[development] the past, present and future of drupal admin

Dries Buytaert dries.buytaert at gmail.com
Fri Jul 28 10:04:33 UTC 2006

> As I watched Drupal move through 4.6 to 4.7 and actually 'split' some
> administration tasks between settings and regular administration tasks,
> my brain hurt.
> For one, how do I, the user, know which as an administrative task and
> which is just a setting? Unless I'm already familiar with the system, I
> don't. Even if I'm already familiar with the system, I may not, because
> the division may be purely based on how the data is stored, and only a
> developer is really going to know that.
> Shining example, or The One That Killed Me:
> Menu system. menu.module in 4.7 launches with a 'Primary Links' block,
> and you put links in it for them to become primary. But you can change
> which block that is. But where do you change it? That's right, now where
> the primary links block is, but...yes, in the settings.

I have data points that suggest the exact opposite.  One or two years
ago, I was very much in favor of what you are saying about the
categorization of settings and actually moved many setting pages
around to do exactly that.  That is no longer the case today as I got
too many complaints about it not being intuitive.

You are suggesting that users should discover settings by:

  - Checking the module specific block,
  - or by checking an existing block related to the module/functionality,
  - or by checking the settings page.

That is 3 possible locations.  How will the user figure out where to
look?  You assume that it is intuitive and the user will get it right
without a problem.  Clearly, that is not the case.  The assumption is
flawed.  We can't rely on it.  That has been proven over and over
again and is exactly why I changed my mind about this.

Instead, I'm suggesting that the user should discover settings by:

  - Checking the settings page.

It doesn't assume anything and provides a well-defined location.  It
is a much easier pattern to learn, and looks like an easier mental

Just my 2 cents,

Dries Buytaert :: http://buytaert.net/

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