Drupal How To: Content Profile Basics

March 22nd, 2009 · 26 Comments

A Good Profile Is Key

A Good Profile Is Key

In Drupal complex tasks can be very easy.  Sadly many times simple tasks can be complex.  Even more often, to make a complex task simple, you have to make a simple task complex first.  Such is the case with the content profile moduleNote, this example uses Drupal 6.

Why Do I Want Content Profile?

The content profile module allows you to define a content type to represent your users profiles.  This allows a tremendous amount of customization without dealing with code.  You can use the CCK to define very complex node types to represent your users profiles.  We will get to doing that later, unfortunately getting to the point where your content profiles look like…well…profiles takes a bit of doing.  Be aware that there are many ways to do Profiles in Drupal and this is just one option, be sure you need this flexibility before you start down this path.

Setting Up Content Profile

First of course you have to install the content profile module and the CCK.  You’re on your way now.  Once the module is installed it will have created a profile content type.   Great.  Unfortunately you have a bunch of steps to go before it is usable at all.  The first thing we need to do is designate that it’s a profile type by going to Administer->Content Types->Profile->Edit. In the last section, “Content Profile,” you will find a checkbox that reads “Use this content type as a content profile for users.”

Unfortunately of course a normal user can’t edit this content type, so go to Administer->User Management->Permissions and give your logged in users permissions to create and edit thier own Profile content.  You do not want them to be able to edit other people’s content so do not give them the “edit any profile content” permission.

So you’d think we’d be close to done now, but if you now go and try to edit your profile you’ll see there’s a required title field.  Even more annoyingly the only way to get rid of it is to add another module, the Automatic Node Titles module.  Once you install this you go to the profile content type (Administer->Content Types->Profile->Edit again) and you’ll see a section at the top called “Automatic Title Generation.”  Open that and set the option to “Automatically generate the title and hide the title field.”  I don’t see any reason to care what the title will be since it will be used inside another page anyway so I don’t worry about setting any other options.

Now we’ve got it to where it’s reasonable to edit.  You can go fill out the body field (as if it were a bio for example) and save and you’ll see it on your profile.  Unfortunately you’ll also see a bloody “Submitted by X on …” line at the top of it.   Great!  To get rid of that go to Themes->Global Settings and in the upper right hand corner you’ll see a list of content types inside a box labeled “Display post information on.”  Remove Profile and voila!  We’ve managed to make an absolutely boring profile in Drupal with just 10 semi-easy steps.

Now you might be wondering why we went through all that trouble just to get a really bland profile that looks decent.  The reason is because now that we’ve gotten a content profile set up and looking right, we can do the very complex task of making cool custom profiles very easily.  We’ll address that later, but this should at least get you through the frustrating act of getting the initial profile set up.  Let me know if anything needs clarification or if you disagree with anything.

Photo Credit: misteraitch

→ 26 CommentsCategories: Applied Use

Social Media – Are You Doing It Wrong?

March 18th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Networking Isn't Always Simple

Networking Isn’t Always Simple

Have you been wondering what all the fuss about social media is?  You’ve maybe registered for Digg, submitted one of your stories and nothing came of it.  Seems like a waste of time, well…yes and no.

Social Media Is About Community

I had read this time and again.  As I am wont to do before I so much as joined any of these sites, I read everything I could.  They all agreed on one thing, if you just go on to a social media site, submit your links and wait for the visitors to roll in you’re wasting your time.  This of course makes perfect sense, you have no reputation, so how can they even tell you from a spammer?  You’re not looking to add value to the community, so why would anyone take you seriously?  It all makes sense.

Unfortunately, There is a Corollary

Sadly, this isn’t the end of the story.  In my tale, I joined Digg, didn’t submit anything of my own for several weeks, made clever comments that were voted up on lots of threads, dugg interesting articles.  Then one day I submitted one of my own stories and of course…no one read it.  It’s not that people read my article and disregarded it, it’s that no one even bothered to read it.  Ultimately Digg was a huge disappointment.

Digg is Too Big

Getting into the Digg “elite” seems like a full time job.  However there are tons of smaller communities out there where you can make an impact immediately.  I just get a few of my friends to join one with me and then I submit my stuff there.  People actually read it because it’s a smaller community and it’s much easier to get on the front page.  This actually drives traffic and seems like a much better strategy.  Moreover, it’s easier to network with those people because the “elite” isn’t nearly as well defined so you can make friends and expand your circle, instead of just begging people to vote for you.

Ultimately getting on the front page of smaller sites doesn’t yield to as many readers as getting on the front page of Digg.  But I’ve gotten way more value out of contributing to those sites than I have with Digg.  Moreover, I tend to only bother with sites that are dofollow, so at the worst case I have a link to show for it, even if I get no traffic.  Plus the administrators of those sites are usually grateful for a worthwhile contributing member (and his or her friends), instead of imperious.  All in all it’s a win-win.

Photo by: ivanx

→ 2 CommentsCategories: Applied Use · Main blog narrative

Is Twitter Over Already?

February 17th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Not that long ago I was writing about how much I liked twitter.  It seems that as a fairly late adopter, I missed most of the glory days and it is now on the typical community life cycle:

  1. New and edgy.
  2. Still edgy but popular enough to be useful.
  3. Getting popular but still largely a cool community.
  4. Starting to get a lot of “buzz” as the “next big thing.”
  5. Being overused and abused.
  6. Becoming utterly lame.
  7. Bought by a major company.
Photo By: Noel Zia Lee

Given that Twitter doesn’t have a revenue model, they may want to hurry up and accept that $230 million dollar price tag that’s being thrown around.  To me the biggest sign that it’s over the hill is the mad “popularity contest” component of it.  Your goal in Twitter now is apparently to be followed by as many people as possible, regardless of who they are.  There are techniques for finding more people who will “auto follow” you.  This leaves me with one big question:

Why Do I Want Someone Who Has No Interest In Me To Follow Me?

If that person isn’t ever going to be interested in, and probably won’t even read, my tweets, then why am I happy they’re following me?  At this point I feel somewhat silly that I persued a “quality over quantity” approach to my Twitter friends.  What the popularity contest tells me however, is that most people are not really reading anything that’s being Tweeted.  As people read less and less, the service becomes less valuable.

Soon enough, someone else will come up with some other new cool community and the early adopters will go have some fun there until it gets lame and they have to move on again.  Hopefully, next time I can be at the front end, instead of the back.  Anyone know what that next thing will be?

→ 1 CommentCategories: Theory