Through the kind introductions of my good friend Aaron Teresteeg, who is the Community Manager for Parallel Programming and Multi-Core, I was brought on early during the project to help the internal Intel Software Network development team see some light in the Drupal thicket. They are an amazingly talented and dedicated group, but they didn't have extensive Drupal experience, so we sat down for a couple of brainstorming sessions where they peppered me with questions about best practices, module choices, architectural issues, and the like. I also did some minimal follow up prototyping. Matt Groener, the ISN Development Team Manager, very generously claimed,
You really put us on the firm path to a successful Drupal launch.
So we all have our favorite development tool or, as in my case, many. I'm currently infatuated with Textmate, as are many other Mac users, and use it as my primary development environment. It's merits are many, including the light footprint, responsiveness, elegance, and plugin/bundle architecture. I'm especially a sucker for the elegance, especially when used with the Twilight theme.
There are times, however, when I need to use a more robust IDE, particularly for step through debugging. As a side note, that happens to be a great way to learn what happens during a Drupal page load. Netbeans to the rescue. I used to be an Eclipse user, but made the jump to Netbeans, which is put out by Sun, after my first look. I find it much simpler to setup and maintain, there's a dedicated PHP distribution, it's very feature rich, and just flat out works. One area where it doesn't shine, however, is aesthetics, and if I'm spending a good part of the day looking at something, I want to it look nice. You could even argue that it would make you more efficient. In any case, as a partial remedy, I took a stab at porting the Twilight Textmate theme for Netbeans and thought I'd toss it out there.
UPDATE: I figured I'd look around to see if something similar was out there, and found this one, which might be better.
When O'Reily decided to move OSCON, the famed annual open source conference, from Portland to San Jose this year, I was upset like many other folks and resigned myself to simply missing out on the chance to mingle with, and learn from, the best in the open source community. Others, however, decided to do something about the gap left in Portland's conference schedule and organized Open Source Bridge. According to the conference organizers,
Open Source Bridge is a completely volunteer-run conference for open source citizens held June 17-19 in Portland, Oregon. Focused on developers working with open source technologies, the event features five tracks connecting people across projects, languages, and backgrounds to explore how those developers approach their work, and why they participate in open source. The conference structure is designed to provide developers with an opportunity to learn from people they might not connect with at other events.
Hats off to the organizing team; they have worked tirelessly to put together the event, and by the looks of the schedule, the end result promises to be amazing. On a personal note, I decided this was a good opportunity to cut my conference presentation chops and submitted a session on Drupal. I realized I needed a specific angle, and settled on the topic Drupal, What is it Good For, and was honored to have the talk accepted. My experience in building a wide range of sites, along with the many hours I've spent evaluating requirements for projects, gives me a decent foundation for the topic, although I also plan on doing plenty of homework in preparing the talk. If anyone who stumbles across this has any suggestions, they are very welcome!
I'm fresh off the plane from an amazing experience at Drupalcon in Washington D.C. This conference had more direct impact on my day to day work than any I have been to before. The size, diversity, and talent of the community was shocking; there were 1400 Drupal geeks in attendance, and everyone I met was very good at what they did, whether it was development, theming, design, IA, or every just running a business. Intimidating in some respects, yes, but even more inspirational. The following sessions really stood out for me.
Apparently Dries's bi-annual State of Drupal talk always follows a set pattern, but since this was my first Drupacon, I found it very interesting. Aside from being a surprisingly witty and charismatic presenter, I got a great sense of Drupal's past, present, and future. This will help a great deal in answering the question, "when should I use Drupal".
This one really blew my mind. The folks at Development Seed are working on a way to bundle a set of modules and configuration settings into a single "feature" which can be deployed as a module on one or more sites. There are two modules, Context and Spaces, which enable this, along with some custom scripting and exportables. The custom scripting is used to setup node types, taxonomies, etc. Exportables are items you define once and then export to reuse like Views, Imagecache presets, etc. Imagine, for example, that you need to setup an image gallery. Most savvy Drupalers would approach this by creating a custom node type and fields using CCK, then create one or more Views, perhaps create a custom formatter, configure blocks, etc. Easier than writing a bunch of code from scratch, but a bit of a pain. And this would need to be repeated for each site. Instead, create the image gallery once, bundle it into a Feature, and distribute to all your sites!
The team from Advantage Labs have developed a pair of tools that allow you to turn your Drupal site into a geocoding engine. Geocode is an API for, you guessed it, geocoding data from an extendable set of items such images (via exif data), trx files, a postal address, and really any single or set of points. This data can then be stored natively in MySql in a LINESTRING data type which can then be queried for distance, intersection points, etc. This is possible via the MySql spatial extensions, which are available in version 4.1 or later. The possible applications are endless, ranging from the mundane plotting of a single point on a map, to rendering a complete map of the US using views and and SVG. And there are no external dependencies - very cool!!!
James Walkah, one the earliest Drupal community members and current Lullabot, gave an insightful and thoroughly entertaining presentation on Drupal's shortfalls. Some of these are well known within the community such as Drupal's usability problems for new users and questionable core modules like forums and aggreator, and others, such as code duplication through drupal_alter() maybe less so.
- I was finally able to connect monikers and online personas with names and faces. I suspect this will make future virtual collaboration much more effective.
- Picked up a fat stack of business cards of potential partners and collaborators.
- Learned where Drupal came from, where it is now, and where it is going (at least some the different possibilities).
- In addition to a better understanding of the Drupal big picture, I picked up some tips and tricks which will add both efficiency and innovation to my work in Drupal.
All said, that's time and money well spent!
I'm very excited about confirming my plans to attend Drupalcon this March in Washington, DC. As I've worked more with Drupal over the last couple years, I really gained an appreciation of not just the features and code, but the community as well. Lots of very dedicated and smart folks. Looking forward to the chance to get to know some of them and learn more about Drupal.