Creating Templates with the Interface Module


The forms Drupal automatically generates have always suffered from the 'silo' effect, where one form field is stacked on top of the other. This often presents a usability challenge for people operating the system, and generally requires some additional level of theming for developers in a really mature site.

Trellon recently released the interface module for Drupal, which is a stab at making it easier to change the look and feel of forms. Interface is a tool for authoring the interface for forms in Drupal by dragging and dropping form fields into predefined regions. This is one of those things you might need to see to see to understand - we have videos demonstrating the module at work.

These regions, the places on the page where you drop form fields, are put into something called a template. This article seeks to explain what a template file is and how to author your own. Our team has put a lot of effort into making it easy to use this module, and this includes authoring new templates. Interface ships with a number of templates we have already set up, and we understand it will be important for certain users to know how to author their own. Writing a template should be one of the simplest tasks you will ever have to do as a developer, right down there with Hello World and executing a print command. Read More >>>

Presentation on Interface module at tomorrow's Washington DC Drupal Meetup


Tomorrow I will be doing a presentation at the Washington DC Drupal Meetup on the Interface module and what it means for improved usability in Drupal. If you have not heard of this project we have been working on yet, you can read Michael's recent blog posts and view the screencast demo. If you are interested in learning more, come on out and see the demonstration.

Here are the details about tomorrow's event: Read More >>>

Interface Module Part Two


Editor's note: This is a long post. If you just want to see the screencast, click here, and there are notes about it below. If you want some sample code to help you understand, click here. If you want to read how Mike explains the whys and wherefores, get comfortable, ease the seat back, and read on.

If you build Drupal sites for a living, you already know that the administrative interface is one of the areas of a site that gets the least attention from developers. There are a lot of reasons for this, ranging from the fact that it works (therefore, it does not need to be pretty), to the fact that modifying the admin interface is labor-intensive (there are some sections you almost need to hack core to modify), to the fact that budgets don't always cover the costs of making the backend look nicer (and we all know about the bottom line).

This year, Trellon set out to address some common usability concerns in Drupal based on feedback received from clients. Something we often hear is that Drupal is very attractive from a functional standpoint, but Joomla is more user-friendly and has a nicer interface. This misperception about the underlying power of Drupal's theming layer is chiefly an aesthetic concern, it is something that can be resolved, and an ideal solution is one that reduces the overall time and complexity involved in deploying sites featuring more usable interfaces. As a nice to have, whatever usability solution is designed can be extended beyond the web browser into other mediums such as widgets and mobile phone applications. Read More >>>

Interface Module Part One


Sharing some video of a the Drupal Interface module that I've been working on here at Trellon. With our new site up, I can devote more time to this project.

Interface is a module for authoring node form interfaces. Primarily, the module is being developed to increase the usability of Drupal sites. It allows administrators to control the placement of form elements using drag and drop tools like you might see on Facebook. Placement of form elements is handled by templates, which work similarly to other themable elements in Drupal. Templates can be authored with CSS and JavaScript, and create regions in templates that allow form elements to be placed in different sections of the page. Each template includes an info file, for specifying characteristic properties of each Interface. Read More >>>