Reunion with Drupal, Break from Django

My Drupal Reunion

I started using drupal maybe 3-4 years ago. At the time I wasn’t all that impressed. I liked it better than Joomla (Mambo, at that time), and it was a little more featureful than PHP-Nuke. But even back then I hated that this thing was really making some sweeping, grand assumptions about what I would be using my Drupal site for. I used Drupal for LinuxLaboratory.org, and it was ok. I left Drupal once, to give MediaWiki a shot, but the truth is I didn’t want a wiki, so I went out and tested a bunch of other applications, and wound up back at Drupal. The 5.5 release was quite a bit better, and it got the job done.

About 2 weeks ago (maybe less?) I downloaded version 6.6. I poked. I prodded. I looked for new themes and found lots of them, and they were pretty cool. I looked for theme and module-building tutorials, and there were lots of them, and even entire books were published on each of the topics – even specifically for version 6 of Drupal. I looked for modules, and found a few useful ones who actually showed a trend of following the Drupal releases pretty closely. I also found that a couple of things I had used as modules in earlier releases were now built-in.

I fiddled on and off for a few days and was able to get a site together for my company’s web site that’s way, way better than the wordpress site that was there before. I’m also redoing the main LinuxLaboratory.org site using Drupal.

What about Django?

I know that lots of you were encouraging me to keep moving ahead with Django. I *will* be moving ahead with Django at some point, but what I found is that doing example projects using the dev server and deploying a real application using Apache are such vastly different beasts that doing the former doesn’t really help make you qualified to perform the latter. When I had my site ready to go, and I had it working on my locally-installed dev server, I found myself completely lost when it came time to get it working on my webfaction account. It really shouldn’t be that hard, but it is. Or it was for me.

You can all take comfort in knowing that I still hate PHP and consider it a necessary evil. For the moment, though, I have a couple of projects involving PHP coming up. By the time those projects end, I hope I can be more skilled with Django, and with Django deployment. I’m not even going to mess with the dev server anymore. It’s just a damn tease. I’m going to sit down and spend some time with Django on Apache with mod_* and finally come up with answers to all the questions I had that nobody anywhere seemed to have any reasonable answers to. When I figure them out, I’ll post here and you can all flame me or learn something new, perhaps depending on your own skill level :-)

In the mean time, while I don’t typically do book reviews, I’d recommend that anyone using Django 1.x stay away from the book “Practical Django Projects”. It’s specifically non-1.0, and you’ll be tripped up from the very first sample app, and it doesn’t get better from there. If you want to learn from the book (and there’s learning to be had from it), download 0.96.x, and use that to go through the book. When you’re done with the book, read the release notes for Django 1.0. You’ll have to make some alterations before moving your apps to 1.0, but overall you’ll be just fine.