Can we upgrade yet?

If there’s one thing that I will be taking away from  DrupalCon Chicago, it’s the desire to leave Drupal 6 behind, and plunge into Drupal 7. It seemed that during the conference most of the focus on  new modules and new features were all based around Drupal 7. While I understand that this is not something that is entirely feasible at this point, I’m excited for what the future holds.

One module that would be of particular good use for the University is WorkBench. A module developed (and still being developed) by Palantir. They have recognized a need to improve the Content Managers workflow, and have addressed it wonderfully with this module. It would be a huge improvement for the majority of our sites. As taken from the modules project page, here are a few of the offered features:

  • Hierarchical permission inheritance by “Sections” not just content types
  • Extensible workflow states
  • Single repository for media management
  • Modify live content without publishing changes immediately

And, as always, a few pics from the conference:

Orbit!
Wesley and Tanya - Dinner time!
Eaton at the "Geek to Chic" fashion show

Collaborating _on_ Drupal

Drupal is a powerful platform with which to collaborate with others, of course, yet with the move from the code revision software CVS to Git, it is easier than ever to collaborate with other people on developing Drupal, too.

It’s easy to get going. (Assuming that you already have Git installed) here’s how:

  • Log into your Drupal.org account (or make one if you don’t have one);
  • Click where it says, “Logged in as ” and then edit your profile;
  • Click on the tab called “Git access” and agree to the terms.

Once you’ve done that, there’s a bit of Git config you can do to make your life easier, and the options are outlined in a copy-and-paste manner.

You can create sandbox projects, for just playing around, to get started. I have created a ridiculous and useless one. I invite you to download the code and play around with it. http://drupal.org/sandbox/wrashi/1086680

Notice that there are instructions for downloading the code as well as creating and submitting patches. All of this is an attempt to get more people involved in creating and improving Drupal, both at the core and contrib level.

P.S. If you don’t have Git installed, you can get it here: git-scm.com

Insight into Drupal Controversy: Product vrs. Framework

One of the discussions that is on-going here at DrupalCon Chicago, as well as in other venues (on- and off-line), is “Should Drupal become more of a framework or more of a product?”

This might not seem very interesting, but it has a very important day-to-day application at the U of L. Increasingly, I want to use Drupal as a framework, rather than a product. Here is what I mean by that…

Drupal is a content management system (a.k.a. CMS) and that means there is a lot of power available, especially for large data sets. Modules increase that power. Yet each module added means a slower response from the server, because there is more code to load, run and get results from. So, putting up a Drupal site for a single page site doesn’t really make much sense. There is too much overhead for the problem that is being solved.

Yet, if you’ve been in the office with me, you know that this sort of use of Drupal is what I have been increasingly advocating. The way I see Drupal is as a whole bunch of work that has already been completed, tested and implemented in many other contexts. Instead of writing and implementing untested code, I want to leverage Drupal’s system and modules to do what we need. Even if that means using Drupal for a site like a dinner registration.

Using Drupal in this way is using it as a framework, rather than a product. Drupal may not be the best solution as a framework, though, since it was actually created to be a product. Right now, Drupal is able to be either, but as the discussion goes forward, and Drupal 8 starts to crystalize, we will see one side of the discussion winning over the other. 

Drupal Media Module

With the introduction of Drupal 7 comes a wave of new and improved modules. One of which was being presented yesterday and peeked my curiosity.  As a Drupal developer, one of my biggest headaches is trying to implement a user-friendly system that allows content managers to add photos, videos, and more to their content. This seems to be an area where WordPress has excelled and Drupal has been left in the dust.

The new Media module seems to be a definite step in the right direction. Multiple file uploading, video and audio uploading, photo galleries, drag and drop photo organizing,  and third party service integration are just some of the cool features. And while this module is still in it’s development infancy, it may be ready to roll by the time we decide to make the leap to Drupal 7. Until then, I’ll just have to tinker.

After yesterday’s sessions Wesley, Tanya, and myself headed out for a short walk around the city. Chicago is truly amazing. Here are some shots (please excuse the poor iPhone quality).

Navy Pie!
Air Jordan
Swordfish for dinner
Downtown Chi-town
Another downtown shot

DrupalCon Chicago … the first two days

DrupalCon Chicago has been interesting so far. I’ve taken advantage of the diverse range of topics and learnt about

  • the new (for Drupal 8 ) core changes that are being proposed,
  • using the git version control system to contribute to Drupal
  • Project management ideas
  • and an in-depth look at views

The Birds of a Feather sessions yesterday were quite good, and one of the more interesting ones was about FileDepot http://drupal.org/project/filedepot. This is a module written by a company in Toronto that does file management with little initial configuration.

We looked at this module almost a year ago, but the advances in the last month, really require a second look. Many of the pain points from earlier versions have been address, and a (Windows only) version of a desktop app is available. Further advances that are in the works include built in indexing, filtering and Apache Solr search.

On a personal note, last night we took a walk to the Navy Pier (affectionately known as “Navy Pie” due to a burnt out part of the sign). We had dinner at a seafood restaurant that was absolutely amazing.

Now that I’ve figured out how to log in here, expect more updates from the DrupalCon floor. 🙂

Drupal, Deep Dish Pizza, and Da Bulls

Chicago is quite the place, and a perfect venue for DrupalCon 2011. Although it’s a bit chilly, it feels like summer after leaving the -20 degree Southern Alberta weather.

For a few hundred of us keeners, DrupalCon began today with a full day of Drupal training. I attended a session taught by Eaton from Lullabot, focusing on creating modules for Drupal 7. Overall, it was a useful session filled with hooks, forms, and API goodness. There are actually some really cool changes that have been implemented for Drupal 7 and I’m excited to get some time and try them out. Now, we just need to start developing our University sites using D7!

To this point, the conference seems extremely well organized, and everything seems to be running very smoothly. I’ve already collected a ton of great swag including the coveted Drupal pajama pants, a Drupal T-shirt, and the first ever issue of Watchdog Magazine (Drupal’s own mag – sweet!). Funny thing… as we were looking through the DC2011 program, we came across a great Microsoft ad. I’ve got to give ’em credit for owning up to their disastrous mistake. If only I was a drinker, I’d be more than happy to take them up on their offer.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be another great day. I’ve had my my eye on a few sessions and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be checking out these sessions:

  1. Forensic Theming: Key Techniques to Building Effective Drupal Themes
  2. Rockin’ HTML5 with Drupal
  3. Crafting App Interfaces with jQuery
  4. Designing for Mobile

On a personal note, I took some time this evening and ventured to the United Center to watch my first ever NBA game. The Bulls vs. the Hornets. It was an awesome atmosphere and luckily, the Bulls won so everyone around me was in a good mood. When I got back to my hotel room, Wesley had left a note on my door telling me he had some left over pizza from supper. Wow! Chicago has some great “za”. Talk about Dense! The one slice I had was probably 2 inches deep and must have weighed a pound. Pizza Hut just won’t be the same when I get home.

 

The “wonder” git documentation | drupal4hu

As we welcome Git as the new version control system for Drupal, there are probably many looking for good learning resources. This comes by way of chx:

lut4rp gave me a link today. I understood git. In minutes. Miracles! […]

The docs is at http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~cduan/technical/git/

Via The “wonder” git documentation | drupal4hu

I agree that Git becomes much more usable when you understand what’s going on under the hood. Another great resource for this is PeepCode’s Git Internals PDF ($12 well spent).

Help us test the CVS -> Git migration! | drupal.org

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Almost exactly one year ago today, the Drupal community reached consensus to migrate our version control system from CVS to Git. Today, the Git migration team is extremely pleased to announce that we are officially open for community testing in advance of our proposed launch date, February 17! Just in time for DrupalCon Chicago!

via Help us test the CVS -> Git migration! | drupal.org.

The Best CMS: Joomla 1.6 vs Drupal 7.0 | PC Pro blog

Overall then, Drupal wins as the best, totally customisable framework for producing unique state-of-the-art Web 2.0 sites where content is contributed by site visitors, whereas Joomla victors as the best, largely customisable, off-the-shelf system for producing more traditional sites where content is contributed at organisation level by controlled workgroups.

via The Best CMS: Joomla 1.6 vs Drupal 7.0 | PC Pro blog.

The theme of Drupal as a customisable framework has been on my mind this week. This article indirectly plays into what I’m considering for a Drupal Camp session this year. Stay tuned for that.