements from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, so moving this site over to Drupal 7 will make it easier to work with and will allow me to tidy up a few rough edges that would have been tricky to resolve until now.

There was, however, one big problem that remained. As well as using contributed modules, every Drupal site has to use a "theme". This is what handles the layout, the colours, where the menus go, and so on. What I was hoping to do was to move this site over to Drupal 7, but keep using the same theme. You'd never even know that it had changed.

I was using an altered form of a theme called Acquia Prosper. That, in turn, was built on a base theme called Fusion. That, in turn, needed a module called Skinr.

Skinr still does not have a Drupal 7 version out. Nowhere near. The developers of Fusion eventually gave up waiting, and began working on their own fork of Skinr for Drupal 7, called Fusion Accelerator. Fusion and Fusion Accelerator now have a beta version for Drupal 7. Acquia Prosper just has an in-development version. I tried working with these, and was getting errors all over the place, and it was rapidly clear that these are not productoin-ready yet. I'm still working on the theme, but it's got to the point where I'm happy enough with it that I can move this site over to Drupal 7 and to my new bespoke theme.

So welcome to my upgraded site. If you find bits of it that don't quite work correctly, please let me know. I'm aware of a few already, but I'd still appreciate the feedback that will help me find and fix more issues.

So I did something totally different, and built my own theme. I used a base theme called Omega to work on this, but that does none of the layout. (I have to say, it is the best, most versatile, base theme I have ever worked with). I took the opportunity to design my own layout, pretty much from scratch. Which is why moving the site over to Drupal 7 has meant it has changed appearance as well.

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James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Since posting this, I've

  • fixed a bug in the RSS feeds
  • set up the typography in the theme
  • fixed a few other bits of styling

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