| A lot of energy in the Drupal world goes towards solving complex problems: giving administrators ways to build publishing workflows without writing code, integrating with cool new APIs, automatically translating site content into Klingon... You know. The usual. With all of that energy focused on complex architectural problems, it's easy to lose sight of the simple solutions that Drupal provides for really common "classic" web problems. This really hit home the other week as I sifted through an old Zip disk with archives of sites I'd built for clients in the heady days of the late 90s. One by one, I started ticking off requests my clients had made that today's site-builders can solve in minutes with Drupal modules--no wacky configuration, no complicated recipes. Just a simple, "Yes!" when a client says, "Can you...?" |
"...Make a splash page for the site?"
No problem. Drop in the Splash module, and you can use any page on your site as an interstitial splash page. It's also smart enough to tie into contextual information Drupal provides--only showing the splash screen to anonymous users, creating section-specific splash pages, and more.
"...Let visitors print out copies of the pages?"
While any web browser can print a simple copy of the current page, and custom style sheets can help clean up color schemes and images to make a page look printer-friendly, sometimes, things need tweaking. For example, embedded web links will look like simple underlined text if you rely on style sheet tweaks. Drupal's Print module generates printer-friendly versions of any page, including the creation of URL footnotes at the bottom of each printout. It can also generate downloadable PDFs of any page, and send-this-article-to-a-friend email links.
"...Show visitors a Terms Of Service page before they sign up to post on the site?"
"...Add a chat page where users can talk in real-time?"
Setting up chat rooms on web pages was always a pain in the old days. Even today it can be tricky, and there are quite a few different ways to do it. Flash, AJAX, Java applets, and more are all ready. The Mibbit module for Drupal lets site visitors chat on a custom IRC channel using a simple AJAX interface. Since it uses IRC as its backend, it can point to custom private discussion channels, or public ones like #drupal on the freenode IRC network.
"...Keep other sites from stealing my content using Frames?"
None of these modules are crazy, groundbreaking tools that get their own articles and tutorial videos. Like many of the tools in the Drupal world, though, they do the heavy lifting that lets us focus on the really complicated tasks. Looking back, it's hard not to sigh and wonder how much time could've been saved if I'd had them at my disposal in The Olden Days...
Choosing and Configuring Modules to Build Dynamic Websites
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