Quicktips

DrupalEasy Quicktips are short, focused posts intended to accomplish a very specific goal. Quicktips are exclusively available first via our @drupaleasy Twitter account.

Getting Started with the 960 Grid System

If you've been following along with recent Drupal news, then you've probably heard about the 960 Grid System for laying out web pages. The associated Drupal starter theme, NineSixty was one of the stars of the recent Design 4 Drupal camp in Boston and is making some headway into possibly finding its way into Drupal 7 core.

If you want to get kick-started on learning about 960, here are some great resources:

    Quick Way to Customize a Block's theme

    The Block Class module allows you to add CSS class names to any block on your site via the block's configuration page. This is extremely useful if you want to make just one of your blocks look a little bit different than the others.

    For example, let's say you want the header of one of your blocks to be red. Here's how you'd do it:

    1. Download and enable the Block Class module
    2. Add the magic snippet to your block.tpl.php file (see the Block Class's readme.txt file for details)

    Administration Theme

    One of the first things I do when creating a new site is to set the Administrative Theme (admin/settings/admin) to Garland. Two of my main reasons for doing this are:

    • Customer-facing themes are often "heavier" (more images, more CSS, more complex layouts) than core Drupal themes.
    • Garland is a fluid-width theme. Having this flexibility is key in the admin area especially when the main theme is fixed-width.

    Ordering Views Attachments

    If you build Views with lots of display attachments, you've no doubt run across the hurdle of re-ordering the attachments. There's no drag-and-drop method of doing so - often developers are forced to go into each attachment changing the attachment position several times in order to wrangle the attachments to the desired order.

    One way of getting around this is to export the view, bring the export text into a text editor, and manually move the attachments to the desired order simply by cutting and pasting the attachment code and then re-importing the view.

    Internal Pingback

    The Views module has a little-talked about default view that provides a way to display all internal content that links to a particular page. Think of it as an internal "trackback" (or "pingback") that you often see on blog sites.

    For example, when exposed as a block, the "backlinks" view displays a list of all the other content on your site that links to the current node. The page view can also be used - the view accepts a node ID as an argument to filter which backlinks are displayed.

    Redefine Regions When Creating a Subtheme

    When creating a sub-theme, if you want to add a new region to it, you must remember to redefine the default regions - or bad things will happen.

    Here's an example: let's say you're creating a new theme called "squirrel" based on the 960 theme. Since the 960 theme uses Drupal's default regions if you just add your new region to the squirrel.info file, you'd find that all of your inherited (default) regions are now gone and your admin/build/block page is full of messages saying that all your blocks have been disabled.

    Block Visibility

    I was recently was asked by a client to assist them in creating and displaying a block that would only appear on certain pages within the site. In their case, they wanted to only display the block on node pages - but only when the node was of a particular content type.

    Transparent PNGs

    The Portable Network Graphics (PNG) format is a great way to display graphics on the web. It is meant to be a one-for-one replacement for the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) but without all the proprietary craziness (for awhile there, UNISYS owned a patent that involved the GIF format). Unfortunately, its adoption has not been as fast or as complete as one would have hoped. The PNG format is lossless and generally compresses images better than GIF.

    Finding the Right Module for the Job

    With over 4,000 available modules, there's no way that anyone can know what each and every single module does. In my opinion, many developers often resort to writing custom modules too quickly without doing their due diligence in looking for an existing module to accomplish the same task.

    When I'm working on a site that I think might require a custom module, there's a few steps I take before I break open my code editor (currently Espresso).