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Tools and Jargon

April 27, 2010 by Steve

I use these tools to make it easier to test my site on my home computer and roll changes out to the live site. (I will not provide any support for these things, they all have their own websites. I'm just listing them here for reference.)

  • Firefox - You need a bunch of browsers in order to do cross-browser testing of your site, but this one is my favorite for daily use. For development, it is essential, because of the Firebug addon.
  • Firebug addon for Firefox - lets you inspect your CSS no matter how nested it gets, debug JavaScript, and a dozen other web development things I don't even understand. It allows you to right click on an item on the page and inspect the CSS that made it, which let me figure out which things to modify in the theme to get exactly what I wanted.
  • 7-zip - a nice Windows tool for un-gzipping compressed project files from the Drupal site.
  • Filezilla - Excellent FTP client, makes it easy to move entire directories over to your web host.
  • gVIM - I have been messing around on the internet since it was just words. My preferred HTML coding environment is vi. gVIM is vi for Windows.
  • WAMPServer - I should just suck it up and start booting Ubuntu, but until I get around to that, I'm using this Windows Apache MySQL PHP stack for local testing. (WAMPServer site in French.)

In order to work on a Drupal site, you will need to be familiar with these terms:

  • Node: a node is simply a core piece of content. Drupal doesn't care if your "content" is a blog post, a static page like your About screen, a poll, a picture, a weblink, or anything else. To the database, they are all handled the same way, and node is the generic term.
  • Module: All of the functions of a Drupal site come from modules, programs written in PHP to perform some task. A module could be big and complicated, like the node management code, or it could be small and provide one useful feature, like poormanscron.
  • Core Module: a module written by the team that maintains the Drupal package, that comes with the main Drupal download, and that every site will have.
  • Contributed Module: a module not in core, could be written by anyone. (This is PHP, you can always review the source code if you like.) Contributed modules extend the basic Drupal functions in dozens of ways. Et Melius is using more than 20 of them, each for a very specific reason.
  • Block: A common term used by many website engines, the blocks are the extra pieces around the screen that each hold something specific: a menu, a twitter feed, an ad, whatever. Modules often make blocks available - I installed the twitter module just so that I could have the twitter block over to the right.

Further explanation of Drupal jargon can be found at


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