NewAssignment.Net Blog Launches!

We're happy to announce that the initial blog-based site for the NewAssignment.Net project has launched:

http://www.newassignment.net/

This is a Drupal 4.7.4 install with a modified Andreas09 theme. We're utilizing Ber Kessles's quicktags module for easier editing (as opposed to a "WYSIWYG" editor like TinyMCE) as the principal writers are all comfortable looking at HTML. We're fans of HTML literacy, part of our commitment to capacity building, and I'm looking forward to embracing Ber's module and writing my own hooks.

You can see the editing interface as it stands here:

This editor will expand over time. Using the FormAPI and the templating system, we plan to create a special page for editing posts -- similar to the Wordpress "dashboard" in feeling -- which allow for a much larger editor window (with a larger, more readable font) as well as special sidebars devoted to posting options.

As you can see, we're also using the Image Assist module, by Benjamin Shell for placement of inline images, which required a couple of tweaks:

  • Because of how quicktags modifies textarea form elements to insert its javascript buttons above the editing area, it cuts out the code img_assist uses to add its button below. The patch to fix this is small, simple, and here.
  • A nice future development will be to give img_assist.module a hook so that it adds a quicktag button. However, this will require some changes (or Ber's expertise) on the quicktags side, as their methods for firing javascripts currently conflict. In any case, the patch above lets you use all the elements on the same window, which is good.
  • We're also using the img_assist shorthand code for inserting images, which lets us use all their nice CSS style while keeping the default input-format for posts as "Filtered HTML," which prevents comment or post content from breaking the layout.
  • Finally, it turns out that there's a bug in the Andreas09 theme and drupal.css which causes elements which issue a CSS clear: all (such as <br class="clear" />) to be dropped below the lowest sidebar element. We overrode this by re-defining the CSS class #content .node .clear to be clear: none in our style.css. This keeps the behavior the same except in center-column nodes, where the problem was.

All in all, it took about a days worth of work to load up the content, settle on the configuration and tweak the styles. Way to go, Drupal!

I think the final results will be a good platform to work off for the NAN team over the next few months. We'll begin adding new features as their projects build momentum, though we're not going to attempt to implement a unified system at this phase. The plan is for the team to utilize free/easy resources (e.g. google groups) and see what catches on, and then to look at how to integrate the most valuable of these features into a unified Drupal website in early 2007.

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