2009/365photos/january

It’s a little strange this year. I haven’t had to struggle to get a daily shot yet. Hope I’m not jinxing it…

2009_365_first_30

I’m actually really happy with the project’s photos so far, and it’s fun to see the recurring themes both within the first month, and compared to the first month of 2008. About the same number of photos of the Bow River in Bowmont. Photos of coffee/muffin breakfast taken on almost the same day of the year. It’s kind of cool to see constants, and how they change over time.

on the (lack of) usability of rich text editors in Drupal

I’ve been using Drupal to power websites for several years now, since 4.6 was the latest and greatest. One of the constant, ongoing, relentless complaints from our users has been that Drupal is (or seems) too complicated. It seems hard to use. It takes some care and feeding to initially set up a site. For example, when installing Drupal and creating a site, there is no option to have a rich text WYSIWYG editor, out of the box. Sure, übergeeks would rather gnaw off their paws than use a rich text editor, but Real Live Humans™ need them. They need to be able to edit text visually, and to upload and embed media, without having to follow recipes or read through pages of instructions.

I’m in the process of setting up a new website for a prof, so she can use it with her 200 students as a collaboration hub. Setting up the site (Drupal 6) took maybe 5 minutes. Installing extra modules like Organic Groups and Views? Maybe another 5 minutes. The site is working pretty much perfectly, about 10 minutes after starting to set it up. Yay, Drupal.

Except, I can’t get a rich text editor working the way the students will need it. They need to be able to just start typing, and to upload, resize, and embed images. I’ve got the wysiwyg-api module installed (and why in hell does it not INCLUDE an actual rich text editor? seriously.) and have been farting around with various image-assist and image-api and image-embed and image-etc… modules to get an “embed image” function working. And I can kinda/sorta get it working, as long as I can expect students to be geeks. But they’re not. We need a nice, simple, clear “upload image” button as part of the rich text editor. And that’s just plain not working.

Interestingly, while writing this blog post, the WordPress “Upload/Insert” media bar above the text area is exactly what I need in Drupal. I can’t just use WordPress, because I need to use the collaboration features offered by Organic Groups – and that’s just not possible with WordPress.

So, although I got the skeleton of the website up and running in about 10 minutes, I’ve been farting around for 3 hours now, trying to get a fracking “upload/insert media” function working at the level that will be required by the students. I’ve almost got it working, but the result is something only a geek would really use. And a geek wouldn’t be using the WYSIWYG editor in the first place.

Why in hell is a fully functioning rich text editor not included with Drupal Core? And why in hell is it not as fully featured as the WordPress one, with media uploading and embedding? I’d be willing to bet that the addition of a functional WYSIWYG editor would go a LONG way toward improving the perception of usability of Drupal. Heck, WordPress is GPL – just yank the one they use…