Long Time, No See

January 11, 2006

The new year has started and, with it, my resolve to find time for this blog. Between keeping up with clients and trying to spend more time with the family, this site got put on the back burner. Also, I have to admit I was tired of writing it—a little bored with reading and writing, talking and thinking so much about CSS. I needed a break from it.

Don't get me wrong. I still love CSS. (Yes, I actually typed those words. Can you believe it?) And I still think web standards are important. In fact, the more I learn about the web, the more convinced I am that they're crucial. I just felt that was all I was writing about. The web doesn't need another Jeffery Zeldman wannabe. Not when it has the real thing.

So, I needed a hiatus from the blog. I needed something new. And boy, did I get it! I can tell you in one word:

Drupal.

However, since I'm constitutionally unable to be brief, I'll elaborate. One thing I've noticed this past year is the increasing prominence of content management systems, or CMS. Most large sites and a lot of small ones use some sort of CMS. This blog runs on one, Moveable Type. They seem to be everywhere.

But MT has been my only experience with CMS. Up until now I knew nothing about them. They sounded complicated and scary. A little out of my league. So, of course, I had to find out all about them. But where to start?

Then I read somewhere that Drupal was the most difficult but also the most configurable of all the open source CMS. Well, that clinched it. The word configurable has always been a favorite of mine—ranks right up there with mod, plugin and hack. If you ask me, there's not much that's more fun or fascinating than fiddling with a program to see what you can get it to do. What can I say? It's a personality flaw. The inner geek in me struggling to come out.

So I downloaded Drupal and spent a week picking over the files, completely bewildered and lost. Drupal is written in PHP, which I don't know, and that certainly didn't help. So I bought a book or two on PHP, got on the Drupal forums and read the manuals from cover to cover. Slowly I began to make sense of the program, and I have to tell you, I am thoroughly impressed. In fact, I'm hooked.

Drupal is powerful, well-designed and highly customizable. Yes, the learning curve is a little higher. But once you get over that hurdle, there's not much you can't do with Drupal. And you don't have to do it completely alone. The support forums are pretty helpful, and the documentation is superb.

By the Way

You may have noticed the change in the subtitle of this blog. I've only been in professional web design for a year now, but "breaking in" just didn't feel right anymore.

I'll always be a newbie. I just can't resist trying and learning about all the new stuff that pops up on the web every 3 minutes or so. But I don't feel as new to the web, itself, anymore. After all, I've been casually playing around with web design for almost ten years—and taking it seriously for one. I've got my web legs now. But there will always be a new regions to explore and discover...as long as there is someone to think them up.