Technical Notes On the New Site

For the most part, putting this site together went smoothly. Sure copy-and-pasting 700+ blog entries was a bit of a chore, as was going through every post to find which ones had digital assets which needed to be re-hosted. Tiresome, but not difficult.

In every previous version of this site, if I had a Flash movie which I wanted to show off, I would either post it in-line in the blog, or put it on its own page and link to it, or only show a teaser image on the front page and embed the animation in the full post. For this site I wanted something new. You’ve all seen light boxes – you click on a thumbnail photo, and a translucent overlay appears over the site, and the relevant content appears therein. I decided to go with one of those.

There are myriad ways to create a lightbox. All involve Javascript and CSS, and most of them are good at what they do. I decided to go with ShadowBox.js because it supports all kind of content; not just Flash and/or images. I ran it through a few static page tests, and it had everything I needed.

Getting it hooked up in Drupal Gardens (“DG”) was a little more challenging. Since DG users don’t have access to modify the actual templates of the site, using external code files can be a little challenging. The DG help files recommend creating a block in the header and copy-and-pasting the javascript into a plain text file, and embedding it directly in the HTML for a page. This is what I have done in the past, but having just uploaded over a hundred Flash movies and photos to the content area of the site, I decided to try something new.

It turns out that you can upload any kind of content you want to the content/media area of DG. You might need to make changes in the configuration area of your site to allow for the upload of e.g. a .js or .swf file, but it can be easily done. There is one thing to note: Nothing loaded into this area is processed on the server. If you upload a .php file, it will be served as plain text, NOT processed through Drupal/PHP. Fortunately, for Javascript, I don’t need it to be processed. Plain text is just fine.

Accessing the Javascript is easy; everything uploaded to the media library on DG is in the /sites/mysite.drupalgardens.com/files/ directory. To access it, I created a block which contains a <script> tag, which links to the new files at /sites/mysite.drupalgardens.com/files/shadowbox.js. Everything worked on the first try.

More technical notes to follow, as I figure out how to do more things in Drupal.

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