August 9th, 2007

For several months now I have been striving to grasp the wonder that is Drupal. To save you a surf to the link, drupal is an open-source CMS. It is incredibly feature rich and flexible. Many high-power bigshot commercial websites are running drupal these days because it is solid, secure, and can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.

However, being so powerful and so flexible also means it is very complex. It is also very well documented, but in the language of people of eat and drink programming and web development. That is to say, I can keep up, but I have to pedal my Big Wheel fast to keep up with the tricked out choppers. So my progress is not remarkably swift, but I am making progress.

I think I have mastered the basics and am about to take the plunge into increasing my knowledge through learning-by-doing what everybody wants to do, but which takes some foundational understanding to achieve- themeing drupal. That is, making it look just the way I want it to with just the functionality I want it to have. This is a non-trivial task for someone like me, who is a level 4.7 of 5 XHMTL and CSS (currently) hobbyist, because there are so many layers of functionality built in.

It has taken a lot of time and brainpower, but I can feel my abilities increasing and my powers growing stronger. Like a homegrown boxer working the bag in his backyard till he thinks he has what it takes to go down to the ring and face the pros, I am slowly tinkering and learning, trying to develop myself to the point where I can tap into the ever-growing drupal industry where the real pros keep saying there is so much demand that if you can theme drupal (at a pro level) you can find more work than you can do.

I am slowly approaching the goal. There are a few more hurdles to jump- some conceptual battles to win- and then… We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I am also returning to learning how to put WordPress through its hoops. I have been using wordpress since its first release and I am confident in my skills. However it’s been a while since I have done much with it, and in the intervening period it has come a far way. In fact, I learned today what a wordpress widget is. A widget (in context of wordpress, anyway) is simply a specialized type of plugin intended for small sidebar-ish content.

I located the tutorial on widgetizing a wordpress theme and BAM fifteen minutes later, my custom them “Primarie Interface” is now sporting the fancy new Pandora widget you see at the bottom of the sidebar (on the home page). Not very impressive, perhaps, but entertaining to me. Now I suppose I need to get a grip on the wordpress widget API. Then I can create widgets of my own.

The biggest step I have taken in a long time, though, is simply writing this post. It’s kicked out some cobwebs from my brane and gotten me back in the habit enough that I think I am finally going to be able to get back in the swing of writing regularly. How ironic that I, the first person in my inner circle to not only have a website, but to have been on the bow-wake (way back in 1996) of the trend that has popularly become known as ‘blogging’ (though this is not actually a blog, that does not stop people from using the term as a shorthand to get close to describing it), the person who has inspired more than one of my family members to take up writing and posting to the Internet on a regular basis, now frequently go months at a time without typing a single character of personal content for delivery on the Web.

If I only had a dime for each time I lamented that fact and promised to do better, I’d go out for a steak dinner tonight (and take the wife and kids).