Friday, April 11, 2008

It\'s a pod :o)I'd happy that I can now announce to the general community the project that I've been working on for the last month or so. It's Podhurl. It's a bit like Bryght, or the previous CivicSpace offering I worked on; a hosted, maintained, stable Drupal service. There are some very major differences however:

Continue at >

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My post on the future of Drupal QA is up on the g.d.o QA group:

Please read it over and comment!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dries' newly released Usability Testing first results (here) are in, and it does reinforce my previous point that even as we make the code and patch testing better (via unit tests), many other parts of quality have been overlooked for some time, and developers shouldn't be the ones to force it on. (you can read that previous post here)

In fact, between this and some valuable feedback I received from those in #drupal, I've decided to outline a full proposal for moving Drupal's Quality Assurance forward. As Karoly was kind enough to mention, just posting about this on my development blog isn't enough :) . I'm writing that proposal now, and will be posting it in the Quality Assurance group at sometime tomorrow.

I should also note that contrary to some feedback I received from #drupal, I do think unit testing is a great thing, and I do think Drupal is doing good, and I do think we're making progress (one of the (very) few downsides of open source communities is that people take criticism very personally, since everyone who works on Drupal does in a way feel it's a bit of them ;) ) I was, in no way, saying that anyone wasn't doing their jobs, just that we hadn't recognized some of these QA areas as even being needed before. Alright, enough apologizing, I'll see you all tomorrow!

(If there is anything you think the proposal should include, give me a heads up)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Community Segmentation, Bad News?
What brings me to this topic is all the excited talk I've been hearing second hand about splitting and into many separate chunks (,,,, , you see where this is going). What worries me is that in such an implementation it may become too complex to get to key areas or discussions.

The way I see it, there are a couple major roadblocks for making such a system work (here comes the dreaded Robin-list, grab some coffee):

  1. Unified login (no, openid isn't the solution, we have existing accounts on the sites and all those need to be unified).
  2. Domain complexity, in my last example above, we can't expect people to remember that. We need to have only primary level subdomains. EG:, but not,
  3. Unified search (this is very important, we want people to be able to find the resources they are looking for). We also need to be able to isolate the searches per content types, per site. So you can search for polls on groups. directly from any other site.
  4. Unified look. I don't suspect this will be a problem, bluebeach will need to be modified just slightly to show you're at a different site)
  5. Unified input formats. Right now, you can use markdown on groups.drupal, but not at the forums. We need to allow the same syntax to be used everywhere
  6. Unified front page options. For maximum usefulness, we'd need the moderation options for "Show on this site's frontpage" as well as "Show on frontpage".
  7. No link left behind. We need to implement either redirects from old links we'll be moving, or have a system to search all the sites if a unavailable page is requested. We have a lot of sites that link to nodes on, and if we loose those, we loose a lot of useful external documentation.
  8. Clear cut reason why this is needed. I personally don't think this level or decimation is necessary, or even useful.

Drupal let the quality boat sail by. Hold on, hear me out :) We're a really focused and strong (and almost too commercial) community, and we really have put our focus on features and output, and we've lacked a lot when it's come to making it all work correctly in every possible case.

That's where quality testing comes in. I've been thinking about Drupal's quality assurance process for a couple years now, but in the last few months it's really come to a head for me. My personal "dam-breaking" moment came when the Batch API in Drupal 6 prevented install, and other tasks depending on the API from running automatically, or in text based browsers, or in browsers were people have been privacy conscious and disabled JS and Meta refresh tags.

Without proper quality trails this will continue to happen. And here's another point I'd like to make:

If we expected every patch to have every possible test performed on it by the developer, or even automatically, we're fooling ourselves., even though it's going to help; even though it's going to catch errors; won't ever be able to replace human testing. Simpletest and DrupalCHK framework is not going to be the do-all and end-all of our problems, nor should we try to market it as such. We risk people feeling that if we have unit testing, we can skimp on the other Quality bits. Just like how a newbie computer user might think Norton 1998 is still protecting them in 2008.

Here's what we need in order to make future releases of Drupal truly "quality assured":

  1. We need to have community-created smoketests that members of the community can run on various servers, with various browsers. These are low level things drupal must be able to accomplish in that environment. Each "smoketest", eg, "Create a new node type" would be able to be marked "working", "working with errors", "working with incorrect layout or UI", "failed". We'd log the different environments to find patterns.
  2. We need user interface quality testing
    • information architecture
    • disability-compliance testing (screen readers, color blindness)
    • standards compliance (ECMAscript, CSS, X/HTML)
  3. We need a group to asses changes to the coding standards, and to modify and refine the standards and time goes by.
  4. Quality events (eg, a weekly or monthly online event were everyone can work on bugs, perhaps with prizes)
  5. Quality initiatives (bug spotlight is a good start, but a group that can define more initiatives like this)
  6. documentation, forums, live irc help and mentor for those new to helping with quality testing. Probably best done as, using as a guide. The great thing about quality testing is: you don't need to be a developer, or know how to code!
Hopefully, this will spur the Drupal powers that be to make more of a effort and create a full fledged quality team, and not just the appearance of quality by using a single method of quality assurance. I'll be happy to assist in the development of such a team.

I haven't meant this post to be harsh on Drupal, we've done very well, but this will hopefully nudge people in the "quality" direction.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I'd like to submit a proposal for a future location of Drupalcon. Given that Drupalcon Boston is now going on, it seems like now is the opportune time to "whisper" in the ear of attendees, and to suggest the next location on the east coast.

And that spot is..... (drumroll please :) ): Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada (map)

Why Saint John?

Where could it be held?

Glad you asked :) Saint John tourism maintains a list of Meeting and event facilities as well as Convention hotels.

So, the next time someone mentions about the next Drupalcon, mention Saint John!

Disclaimer, I live near Saint John ;)

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've got some good stuff to talk about this time around:

Prettiest Drupal Admin Interface Ever.

Keep up the eye candy :) I've recently had to opportunity to allow some non-tech-savvy people access to a Drupal site I set up for them, and the admin interface needs improvement. In fact, it needs to be able to confine the lesser used options off somewhere out of the way of those who are just managing content and rearranging blocks.

You can make your site available offline!
Some great code came out of Coding in Paradise that will let you specify the pages you want available offline, a 32x32 shortcut icon, and boom you can make your pages available offline with a desktop shortcut via Google Gears. Great for research sites and such. (I want this on :) )

Cross platform repository management
Anyone that's used SVN probably knows that if by some chance the line endings in a file are changed (eg, someone on Windows opens a Mac file) the revision control system will log every line as changed. But, there is an easy solution!

Just add:

enable-auto-props = yes

* = svn:eol-style=native
to your ~/.subversion/config should do the trick. For more information, and a tool to fix existing line ending issues, go here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dwewpal 6 weweased (Elmer Fudd) (original blog post)

Courtsey of Robin Monks, here is the Elmer Fudd press release for Drupal 6.0.

That dewty double cwossing wabbit ... ha ha haa'.

Glad to see my work was appreciated :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Today in Drupal it's now official, Drupalcon Boston 2008 will be fully taped!
Mark Burdett will be leading the charge, and he is asking for donations via ChipIn to cover the costs of additional needed equipment. If you are going to Drupalcon and would be willing to bring along a camera, supplies, or would just be willing to help out generally, be sure to get in touch with the Drupalcon staff.

Oh, and FeedAPI 1.0 is out! And Drupal association hit a milestone (I'd argue it's Drupalcon's milestone, but, to each his own), 400 registered members for Drupalcon Boston. Given the capacity for the event was 700, it seems they might fall a bit short of expectations :( That said, get over there and register, there is still time!

And, we've learned another fact from chx, good zen music == good patches. Don't believe me? Listen to the great one.

I leave you now with an image of Drupal 6's drag and drop support from CMS Report:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

So, to start off this time I'll make some corrections of my last post based on feedback:

I'm bringing 8 people. Releasing two new modules, a Chinese install profile, giving half a dozen sessions, and helping do graphics and layout for conference materials.

Oh, and updating the mass hosting system that we started our business with and giving it away for free.

$15K or community involvement: you e the judge. Oh, and I wouldn't mind an update to the main post to reflect this :P --Boris Mann

I got Boris a bit mad at me. I was just pointing out that I expected more sponsorships from well known Drupal consultancies, such as Bryght, not specifically beating on Bryght for not bring a finical supporter. Sorry.

Both Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex play nicely with Drupal, what with services.module and amfphp.module, and with our pending release of a new module based on SWFAddress, the whole platform is only going to get stronger, with full HTML underlay for non-Flash-users.

If that sounds interesting, check out and vote on our session proposal! --Steven
Sounds very cool! I keep thinking of Macromedia when I think of flash and such (I dislike change :P ), it's great to see some alternative uses for Drupal! :)

Onward to the new stuff...
We are proud to present the third release candidate of Drupal 6.0. We hope that this will be the final release candidate before we can make an official release of Drupal 6.0. Since the second release candidate, we have fixed various issues including JavaScript performance problems, cleaned up menu updates, added several improvements to the update.module, and added a memory requirements check to update.php. We have even added some small usability improvements since RC2.
Yippie! Drupal 6 RC3! I was hoping a bit for a final release, but, now it's even closer than ever before, and more bugs will be ironed out, so I can wait a bit longer :)

Also, Yahoo now has a new OpenID tool for those with accounts with Yahoo! and it's services. With upcoming support of OpenID in Drupal, this will no doubt be a big boon in getting people to use OpenID.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Daily Drupal Happenings - January 24, 2008

You've got Sponsorship!

4 Platinum sponsors of Drupalcon have been announced! Given that one of the platinum benefits is one of the rooms will be named after the sponsor, and given that there are 4 rooms and 4 sponsors, I assume all the Platinum sponsorships are filled. Nice work!

Platinum sponsors pay $15,000 each for advertising throughout the conference. What's also interesting is who is doing the sponsoring:

Knight Foundation: Wikipedia announces they are "an American private, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting journalism". A sponsor I wouldn't have guessed. Interesting nonetheless.
pingVision: Not much of a surprise here.
Acquia: Given Acquia is based in Boston, I kinda suspect the whole confernece location is kinda based around them; not that I'm complaining :)
Adobe: Here is the big surprise. Adobe. The pdf people. Wow.

Drupalcon Administrators have also announced a Gold sponsor ($7,500); Sun Microsystems, it's good to see them supporting the Drupal community.

I was actually expecting RainCity Studios/Bryght to have a listing here as well, I'm a bit surprised that more Drupal firms are not in the sponsorship section (It's not too late!).

Yesterday was "relaunched" using Drupal. Welcome to the Drupal community PopSci!

Drupal Newsletter

A new Drupal Newsletter went out yesterday, Aaron Winborn (aaron) is now leading the charge. Best of luck!

Interesting Bugs of the Last 48hrs

Update Drupal 6 to jQuery 1.2.3 (6.x-dev)
Preview feature for blocks (7.x-dev)
Build tables with Forms API (7.x-dev)
Allow login using email address (7.x-dev)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daily happenings @ Drupal - January 22, 2008

DrupalCamp Wisconsin (a photo of Wisconsin at right) wrapped up last weekend, and Larry at GarfieldTech has the complete writeup of it's success, great job!

Messaging and Notifications modules, and just had to blog about it. The reason I mention it here is because I too find these modules interesting. I myself have used Subscriptions before, might try something custom using Notifications next time.

We've got to be careful not to recreate Perl's dependency hell with all these "building block" modules though :)

Thus far the most interesting session proposal I've seen on the Boston Drupalcon site has been the Drupal <18 session, directed at "the people who help drive Drupal but cannot yet legally drink, vote, gamble, and/or drive". Sounds like a great idea!

I'll be back this evening with the list of today's fixed bugs, ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Daily Hall of Fame - January 21, 2008

Fixing bugs is a tireless and usually thankless job, but not today! Here is the list of fixed core bugs in the last 24 hours, and who you can send a starbucks card to :)

Thanks to all those who have worked on bugs, your contributions are important to keep Drupal strong! If you're not actively contributing to Drupal now, why not stop by the Patch Queue?

After quite some time of inactivity, I'm trying to kick myself into the belated new-year's resolution of keeping this blog updated with some of the latest activity in Drupal development :)

There is a lot of buzz building up around Drupalcon Boston 2008, March 3-6. This is actually the closest a Drupalcon has ever been to me that I can recall (within driving distance, yay!). It's going to be a $215k event, hopefully paid for by attendance fees ($195, which I was initially appalled at, but I now see the necessity) and Corporate sponsorships.

I have been on a see-saw of deciding whether I'll be able to attend. I've even planned a session, so I'm hoping to make it this year!

Also on a related note, most of the CiviCRM team are currently planning world domination at their meetup in India.

Drupal Planet Feed Marketing
It seems somewhere along the line got popular. According to some stats by Kieran, over 16k people are using planet and it's RSS feed, that's a lot of community!

Bloggers who have feeds in the Planet syndication are encouraged to subscribe to the Drupal Marketing group. The goal being to gain grass roots promotion for Drupal events in future.

Elections Aftermath
The results of the Drupal Association Elections are in! Some great new people are at the Association, all the best from!

The Last 24hrs in Issues
As always, the issue queue at is buzzing with activity. Some of the more interesting issues in the past day are: