Drupal Installation Profiles - Part 3 - Roll your own

Trying to hatch your own Drupal Distribution? Or (more likely, like me) are you going through an iterative prototyping exercise? Time to create your own Drupal Installation Profile

This article How to Write a Drupal 7 Installation Profile provides some background information. Drupal 7 core provides 2 generic examples that you can examine:

Drupal Installation Profiles - Part 2 - Distributions

At first glance Drupal Installation Profiles may seem a little complex, scary or even overkill for your world. But fear not. They can be tamed. At this point I think it makes sense to step back and examine the use of Installation Profiles. They are not as esoteric as you may have imagined. They are a fundamental Drupal mechanism employed by things you are likely already familiar with: Distributions.

Drupal Installation Profiles - Part 1

When prototyping or investigating a new concept it is common to wander down the wrong path since by definition you are are in uncharted waters. There is generally more than 1 way to address a problem and Drupal often provides several slightly (or radically) different contributed modules for any area of interest. Going down the wrong path is all part of the learning curve. You will make mistakes. And have to start over from scratch. Hopefully you are getting smarter. This learning process often means that you need to wipe what you have done and start over from a known point.

MySQL - utf8 is not really utf8

Turns out that utf8 is not really utf8. I was using Drupal 7 and MySQL and started to encounter a strange error when saving some captured user input. This was the reported error symptom

SQLSTATE[HY000]: General error: 1366 Incorrect string value: '\xF0\x9F\x98\x8D H...' for column 'field_raw_content_value' at row 1


A quick Google search led me (incorrectly) down the path of trying to "clean" my data. My assumption was that the end user was somehow providing corrupt utf8 data. A few sample hits are:

Free Website Monitoring Tools

I wanted a cheap (free) and simple way to perform basic website monitoring on a handful of urls. So I googled and blindly started signing up.My first page of search hits was full of reasonable contenders so I concluded that actual use would be the determining factor. My committed investment was only my time.

Here are the results...Please note that I invested minimal effort in setting them up. So your results may vary.


Simple Website Monitoring

How do you easily track the availability of a handful of websites? I have a few personal resource websites hosted in my basement. And a few others out on the web. My aDSL modem had started to intermittently go offline. Since I was not monitoring it, I was unsure how often this was happening. Once every few weeks in the winter could just be due to local power failures in the neighbourhood. Or may the modem was really dying a slow death? What was the uptime of my cloud based sites? I was embarrassed since I could not quickly answer these qiuestions...

4 Wire vs 5 Wire TTL Strobe

My old Sea and Sea YS50 strobe has a 4 wire cable. My newer Sea and Sea YS110 strobes use a 5 wire cable. I needed to understand the difference so that I could adjust my quench controller to operate the YS110.

YS50 is not YS110

I had created an Arduino based controller that would monitor my camera hot shoe X contact and then fire a YS50 strobe based upon a power setting level control.

I had been using some old spare Sea & Sea YS50 strobes for my testing since I did not want to damage or wear out my real strobes. It was now time to hook the Arduino up to my real Sea & Sea YS110 strobes. I expected success since I was not doing anything too sophisticated. I got utter and total failure. The YS110s did not fire consistently and did not produce a consistent power output.

Packaging the Arduino

The next challenge was physical. I needed to mount an Arduino Pro Mini board in my reclaimed Sea & Sea TTL converter housing. Should be easy. The housing was much larger than the Pro Mini board. The Pro Mini board was smaller than the Sea and Sea board I removed from the housing.

Bundle Copy for Drupal Taxonomy Terms

We had a simple problem: capture a Drupal taxonomy AND its associated terms (definition AND content) in code so that we could automatically deploy a new taxonomy based feature to a website.

Bundle Copy was on our radar as the solution. Or at least part of it.


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