Drupal tips and tricks

The small things that make life easier with Drupal

Drupal as one of the key Internet Technologies

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Tue, 2010-02-23 15:31

Received this Harris Interactive poll today, on behalf of Tarsus, the french company organizing the Solutions Linux expo.

One of the choices was a list of the top 30 Internet Technologies. And guess what ? For once, Drupal was on the list: first time I see it mentioned in this type of business context. Interesting.

Drupal among the top 30 internet technologies

Debug vanilla

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Fri, 2009-12-11 12:14

Most of the time, when working on some piece of code, I'll resort to the configured debugger in my current Zend Studio configuration. And you probably do too :-)

However, I often have to access debug-type information on live sites where installing a debugger is out of the question, and I find myself often resorting to parameter dumps like the following:
// lazy version for simple cases
function foo_bar($x, $y, $z) {
// [...]

// less lazy version for more hairy cases
function foo_baz($x, $y, $z) {
dsm(array('in foo_baz, x' => $x, 'y' => $y, 'z' => $z));
// ...

You've probably being using it too and, of course, after the first few dozen times, it becomes a bit used. So here's a tiny snippet that makes such dumps simpler to type and use :

Easy mass deletions

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Mon, 2009-11-16 14:21

Sometimes, you want to delete a whole bunch of users, terms, or nodes, say to cleanup a site while developing and still keep its configuration, so reinstalling is not really an option, and the normal content- or user-administration pages get in your way because they only show a limited number of entries, meaning you have to delete page after page of entries.

Views in Paris

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Sat, 2009-08-29 17:08

In case you've been living under a rock, DrupalCon Paris is happening next week, and features, not one, but two Views Sessions, in addition to merlinofchaos' own CTools sessions on Panels 3 and CTools. One of them being, of course, by yours truly :-)

If non-admin users can see some user accounts but not others...

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Wed, 2009-03-11 13:48

After a massive user import to a customer's site, said customer noticed that, while he could see any user profile when logged, he could only see some of them when he was not logged in, receiving an "access denied" on the other accounts.

Now, with the administer users permission, a user can see any profile, so this didn't come into consideration, but since anonymous users could see some profiles and not others, the permissions granting anonymous access to the profiles were obviously set up correctly. So what could be wrong ?

Switching to private downloads to speed up Drupal

Submitted by Frederic Marand on Sat, 2008-12-20 21:18

It is usually considered a given that "private" downloads, going through Drupal, are slower than "public" downloads, which can be served directly by Apache, or whatever web server the site is running on. This is indeed true in the general case; however, for low-cost hosting, this apparent axiom needs to be revisited.


I recently had to install Drupal 6.x for a french government agency on a low-cost hosting plan. Although the site performed reasonably well considering the limitations of the chosen hosting plan, I soon noticed it was missing mod_deflate and mod_expires, which caused pages to be served uncompressed and every static file to be served without an expiration date.

And, of course, the site had quite a few images: photos on most pages, and several logos at the bottom of each page.

Now, when mod_deflate is missing, using the "Page compression" option on http://example.com/admin/settings/performance is a good workaround for the download page size, but what about the static files ?

Checking a few cheap hosting plans, it appeared these limitations are actually quite common. And without mod_expires, there is no way to tell Apache to serve static content with specific headers. Luckily for us, with Drupal we have a trick up our sleeves, the so-called "private" file downloads.