I've known that Tom, Randall and the rest of the crew at Level 10 have been working on Open Enterprise for a while, and I'm excited to have a reason to give it a go. I'm in the process of numerous upgrades to BuildAModule, one of which is making the current bare-bones blog more integrated with the technical advances of the last decade.
Since it's been a while since I've spun up a Drupal-based blog, and since I know there's numerous aspects of blogging and content creation I'd like to finally wrap my mind around and implement (like RDF, HTML5, pingbacks, SEO Tools), I'm thinking that the right distribution could save me time. I'm not entirely sure Open Enterprise has everything I'd like to integrate, but I know it has some good minds behind it. Or, it could turn out that I'm not the target use case for Open Enterprise and I could spin my wheels a bit, but I'm going to take the gamble so I can get familiar with a product that I know is on the edge of some awesomeness.
So, here's an 'unboxing' of Open Enterprise. In particular, I'm using the Enterprise Blog version, which I'm thinking might be the same as Open Enterprise at it's core?
As per a typical Drupal installation, I downloaded the source, set up an empty database, added a virtual host via my MAMP Pro, and went to the new site.
The installation process gave me an Open Enterprise installation profile, and prompted me to install a set of 'apps'. I was tempted to check everything:
After all that installed, it had me fill in the default admin user and site information screen. After I submitted that, I hit a screen asking me for my FTP information. That threw me off a bit:
I tried to submit the form with nothing in it, then filled it with bogus information, thinking that maybe I could deal with it later. But neither of them let me pass. I did a quick search in the issue queue, and pulled this up which said that I could just make the sites directory writable, which I did by cd-ing into the Drupal directory via Terminal and doing a
chmod -R 777 sites
I remember running into something similar on Pantheon, I imagine for similar security reasons. But I'd sure like to have had a few more details on the screen about why this was needed.
After I did the chmod, I went ahead and refreshed the page, which seemed to push the installation process to the next step. However, not without a few errors (a lot of which just have to do with my level of reporting):
Some of these errors had to do with images, and as I started clicking on bits to look at content, I saw that there were no images and I was getting errors like:
Messing about with SEO tools
So, the first thing that I want to play with is the SEO tools to see if there was anything in there that would clearly be a benefit to my current workflow, so I go to create a piece of content and just copy over a blog entry from my personal blog.
Next, I scrolled through the vertical tabs at the bottom of the content and clicked on the Content analysis one. Everything was enabled except for the Alchemy item, which got me curious, so I followed the steps to set it up, which required the following:
- Downloading the PHP SDK files from here.
- Putting the files in the AlchemyAPI folder in the alchemy module folder (but you have to take the files out of the expanded folder)
- Going back to the content and trying again. This time I need an API key, so I follow the instructions
- I sign up for an Alchemy account, verify my email, request the API key, copy it and paste it in
Another disabled tool was the Readability section, and I didn't want to dig into that after going through the 10-minute Alchemy setup. But I did watch some of Tom's video on it which was good (Tom has a nice screencasting voice).
Once Alchemy was set up, the check seemed to go through and I got some additional info:
After checking out the 3 tabs there, nothing appeared to be particularly useful for this article at least.
The Quick SEO tab had some good tips, mostly I think for folks just getting a feel for the amount of content to plug into a typical article:
At this point I think that maybe I should save the article, since it's showing as just having 12 words when there's definitely more, and realize that I pasted the content into a WYSIWYG. My content contains html tags, so I want to paste source in, and I don't see any source code icon (that would have been nice to have).
So I went ahead and copied my content straight from the public facing page into the WYSIWYG, which got everything including some object tags I had in there, and after that there were some better results from Alchemy:
I played around with the SEO tools for a bit, and couldn't get the keyword search to work. I noticed that you could hover over keywords like you see above to show menus for adding keywords to some kind of list, but after adding a few items I wasn't able to find where the list was. I imagine there's a bit of a learning curve here, but it seems like there's got to be some potentially good stuff in these tools.
Next, I wanted to see what the output of a typical blog post looked like, so I checked out the source code. Woah! I haven't seen that many CSS and JS files on a page before. But, I know you can turn on aggregation, so I ceased the freak out and scrolled down to where the body started:
I've been diving deeper into HTML5 over the last several weeks, and I was hoping to see some <article> and <footer> stuff with oddly named attributes, and I wasn't disappointed (though I'm curious why the footer was at the head of the article). I'm still wrapping my mind around best practices around HTML5, and I imagine that looking at this might contain some good lessons.
In the Open Enterprise description it mentioned that it's using a flavor of Omega for a responsive theme, so I played with the browser window size a bit to see what changed, and got a re-sized logo and stacking in the navigation on the smaller window size. At an even smaller window, the sidebar drops down below the content. Cool.
When I go to check out the blog page as an anonymous user (after publishing the page), I get Access Denied. Bummer! ;)
Okay, so permissions are set up to keep anonymous users at bay. NO BLOG FOR YOU! Well, I kind of want people to read this stuff, so I went to the permissions page and made a couple minor adjustments:
Hey, that blog page looks pretty good! Except for a little floating issue with the comment buttons:
So at this point, I want to see how hard it would be to integrate Disqus with this blog. I first go to the modules listing page on the off-chance that it's already included. It's not, and I noticed while I was there that Drupal core and the theme is already a bit outdated:
It's tough to keep up with Drupal, man.
I knew from talking with the Level 10 folks that they were really getting into integrating Apps, so I wanted to check out the App listing to see if I might have missed anything. In the admin bar I clicked Apps and then took a look. I didn't see anything there, so now it's time to download a module and see how well it integrates with the distro.
Okay, that took a few minutes but everything went smoothly. I now have Disqus enabled on blog posts, and normal commenting disabled.
Now I want to click around a bit. I click on the Images tab, and WHAT'S THIS? Whirlyball? And who's the psycho int he middle who clearly runs the operation?
This default placeholder content is way better than what my real content is going to be. ;)
When I click on HOME, I get a Page not found:
Bummer again! The Add URL redirect link is enticing, but when I click that it looks like it would set the redirection for any 404s, rather than just the home page:
Okay, so I'll leave that as is for now.
As my next task, I want to set up those social links at the bottom of the page to point to something functional. Icons would be nice, too, but I'm suspecting this is a standard Drupal menu and getting those icons might take a little pulling of teeth:
Indeed, there's a little cog wheel that's a bit hard to see against the blue, that points me to edit the Social menu, where I update my links.
Getting my share on
Now, I want people to be able to share posts, ala ShareThis. So, I take a gander through The Configuration menu and see a Social media item, which I click on. As I scroll down, it looks promising:
Okay, but how do I get these to show on my blog posts? As I'm looking around, I run into this, which looks a little off:
I'm also getting some overlay screens where there's no way exit because (I'm guessing) the close button is under the admin toolbar:
Then I browse to the modules page and see that maybe the social module I'm seeing isn't fully functional yet:
I check out the Help page and it mentions something about one's profile, so I think that maybe I have to associate the social media accounts with my user, rather than the site, but when I go to my user account page, I just get a submit button:
So I scroll down the modules listings page, just to see what's in there. And what's this?
This looks promising. So here's what I do:
- Enable the Widgets module
- Check my blog post to see if social icons magically appeared. They didn't.
- Went to the Widgets module page to see if there was any insight there. Indeed there was!
- Based on what I read, I went to the blocks configuration page and enabled the Widgets: socialmedia_share-default block in the Content region, above the Main page content block.
- I went back to the blog past, and whammo!
Okay, so I kind of like the ShareThis versions that include details about the different networks' activity (though I just found out you can up the count just by clicking on the icons), and based on the info on the Widgets module page, I probably just need to include the Service Links module for that.
Things to investigate and update
So I'm liking this so far. I have a responsive theme that doesn't look like crap, I have a lot of my needs anticipated in terms of blogging setup. I'm on Drupal 7, which feels like the future after working on Drupal 6 so much these last 6 months, and it seems like the feature modules / apps are thoughtful and goal-oriented, meaning I can probably get some nice functionality pretty cheap if I have the need for additional features later on.
At this point, there's a few things I want to check out / fix / accomplish / learn:
- Get the site branded.
- Figure out how to interlink pages with automatic Related to this article functionality for better SEO.
- Set up archives and a tag listing blocks or pages for better SEO (correct me if that's old school thinking).
- Check out how forms do on the responsive front.
- See if enabling the view source on the Wysiwyg is going to break a feature module
- Research current best practices on working with Features in a distro (I'm curious if anything has changed since I put together a video series on the subject)
- See if I can use Alchemy to automatically tag and enrich posts for search engines, ala the AlchemySEO service / product. And also, is that kosher?
- See why I can't get keyword searches to work. Is there some API key I need?
- Check out RSS feeds. And is there any integration with PubSubHubUb, and do I really need to care about that?
- What about trackbacks and pingbacks? Do people use those? Any reason they weren't included in the distro?
- Play with OpenGraph MetaTags to see how it impacts mentions in Facebook
- I'm curious what the UUID module means for nodes. Can I use them in feature modules now (the last time I tested that it was buggy)? Is that what it's intended use is in Open Enterprise?
- Integrate a menu-search tool like Coffee, or maybe finally check out the Drupal 7 port that Amit Goyal made of Navigate.
- Do some Adobe Shadow (or Edge Inspect as it was newly released today) to check out how this Omega theme looks on a few different devices. And make sure images are 100% max-width (they get cut off as the screen gets smaller).
Thanks to the Level 10 folks for putting this distribution together. I know it's super hard to build features that work for lots of use cases, but it seems like they're doing a really good job so far. I'm looking forward to seeing how fast I can get this to production. :)