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Blog archives for January 2009

Drupal around the world

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I wanted to take a moment to point out two items of mention related to Drupal from the past week.

First, congratulations to the United Nations World Food Programme, which recently relaunched their website in Drupal! Congratulations as well to both Phase2 Technology and Workshop friend Development Seed for the outstanding job on this beautiful and functional website.

United Nations World Food Programme screenshot
WFP's new Drupal-based website

I had the privilege of working with the WFP a few years ago in preparation for Walk the World 2005. The website for that project was one of the very first Drupal sites that I programmed on (having administered a few before that). I'm glad to see that Drupal has made inroads into the WFP's structure all the way to the top since then, allowing them to maintain this great new website and further their humanitarian efforts around the world.

The other bit of info is about Drupalcon this March in Washington, DC. Today, the final ticket was sold, and the attendee count will be 1,300 people! The tentative session list, based on submitted proposals, is now out. I hope to be involved in presenting two sessions, my own proposed Beyond The Web: Drupal Meets The Desktop (And Mobile), which is likely to become a panel presentation on the topic, and Miglius Alaburda's Introducing a new File Framework, which is likely to become a joint session on file handling in Drupal. I also hope to be releasing a new Drupal module in the next week or two in these areas, so stay tuned.

The amount of momentum around Drupal right now is pretty astounding!

Happy eighth birthday, Drupal!

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Today is the eighth birthday of Drupal, the PHP website platform that I'm most involved with. In Drupal creator Dries Buytaert's own words from the news release:

When I started work on Drupal as a graduate student, Drupal was just a little hobby project grown out of my own interest in the web. As you can tell from the original release notes, being the only programmer certainly had its charms. ;-)

Fast forward 8 years, and we're a global project with hundreds of thousands of users, thousands of active contributors and a healthy ecosystem. Along the way, I've always tried to listen to the community, and to trust my own instincts and moral compass. We built an amazing community together, and because of that, working on Drupal continues to be a labor of love. Even after eight years.

A big project can't always do what a small project can; there is more legacy and overhead, but nonetheless, I think what is important is that we stayed true to our initial values: innovation, collaboration and a healthy desire to keep the code as small and simple as possible.

I'm very much looking forward to where the next eight years takes Drupal and the web at large!

If you are interested in finding out more about Drupal, have a look at to see if there is a group near you or head to DC in March for Drupalcon. I just attended my first Portland Drupal meeting last night and hope to be more involved with the community here going forward.

Viva la Drupal!

Appearance on the Mac Developer Roundtable

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The latest episode of Mac Developer Roundtable has gone live and I was pleased to be invited on again (see Getting around... table from a few months ago for the first time). This episode's topic is "Getting Started With Cocoa" and is intended for people who are new to Cocoa, Apple's programming framework for Macs & the iPhone.

Joining me on the podcast were some great voices -- Danny Greg, Brent Simmons, Mitch Cohen, Colin Wheeler, and of course the host, Scotty.

I really enjoyed being on this show since only a few years ago, I was a newbie in Cocoaland and was gobbling up all of the resources I could find to teach myself how to use Cocoa. Part of what has always drawn me to the Cocoa community is all of the people who are blogging their experiences, open sourcing their code, and giving behind-the-scenes looks at what makes Mac apps tick, so it was great for me to be on a show and try to give back to the community at large and maybe inspire some new folks to keep at it and build Mac apps.

I'd also like to put in a good word for what Scotty's been building over at the Mac Developer Network. There are a number of great shows, both free and members-only, that are definitely worth checking out. Whether you are just getting up to speed or are an old hand at Cocoa and all things Mac dev, Scotty's got something for you. I really enjoy the podcasts that he puts out, ranging from the technical on to shows such as Developer Lives, which goes behind the scenes to profile the lives of Mac developers.

And speaking of developer lives, I'd be remiss if I didn't elaborate a bit about my credentials as a programmer. In the show, I started a discussion about everyone's programming backgrounds and where they started, indicating that I started programming Perl and PHP ten or twelve years ago. What I meant, I guess, was recent programming experience that led you to Cocoa. I then proceeded to get schooled with everyone else's experience, since they went all the way back to their very beginnings.

So, to fill in a bit about my own programming history, I started on a TI-99/4A in the 80s programming BASIC (Mr. Bojangles, anyone?), then moved to both Apple IIe and IBM PCjr (both also BASIC), and only much later, in college, did I get into Perl and PHP in my free time in the late 90s before turning it into a career. Early on, I spent a lot of time on things like making the Jeopardy! theme song play on my TI or typing spy games from a book into my elementary school's IIe.

I now spend most of my time in PHP and Cocoa, pretty evenly divided, and enjoy building solutions that touch on both the client- and the server-side using this experience. I guess what I'm trying to say is that in some way, I guess I always knew I'd be a programmer, as it has always been something I've been interested in. So consider that my full background -- maybe you share a similar one, or maybe Cocoa will be your first programming language. Either way, welcome.

One last note -- don't forget to check out the gag reel at the end of the show. It's pretty funny, at least for me as one of the folks involved.

So, go have a listen!

Announcing the support forums!

forum icon

At last, I'm happy to announce the Code Sorcery Workshop support forums! These forums will gradually become the official support channel for our Mac products Meerkat and Pukka, as well as a place to discuss what's on your mind with regard to our website, potential future products, our services, or happenings in the Mac & Drupal communities.

The forums have been open for a week or two in unannounced form, but have quite expectedly not garnered much activity, so consider this the official "word". Feel free to go to it!

Feature Run-Down

We are using Drupal for the forum solution, which is what is used for the rest of the website as well. I'd like to take a moment to go over some of the features that this provides. In the near future, I also hope to make another post about the more technical details, such as which modules were used, what kind of custom solutions were implemented, and what administrative features are provided on the backend.

Main Page

The main page gives an at-a-glance view of the latest topics, much like any forum software. Posts are organized into containers, such as Mac OS X Products, and below that, forums addressing a particular product or group of topics, such as Pukka. When new topics are posted under a forum, they bubble up to the top.

Forums main page (click to enlarge)

Your Account

To participate in the forums, you must register for an account. With this account, you can maintain a unique identity across all of the posts. You can include as much or as little information as you like, currently including real name, photo or avatar, physical location, and website. This information is only available to other forum users -- only your username is available publicly.

Account page (click to enlarge)

In addition, you get a box in the right sidebar with easy access to My forum posts (posts created by you) and My forum votes (posts you've voted on).

User box


Just like the blog archives and all of the pages on the site, forum topics are searchable. And these searches are able to be bookmarked, so you can easily check back frequently for updates related to a topic you are interested in.

Topic Voting

Aside from easy access to any forum topics that you may have created yourself, you can also vote on anyone else's topics using a zero- to five-star rating system. Perhaps the best use for this feature is that you can use this to flag topics that you are interested in periodically checking back on. Another use might be a tip that you really want others to see or a feature request that you'd like to weigh in on.

The popular topics get aggregated to a special page called top forum topics where they can be easily tracked. I'm hoping that this can be a useful way to chart the future direction of our applications, as well as to more easily resolve important issues affecting many customers.

Topic voting

Feeds, Feeds, Feeds

One of the strongest features of the forums is easy and plentiful RSS feeds. Currently, you can access feeds for:

  • All forum topic activity:
  • Container activity: For example, all posts about Pukka. Just add /feed to the end of any container URL.
  • Topic activity: If you make a post, you subscribe to all comments on the post by clicking the link on the topic page or adding /feed to the URL.

Forum feeds (click to enlarge)


In conclusion, I'm happy to launch the forums and I hope that they will be of benefit to users of our products, Mac, iPhone, and Drupal enthusiasts, and folks interested in our services, for starters. Please, if you have any suggestions or feedback, consider using the General Discussion forum topic.

Enjoy the forums!