[drupal-devel] Admin theme?

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 20:21:22 UTC 2005

On 6/1/05, Adrian Simmons <adrinux at gmail.com> wrote:

> > I would like to see what Chris has put together
> Indeed, but I'm betting it will introduce a truck load of UI problems and
> increase admin/editor confusion. Also it will allow people to create very pretty
> front ends whilst ignoring the admin/editing UI, inevitably that will begin to
> suffer.

<rant class="vehement">
With due deference, Adrian, I am fed up with this argument being used.
It's simply a falicy and a defensive way to look at the problem (as
opposed to a proactive, solution-seeking approach).  I've been given
this line since before DrupalCon and I've seen very little real
progress on improvements to the Hummer-sized admin UI that comes with
Drupal even though it *is* currently integrated. If you really believe
this, please substantiate it, for I've only seen evidence to the

For one, I would be much more interested in improving the Drupal admin
UI if more variables in the admin section were set in stone and I knew
what I had to accommodate. That we don't have consistent human
interface guidelines for how admin settings and pages are designed,
created, located and referenced is a core aspect of this problem. Any
given themer should not have to resort to redesigning user interfaces
in Drupal just to make them usable. Themeable functions should be
exploited as a last resort or when you require a degree of
customization that most sites don't need out of the box. Themeable
functions should not have to be used to fix usability issues (and yes,
I will be submitting patches against core for the many problems I've
unearthed -- you might consider my latest theme work one giant patch).

Whatever the case, the admin UI will simply not be neglected if we
separate out the front-facing styles. In fact, I believe that more
people will appropriate skillsets will flock to both opportunities
since designing backend UI vs frontend UI require wholly different
ways of approaching the design problems. So long as the admin UI stays
integrated with the rest of the site, the quality of Drupal themes
will continue to suffer and usability will improve at a
less-than-optimal rate.

> What we need IMNSHO are adaptable themes, not a separate admin theme.

Provide good defaults and exploit the cascade model of overriding
those defaults if you so desire or have the time/money/effort/energy
to do so. That is the model that I'm adopting as it seems to have
worked well in other areas of Drupal.

As a point of clarification: I'm not angry, but I am decidedly in
favor of moving Drupal forward, as we all are. This is one issue that
I feel very strongly about and one that I am backing up with code.

I also just gave up coffee and switched to green tea so I might be a
little imbalanced today. ;)


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