At last nights DrupalCambs Meetup, a discussion arose about why to use something, be it computer-based or otherwise. The conversation based upon why to use a base theme and build up from that as opposed to creating a custom theme in Drupal, however, I thought that the kernel of the discussion was focussed on why we try to develop new options/ideas. Three words were ringing in my head; easier, quicker, better.
The entire purpose of computers is to try to make operations either quicker, easier or better (and hopefully all three). When I think about why the majority of work I complete for the internet is built in Drupal, it comes back to the same three words; easier, quicker, better.
Drupal as a content management system does require you to follow rules to add content and make users and such like, and it could be stated that it would be quicker, to just build sites from scratch, or using my own content framework, however, this negates the use of the community, to make my work easier, by giving me a large amount of code for free, and better, as it is being constantly tested.
When thought about as Drupal themes (which for those of you who aren’t Drupal-literate are the template files that Drupal uses to construct web-pages), the reason that I use a base theme ( usually) is because it makes it easier, quicker and better.
Firstly, easier as it gives me both a lot of pre-constructed code, and documented html and css, which I can use within my theme at no extra cost. Basically, by using firebug in Firefox, I can discover the names of different items in my css and simply change them as required. Easy!
Secondly, quicker. Although, I am sure that many coders may be able to code a html page relatively quick, in using Zen theme and Zenophile I can create a theme in seconds (yes seconds) with variable page widths, sidebar widths, including 8 pre build regions for use.
Better. Being better (or an improvement on what I could do) is a contentious issue and probably the most difficult to actually measure. However, by using a theme template you can likely make standards compliant xhtml and css with very little effort on your part. The better-ness of using it can be recorded in the amount of time/effort you can save and spend making stuff look even better!
So, easier, quicker, better. Whether it be computers, Drupal or themeing Drupal we are all searching for the holy grail of easier, quicker and better. By following the well trodden path to drupal and base themes, web development can become easier, quicker and better.