Raw Ingredients, Prepared Ingredients, Final Dish and your Web Pages

Some ingredients are basic, raw ingredients, like carrots, flour, lemon zest, olive oil and bacon. Other ingredients are a mixture of ingredients: jam, bread crumbs, pizza sauce, and the V-8 juice I like to use in soups. The second type of ingredient depends on the existence of the first type of ingredient. Your final dish may depend on both raw ingredients and prepared ingredients. Similarly, most web pages depend on data queries, which are dependent on the raw ingredients of a website: the content.

In a recent session of Website HELP Wednesday,  a participant had some experience with Drupal Content but was new to Drupal structures. The task she came to accomplish had to do with both Drupal Content and Drupal Structures.And, no, Nora does not know by looking at the site how the Content is set up. That needs a look at the Dashboard.

The first problem was to figure out where the Content had been entered. Drupal is like a carrot, it’s all carrot, but it can be used in many forms: cut in ribbons, or rounds, big chunks or julienne sticks. Unlike a salad, where we can see exactly what was done to the carrot, the Content forms are hidden in the Content menu.

Structures are dependent on Content. Notice that in the Drupal 7 admin menu, Content is the first item. Most Drupal sites have many different types of content. If someone uses Drupal without any customizations, there aren’t many types of content. It’s the difference between a wedge of iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing, and a salad with a good assortment of veggies.

Once the basic Content ingredients are there, Structures can use that Content in all kinds of forms Similarly, an article in Drupal can be in columns, or a single block. That is the layout. So, the code that creates the layout, shapes the content it receives from the database.

Are croutons a basic ingredient? No, croutons are a prepared ingredient. It takes bread and seasonings to make croutons. And, when you think it through further, bread is also a prepared ingredient. So, croutons are two steps away from raw ingredients.

A key to using your website technology is to understand what is a raw ingredient and what is a mixture of raw ingredients. Your photos are raw ingredients. The content you type or copy and paste is a raw ingredient. Then your website technology uses those raw ingredients to make the salad. For example, if you have a page that shows a list of articles on a particular topic, that is more like a crouton than like spinach. For that list of articles to exist, the articles have to exist. But, even an article is made up of words and images, like a crouton is made up of bread and seasonings. And, like bread is made up of many ingredients, your article may have images from many sources that need to be explained and the source acknowledged.

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