design

Samsung or iPhone? A screenshot worth a thousand tweets

screenshots of maps apps on Samsung and iPhone

(Okay, maybe not a thousand. But a lot!)

So last night, I saw that John Gruber had favorited one of my Flickr photos from 2008: a screenshot of the Google Maps app on the iPhone. Hmm, what was that about?

It turns out quite a bit. I found Gruber's Daring Fireball post pointing out what appears to be Samsung's alteration and reuse of a screenshot image I created in 2008. You see, three years ago I blogged about iPhone apps I thought were a big deal — "game changers." (The post was cross-posted on BlogHer, where it got noticed.) Scroll down to see my excitement then about the ever-useful maps.app, with screenshot in question.

The theming firehose (NB for designers & front-end developers new to Drupal)

Drupal markup in a Wordle

You theme with the mark-up you have, not the mark-up you'd like to have.

That's the essential truth that designers and front-end developers new to Drupal need to understand. You don't get to construct your pages from scratch, building out essentials, never a wasted div, never an extraneous class. No, you have to flip the entire process around. With Drupal you're getting markup shot at you from a firehose, and as a themer you need to sop it all up and make it pretty. Don't spill a drop.

What this means is that, by default, you're spending a lot of time debugging the theme you're building so that it handles all the different configurations, content types, page structures, etc. that the Drupal site is throwing at you.

You have to be braced for it. It can be overwhelming. You can feel like you're drowning. Don't worry. You'll get used to it after a few months. Mostly.

Make friends with Firebug.

My DrupalCon San Fransciso session: Grok Drupal (7) Theming

The Way Drupal Theming Was

When I started Drupal theming in 2004, it was all a bit overwhelming. Back then, the core theme engine was something called Xtemplate, and it gave the impression to the n00b themer of being a great big mess. When you looked at the page template, it was one big blob of markup and logic, and it was very hard to figure out to change just about anything. What's more, it seemed to be very brittle: change something and you got the white screen of death.

And thus life was for the themer through Drupal 4.5 and the beginnings of 4.6.

New Drupal Theming Power

Then, in 2005, came the PHPTemplate theme engine, thanks to Adrian Rossouw (now with Development Seed), and the heavens opened up.

Somewhere over Garland's rainbow

screenshot of new site

Garland has been a good thing for Drupal, overall, mainly for the color module. Anyone remember what it replaced in Drupal core? Yeah, it was pretty ugly. Context is important. So even though Garland is something of a front-end developer's nightmare, it has its purpose for the new Drupal user wanting to do at least a modicum of customization to the site's look, without resorting to coding.

And it has served its purpose here. I leaned on Garland (or actually her fixed-width daughter, Minelli) for my blog here for many months ... maybe more than a year. I honestly don't recall. It was since I upgraded to Drupal 6, when I didn't have time to work up a new theme. Garland gave me something so at least I could present the content here (such as it is).

Drupal 7 freeze means time for a new tag: #D7DX

Yeah? Maybe?

[update: maybe not. see comments.]

#D7UX [Tweeted] is about Drupal 7 user experience work.

#D7CX [Tweeted] is about upgrading Drupal contrib modules to stable Drupal 7 releases when Drupal 7 itself is released. Over 100 contributed projects now bear this commitment, which is just awesome!

To me, that leaves #D7DX – a focused effort to get some rockin' Drupal 7 design themes going.

On rating Drupal modules ... where

Harry Slaughter recognizes the need for some sort of evaluation system for the huge number of Drupal modules available on Drupal.org. However, I feel he gets the diagnosis wrong.

As far as I can tell, the primary reason for not having a rating system for modules is fear. Module developers in particular are concerned with the fairness of ratings. They are concerned with "gaming" of ratings. They are concerned that inexperienced or "dumb" end users may unfairly give a bad review of a module simply because they don't understand how to use it. These are all reasonable concerns. But they are concerns shared by other OSS projects as well. Sure you will see "bad" reviews, giving a module the lowest possible rating along with some inane review such as "tis modules sukcs BEWARES" :) But who cares, it's just noise that will be drowned out by valid reviews. It works for other OSS projects, and it can work for Drupal.

An Apple Store a day keeps the dreadful designs at bay

So we learn from Secret Notes:

Apple's stylish stores and computers, all of which feature unrestricted Internet access, have become such the hang-out and gathering place for MySpace junkies that the powers that be have elected to block the popular social networking site from its systems.

By the close of business Thursday, most Apple retail stores will have implemented the block, designed to reduce the level of loitering at the stores.

More likely Apple's design aesthetic just cannot brook dreadful MySpace page designs appearing within their bricks and mortar.

The horror! The horror!

Nervous time [updated]

It looks like the session we proposed for the OSCMS Summit has been scheduled for March 22nd at 1:45 p.m. 11:30 a.m [?], first last session after before lunch, in "the big room." Even though I feel confident in the topic and the deep knowledge of my co-presenters, I do feel some stage fright. Eeep!

Update: My session on community building was also booked later the same day. That concept from the start is for more of a round table discussion, so I hope people attending this one will come chock full of ideas and experiences to share.

CSS: A house of cards built in code

And Internet Explorer just loves to knock it over. And that's enough said on that.

You've got to know when to 'no' them

One of the challenges in project development is dealing with "scope creep" -- the often incremental changes to a project's goals, features and other specifications that can end up increasing the cost and timetable for completion of the project. Boris Mann points to Susan Mernit's excellent thoughts on the subject:

As someone who spent a lot of her career being the cutting-edge, push the mass market troublemaker, having a job being the one who says No, is an interesting experience--but it is also incredibly cool.

Working with a team of smart people who are passionate about the customer experience, the product AND the business objectives is tremendously fun--and sometimes, completely harrowing.

I've learned that No can cover a myriad of things:

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