So, here's what I want to do, but I don't know if Drupal is the right tool.

I want to redesign/move to CMS a site with 10 or so pages.

Most of the pages are pretty static, but I'd like to use a CMS so my client can edit text on his own.
He also blogs a little and has a mailing list to manage.
Blogging is obviously what Drupal is built around, and it's easy enough to set that up.
I see that there's a list manager for v. 5.x, so I'm guessing someone will develop one for 6 soon.

The site needs to use custom XHTML and CSS.
I've read the Theme manual a dozen times, and cannot figure out what I need to do to build a theme,
hook a few blocks (is that the right term? ) into the layout, and go.

I am an experienced web designer, so I know XHTML and CSS cold.
I have a little experience with php, and can usually figure it out if I have some clear instructions.
I don't have a problem editing code, but I don't know how to start...

Anyone have some insight for me?

Comments

There is a fantastic theming handbook available: http://drupal.org/theme-guide.
The Zen theme (http://drupal.org/project/zen) is a very good starting point for creating your own theme.
Last but not least there is the theme developer module for Drupal 6 that is part of the devel package: http://drupal.org/project/devel

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Ramiro

Try starting by installing a simple theme (zen is a perfect starting point) and customising it to suit your requirements...

Pete.

I am an experienced web designer, so I know XHTML and CSS cold.
I have a little experience with php, and can usually figure it out if I have some clear instructions.
I don't have a problem editing code, but I don't know how to start...

Me too.

I have found the Zen package invaluable as a starting point for building highly customized themes. Using css only, you can completely overhaul a Zen theme. If you are willing to get into the template.php and page.tpl.php files (even a little), you can do anything you want in terms of layout.

The Zen theme and subthemes are so well documented that if you really want to 'start from scratch', I'd recommend studying it alongside the theme guide. If you're not a php guru, it will help you see exactly how the techniques in the theme guide can be implemented.

That's my $0.02 anyway. :)

Holy cow, thanks for the quick responses. I will check out the Zen package. Wish me luck.

Good luck!

Setting up a custom zen sub-theme was easy, but configuring the layout is confusing.
It's just not clear how to insert a chunk of html in a region and make it static.
The template.php file doesn't seem to include a div called "header", so where does it get included from?

There also seems to be a lot of documentation, but it assumes a working knowledge of Drupal's structure, which I lack.

OK; the terminology takes some getting used to...

I've been using Drupal for a couple of years, and I'm still learning!

The overall page content is defined by page.tpl.php, node content by node.tpl.php, block content by block.tpl.php... you get the picture.

To insert a chunk of HTML into a region, go to administer => site building => blocks, add a block, then configure it back in administer => site building => blocks with the desired weight and region.

That's it.

Pete.

page.tpl.php is the file where your "page" is built and where the "header" is defined. You can move chunks of code around to reposition things in the layout (i.e. primary/secondary links, breadcrumbs, etc.). In addition, you can add/change/remove tags in this file to customize your look further.

IMO creating/configuring blocks is probably one of the most important things to learn early on.