Drupal

Why I'm voting for whom I'm voting for in the Drupal Association election

old voting machine

For those who don't know: I served on the DA Board in 2010-2011, and was on the Governance Committee that developed the new structures. Before that I was in the General Assembly. I'm currently on the Advisory Board.

But I share my opinions here as a long-time member of the Drupal community who cares about the future of Drupal.

Criteria: more than good intentions

Last year, the Nominating Committee (on which I served) considered many aspects when evaluating potential candidates for the Drupal Association Board, including (in no particular order):

Recovering contrib Image module's content in upgrade to Drupal 7

photo 3 versions

Once upon a time in the Drupalsphere, there was the Image module, which was the preferred image solution for all Drupal sites. It dynamically resized images for display, so you could upload one image and get other sizes. But it was limited to one image per node, which made it hard for situations where you wanted to insert several images into one article. All kinds of workarounds emerged, but it was all a bit kludgey. It was nice to have something, but people were looking for something better. When Imagecache came about, it was received with much excitement, and it soon took over as the preferred image handling solution for Drupal, because you could attach several images to a node, and because it was much more performant and scalable. When Drupal 7 was in development, this functionality was considered so essential that Imagecache was incorporated into Drupal 7 core and renamed "Image". (Yeah, it can be a bit confusing if you don't know the history.)

responsive pattern

HTML drawing by Laura Scott

It was 2001 when I first started blogging. It would be a few years before I heard the word "blog", so maybe my early endeavor in online journaling wouldn't count for purists, but I was journaling online. This was a rather introspective period in my life and I felt compelled to my thoughts and experiences in this worldwide web I'd been playing with for several years. So I hand-coded a site, a static HTML affair that I had to update completely every time I posted an update. (I didn't really care for the limitations of the various services out there.) Over the next year and a half, the site grew in size, making my deployments more complicated. The blog also became collectively more and more emotionally raw, until one day, in a fit of mortified embarrassment and disgust, I deleted the whole thing and didn't look back. So yes, I started blogging eleven years ago, but I haven't been blogging for eleven years.

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.

How is "great content" found?

Dead Sea Scrolls photo

In a provocative assessment of Google’s Google+ strategy of launching a “recommended users” list (a topic of its own), Robert Scoble shared an assumption behind his conclusions:

If you have great content you will get found by one of the folks on this list.

It’s an interesting claim. I've heard this kind of thing for years, and always wondered: Is it true? My intuition always said it's not. So last night I questioned Robert's statement in a tweet, and he replied:

@lauras it's pretty rare that good content doesn't get shared with others.

How do we know that it's "rare" that good content doesn't get shared? We know only about the good content we've already found. We have no idea how much good content has not been found. So how can we lay any odds as to how common or rare it is for good content to be found?

And "found" ... by whom?

Is the site logo content?

A brief exchange on Twitter with Jen Simmons (@jensimmons) and Morten Heide (@mortendk) about how to best incorporate a site logo into a Drupal theme got me cogitating on this question. Jen tweeted:

...What should go is the habit of hardcoding content into the theme. #separationplease #drupalwtf

@jensimmons

"Content"? Hmmm. This got me pondering: Is a logo "content" per se? My immediate response was in the negative. But upon further consideration, I don't think it's all that clear cut; I'm definitely less certain today than I was yesterday.

This post is a bit of thinking out loud on this question. Comments welcome! (But no need to shout #wtf, okay?)

What is DrupalCon to you?

Drupal

Yesterday, we had a Drupal Association Board Meeting to discuss upcoming DrupalCons. The meeting ran very long as we discussed and debated what criteria we should consider in selecting cities for DrupalCons in 2012, 2013 and beyond. Passions ran hot at times as we hashed out our thoughts on our evolving process for making these decisions.

  • What is the purpose of DrupalCon?
  • What components make for a great DrupalCon?
  • What factors play into selecting a city for throwing a majorly successful DrupalCon?

In the end, I feel that we made a lot of progress in this meeting. This post is not a debrief of this meeting, though, but rather is a collection of some of my own thoughts about DrupalCon, shared as a member of the Drupal community.

Growing presents challenges

As Drupal continues to grow so quickly, the Drupal Association has been working hard to adapt. The community is many times larger than when I joined it over 6 years ago, even since when the Drupal Association launched in 2006.

Certification schmertification! Metrics schmetrics! Measuring the Drupal social/rockstar graph

Drupal disciplines Venn diagram

Certifications in software make me sneeze. Or roll my eyes. Or shrug. Yes, I'm a skeptic of certifications, and leery of motives of people pushing them. To me, certifications are a way to make money not from clients but from peers. It's like a tax. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Instead, pay thousands to some firm so you can get that seal of approval. And in the end, does it mean anything?

And yet there is this obsession with measuring people. It's a way of gatekeeping, of creating scarcity, of one-upsmanship. I don't think such things are a measure of quality. They're typically market tools employed to help one group of people compete over another group. It's part of a "there oughta be a law" approach to life.

Ada Lovelace was a Drupalchick

Okay, it's a whimsical title. But on this Ada Lovelace Day, I was thinking about how, if Ada Lovelace were alive today, she no doubt would be in technology. After all, the creator of the first "computer" wouldn't stop there, would she?

In my daily life I get to work with some amazing women who are working in, with or on Drupal. I wrote an appreciation over at PINGV Creative.

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.

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