Archive for the 'design' Category

Some more politics

With the trend starting on yesterday’s post, I want to shill a little more for progressive politics.

Our (very cool) coworking space is hosting an Obama Call Party this Sunday:

Wondering what you can do to help in what might be the most important election of our lives? Come to the PariSoMa coworking space Sunday for a few hours to make sure Barack has enough volunteers to counter the smears, and get voters to the polls in the critical swing states.
NOTE: We’re sorry, but this space is not handicap accessible; it’s one story up with no elevator.

All you need to bring is your cell phone; we’ll provide scripts and lists of voters to call. For extra kharma points, bring a snack or drinks to share with your fellow volunteers. Better yet, bring a few friends. But at least bring yourself!

Don’t think we need help in the swing states?  Check out the the struggle on the ground in next upcoming This American Life episode.

Obama has a posse.  And it’s US!


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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Awesome drupal case study – for online newspapers – a Danish newspaper that relaunched on Drupal – published their production case study on – from architecture design to CSS challenges…

Wow – I wish all case studies were like this.  This is yet another way to give back to the community.  I’ve rarely read a case study where I actually learned so much.

I found this while digging around for info about Drupal newspaper sites for a friend.  There’s a newspaper group, and from there I discovered that there are a bunch of Drupal newspaper sites
 (including internationally) in production.  Including America’s Finest New Source, natch.

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OSCMS – UnConeD on design principles

(One of the sessions I attended at OSCMS)

Steve Wittens – aka UnConeD, one of the grand Drupal sages – gave a long session on “Design Eye for the Developer Guy/Gal” in response to the common complaint that Drupal sites are too often implemented by coder types who don’t put as much time into look-and-feel as they do functionality. His talk covered much more non-tech related ground than I was expecting, including some in-depth looks at typography and color theory (but nothing too in-depth). Once I adjusted to where his talk was going, I found it valuable theory. At times the advice was a little opaque – “When it comes to color combinations, just use commons sense”, but his approach to blurring sites to review logic-flow was eye-opening, and as was his “history of design in 30 minutes or less.”

His slides follow logical sense, but the images without any notes may leave you guessing what you are supposed to learn from the images.

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OSCMS – Laura Scott on Drupal template theming

(One of the sessions I attended at OSCMS)

Laura Scott of PingVision gave a good presentation on proper theming techniques with the TemplatePHP engine, covering a range of tech and process levels from overview to detailed code. Her slides have a lot of good info and are well annotated.

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