Drupal upgrade post-mortem

Posted on 27 March 2009 by jose

Cutting to the chase: It was easy, if tedious.


Where have I been for the past few months? I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in November while maintaining a full work schedule. Most of the novel was written after midnight; just thinking about the process of writing it makes me feel tired. Work's kept me pretty busy with lots of Drupal work. I've been flexing my artistic muscles a bit, doing some logo work for myself and for friends. I've done some troubleshooting on websites; last week I helped fix the theme over at the Panthers BBS my friend Eric runs. And three weeks ago, I upgraded Hackwater.com to Drupal 6.

I set up a subdomain to test against and dumped my database into it, and then I got to work, checking every module, making sure all the essentials already had Drupal 6 versions, &c. There was an initial snag regarding my use of the block cache module; block caching is now a part of Drupal core, and the block cache module retroactively impinges on the core functionality namespace. The upshot was that I had to go into my database and delete the block cache tables manually before doing the upgrade.

Aside from this, the main upgrade was fairly painless, and updating my modules only slightly difficult. After enough research to know what steps I needed to take for each particular module, I began the tedious process of downloading the Drupal 6 version of each module and then going through the upgrade process. One of the things that disappeared in this process was my integration with Gallery 2; I felt that the Gallery looks better as a stand-alone app than as an integrated Drupal page. Synchronizing users across the two apps would be more useful if I had an active user base contributing to both sites, but my users are mostly readers, so I don't see much reason for it. I might return to it one day, but for now, it's gone.

Theme-wise, I decided to try something new. Instead of merging my modifications to the Amadou theme into the Drupal 6 version, I installed a theme called Marinelli. Now, I'm particular about my themes; I'm currently building a Zen-based theme at work for a Drupal 6 site, and I like how the Zen guys make their code and CSS clean and consistent. The Marinelli theme was not quite there yet. I did a lot of minor changes, adding semi-colons to terminate PHP prints, and forcing the consistent use of either brackets or the colon-syntax + endif, depending on which was prevalent in a template. I didn't care for the mix and match approach in the initial files.

I also looked at how the Acquia Marina theme adds a bunch of cool settings to the theme, and borrowed the technique for my own site. I'm not doing anything with it yet, but it's a useful intro to the more advanced Drupal 6 theming functions.

I didn't have to do too much tweaking to get my site to work with its new theme; indeed, most of my time was spent on the header graphic. Marinelli comes with several header banners and uses a PHP rotator to generate a new one each time the page is reloaded. I discovered fairly quickly, however, that my logo was illegible with most of the included graphics. I thus decided to dig into my store of photographs, grabbing from my Puerto Rico set and my Cambridge in Autumn set.

I saw that my fairly pedestrian shots were not really header material, but I figured that with the GIMP, I'd be able to take care of that. My biggest obstacle was that I had to find some image that worked in a ratio of 970 pixels wide by 200 high. Fairly wide, but quite narrow from top to bottom. This basically pointed me at my highest resolution pictures from Puerto Rico and from walking around Cambridge. But even having selected a few, the header was boring (I'm a pretty crappy photographer); I decided to spice it up using some GIMP filters, primarily the GIMPressionist filter. So what started out like this (click to see larger version):

San Juan Bay

Finished the day like this:

Impressionist San Juan Bay

For consistency, I played around with the filter to give all of my header graphics that same sort of look. I really like how it worked out.

Hey, you're a jack of all trades. And, seriously, thanks for the help with my themekit. It might have been easy for you, but me not so much.

BTW this layout has a HUGE flaw. No date is displayed showing the date of the post. Not on the individual page but on the summary page showing all the posts.

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