Facelift on the NPSL

Last night I completed an upgrade to the NPSL site. We hope that it will make our collective mission clearer (there is now a static home page) and the site a bit more readable (the contrast is a little better for viewing). On the left, you’ll see a short list of the most recent posts. In the top menu, there is an item called “The Blogs”. “The Blogs” will take you to the “river of news” that is all bloggers posts in a single place.

I hope you like the changes. Please let me know at matthew [at] dogstar [dot] org if you see any problems, broken links, and so forth.

Creech Antwerp (Matthew Saunders)

Written by: Creech

Out with the Old and In with the New

You’ve probably noticed a change to the Commons’ Web site.

  • It has a bit of a new look
  • Site elements have moved some.
  • The site has been upgraded from Drupal 5.x to 6.x
  • You’ll see that URLs are now human friendly
  • An XML sitemap has been added for URL spiders
  • Meta-tags can be added to each post

As you look around, if you see anything that is out of place or not working correctly–please let me know!

Creech Antwerp (Matthew Saunders)

Written by: Creech

An Open Source Grant Making System

Grant-making isn’t a cheap venture. Even if you are a re-granting agency (you are given money to give away), the overhead involved in running a grants program is significant. I want to help that change.

Six or so years ago, I was central in developing an online grants system and later managing a grants program using that online grants system. During that time, I worked with roughly 20 large and small organizations that gave grants ranging from city, to county, to state, to federal agencies.

Many grants programs are paper-based. Applications are filled out with pen on paper or with a typewriter. In some instances the application is available as a fillable PDF, but ultimately the process becomes analog-paper being passed from administrator to panels and from agency to applicant. It is expensive in human resources–people having to manage the process often, with the help of, excel or other spreadsheet applications.

Other grants programs use specialised software which–by and large–is expensive to set up and expensive to license each year.

The more money used to administer grants programs, the less money there is to distribute. Less Money to distribute=Less Good in the target community.

At pingVision, we have assembled a Knight Drupal Initiative Proposal that addresses the need for an open-source solution for grant-makers. This application seeks:

  1. To create an easy-to-use, state of the art, open-source grant-making system using the Drupal Content Management system.
  2. To allow for custom development of application forms.
  3. To allow for custom theme development.
  4. To provide management tools for grant applicants, grantees, panelists, and Grant-makers

Interested in helping? We can use constructive comments and votes! Help make this project happen.

You do need to register to vote and comment. If you do vote, please leave a comment of some kind.

Creech (Matthew)

Written by: Creech

New Tech Grant Program–Knight Drupal Initiative

The Knight Drupal Initiative is a grant program designed to foster development in the Drupal project.

Knight Foundation is a Miami-based non-profit grant making organization. Since 1950, the foundation has invested more than $300 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression worldwide.

read more…

Written by: Creech

Drupal Basics-Setting Up A Local Install of Drupal on a Mac

Seeing as this site is a Drupal site, I thought our members might be interested in how to set up Drupal locally on a computer.

The first time I ever set up a local install of Drupal was a copy of 4.7.4.  I remember aspects of setting things up being a little convoluted.  5.x had not gone into full release–I believe it was in RC 1.  So there was no installer and it proved to be an interesting challenge.  With the advent of 5.x, things have become much simpler.  I’m going to describe how to set up a local install of Drupal 5.x on a Mac.


  1. Get a copy of MAMP–it stands for Mac Apache, MySQL, PHP.  The linux version is called LAMP and the windows version is called WAMP
  2. Download the version of Drupal you want to install from Drupal.org


  1. Extract the instance of Drupal you want to install
  2. Pop extracted directory into MAMP’s htdocs folder– /applications/MAMP/htdocs
  3. Fire up MAMP and click on "Open Start Page"
  4. Click on phpMyAdmin in the menu bar at the top of the page
  5. Click on the "databases" link in the main body of the page
  6. At the bottom of this page is a text box that reads "create new database", type in a name for your new database and choose a "collation", I use latin1_swedish_ci
  7. Create a user for the database–click on the sql tab up top and use the following command "grant all on database_name accounts.* to user_name@localhost identified by ‘password’;" with no quotes and replacing database_name with the database, user_name with any name you care to put in, and password with an password you care to use
  8. In your browser go to http://localhost:8888 and click twice on the directory with Drupal in it.
  9. Enter the database name, database username, and database password in the appropriate fields–leave the database type as mysql.  Click "Save configuration"
  10. You now have a working instance of Drupal on your computer!  Click on "your new site" and create user 1.

Remember that to have your Drupal instance working, you have to start MAMP up before going to the localhost Web address.  You can load modules in and configure this just as you would a live site.  It also give you an easy way to play with theming.

Written by: Creech

Drupal Basics-Feed Categories

I was asked by a good friend if I could merge the NPSL Offside Links and the Deli.cio.us NPSL links feeds into a single feed on nonprofitcommons.com in a block on the left side of the site. I took care of it this evening, and it is actually a piece of cake to do. These steps work in Drupal 5.x.

  1. Log into your Drupal site in an administrative capacity
  2. Click on "Administer"
  3. Click on "News Aggregator"
  4. Click on "Add Category"
  5. Create your Category

After you have a Category set up, the next step is to add exterior feeds.

  1. Click on "Add Feed"
  2. Fill out this form, and make sure you check the box that has your category
  3. Repeat for as many feeds that you want to aggregate into a single list.

Next step…you need to go to your administrative menu and click on "Site Building"

  1. Click on "Blocks"
  2. You will find in your list of inactive blocks an item named "xxxx category latest items". Click on "Configure".
  3. You can override the default name of the block (which is currently the category name) by entering something in the title. Next you choose the number of items you want to have show up in the block.
  4. Choose the additional parameters you’d like to turn on or off such as the roles to see the block, what pages the block should show up on and so forth.
  5. Save the block.
  6. Assign the block a location and a weight.

Keep in mind that your feeds won’t update unless you have cron running. If you want to manually run cron to see the fruits of your labour, type in your URL bar http://yoursite.com/cron.php.

Written by: Creech