Drupal Multimedia

Anyone following this blog for a while will notice that I have been reading a lot of Drupal books recently. I have a big project that I am working on for someone, and I want to do a good job for them. While I run Drupal on matthewhelmke.com, it is a very simple implementation solely to list my recently published work. I also ran Drupal on a site for my business, but that has since closed.

Anyway, this new site has and will incorporate some features that are new to me. Some are being carried over from an older version of the website that someone else created, and others are completely new to the site. Several involve media, both audio and video.

In the past, I have embedded photo galleries into Drupal installations, especially using Gallery2, and I have had fun figuring out how to embed non-photo media formats into gallery software like Coppermine. That was back in the days when Drupal 4 was currently supported, so after some searching, I decided it would be more fun to figure out everything using Drupal 6 and contributed modules, without making major modifications to massage in other software.

I started reading the main Drupal website, scouring the list of current modules for version 6. There is a lot of great stuff there, almost too much to sift through. I saw that the publisher of the Drupal 6 book and Drupal 6 Themes book that I had read also had one on multimedia, so I picked it up. I’m still looking at other Drupal books, too, including one that isn’t yet published but is being written by a fellow Ubuntu member, Emma Hogbin. If any seem worth mentioning once I read them, I’ll certainly give them a shout out later.

Okay, on to the book I’ve just finished reading, Drupal Multimedia.

Like the other two Drupal books I have read by this publisher, this book is relatively short, coming in at about 240 pages. It is also focused on only one part of using Drupal, which means that you don’t have to sift through a lot of information you are not going to use. This is definitely not a basic, “here’s how to install and get started easily” sort of text, but more of a precise guide to using Drupal to serve various forms of media files in a way that can be styled easily to fit in with your overall site theme, and that does not require the use of non-Drupal software or modules. In other words, my initial thought was that this book would be exactly what I needed for this phase of my current project.

The book assumes the reader is capable of installing Drupal on a server and assumes you have a base installation up and running perfectly before beginning. It then starts with a quick introduction to the building blocks of Drupal: nodes, regions and blocks, themes, and modules. It discusses how to use CCK to create custom content types and fields, views to set up how they will be displayed, and breezes through the important parts of theming these additions to match the overall look and feel of your site. That is all in chapter one.

The next several chapters are filled with easy to use plans for installing and configuring various modules to deal with images, galleries, thumbnails, slideshows, audio and video. The author quite clearly describes how to get each of these media to fit in and work with your site, exactly how you would like it to work.

I am still in the planning stage of this particular site’s upgrade. This was a good time to read through this book, because it gives me a chance to quickly and easily figure out what I can do for this project, without needing extra time for research or requiring big modifications, and enables me to discuss it intelligently and confidently with those making the decisions. If you have a similar project, the book is worth a look.

Now, if anyone knows how to run iTunes on Linux so that I can begin working on the details of making a podcast feed (from the Drupal Audio module) available in iTunes, I would be grateful. This is to fulfill a special request from the site owner, and I’ve figured out the feed from the Audio module, but without a way to run iTunes, I can’t test it without borrowing someone else’s computer, and that’s not a good thing. I will, but I really don’t want to do a virtual OS installation just for this (and pay for the licensing of a proprietary OS I won’t use for anything else).

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