BadCamp report back

As usual, the Bay Area Drupal Camp was a mix of information well over my head, and other stuff that thudded off my chest (read: not over my head).  I’m not a coder, so I was lost in the the Drupal Ninja session I wandered into and I quickly wandered out.  On the other hand, I’m pretty damn good as a site admin, so the CCK tutorial was mostly interesting to watch teenaged Dimitri move with lightening speed.

I attended the Drupal theming session, and got confirmation from what several themers said at the Sunnyvale OSCON/ DrupalCon: if you are doing a lot of theme development, don’t start with any of the default themes and tweak from there; instead, build a clean theme from scratch, and use something like the Zen theme to inform your work.  (People also stressed not to use Zen as your primal building block).  My very sparse notes on this session are at the bottom of this page.

Kentbye posted a bunch of audio of the sessions here. There’s also a continuation of the usability session discussion here.

Another “as usual” is that I gleaned the most interesting information (for me) at the periphery.  I had a few specific questions that were answered in between sessions.  I got direct and indirect pointers to new tools and – more importantly – new modules, or reminders of modules I need to revisit.

There were several apps people were using in their demos that I took note of:

  • Web Developer Toolbar (for Firefox) was a favorite.  It’s very useful for theme work, something I now can’t live without.
  • Firebug – very similar; I’ve yet to see a comparison of the two
  • Colloquy – an open-source Mac IRC client that is user-friendlier than Snak.
  • TextMate – apparently the favorite of Bay Area coders; I’ll stick with TextWrangler for now
  • Yahoo UI tools – for CSS tools, see the bottom of the linked page (the Grid CSS builder tool linked here)- uh, I still don’t quite get how to use this, but it can generate clean, Yahoo-standards-based CSS.

And then, more modules.  Just a few days ago I was telling someone new to Drupal that one of the
key challenges is staying on top of new the Drupal modules
(800+ was a count I saw in one presentation, but that seems high. 
Maybe that’s all modules for any version of Drupal….).

In nearly every session, someone would mention a module I had never heard of (or had not looked at closely enough), so here’s my new Drupal module follow-up list:

  • The Devel module – no, nothing new here; but it may actually be useful for non-developers as well
  • Signwriter – a module to allow you to use custom fonts in headings; apparently better and easier to use than sIFR
  • Panels – allows you to put different content into “panels” – different areas on the page.  You can potentially stuff more things into your main content area than just a single node or a view.  I looked at Panels for a specific project a while ago, and at the time I thought it could do more than it actually could, so I left it behind.  I also recognize now how to acheive a lot of what I was looking for with template overrides, but it may be worth looking at again.
  • Subscriptions – someone mentioned that this is a good replacement for Notify, but not quite.  This allows you to subscribe to updates of particular nodes or taxonomies.  However, I use Notify (on a particular site) to send out all site updates.
  • DBA – A presenter mentioned that she uses this to make automatic backups of her database which get emailed to her every night. It allows you to administer the database without using something like phpMyAdmin…

I feel like I haven’t added that much to the general store of knowledge.  Hopefully a link here will be of some help to someone.

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