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Page history last edited by Chris Messina 16 years, 7 months ago

On Nov 9, I installed Drupal 6.0b2 using MAMP on my local machine running Leopard 10.5.0.


Drupal's setup has vastly improved over previous versions and keeps getting better (for comparison, take a look at the CivicSpace installer I helped design). As I play around, I can still see vestiges from an earlier time, so with fairly fresh eyes, I thought I'd offer my initial feedback, given that I haven't touched Drupal since, at most recent, June.


I took screenshots to illustrate my walkthrough experience.




  • It's awesome that Drupal defaults to install.php if you haven't previously setup the site. That's a much better experience than having to know that you have to hit install.php first. Then again, it also means that you could be intercepted; unlikely but still something to consider.
  • installation, as I mentioned, has improved significantly. The flow was nearly flawless, though the Configure Site page seemed too tall. There's a lot of help text in there that, at this point, is probably a bit superfluous, especially for creating the admin user. Why is the site email address different than the admin email, for example? Seems like they should really be merged and turned into a "create the first user" step.
  • The first step of installation is to pick a language. While this of course makes some sense, I think it'd be better to invite folks into the installation process -- "Click here to get started" as a big button... and then below it have a link to "Learn how to install Drupal in another language." While I don't want to come off English-centric, I think it's a fairly safe bet that you can use English as the primary language for an intro graphic/text and then offer other languages down below -- heck even in other languages!
  • Shouldn't I set the Site Slogan here?


Post Installation


  • The first thing I saw after I installed was a red, glaring error notice telling me to check the status report. Not the most friendly or reassuring welcome message.
  • The problem, it turned out, was that I hadn't created the files directory or enabled Cron scripts. I created the files directory and the problem went away; perhaps this should be called out in the installation steps? (Note: I didn't read install.txt since I wanted to see how easy it would to just dive right in -- the creation of the files directory was probably the only thing I missed (I had knowingly created the database without reading the instructions)).
    • Note: It would have been nice to have an AJAX refresh on the files error to check to see if files existed without having to refresh the page. Perhaps on errors there could be an AJAX refresh button to check to see if the problem still exists? If not, the error message could turn yellow and collapse away.
  • The second problem was the creation of cron scripts. This is where Drupal's heritage started to show. First, cron is a word that developers know but that probably means nothing for normal humans. Regular tasks, automatic tasks or auto-run scripts might be better terms for this. I know there's legacy here, but no other CMS that I've used sports such dated terminology.



My Account


  • This is an extremely boring account page. Shouldn't there be some more basic details (please use vcard attributes!)
  • Why can I block my own account?
  • The timezone picker seems unnecessarily verbose and overwhelming. Must it be so busy?


Create Content


  • The Create Content page hasn't changed much... I wonder if you couldn't use icons in there to indicate different content types? And aren't Stories just blog posts? Why not use the more common terminology?


Creating a story/page


  • Wow! The Parent Item listing is huge! Sup with that? I haven't created any content and I'm already lost!
  • I notice the auto-search users on the authoring input, but frankly, if I only have a few authors, I'd rather have a dropdown... would it be possible to do a mixed input where I could type and get autocompletion OR have a dropdown or people selector to pick an author from a list? Sometimes I don't know people's usernames off the top of my head!
  • Authored On should be a calendar picker a la Flickr.
  • Under Publishing Options, Sticky at top of lists still sounds confusing. Maybe stays at top of content lists?
  • I really don't like where Revision Information is located... If you're going to offer that feature, might I suggest you follow Writeboard's lead and move the Revision checkbox and note closer to the document (only show the note section if Revision is checked)?
  • Still not crazy about Input Formats. Even if you allow lots of control, I really wish that Drupal just picked one and stuck with it. If someone wants to override it in the admin sections or in their personal settings, that's fine, but doing it on a per-item basis just seems overly complicated.
    • Hypocrisy Alert: Personally I'd like to see built in Textile support.
  • Menu Settings is just odd. Instead of Menu link title, why not link text?
    • Instead of Parent Item why not Section or Category?
  • There's no discernible differences between the Story/Page interface. What's the difference again?
  • Under comment settings, the language is confusing. Instead of Disabled, how about Off? For Read only, how about Closed? And for Read/Write, how about Open?




  • Wow, that's a lot of options! Yikes!
  • Ah, phew! Great to see the "hide descriptions" link...! Maybe they should be hidden by default and then turned on per section instead of all or nothing?
  • Okay, I'll take each section at a time.


Content Management




  • in the first sentence you mention the taxonomy module. Replace "The taxonomy module allows you to classify content" with "Categories allow you to classify content".
  • Ugh, I remember "vocabularies". It's so Semantic Web it hurts.
  • Perhaps you can move the "more help..." link into the main paragraph: "Read more..."
  • Add vocabulary is a really terrible name. Why isn't it just "Add Category"?
  • The hint for "Vocabulary name" isn't very useful. Example: "Topic" doesn't really give me a hint as to what I should type... how about "Greg's Wedding" or "Technology" or "My Summer Vacation"?
  • While I *kind of* understand why I should set Content Types here, I really don't. Why not just make them available to all Content Types?
  • Hierarchy: This is where it gets screwy. I believe we talked about this before too. Why not make all Vocabularies multiple and just leave it at that?
  • Related terms: Why not just enable by default? The Help Text here is also not helpful: "Allows related terms in this vocabulary." Uh, duh?
  • Free tagging... Ok, this seems like a good feature, but is confusing. It sounds to me like this is an interface feature. Why not remove the hierarchy option and ask: "Hierarchical Terms or Tags"? Nuff said.
  • Multiple select is the provence of tags, so if you've got tags, you've got multiple select (forcing one tag isn't really folksonomic, now is it?). If you want multi-select in your hierarchy, ask in the hierarchy section.
  • Required. Ok this is fine. But you used the word node. Yuck!
  • For weighting, I wonder if you couldn't simply move this aspect out to the main Categories page -- sorting visually, rather than by number, as in Mephisto.


Adding terms


  • Okay, a term is clearly a category... but this is not clear from the labeling.
  • Why do I need a description for a term? AND for a vocabulary?
  • What are Synonyms used for?
  • Again, visual weighting seems preferable here.
  • Visual weighting would also remove the need for the awkward Parents combo box.
  • Related terms is useless until you've added more than one term. And, shouldn't Drupal calculate related terms? It seems odd to do this manually.
  • The actions on this page should be "Save term and add more..." and "Save term". Going back to the containing vocabulary is not possible without going to Categories and THEN to the vocabulary... *too many clicks!*
  • The Delete button for a term should be a text link.




  • Shouldn't Approval Queue be Moderation Queue?
  • It would be nice if, like WordPress, Drupal started off with a default page and a default comment, to show what content in the system looks like.




  • Seems like a regular search box would be useful here in addition to the Filter box.
  • Again, not having any default content is kind of a bummer.


Content types


  • Maybe offer a link to show all Content of each Content Type -- i.e. a link to a prefiltered content search?
  • I will say that this section is fairly simple and straightforward, though I'm not sure it's entirely clear what content types are!


Add content type


  • Some typos: Replace It is recommended that this name begins with a capital letter and consists only of letters, numbers, and spaces. This name must be unique to this content type. with It is recommended that this name begin with a capital letter and consist only of letters, numbers, and spaces. This name must be unique.
  • The machine name should be auto-generated onblur().
  • Hyphens should be allowed!
  • Under Submission form settings, the minimum number of words should be a text input, not a dropdown. Why would you rename the Title and Body fields? Seems like unnecessary customization.
  • What's the difference between Description and Submission Guidelines?
  • Why not rename Workflow Settings to Default Settings?
  • Seems like Create new revision should be renamed to revision control.
  • Comment Settings... OMGWTFBBQ?! Again, why so much customization? This is overwhelming! On/Off/Open seems sensible, but all this threading stuff? Moving comment controls around? I dunno, I'll let this one go, but it just seems like too much stuff!


Post Settings


  • Number of posts on main page: This is where help text would make more sense beneath the title, rather than beneath the input box. Perhaps this should be a text input, with a maximum specified?
  • Length of trimmed post... How about Length of post preview? And instead of characters, you should use word-count, since that's what you used in Content Types! Consistency!
  • Preview Post... This is where one-line options would really improve Drupal's interface. All you need is the line: "Must users preview posts before submitting? Yes No "
  • Why is there a reset to defaults option here? There are only three options?!


RSS Publishing


  • You should really offer ATOM.
  • This section should be renamed to Feed Settings
  • FeedBurner integration would be a nice plus, but that's a little proprietary.
  • The wording here is a little awkward. Number of items per feed... how many feeds are there? Why not just Default feed items?
  • Remove XML from Display of XML feed items; instead how about Feed content? Also remove XML from the help text.


Site building


  • Wow, spartan.




  • Oooo... This is cool! A preview of the section of the theme... I like that. So, my first instinct is that I can drag content around to the different sections...
  • ...booo!! I'm sadly disappointed. What use are these generous preview areas if I can't drag stuff into them? My page layout workflow was much better.
  • Ok, it is nice that when I change the dropdown menu, the item moves... but I really should just be able to drag and drop these content chunks up and down to different sections.
  • This needs some work: If you want certain blocks to disable themselves temporarily during high server loads, check the "Throttle" box. You can configure the auto-throttle on the throttle configuration page after having enabled the throttle module. How about You can auto-disable certain blocks during high server load to reduce stress by enabling the "throttle" option. Perhaps Throttle should be enabled by default?
  • The introductory text is useful, but it strikes me that the interface for managing blocks is halfway down the page!! Not to mention that, but when I apply my changes, the success notification shows up below the text. Totally not standard. It should be above the text.
  • The list of themes here is really confusing. I don't get it. This is not where I should be picking my theme.
  • Why isn't the name of the block a link? That's what I should click to configure the block.
  • Weight seems silly on this section when you're moving blocks around with Javascript anyway. Why not do this visually, as I've suggested for other sections? Again, Mephisto gets this righ


Block configuration


  • Ok, another unnecessarily super tall page.
  • Setting a block title is weird. What's this? Use <none> to display no title, or leave blank to use the default block title. Why can't I just leave it blank for no title? Perhaps this input should be filled in with the default value and then I can delete it to set it to blank?
  • The fieldset and fieldset captions are redundant in this section.
  • The labels for page-specific visibility might be: Show on these pages:, Don't show on these pages:, and Advanced*.
  • Notably when you collapse all fieldsets, no "default" options are available. This seems odd.




  • It's odd that the word list(s) has an optional es when menus is listed immediately after. Either this text should reflect the number of items in the list, or all plurals should show the optional es.
  • This should be removed from the description: Select an operation from the list to manage each menu or menu item. as no operations are visible.


Add menu


  • Why should I Remember to enable the newly created block in the blocks administration page?
  • The menu name and title fields are reversed when compared with Blocks and other item creation interfaces.
  • Typo in help text: This name may consist of only of lowercase letters, numbers, and hyphens, and must be unique. should be ''This name must consist of lowercase letters, numbers, and hyphens, and must be unique.
  • After adding the menu, it's not obvious how to add something to the menu. Provide a link beneath the Menu Items table to "add menu item".


Add menu item


  • Why is the menu path and title order reversed again?
  • Parent Item shouldn't show on this page, as I was adding the Menu Item to a specific menu.
  • Weight shouldn't be on this page; instead visual ordering should happen on the menu's page.
  • A popup to link to an existing page might be useful (i.e. "create a link to an existing page").
  • ugh...! Why aren't hyphens allowed?
  • in testing, I could create menu items with paths like my-path, mypath or test. Why?




  • It seems like this page should emulate WordPress' plugins page for consistency between platforms; i.e. Change enabled from checkboxes to links -- it's easier to detect a problem with a single plugin than if you enable a whole bunch at once.
  • Cron should run automatically here; why doesn't it?
  • Why doesn't update.php get fired automatically after installing or upgrading modules?
  • Core - optional and Core - Required seems odd... why not hide the Required modules and simply list the modules configurable modules?
  • Updates should be announced inline (see WordPress 2.3)
  • I shouldn't be told after enabling modules that no newer versions are available; whenever I visit this page, I should be shown what's updates are available with download or automatic update links.
  • Throttle seems problematic here -- not that it shouldn't be offered, but that it should be on by default.
  • As part of the success messages, it would be nice if it listed things like "new permissions are available for Module X" rather than forcing me to click on the opaque permissions link.
  • There should be an option to auto-enable required modules (i.e. Locale and Content translation modules)
  • Module uninstallation seems janky. Why not just delete from the modules directory? I don't understand this; not to mention that no modules were available for uninstallation. What might be more useful is a reset module which would clear the DB of settings and related data.




  • again, showing updates inline would be preferred
  • default is a weird name for the option... I understand the option, but perhaps it should be use this theme and a checkbox option to allow people to override the default theme?


Global Settings


  • wow, that's a lot of text.
  • why are these fieldsets not collapsible?
  • Site logan should be set during installation if it's offered here.


Theme Configuration


  • the preview (for garland) is a nice touch
  • the lock color icons are misaligned in Safari
  • why are these fieldsets not collapsible?
  • There should be some suggestions for creating the logo -- especially size suggestions... i.e. the shortcut icon should be 16x16 pixels.


Site Configuration


  • Why is the menu repeated in the content and in the sidebar? Seems unnecessarily duplicative.
  • Administration Theme... yay! On by default plz can has?
  • Kind of dumb that I have to manually enable Blog APIs after enabling the module...!
  • A lot of good stuff is in here that I think should be bubbled up; I don't have time to get into these now...

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