drupal planet

This week we roll out the first batch of videos in our "Advanced Site Building for Drupal 7" collection. These videos address the growing importance of the 'site builder' in Drupal site development, what administration tools can help speed up the building process, and how we can quickly set up a prototype site on our local machine. There will be more to come, but if these videos don't get you excited about the power of site building, then ... well, try watching them again on double-speed.

Welcome to "Advanced Site Building"

In this video, we give a quick introduction to the new video series and describe the set of modules we'll be covering, including Panels, Display Suite, Views, Feeds, a slew of administrative tools and more.

About our project and how project roles work

In this video series we build a practical Drupal site for a company called GiftOfGeek, one of those businesses we all wish we worked at that specializes in geeky products like USB-powered phosphorescent Zen gardens. We also take a look at how tasks are typically split across a web team.

What a "site builder" is and the powerful tools they work with

Throughout this series, we'll be focusing on the role of 'site builder'. In this video we explain where that role begins and ends, and the kinds of tools they use to get their work done.

What wireframes are and where to find them in our resource pack

If you talk to anyone who's had to work with clients to build a web site, they'll tell you how dangerous it is to start with a design. Instead, if you distill the major informational components into a black and white 'wireframe', you give the client a sense of what goes where, without issues like colors and padding getting in the way. In this series we begin with some wireframes, and this video shows you where to find them.

Identifying the components in our blog home page wireframe

The first wireframe we look at is our blog home page. Although it's unassuming and seemingly fairly simple, it touches on a number of techniques and Drupal modules that we'll have to understand in order to make it happen. In this video we discuss the various components of the page briefly and link them up with the modules that will help us build it.

Reviewing our blog post and review page wireframes

Our client site is focusing on two major features: a blog and product reviews, and now that we're hopefully getting into our wireframe groove, we wrap up by looking at our blog post and review page wireframes. These wireframes will set a good foundation for us to explore some different ways of laying out content as we work through this series.

About our step-by-step approach

Thinking about our project in terms of modules and tasks can get overwhelming. We're instead going to take a do-one-thing-at-a-time approach that works well in the real world as long as you don't have too many site building coworkers working on the same project. In this video we talk about that approach.

How to set up our Drupal installation with Acquia Dev Desktop

In previous videos we've talked about installing a default Drupal site with Acquia Dev Desktop, but we're also not ones for skipping steps. So in this video we set up our Drupal site exactly the way you're going to see it for the rest of the series.

About the administration modules we'll be using

Before we start building out our site, we're going to install a few modules to help make the building faster and easier. In this video we briefly talk about the modules we'll be installing and why.

How to install a module the traditional way and configure the Administration Menu module

Throughout this series, we're going to be installing a lot of modules. If you're new to Drupal, we're going to illustrate in this video the traditional way to install a module by downloading it and moving it to your module folder. But there's better ways, and we'll be talking about those next. In this video we also configure the Administration menu to replace our existing top-of-the-page menu with a slick drop-down.

How to install a module using Drush, and how we approach installing modules in this series

It's okay to be afraid of the command line, but at BuildAModule we've put together a series of videos that should help you get over that fear. The payoff is that you get to use Drush to speed up many time consuming tasks like installing modules. In this video we show you how you can shave a minute or so off of each module installation, and a bit about how to make sure Drush works properly with our Acquia Dev Desktop installation. From here on out, whenever we install a module, we're going to flash a screen up with information about the module so you can choose whatever method you're comfortable with to install it.



I got this letter today from someone trying to figure out whether Drupal is a good place to start. I thought it might be good to share the question and also my answer so anyone who's interested can also contribute some thoughts:


LETTER:

How valuable would it be for me to begin to specialize in Drupal development? I've been looking for a specialty as well as a community to contribute to. I have looked at Python, Perl, PHP, and JavaScript communities and projects. I have knowledge of them all, but I don't know anyone from any specific project or language. You are the first to take some time to give insight, which I appreciate very much. What are your thoughts about PHP and Drupal?


RESPONSE:

Hi _____,

Great questions. They're hard to answer objectively, since I've been involved with Drupal for a while and of course I want everyone to use Drupal and participate in the community now. But, which I shifted from doing general PHP development for clients to doing Drupal, I did so for a couple reasons. The first was that I believed it would speed up the process of developing sites and provide a standard that other developers could plug into, either as part of a team with me, or as someone taking over the project later. In general, I think I made a good decision in that respect. I was able to take some ideas that I'd developed in my work on a custom CMS and contribute these as modules, and that also helped me get started in the community and get the ideas out there, which felt good.

The second reason I chose Drupal was because of the community. I was able to connect with a couple people locally and we started a local meetup, and I started participating online in a variety of ways. I also went to a few Drupal camps which was a great investment in terms of the people I was able to connect with. Since then, I've known people from several different software communities, and they all say that Drupal has a fantastic community. It has mature leadership, great events, and a way of contributing and sharing that other communities aspire to.

Drupal also has some great momentum. The people I know who know a bit of Drupal get picked up quick by companies who do Drupal work or use Drupal in-house. There's still more people that want to use Drupal than there is talent to implement all the projects that could be done. Of course, you never know where things are going to go in the next 5-10 years, but there really is a ton of growth in the area.

For me, moving to Drupal was great. It got me out of the bubble I'd been in by being a solo freelancer with their own custom CMS, and it got me into a community of people that I still really enjoy.

One thing I hear from the outside is how PHP maybe isn't the best technology to centralize on, which is a tricky one. Real developers tend to wish that PHP would fade out and be replaced by something more fun and efficient. But, I've never been a real developer, and have been able to get what I need done done within the confines of PHP, and Drupal has helped accelerate most projects.

I hope that helps. I'm going to go ahead and post this in an anonymous way so you can get some other feedback, though, as well.

Cheers!
Chris



I'm writing this at 4am after my 2-year old woke me up because he was cold and hasn't figured out how to put a blanket on himself yet. Surely, if he knew the kinds of pains I go through every day to plan the future and make a living without losing my sanity, he'd learn how to put on his own blanket. This is also after waking up at 3am when my 4-year old climbed into bed between my wife and I. There was more room in his bed, so from 3-4 that's where I slept.

It's my fault, I suppose, for deciding to have kids - something I'd been planning for long before I had any. I started teaching myself programming and graphic design 12 years ago because I wanted a viable skill set that would allow me to support a family and spend a significant amount of time with that family. After numerous career steps, I eventually founded BuildAModule, in a large part as a way to leverage work-related time more carefully. And you'd think that by now I'd have balance, but even after over a decade of practice I struggle every day with juggling work time and family life with everything else that comes packaged with typical human existence.

So I write this as a way to connect with any of you out there who also feel like you're trying to figure out how to straddle multiple worlds without ripping your pants. There's a few things that have helped me, and I'm hoping to hear some voices chime in on this as well. Some of this stuff you've probably heard before, but all of this I've tried putting into practice, and this is a summary of my experiences. This is also partially a response to a question about post-child life in a Drupal world.

There is always something amazing happening you will never know about

I've started to realize that no matter how much time I spent learning, consuming and observing, there will always be more awesome things happening than I can possibly ever even hear about, much less dive into. Even in the microcosm of Drupal, I'll never have enough time to learn it all, or keep abreast of everything that's happening.

The cool thing about this is that it means that everyone else is in the same boat. Chances are that if I choose a small niche to develop skills in or stay current on, that I'll know something or contribute something that will help other people, and that's really what it's all about, right? We learn in order to help others in some way, sometimes as part of our living, sometimes as our life's work.

Even when free time is cut in half or quarters by the addition of children into the picture, I've found that the same rules apply. Freaking out about how much I don't know just saps the energy I need to do something worthwhile with the time I do have. And when I can find joy in what sometimes feels like the most minor contributions I make in this world, I tend to want to make even more.

There is a difference between the amount of time you want to spend with your kids, and the amount of time they need

As I was prepping for family life - building skills, saving money, trying not to annoy my wife too much - I wanted to make sure that eventually I could be available to my kids as much as I wanted to be, and as much as they needed. Now that I have kids, I realize that there are actually two separate things. How much time I want to spend with my kids is not necessarily the same as what they need.
Before I had kids I thought that I would be happy spending all day, every day with them. Now that I have them, I think the idea of staying sane in that scenario is a little wonky. The stay-at-home parents I know all feel a little nuts, and judging from time I've spent with my kids solo for long periods of time, I completely understand. They're awesome in every way except that they have a completely different agenda than I do and operate at a very different pace than adults. It's endearing at first, it even helps me see things in a fresh, youthful way, but after a while it becomes impossible to feel like a normal person around it. Even though part of me really wants to want to spend all my time with my kids, there's some other part of me that really needs outside input, and if I don't get that input, I'm not going to be very awesome with my kids.. And I've noticed my kids are the same way. Without more diverse input from other people, I drive them crazy, too.

If my goal as a parent is to make sure that my kids develop normally (even amazingly) and don't experience unnecessary trauma, then they actually need to spend a good bit time with other adults and kids, because what I can offer them is relatively limited when compared to what a community can offer. As a parent, though, I can offer consistency and stability from day to day. I can be a fixture, whereas the community is fluid, and I don't think it takes that much time to function as that fixture when you're present nearly every day.

The ideal time ratio between work and family

In our current balance of work and family life, I spend 3-4 hours with the family in the evening, and then I'm around most of the weekend, with maybe a 4-hour break during the weekend to do some introspection or play some games. Every 2-3 months I end up taking a week or two off, and during that time I spend the bulk of my time with the family. Even though I'm grateful for this time and I feel like I get the opportunity to spend more of my time with my family than a lot of people do, it often feels like it's not enough.

Something interesting happens when I'm around the family more. Things that are normally stresses - kids having tantrums, silly bickering between the adults - tend to fade away. We all still have moments, but the extra time also seems to build a buffer of understanding and compassion. I tend to be happier, and so does everyone else. It's that effect that makes me wonder what would happen if I didn't work as much on a regular basis. It makes me think about how different work ethics are in other places around the world, and how maybe those families might potentially be a lot happier on the whole.

Even within this country, I get the feeling that each person's comfort level around the work and family life ratio is enforced by their individual communities as well. If you hang out with people who work a lot, you'll probably be more comfortable working more, and more thankful for small breaks to be with family. If you're surrounded by stay-at-home parents, you'll probably feel like work is keeping you from immersing yourself in family life. I have a little bit of both, since I work at home and also hang out with some pretty hard workers. So, I go back and forth between feeling bad about not spending enough time with the kids, and not spending enough time with work. Sometimes I'm right in the middle, which is what I'm attempting to cultivate more of.

Employeeship, freelancing, and product-based businesses

I pursued a freelancing career a few years after graduating from college so that I could work from home and maximize income. Ideally, I wanted to make enough to work part-time when I had kids. I got a job in a campground that afforded me the time to learn what I needed, and the isolation to keep distractions away. I think I got pretty lucky there.

A couple years ago I shifted my focus to work on a product-based business, which - I learned from The 4-Hour Workweek - was maybe the only way to break through an income ceiling that comes from working hourly. Since making the shift, I significantly increased my income, and have been able to take large chunks of time off with family, which is exactly what I was hoping to do from the start.

For those who crave more time with their families and are currently employees, I have a hard time thinking of another way to move forward besides starting to work for yourself. Freelancing comes with less risk than attempting a product-based business right off the bat, and gives you enough wiggle room to start building a self-funded product while also giving you the same wiggle room for family. Lowering your financial requirements can also add flexibility. I've given a couple talks on this subject, and if you're thinking about making some steps forward, definitely post something here so I can add a few words of encouragement.

That said, starting a business can also be a bigger time-drain than being an employee, depending on how you approach it. I gave myself a 6-month window of time to get to a certain level of stability with my business before going back to freelancing. If it hadn't have worked out, I would have needed to give myself some time to re-connect with the family.

Talk to yourself

It's hard to find the right people to talk to at just the right times when if you're trying to figure out how to slice the work and home life pie. And usually I don't even know what questions to ask. Luckily, there are two of me. Or at least, there's two parts of my brain that can talk to one another to some degree. So, when I'm feeling a bit lost, I'll start writing (there's a nice, distraction-free program called Writeroom that I use), and usually after 30 minutes or so, I begin making progress. I start being able to articulate the problems and think about some possible re-orientations or re-organization that I could try. 

There's been plenty of research into how words affect our thoughts, and I've noticed that whenever I start using language more in my life - either talking to other people, writing blog posts or journaling - that my thoughts also become clearer. I'm not sure if this works as well for other people, but it's definitely a key technique in my arsenal, and what I use whenever I'm trying to re-balance family and work life.

Meditation on the meaning of work

It's been easy in the past for me to take the idea of work for granted. If we want to sustain a certain standard of living, we need money and thus have to work. But a few other things come into play that affect how much we decide to work. 

Through work we can potentially impact lots of people and affect world around us, and that can be a very powerful draw, one that sometimes conflicts with being present as a parent (or any other role, for that matter).

For me, it's helped to think about what my life would look like if I no longer had to worry about money. This allows me to recognize the distinction between the desire for financial stability and the desire for other benefits that work brings, like challenge and positive impact on other people.

Because financial troubles tend to cause a huge amount of stress in families, I think it makes sense to trade the time I could be spending with my kids to achieve the goal of financial stability. But when I have that foundation set, it gets a little more difficult to draw the line between work and family life when it comes to the other benefits associated with working hard. 

At what point do the more meaningful aspects of work become less or more important than spending time with my family? That answer changes all the time for me, but I know that I only have a few more years before my children start to have richer lives in the community with school and activities, which means less time at home, so I feel like there's something special in the next few years that I don't want to miss out on. Most of us only get to be parents once, right?

I try to take time regularly to think about the benefits of pursuing work versus spending more time with family. It's easy to fall into a pattern of work and family life and forget why I established the pattern in the first place, and sometimes when I'm working through the thought process around it, I remember something important that completely changes what I do or why I'm doing it.

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first

Most parents will suggest that you have to take care of yourself before fretting over your kids (beyond their basic needs, of course), because if you become compromised in some way by forgetting yourself, your kids will suffer. When I find myself going nutso over kid meals and activities and cleaning, and I re-orient myself to think this way, it can make a big positive impact. Usually when I'm on the more happy side of the emotional meter I end up being a much better parent (or at least feeling like I am). Also, kids are pretty dang resourceful and all of their mechanics are bent towards self-preservation. So even if you forget to feed them because you're reading a book or building a lego sculpture, they'll give you a heads up before they get even close to passing out.

To me, this means that if I'm getting a lot of satisfaction from work, and it's important for me to focus on it to keep a certain amount of mental and emotional momentum - or that I'll feel some resentment by having to give it up - then my kids are going to be fine if I keep that focus. But as I mentioned before, the more time I spend with them, the better we get along and understand each other, so when things start getting a little too stressful in our relationships, I'll put aside work for a while until the family is running a bit more smoothly.

Kids brains know what they need to learn, so relax

This took me a while to figure out, but it's taken a lot of stress out of parenting and also frees me up to optimize the time I do spend with the kids. Research shows that kids know when a part of their brain is ready to develop, and all we have to do is take queues from them and do what we can to support it. This is much, much easier than trying to get up to speed on everything kids are meant to be learning at different stages, and trying to force it. There are still lots of things that I've initiated, like reading aloud and singing songs, but I don't feel like I'm a complete failure if they don't pick up on it.

Any random kid is funnier than virtually any adult

I've laughed more since having kids than I did for the previous 15 years. I've noticed that when I view my child as a comedic relief, rather than a responsibility, I can derive a lot more enjoyment from them. This perspective doesn't work all the time, but sometimes it's perfect, and with me finding it funny when they spill the milk for the 5th time today, they end up having a lot better time with their own foibles, too, making us have a much better time with each other.

Kids also make excellent fodder for humor, and I actually think about certain comedians a lot when I'm with my kids, it helps me not take it too seriously. Louis CK and Bill Cosby are the two I find the most helpful.

The role of exercise

Exercise takes time. But for many of us it also will extend our lifespan. So, save the time now and potentially kick the bucket earlier? Or hit the gym every day for an hour or two and miss out on making progress on some front, whether it's family or work?

Part of the answer might be had with a treadmill desk. I've been using one for 4 years when I work. It can be cheap and doesn't negatively impact focus. I've turned on a  few people on to it over the years, and most have lost a significant amount of weight as a side effect and feel a lot better since using it. I find it helps me focus, much like a stroll outside would. This isn't really the cardiovascular workout you'd need to meet the requirements for exercise by certain measurements, but it's way better than nothing, and it feels pretty awesome.

I also go in and out of phases of exercising or going the route of using that time for work or family. But I do find that when I'm exercising, I have a noticeable increase in the amount of energy after work for playing with the kids and being more interactive with them. I'll also go back and forth on if I take this time from my work day or if I take it from family time.

Avoiding burnout by finding focus

The demands of a household are infinite. You really can occupy a team with everything that could be done in a home. And working in Drupal feels the same way. There's always something new to learn, a potential client to pursue, an awesome idea to make a reality. There are about 400 items on my list of things that I'd like to do if I had the time. Maybe half are Drupal-related, and the other half has to do with family and other skills I'd like to develop, or things I'd like to learn. I have to go back and forth between Drupal and family and focusing on other aspects of personal development because if I didn't, I'd start to resent whatever was keeping me from everything else. In order to stay active at all with Drupal, I have to find a balance, and I do that by focusing. 

I really want to release a new Evernote module, I desperately want to climb the core contrib ladder, I crave participating in IRC and I want to hit up twice the camps I do. But, I'm focusing now on building a really good learning resource for Drupal, and that might be all I'm able to get to for a little while, because I also really want to be around when my kids do amazing things.

I think it's important to want to do more than you can do, but also to somehow be okay with your own limitations. I focus on a couple things at a time, and I've found that pattern works the best for me.

OCR-ed content: 
worms re


I was playing with Navin, an Omega sub-theme, and wanted to make some minor adjustments to the CSS, and maybe have a custom template.php file to work with. The best way to do this is to create a sub-theme of the sub-theme (though I kind of wish there was a way to just add a plan old CSS file somewhere - and I feel like maybe there's a way to do that I'm spacing on). 

To get this to work required a few steps. My use case is that I'm working within the Open Enterprise Drupal distribution to get a fairly simple Drupal-based blog set up. It comes with Navin as the default theme.

  1. Downloaded Omega Tools - a module that adds a Drush tool to create quick and easy Omega sub themes.
  2. Created a subtheme using drush omega-subtheme nameofmythemehere on the command line (though the manual instructions here would have worked using the HTML5 version, I believe).
  3. Copied the code from /themes/navin/navin.info (everything below the settings[alpha_css][navin-footer.css] = 'navin-footer.css' line) and pasted into nameofmythemehere.info.
  4. Copied the code from comment 1 on a helpful Navin issue queue post and pasted it in above what I just added to nameofmythemehere.info. The idea here (if you're using a different subtheme) was to pull in the subtheme's CSS into the sub-subtheme.
  5. Changed the name of the subtheme from omega to navin.
  6. Enabled the new subtheme in the Appearance settings page.
  7. I also had to clear my caches for this to take because I had done some messing around in the .info file and wanted to clear out any stray settings.

That was enough to do the trick.

OCR-ed content: 
OPEN ENTERPRIsE HOlli: LATEST BLOGS Retina icon here here Maybe some green WATERFAll NT to


I've known that TomRandall and the rest of the crew at Level 10 have been working on Open Enterprise for a while, and I'm excited to have a reason to give it a go. I'm in the process of numerous upgrades to BuildAModule, one of which is making the current bare-bones blog more integrated with the technical advances of the last decade.

Since it's been a while since I've spun up a Drupal-based blog, and since I know there's numerous aspects of blogging and content creation I'd like to finally wrap my mind around and implement (like RDF, HTML5, pingbacksSEO Tools), I'm thinking that the right distribution could save me time. I'm not entirely sure Open Enterprise has everything I'd like to integrate, but I know it has some good minds behind it. Or, it could turn out that I'm not the target use case for Open Enterprise and I could spin my wheels a bit, but I'm going to take the gamble so I can get familiar with a product that I know is on the edge of some awesomeness. 

So, here's an 'unboxing' of Open Enterprise. In particular, I'm using the Enterprise Blog version, which I'm thinking might be the same as Open Enterprise at it's core?

As per a typical Drupal installation, I downloaded the source, set up an empty database, added a virtual host via my MAMP Pro, and went to the new site.

The installation process gave me an Open Enterprise installation profile, and prompted me to install a set of 'apps'. I was tempted to check everything:

After all that installed, it had me fill in the default admin user and site information screen. After I submitted that, I hit a screen asking me for my FTP information. That threw me off a bit:

I tried to submit the form with nothing in it, then filled it with bogus information, thinking that maybe I could deal with it later. But neither of them let me pass. I did a quick search in the issue queue, and pulled this up which said that I could just make the sites directory writable, which I did by cd-ing into the Drupal directory via Terminal and doing a

chmod -R 777 sites

I remember running into something similar on Pantheon, I imagine for similar security reasons. But I'd sure like to have had a few more details on the screen about why this was needed.

After I did the chmod, I went ahead and refreshed the page, which seemed to push the installation process to the next step. However, not without a few errors (a lot of which just have to do with my level of reporting):

Some of these errors had to do with images, and as I started clicking on bits to look at content, I saw that there were no images and I was getting errors like:

Messing about with SEO tools

So, the first thing that I want to play with is the SEO tools to see if there was anything in there that would clearly be a benefit to my current workflow, so I go to create a piece of content and just copy over a blog entry from my personal blog.

Next, I scrolled through the vertical tabs at the bottom of the content and clicked on the Content analysis one. Everything was enabled except for the Alchemy item, which got me curious, so I followed the steps to set it up, which required the following:

  1. Downloading the PHP SDK files from here.
  2. Putting the files in the AlchemyAPI folder in the alchemy module folder (but you have to take the files out of the expanded folder)
  3. Going back to the content and trying again. This time I need an API key, so I follow the instructions
  4. I sign up for an Alchemy account, verify my email, request the API key, copy it and paste it in

Another disabled tool was the Readability section, and I didn't want to dig into that after going through the 10-minute Alchemy setup. But I did watch some of Tom's video on it  which was good (Tom has a nice screencasting voice).

Once Alchemy was set up, the check seemed to go through and I got some additional info:

After checking out the 3 tabs there, nothing appeared to be particularly useful for this article at least.

The Quick SEO tab had some good tips, mostly I think for folks just getting a feel for the amount of content to plug into a typical article:

At this point I think that maybe I should save the article, since it's showing as just having 12 words when there's definitely more, and realize that I pasted the content into a WYSIWYG. My content contains html tags, so I want to paste source in, and I don't see any source code icon (that would have been nice to have).

So I went ahead and copied my content straight from the public facing page into the WYSIWYG, which got everything including some object tags I had in there, and after that there were some better results from Alchemy:

I played around with the SEO tools for a bit, and couldn't get the keyword search to work. I noticed that you could hover over keywords like you see above to show menus for adding keywords to some kind of list, but after adding a few items I wasn't able to find where the list was. I imagine there's a bit of a learning curve here, but it seems like there's got to be some potentially good stuff in these tools.

Next, I wanted to see what the output of a typical blog post looked like, so I checked out the source code. Woah! I haven't seen that many CSS and JS files on a page before. But, I know you can turn on aggregation, so I ceased the freak out and scrolled down to where the body started:

I've been diving deeper into HTML5 over the last several weeks, and I was hoping to see some <article> and <footer> stuff with oddly named attributes, and I wasn't disappointed (though I'm curious why the footer was at the head of the article). I'm still wrapping my mind around best practices around HTML5, and I imagine that looking at this might contain some good lessons. 

In the Open Enterprise description it mentioned that it's using a flavor of Omega for a responsive theme, so I played with the browser window size a bit to see what changed, and got a re-sized logo and stacking in the navigation on the smaller window size. At an even smaller window, the sidebar drops down below the content. Cool.

When I go to check out the blog page as an anonymous user (after publishing the page), I get Access Denied. Bummer! ;)

Okay, so permissions are set up to keep anonymous users at bay. NO BLOG FOR YOU! Well, I kind of want people to read this stuff, so I went to the permissions page and made a couple minor adjustments:

And

Hey, that blog page looks pretty good! Except for a little floating issue with the comment buttons:

So at this point, I want to see how hard it would be to integrate Disqus with this blog. I first go to the modules listing page on the off-chance that it's already included. It's not, and I noticed while I was there that Drupal core and the theme is already a bit outdated:

It's tough to keep up with Drupal, man. 

I knew from talking with the Level 10 folks that they were really getting into integrating Apps, so I wanted to check out the App listing to see if I might have missed anything. In the admin bar I clicked Apps and then took a look. I didn't see anything there, so now it's time to download a module and see how well it integrates with the distro.

Okay, that took a few minutes but everything went smoothly. I now have Disqus enabled on blog posts, and normal commenting disabled.

Now I want to click around a bit. I click on the Images tab, and WHAT'S THIS? Whirlyball? And who's the psycho int he middle who clearly runs the operation?

This default placeholder content is way better than what my real content is going to be. ;)

When I click on HOME, I get a Page not found:



Bummer again! The Add URL redirect link is enticing, but when I click that it looks like it would set the redirection for any 404s, rather than just the home page:

Okay, so I'll leave that as is for now.

As my next task, I want to set up those social links at the bottom of the page to point to something functional. Icons would be nice, too, but I'm suspecting this is a standard Drupal menu and getting those icons might take a little pulling of teeth:

Indeed, there's a little cog wheel that's a bit hard to see against the blue, that points me to edit the Social menu, where I update my links.

Getting my share on

Now, I want people to be able to share posts, ala ShareThis. So, I take a gander through The Configuration menu and see a Social media item, which I click on. As I scroll down, it looks promising:

Okay, but how do I get these to show on my blog posts? As I'm looking around, I run into this, which looks a little off:

I'm also getting some overlay screens where there's no way exit because (I'm guessing) the close button is under the admin toolbar:

Then I browse to the modules page and see that maybe the social module I'm seeing isn't fully functional yet:

I check out the Help page and it mentions something about one's profile, so I think that maybe I have to associate the social media accounts with my user, rather than the site, but when I go to my user account page, I just get a submit button:

So I scroll down the modules listings page, just to see what's in there. And what's this?

This looks promising. So here's what I do:

  1. Enable the Widgets module
  2. Check my blog post to see if social icons magically appeared. They didn't.
  3. Went to the Widgets module page to see if there was any insight there. Indeed there was!
  4. Based on what I read, I went to the blocks configuration page and enabled the Widgets: socialmedia_share-default block in the Content region, above the Main page content block.
  5. I went back to the blog past, and whammo!

Okay, so I kind of like the ShareThis versions that include details about the different networks' activity (though I just found out you can up the count just by clicking on the icons), and based on the info on the Widgets module page, I probably just need to include the Service Links module for that.

Things to investigate and update

So I'm liking this so far. I have a responsive theme that doesn't look like crap, I have a lot of my needs anticipated in terms of blogging setup. I'm on Drupal 7, which feels like the future after working on Drupal 6 so much these last 6 months, and it seems like the feature modules / apps are thoughtful and goal-oriented, meaning I can probably get some nice functionality pretty cheap if I have the need for additional features later on.

At this point, there's a few things I want to check out / fix / accomplish / learn:

  1. Get the site branded.
  2. Figure out how to interlink pages with automatic Related to this article functionality for better SEO.
  3. Set up archives and a tag listing blocks or pages for better SEO (correct me if that's old school thinking).
  4. Check out how forms do on the responsive front.
  5. See if enabling the view source on the Wysiwyg is going to break a feature module
  6. Research current best practices on working with Features in a distro (I'm curious if anything has changed since I put together a video series on the subject)
  7. See if I can use Alchemy to automatically tag and enrich posts for search engines, ala the AlchemySEO service / product. And also, is that kosher?
  8. See why I can't get keyword searches to work. Is there some API key I need?
  9. Check out RSS feeds. And is there any integration with PubSubHubUb, and do I really need to care about that?
  10. What about trackbacks and pingbacks? Do people use those? Any reason they weren't included in the distro?
  11. Play with OpenGraph MetaTags to see how it impacts mentions in Facebook
  12. I'm curious what the UUID module means for nodes. Can I use them in feature modules now (the last time I tested that it was buggy)? Is that what it's intended use is in Open Enterprise?
  13. Integrate a menu-search tool like Coffee, or maybe finally check out the Drupal 7 port that Amit Goyal made of Navigate.
  14. Do some Adobe Shadow (or Edge Inspect as it was newly released today) to check out how this Omega theme looks on a few different devices. And make sure images are 100% max-width (they get cut off as the screen gets smaller).

Thanks!

Thanks to the Level 10 folks for putting this distribution together. I know it's super hard to build features that work for lots of use cases, but it seems like they're doing a really good job so far. I'm looking forward to seeing how fast I can get this to production. :)

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Well, the itch to blog rapidly with quick screenshots finally got to me, and I spent the last couple of days re-working the Drupal Evernote module to get it functional with the new Evernote API updates and Oauth.

One failing of the first module was that there were a lot of steps involved to get it set up. In this new version, I've simplified the options quite a bit. Today I started using it in practice on chrisshattuck.com, and it seems to be working pretty smoothly. Before I release it into the wild, though, I'm going to give it a bit to work out any kinks. Man, it's a lot of fun being able to blog straight from Evernote. I've also set up a system to post directly to Facebook and Twitter as well with some simple tagging (I'll talk more about that later).

I went ahead and added it up on Github so folks can goof around with it until I can get a chance to re-grok the Drupal module tagging scheme. Also, right now it's just for Drupal 6 (since that's where my itch is).

Here's a screenshot of the admin page:

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This last year BuildAModule.com powered numerous free Drupal trainings around the world. This week, we're officially releasing a suite of translation tools that will allow the videos on BuildAModule.com to be translated into any language. These translated videos can form the core curriculum of free community-driven Mentored Trainings in locations where English isn't widely spoken, or where training materials in a native language will help speed up the learning process.

During our beta testing last week, translators made major contributions to the Spanish translation with over 40 videos translated, and there have been contributions in Dutch, Italian and Danish as well.

Why did we build these translation tools?

Shortly after releasing our first video collections last year, we had several requests for translations, and for the tools to help our viewers translate videos themselves for other speakers of their native languages. We've also heard repeatedly that there is a need for Drupal training materials in other languages. With our free Mentored Training model, it made sense to take the time to build translation tools since the translated videos can have such a broad impact on spreading Drupal and helping large groups of individuals learn Drupal quickly.

What exactly will be translated

Every video can have its transcript and title translated. Once translated, the translated video also becomes searchable in that language.

Want to help translate?

If you are comfortable with English and another language you'd like to translate to, you can definitely contribute. Even translating one video helps, though we've heard from translators that it's a little hard to stop once you get started.

Just send us an email with the language you'd like to translate to, plus a little bit about yourself and why you want to translate, and we'll set you up with the tools you need to get started.

Want certain videos translated for an upcoming training?

As a translator, you decide what videos you want to translate. We have a protocol to help people make sure they don't accidentally translate something that's already being translated, but if you want to focus on the Views or jQuery videos, for example, that's perfect. If you have a need to translate certain videos, it's even more likely that other people have the same need.

You can also post translation requests in the BuildAModule.com forums to let others know that you're interested in certain translations, even though you may not be able to participate directly.

Demos

Below are two videos, one of which shows a video that has been translated into Italian, and the other which demonstrates how to use the translation tools, so you can see how they work.

Video demonstration of translation tools

Video demonstration of a video translated into Italian

How can I learn more?

Just go to http://buildamodule.com/translate, or send us an email with any questions you have.

We hope that opening up these translation tools will help the international community build some of the much-needed resources it needs for effectively conducting Drupal training in a variety of native languages.



On Friday, March 23rd, to support the amazing DrupalCon sprints this year, Build a Module.com is donating it's entire 610+ video library for free, all day long. Sometimes sprinters don't know everything they need to know to help out, and the amount of time available for direct mentorship is limited and competes with actually getting work done. We see two major benefits to supporting the sprints this way:

1. Sprint organizers can maximize mentoring time

For those sprinters who need a little background on various aspects of Drupal, be it awesome APIs, the theme layer or even basics like how taxonomy works, there's likely a video available on Build a Module.com to help them learn it. Sprint organizers can delegate to these videos when they don't have the time to directly mentor their sprinters, which in turn should help maximize the amount of work that gets done.

2. Remote sprinters can still get mentorship

Would-be sprinters who weren't able to make it to DrupalCon this year can still spend some time on the sprint day helping out, and since they won't have access to the direct mentorship that's available at the sprints, they can still ramp up on important Drupal skills - enough to make a valuable contribution.

How to get access

To get a free pass to Build a Module.com, just go to http://buildamodule.com/free on Friday, March 23th, create an account if you don't have one, and click the button to get a free 24-hour pass.

If sprinters or sprint organizers have any questions, please feel free to send them my way.

Happy sprinting!



Several months ago I wrote about a unique method of training based on replacing live lecturing with pre-recorded videos. For the uninitiated, this frees up trainers to assist students the whole time, cuts way down on preparation time, and allows students to move at their own pace which increases focus and engagement (see the short video here for a bit more info). Back then it was a theory, but now it's been tested in several different environments and proven as an incredibly effective way to both teach and learn Drupal. Plus, it's way more fun than traditional training.

This is a quick outline of what's been happening so far, what's coming up, and how to get started if you want to organize or participate in a Mentored Training for your community or organization.

How to offer a free, effective Drupal training in your area

Nearly every Drupal community sees the need for training in their area, but it's a headache to either develop a curriculum, get access to existing curriculum or get an experienced trainer in at the right time. But never fear! You (yes, you!) can conduct a effective, proven training in your area with very little effort and awesome results.

You don't have to get up in front of a class, you don't have to memorize anything. Just leverage your experience in Drupal to help students as they work through a proven set of video lectures. If it sounds odd or lame - it's not. Students work at their own pace, they have a great time, and mentors also enjoy being able to simply show up and help students without extensive and exhausting preparation.

Setting up a Mentored Training is simple. It has a basic structure that you can follow exactly or adjust to meet the needs of you and your students. Build a Module.com will also give you free access to our entire video library for you and your students for a full 8 days so students have the chance to ramp up before the training, or wrap up what they were working on after the training is complete.

If you're interested in mentoring or participating in a Mentored Training in your area, a great place to start is by posting a suggestion on groups.drupal.org (see here and here for examples).

Learn more about how to conduct a Mentored Training on the Build a Module.com resources page.

Mentored Trainings so far

There's been a few mentored trainings so far, with quite a few more coming down the pikes. If you're considering organizing one in your area or for your organization, please leverage those of us that have had some experience as resources to answer questions and help wrap your mind around the logistics.

San Francisco, BADCamp 2011 - Our first Mentored Training was at the Bay Area Drupal Camp in San Francisco. We had 6 mentors and 55 students at the full-day training. During a feedback session after the training, what we heard from students was unanimously positive. One thing they really appreciated was the extensive one-on-one time they got with the trainers. We discovered that a full third of the students came over-qualified for the training, which worked perfectly in an environment where there was more advanced material available. The mentors unanimously felt the same way. Two of the mentors quickly began the process of organizing trainings in their own in Portland and Denver.

Minnesota, Advantage Labs Client Training - Advantage Labs in Minnesota piloted their first Mentored Training for 15 clients, specifically around learning about Views. The video base allowed less experienced clients work through Drupal basics, and they created a virtual snapshot of the example site partway through the "Build Your First Drupal 7 Web Site" video collection to allow more advanced users to hit the ground running.

Edinburgh, Scotland - A Mentored Training event was put on in Edinburgh for would-be mentors to evaluate the Build a Module.com material for a future pre-camp training. The event was small, but it sounded like it went very smoothly and the consensus was that it would be a great format for the upcoming camp.

Upcoming Mentored Trainings (and trainings in planning)

If you're in the planning stages for conducting a Mentored Training and don't see it listed here, please let us know so we can add it to our calendar.

DrupalCon, Denver, March 19 - We have a great line-up of talent for the DrupalCon training. With 10+ mentors with experience in site building, theming, coding, Information Architecture, it's a great opportunity to take a flying leap up the learning curve and get some great one-on-one help. Learn more or sign up.

Denver Community Training, February 18 - The Denver Drupal community is conducting a full-day mentored training with some great mentors in an awesome community. Donations are welcome, but attendance is free. This can be a great way to ramp up for the DrupalCon event as well. Learn more or sign up.

DrupalCamp Florida, February 12 - While 50 or so talented Drupalists build amazing free sites for a few non-profits, the future site owners will be working on their Drupal chops by using the Build a Module.com videos to train. The videos will also be available to the 50+ coders and themers making the sites happen (because even ninjas need help sometimes). For more information, contact Kendall.

Phoenix, Arizona (in planning) - Several community members in Phoenix are in the process of organizing a Mentored Training for the community. If you're interested in mentoring or being a student, please contact Matt at Ashday Interactive.

Portland (in planning) - Another great community is planning a mentored training. If you're interested in contributing, go ahead and post to the discussion page.

Glasgow, Scotland (suggested) - As a follow up to the Edinburgh training, there is some discussion about another Scotland. See this comment for more for who to contact about participating or helping to plan.

Australia (in planning) - We don't have the exact details, but there's been some training plans at an upcoming conference. Please feel free to send us an e-mail and we'll forward your info to the organizers.

India (in planning) - We're collaborating with an organization to provide mentored trainings in India. If you are interested in participating or contributing, please send us an e-mail and we'll pass it on to the organizers.



In preparation for our DrupalCon Denver training, we're rounding up some of the free Drupal videos tutorials on Build a Module.com so potential attendees can get a feel for the style of training. We will be leveraging the Mentored Training model I posted about several months ago, and piloted successfully at BADCamp. In this model, the traditional 'lecture' is pre-recorded in order to free up the instructors to help students with specific issues and provide that critical face-to-face time for the entire duration of the training. It's really quite awesome.

If you're considering doing any training at DrupalCon but haven't quite hopped on the boat yet - due to cost or time commitment - let me point out a couple of the less obvious benefits. While the information you learn will be useful, what you'll find even more valuable is the time you get to spend directly with skilled Drupal instructors who can help you over your specific hurdles. A second subtle benefit is the connections you'll make both with the instructors and your fellow students, connections that I guarantee will pay back dividends throughout DrupalCon and way beyond.

If you're curious about our particular training (we have 9+ amazing trainers lined up), check out this writeup which includes a short video outlining how the training works and some of the benefits. If you'd just like to peruse some of our free videos on using Git and getting every essential Drupal 7 configuration component or piece of content into code, check out the videos below:

Free videos on Git and getting everything into code

How to use a scalable Git branching model called Gitflow - 6:41

In this free (but information packed) video, we take our develop-master branch workflow and expand it to include several branch tracks in a system commonly called "Gitflow". This system, while it looks kind of crazy as a chart, takes the guesswork out of branch organization and lays down a set of sustainable rules for a project of any complexity.

How to create, deploy and clean up a release branch - 8:37

With a release branch, you capture a (hopefully) stable state of your code base and push it to a production site. In this video we walk you through each step of the way, from creating and working within the release, pushing it to production, and cleaning up after the push.

Overview of database components you can add to version control - 5:50

Getting our code into version control is a great start, but that's just half the battle with Drupal, since so much information is captured in the database. In this video, we begin the process of exploring the best way to get database components into our Git repository.

How to download and install the Features module - 1:50

The new videos this week walk you through the first steps of using the Features module, but before you do that, you'll need to actually install it. It's pretty straightforward, but we wanted to walk you through the process to make sure we get all the steps covered.

How to organize features and implications of getting everything into code - 4:09

Once you wrap your mind around the power of a feature module and the basics of updating and manipulating it, the next question you're likely to have is 'where do I put which component?' In this video, we talk you through how to organize components in a sustainable, reasonable way.

How to create and modify a Selenium macro that builds a node - 7:08

To demonstrate using Selenium IDE, we begin by recording a macro that generates a new node. You can record virtually any change with Selenium, but this would be one common use of the tool. We'll follow it up with one more test to demonstrate some additional techniques.

The challenges of overriding shared feature modules and some solutions - 4:53

One of the biggest hurdles to adopting Features as a configuration management solution is that overriding configuration options captured in a feature module isn't always straightforward. In this video we begin the review of best practices when overriding these features.



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