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Acquia: The Future of PHP is Shared Power Tools

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 16:12

Categories: Elsewhere

ComputerMinds.co.uk: Language lessons: 10 Useful tips

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 14:00

To complete my series on multilingual Drupal, here are some mini-lessons I've learnt. Some of them are are to improve the experience for administrators & translators, others cover obscure corners of code. The first few don't require any knowledge of code, but the later ones will be much more technical.

Categories: Elsewhere

Amazee Labs: Drupalcon Amsterdam: some (user) experience

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 13:46
Drupalcon Amsterdam: some (user) experience

DrupalCon Europe 2014 was all about a new era that has now began on Wednesday, October 1st with the official beta 1 release - the era of Drupal 8. Compared with the DrupalCon Europe 2013, this conference was more about business and development and less about UX related matters. However, UX topics and raised questions are definitely worth mentioning.

UX and Dev: We need to have a date!

One of the most frequent UX topics of last year was better user experience crafted for the end-users of a website together with the importance of user research as a business objective. Knowledge of how and why people use a product conveys better understanding where the areas of improvements that need immediate mitigation are. 

Last week, voices were raised to provide a clear statement that the new and shiny Drupal 8 and the further development of Drupal on both core and contrib levels, needs to get UX research and design involved. Some actions were taken during the last year. However, there is definitely more potential. In her talk "Engaging UX and Design Contributors", Dani Nordin makes it clear. All people who contribute to Drupal have a common goal to create a better, highly scalable and stable version of our content management system. And to do so, UX researches, designers and developers are bound to work closely together, listen to each other and actually apply results of user research. To make this happen, we have to take action within the Drupal community. For example, UX researches and designers should be more involved in the development processes and procedures. Sometimes, designers and UX professionals are treated, as if their contribution is not important, which leads to a decrease of their motivation to spend their spare time for the community. Raising this topic lead to a lot of discussions. This resulted in the UX sprint producing a list of goals and directions that the community should go for in 2014 & 2015.

It’s about interaction.

More and more discussions within the community were devoted to interaction design. The word “design” has a rather broad definition and can be understood differently. For example, “design” for the majority of people only means visual design or visual representation of the object.  UX researches and designers differentiate the visual and interaction design. The latter is about the workflows or concrete steps that users should perform to achieve the goal. No doubt, visual design is crucial for making people want to start an interaction with an object in the first place. However, the quality of interactions is the key for the product’s success. The best way to determine a user-friendly interaction is to actually attempt to accomplish a task, find the obstacles, redefine the workflow and test again before the implementation even starts. The best way to do so is prototyping. No matter how you create your prototypes, you can use HTML, as Roy Scholten suggests in his talk “Because it's about the interactions. (Better UX through prototyping)”, or a broad palette of other tools that do not require advanced programming skills. The most crucial point is to prove that interactions really work and they do so for real users.  

Don’t prototype in Drupal!

The topic of the importance of prototyping gained further attention in the presentation of Dani Nordin. Don’t prototype in Drupal is a strong statement, and it has a point. One of the most popular prototyping tools Axure can help with the design at different levels: high and low fidelity. Creating Axure-based prototypes is faster and cheaper than spending days or weeks on Drupal site building and coding. Prototypes allow, however, to ensure the directions of a project, make it possible to talk with stakeholders about tangible and interactive product before applying the development forces and, again, it’s the way to receive the user feedback. This insighs can be applied not only to the products built in Drupal, but to Drupal itself. This will improve not only the life of content creators, but can help developing more elegant solutions using the better design features of the Drupal core together with contrib modules. 

 

Categories: Elsewhere

Paul Johnson: Welcome to Amsterdam, the "free ride" stops here

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 11:18

For a long time I’ve harboured the belief that too few in Drupal receive the recognition they deserve. I often wonder how many bright (young) stars fall through the cracks of our vast community, fade away and perhaps leave altogether. When the Drupal project was small if you did some heavy lifting, people noticed. Now our numbers have swelled beyond 1 million it is no wonder worthy effort goes relatively unnoticed.

Few of us are seeking the limelight but being noticed, that’s another matter. It’s not just recognition either. We should be mentoring emerging talent, supporting promising businesses and championing contributions from end users. But with such a vast and growing community, as Dries so eloquently put in his keynote, the status quo is unsustainable.

“Social capital and altruism is what we already do and I don’t think it is very scalable”

DriesNote

We should remember the material for the Dries keynote was crowd sourced and as he said we should “keep an open mind, don’t draw to conclusions”. Now is the time to debate openly, engage in constructive conversation and help invigorate Drupal.

What struck me at Amsterdam was that when the audience members having contributed to Drupal Core and contrib were invited to stand, surprisingly few remained seated. In many respects talking to DrupalCon attendees was preaching to the converted. The job is for us to reach the rest.

Understanding how our ecosystem works is a very important first step

I believe the path to a healthier community hinges on how we record contributions, not how we recognise them. Currently we track what individuals contribute and there is a fixation on code based contributions. How about documentation, organising camps, mentoring, community affairs, design and so many more valuable activitites. Introducing a way to differentiate between efforts made by individuals, agencies and end users and a move towards “Track all types of contributions” for me is a giant leap forwards. It couldn't happen sooner.

How we might use this new data is less important than the ability to "track how our community really works”. Most significantly it will bring to the surface things are not working. Who is funding what? Are we depending too heavily on small groups or certain individuals? Could specific areas do with more help? Achieving the tracking Dries would like, could happen within weeks. The Rankomatic? I like to think of it as Drupal Analytics, which is open for all to query. Expose the data like data.gov.uk and the community will surely hack insightful mashups and we will have something very empowering.

Is D.O ready for a reboot?

What word is conspicuously missing from the D.O homepage? Contribute, yup, seriously. How can we expect more people to do so if we don’t clearly signpost how? When Dries talked about “Free riders” I reflected on how long (years) it took me to find a niche in Drupal. I existed on the fringes under employed. It was only when I was noticed by Isabel Schultz during DrupalCon London that things really flew for me. We need more "talent scouts". Why is Get Involved buried in the footer and not somewhere more obvious? Are many “free riders” just looking for a way to engage?

Rewarding contributions through enhanced visibility, leading by example will certainly help. Encouraging companies who don’t contribute to start doing so via subtle design changes to user and marketplace profile pages has merit. Will invigorate the contributors themselves to even greater heights? That's certainly how I roll.

What Dries suggests is sweeping change. In this respect the cynic in me worries about the glacially slow speed of change on Drupal.org (D.O). 5 months ago I created an issue proposing the community spotlight feature on the homepage of D.O. It had unanimous support but nothing ever happened. Maybe I did something wrong? Perhaps I don't understand the process?

The good news is the Drupal Association has hired staff whose role is to deliver these kinds of enhancements. It also feels like a more measured and strategic approach is being taken. I hear talk of user personas. The concept designs by During his TED Talk Harish stated companies that will thrive in the future are those who "play their role in terms of serving the communities who actually sustain them”.

Drupal is a platform having a community that sustains many thousands of businesses. Drupal has strong evidence that Harish’s hypothesis is already true. Drupal shops, even end users who contribute to the project tend to be the ones enjoying the best outcomes. The problem is we operate in a bubble, where everyone is hooked on open source. Out in the real world people’s thinking is years behind and the principles of open source sound quite peculiar even alien. Those coming to use Drupal need introducing to the benefits of taking a benevolent role.

We know who Lullabot, Palantir, Phase2, Wunderkraut are. The various Drupal shops are contributing, often in bucket loads. What we actually need is more companies like that. Indeed we need more end users contributing back too. Like how Oxfam, The Whitehouse, Sony have been instrumental in developing significant contributions to the Contrib space. Again Dries’s advertising model could help to champion these organisations, communicating why they chose this path and the benefits they have reaped over time. It’s not about penalising “free riders” it is more about persuading them to engage with Drupal, to start contributing.

“If everybody that used the commons contributed a little bit things would be perfectly fine”

Dries talked about The Tragedy of the commons - overgrazing in Drupal translates not to the software rather the "Free riders" are depending too much on people’s generosity, personal time or indeed time which they should be running their business. I’ve seen situations where people have neglected their business for the benefit of Drupal. This goes way beyond the well known plight of Alex Pott, I assure you. I'm sure the few examples I have seen are a small fraction. Here everyone loses.

Time for change

As Dries said “An imperfect solution is better than no solution”. We’ve tried for some time to encourage those who sit on the sidelines to start contributing. Now is the time for a small revolution. Recording, recognising, rewarding code and non code contributors on D.O is simply a way of scaling how it has always been. And if that sounds too radical, how about we try it out on beta.drupal.org? We need to take a leap. After all, aren’t we the round pegs in the square holes? We are the ones who think different. It’s way overdue we took some of our own medicine.

Further information: Outlandish Josh's Thoughts on the DriesNote: Towards Drupal "Contribution Credits"Watch the Dries KeynotePhoto credit - Steffen Rühlmann
Categories: Elsewhere

PreviousNext: Architecting DrupalCI at DrupalCon Amsterdam

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 01:44

At the recent DrupalCon Amsterdam sprints something amazing happened, people from all corners of the globe assembled to sprint on DrupalCI. DrupalCI is an initiative born out of the requirement for new testbot infrastructure. Our goal is to implement a brand new Continuous Integration (CI) workflow that can not only be used for Drupal but anyone wishing to run a CI infrastructure / Automated tasks. Until this point we had only corresponded via a weekly hangout and IRC.

While this was keeping us on track with building out some of the components, the conference gave us an opportunity to sit down in the same room and perform an end-to-end architectural review to ensure we didn't have any gaps. A modular design approach has been used to ensure that many of the following components could be used as a standalone entity in any infrastructure.

Categories: Elsewhere

CiviCRM Blog: The Road to Drupal 8

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 00:42

As part of the Google Summer of Code, I began work on getting CiviCRM and the upcoming Drupal 8 working together nicely. I made an update about midway through and it's time for another update.

I had separated the project into a number of milestones. Phases 1, 2 and 3 dealt with varying aspects of the core CiviCRM module functionality. This work has largely been completed and there are pull requests pending into CiviCRM core, though the front end user experience is still a bit rough (for example, the CiviCRM menu bar doesn’t sit well alongside the Drupal menu).

The installation process is quite different with Drupal 8: civicrm now installs as if it were any other Drupal module — simply by clicking enable. It's no longer necessary to use the CiviCRM installer before enabling the module. This handles the most common use case where CiviCRM is installed in the same database as Drupal itself. Custom options can be configured by adding configuration settings to Drupal's settings.php. For example, if Drupal is configured with a second database named 'civicrm', it will install civicrm there instead.

The next big milestone was Views integration. This went ahead quite smoothly, and I managed to reduce the code count from approximately 15,000 lines of code to under 2,000 by automating a lot of the discovery of the CiviCRM database. In general, when new fields appear in CiviCRM it should only be necessary to explicitly declare how the field is related to other data types (eg. as joins or relationships).

One quick nice-to-have was integrating Drupal's entity reference field with CiviCRM Contacts — mostly by creating a bare-bones Drupal entity. A similar technique may prove to work with Drupal's Rules module, but unfortunately time did not allow this yet.

Finally, for the first time, the module comes with a few simple integration tests (using Drupal's SimpleTest module) which will hopefully become more fully fleshed out with time. With a judicious set of tests, this should allow a more stable experience as future versions of CiviCRM are released.

Drupal 8 has finally released its first beta just over a week ago. Now that it has stabilised somewhat, we need to update the CiviCRM module to resolve breaking changes and we can then release an alpha version that the community can test, experiment with and help get into a stable state.

Drupal 8 repo: https://github.com/torrance/civicrm-drupal

Categories: Elsewhere

Drupal Easy: Professionally-Trained, Community-Oriented, Drupal Career Online Students Ready for Work

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 20:10

The fifth class of our Drupal career training program is just about at the halfway mark, and our students are eager to put their new skills to work. The six Drupal Career Online students will be ready for junior-developer-level work in mid-November, and we're looking for forward-thinking organizations willing to help our graduates on the next leg of their Drupal career journey.

As we've done for the past five classes, (we've had more than 60 graduates so far) we're looking to make introductions between our upcoming graduates and organizations looking for people with Drupal site-building and development skills. Our Work Experience Drupal (WE Drupal) program is designed to provide students with valuble experience in internship-type settings. WE Drupal host companies are asked to make a 6-10 week commitment to one or more of our students, provide them with guidance, mentoring, and the professional experience that is so difficult to come by for new Drupal site builders and developers. In return, you get the efforts of a well-prepared, super-eager Drupal novice to help you lighten the task-load for your staff.

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Categories: Elsewhere

Stanford Web Services Blog: Module of the Day: Stanford MetaTag NoBots - Hide your site from search engines!

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 18:00

When we launch a site at Stanford Web Services, we open the doors and roll out the red carpet for the search engines to index the site. However, before launch we like to keep the content under wraps and ask the search engines not to index the site. To do this, we use a module called Stanford MetaTag NoBots.

Categories: Elsewhere

Acquia: How to setup auto-translation of nodes using Rules and Tmgmt

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 15:17

This how-to guide describes how to set up automatic machine-based translations for content on a Drupal site. Whenever a node is created, translation jobs will be created for every language specified, and depending on how you set up your translator, you should be able to completely automate the translation process. For this project we are using SDL, but you should be able to use other translators.

1. Download and enable the translation management modules. This can be done through Drush or through the modules interface in drupal.

Categories: Elsewhere

InternetDevels: Ready! Drupal! Action! DrupalCon Amsterdam!

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 13:05

Where on this planet as a pedestrian you can be hit by bicycle and… be guilty for it? Amsterdam, you are just awesome! :)

DrupalCon is over and its attendees are in the relaxed process of event reminiscence. True drupallers are never tired of sessions, code-sprints, workshops and just fuss between these events; and yes, this year’s Con has provided all of these! But you know what? You can read about this stuff in dozens of other materials. And here we have gathered those moments and snapshots, which made our days at DrupalCon!

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Categories: Elsewhere

SK+ Drupallets: Top Modules for Drupal 7

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 08:29

Dozens of useful contributed modules for building Drupal 7 sites.

There are many really useful contributed modules to take your site beyond the basics of Drupal core. There are modules to improve, allow, and/or help with everything from accessibility to workflow, from images to input formats, and beyond.

This session will be of interest to beginner and intermediate Drupallers, as well as those who manage or hire Drupallers or who are just trying to decide whether to use Drupal.

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Categories: Elsewhere

Drupal Bits at Web-Dev: Codit: Blocks a video introduction to making custom blocks

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 07:17

This screen share walks you through why you might want a more powerful way of making blocks and why Codit: Blocks is a good candidate if you need lots of custom blocks.

Categories: Elsewhere

Midwestern Mac, LLC: St. Louis Drupal Group - Hackathon on Headless Drupal 8 & AngularJS

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 00:00

Now that Drupal 8.0.0-beta1 is out, and the headless Drupal craze is in full-swing, the Drupal St. Louis meetup this month will focus on using Drupal 8 with AngularJS to build a demo pizza ordering app. (The meetup is on Thurs. Oct. 23, starting at 6:30 p.m.; see even more info in this Zero to Drupal post).

We'll be hacking away and seeing how far we can get, and hopefully we'll be able to leave with at least an MVP-quality product! I'll be at the event, mostly helping people get a Drupal 8 development environment up and running. For some, this alone will hopefully be a huge help, and maybe motivation to adopt Drupal 8 more quickly!

If you're in or around the St. Louis area, consider joining us; especially if you would like to learn something about either Drupal 8 or AngularJS!

Categories: Elsewhere

Zero to Drupal: Headless Drupal & AngularJS Hackathon - St. Louis

Sun, 12/10/2014 - 01:14
What do you get

When you cross Drupal, AngularJS, and a room full of folks eager to learn more about Drupal 8, api's, rest services, and front-end frameworks? You get St. Louis' first Headless Drupal Hackathon...that's what!

When

Thursday, October 23rd - 6:30p - 9:00p

Where

The Journey - Reber Place 4900 Reber Place St. Louis, MO

Details

For the first time in our beloved history as a Drupal User's Group, we will be hosting our first interactive meetup. Our goal is to collectively build a faux pizza ordering app using Drupal 8 as a backend, and AngularJS as the front end.

For more information, see our Meetup event page for more info.

Hope to see you there!

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Categories: Elsewhere

SitePoint PHP Drupal: DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 Report

Sat, 11/10/2014 - 18:00

As has been the pattern of many recent DrupalCons and Camps, DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 was all about Drupal 8 and the changes that it’s bringing to the platform and community.

This has coincided with an increase in attendance at Drupal events (2300 in Amsterdam) and an increasing professionalism to DrupalCons. Drupal 8 has pulled us (sometimes forcibly) from out of our comfort zone and into the wider PHP and developer community. This has resulted in more talks covering a variety of non-Drupal topics, which, in my opinion, is a great thing.

The big news of the conference came on day 2, with Drupal 8 finally making it into beta. You can now effectively build basic sites in Drupal 8. In fact, a few brave souls already have, and I intend to do so too with my next site.

Dries Keynote

The regular ‘Driesnote’ was a thought provoking academic discussion on a current hot topic in the Open Source world, sustainability of projects and funding models. He started by stating that there are actually few good Open Source examples we could be following. In Dries’ opinion, the prevalent model of one company funding development is not a good one. Instead he suggested we look to other models, especially the concept of how Open Source software could be treated as a public good, or to coin a British term, ‘The Commons’. He used the example of public roads to show how community desire and amateur implementation can grow. Firstly via business investment (and sometimes privatization) and often resulting in Government control and management. To summarize:

Continue reading %DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 Report%

Categories: Elsewhere

CiviCRM Blog: Improved permissions for activities and cases

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 20:39
A little background.

Established in 1972, we are a non-profit human services organization that serves many diverse populations in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

A large part of our focus is on homeless services, but we also do some mental and physical health programming, early childhood development, community integration and host a large food pantry near the University of Pittsburgh campus. 

Because of our disparate clientele and locations, we have been using multiple Access databases to track participant information.  For many years we wanted to move it online so staff in people's homes, could enter updates from the field.  However, the cost to implement was prohibitive to say the least.

Our Drupal and CiviCRM experience

When we rebuilt our website using Drupal, I stumbled upon CiviCRM as an alternate to Constant Contact.  For two years, we have used Civi on the backend of our site to register for events, make online contributions and send out bulk mails.

Civi has helped us raise a lot of dough.

After working in Civi and Drupal, we realized the combination could effectively be used to consolidate our program and human resources data as well as make it available online.

So we set off on the challenge of implementing a database to track all of our program's data, but repeatedly were having to reinvent the wheel to avoid staff seeing information that had nothing to do with their program.  Since the site was not for the public, we wanted to limit all work in Drupal (i.e: creating views and webforms), and instead focus on streamlining the database.  In essence, Drupal became the backend and Civi the front.

However, the Drupal permissions for CiviCRM were too general to control access to Activities and Cases and while the ACLs in Civi do provide more granular security, they don't cover Activities and Cases.

Make it Happen

We began rolling out our shiny new database in July 2014.

During the roll-out, I began investigating the cost of adding security to Activities and Cases and stumbled upon some threads discussing it.

This one that started in 2009 got me going and we haven't looked back since.

With these changes, it becomes dramatically easier for non-profits like us to implement CiviCRM as a total solution.

Thanks to Donald Lobo and Michael McAndrew for their guidance.

Please share your thoughts.

Categories: Elsewhere

Last Call Media: DrupalCamp LA: Manage the Gap

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 18:19
DrupalCamp LA: Manage the Gap

Usually when I travel anywhere outside of the Northeast, I tell people I am from Massachusetts or “outside of Boston” and people smile and nod. In rare instances granularity increases in the conversation and I eventually reveal that it’s actually  “a hip little town in the western part of the state called Northampton”.  Well, at DCLA, ~3000 miles from home, before 8:30am, I was 5 for 5 with people from California that not only know where Northampton is, but had visited before and had a favorite hotspot to share. Way to go Noho, you have officially been nationally recognized as geographically relevant.

Everyone was so friendly, and greeted us by name as we walked through the Campus Center. It was incredible that in the land of Hollywood, two folks from Massachusetts, could feel like celebrities. I am not sure it was only because we were the cool kids that had traveled the longest distance, this stardom and warm welcome may have been derived from the early recognition we received for IT mastery.  I basically spent the first morning of the camp traveling from table to table, helping all the sponsors connect to the wifi. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but considering the internet prowess in the room, the fact that this marketing manager type found a way to be technically useful and wave a magic connectivity wand to save the people, was pure bliss. People were genuinely super grateful and relieved to have access to the magical interwebs, I realized for techies, having internet was as important to them as my morning coffee is to me.

I learned a ton at the conference, and attended one session in particular that really resonated with me.  James Smith from Image X not only brought his Project Management A-game to the podium, but did so while sporting a sweet mustache.

Development & Profit in Project Management - James Smith, ImageX

The project manager is at the service of the team, not the other way around. James suggested that a daily check in with the team should sound like this:  “Have I met your expectations today? Did you get what you need from me? Did that do what you needed it to do? What do you want or think you need next? When do you need it by?"  

We all know that in the end, a happy team = a happy client. This is very much in line with one piece of our implementation of the Maker's Schedule within our Task-Driven Teamwork model whereby a dynamic hierarchy works, appropriately and effectively, to treat each the client, the project, and team members as the top priority. This DCLA presentation was very fitting: as we are growing our team at every position, we are especially looking for people to join our Project Management team.

If you have excellent communication skills and really advocate for both your clients and team, please consider joining us!

Categories: Elsewhere

IXIS: First time at DrupalCon

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:17

I'm Andy, a developer at Ixis and having just settled back in after my first DrupalCon I thought I’d wrap up my thoughts after attending the annual European conference for the first time.

Initially - wow - DrupalCon is big! I’ve only been to some smaller PHP conferences so to see over 2000 people in one place was quite something. What struck me was how well it was organised - everything was on time with very few technical hiccups. I found the number of sessions quite overwhelming - there was so much to choose from, so having the videos of the sessions online with in an hour or so after it finished was really helpful. I’m still ploughing through the ones I’m interested in.

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