Training and Development for Drupal

Recent Prescriptions

If you've enjoyed Drupaltherapy's screencasts...

Dear Drupal community,

If you've enjoyed the Drupal 5, 6 and 7 screencasts I've produced in the last few years, then I'd like to ask you to direct your appreciation to a fundraising effort for a non-profit organization that uses Drupal in some pretty neat ways.

I've been the web developer for Cambridge Community Television's Drupal-based website since 2005, and I'm also the associate director. CCTV is a 501c3 private non-profit that helps Cambridge residents use new technologies to engage in local issues - through television, radio and the internet. I cut my teeth on Drupal 4-something in launching CCTV's first iterations of its community mapping tool and facilitated civic journalism program. CCTV has nudged along a number well-loved contributed modules from the Video module to the Embedded Media Module, and directly funded a number of helpful community efforts - such as a migration script for moving between Image and Imagefield modules. It's a little organization but it has spunk!

Now, I'm hoping it's not too inappropriate to ask my screencast watchers to, if they are so inclined, show any small amount of appreciation by pitching in to CCTV's fundraising efforts. A couple of dollars or whatever. They are moving to a new facility and it's very expensive and disruptive to their operations - including the tiny improvements CCTV is normally capable of making to Drupal and the community at large. If you're in the Boston area then I'll cook you a burger at a special donor BBQ at the end of the summer.

Thanks for letting me pitch this and thanks for any support you can lend CCTV.

Sean Effel

Book Review: Drupal Intranets with Open Atrium

Before getting into the details of the book I should point out that Open Atrium is a first class example of a Drupal distribution, a specially customized installation profile for Drupal packaged up with modules, configs and data to meet specific needs. Working with a "distro" package is a great way to cut back on time with a complete solution rather than building the same tools from scratch. I've read through this book with an interest in picking apart Open Atrium to learn how to do my own distribution for Drupal.

The book covers the install, configuration and customization of this flavor of Drupal very well. The Open Atrium intranet tool is well suited to collaborative work within an organization or business, and the book covers those details very well. There is a tight walk through of configuring new work groups in chapter six that is even better than many of the online documentation for the vanilla Organic Groups module for Drupal, which is exactly what Open Atrium uses. The instruction is thoughtful and concise, people looking for an Open Atrium resource will likely find this book useful.

There could have been a better job of helping a reader from an organization visualize the power of the Open Atrium environment. The examples in the various chapters did not inspire me to solve my organization's problems with their tool, but despite these weak examples I can vouch for the power of the tools myself based on my personal experience as a developer. If you are reading this and trying to decide if Open Atrium would be a good tool for your office then take my word that it will be excellent even if this book doesn't help you envision it up front.

I do not recommend that new Drupal users pick up this book as a means of learning Drupal itself. The title and tagline of the book do not make it clear that Open Atrium is a custom installation of Drupal, I am concerned that new users would pick up this book because of the price and availability and get their new learning all mixed up. I also found a few errors, typos, etc, that one can generally attribute to the nature of a book about open source technology - the books are written quickly to keep up with the development cycles of their subjects and as a result may fall out of date very quickly or overlook some of the fine details. Packt Publishing produces a lot of books on the topic of Drupal and generally their authors do a pretty good job.

Drupaltherapy Training session in Boston: April 29,2011.

We're breaking the seal on our next wave of Drupal 7 training in the Boston area for April 29, 2010. Now that Drupal 7 has a full fledged release, and Drupalcon has settled down, we anticipate folks in this area will need another opportunity for basic to novice level training. Drupal "therapy" sessions take a holistic approach to learning the software package, starting at the ground level and moving up through the length of the day. If you're a new Drupal site admin, or fledgling developer, or recent Drupal evangelist, or just a straight up hobbyist, then this training might be great for you. Also, if you're one of the self-taught types that learns by doing, this workshop might help close a number of gaps for you. Take a look at the training announcement.

A note to you seasoned developers in the Boston area. These trainings are a great opportunity for that client of yours form whom you have just completed a new Drupal-based website. Trainings offered by third party trainers are a great value to your clients, while not competing for their loyalty as customers. If you've got some clients that need Drupal site admin skills, direct them to our April opportunity.

Book Review: Drupal 7 First Look

I've had the chance to read another Packt Publishing title called Drupal 7 First Look by Mark Noble. I thought I would put down a few thoughts.

I lead Drupal administration and development training on a fairly regular basis and I'm always a little sensitive to instructional books. It's not easy teaching through literature and it's especially difficult to connect the right learner to the right level of literature to be useful to learning. That has been my complaint with many of the Packt titles in the last two years. The top notch authors are very attractive to Drupal learners, but those authors present their concepts with an assumption that readers have the right background. With Noble's book, the intended audience is clearly defined and makes this book more effective that the other's I've read. I have considered including this book as part of the student training material package for workshops I lead.

For the Drupal site administrators who are intending to make the transition to Drupal 7 soon, this will be a great resource. Many of the new admin level features and methods are exposed and the screenshots are useful. The installation walkthrough would be helpful for those who haven't tried it themselves, though it was a little brief. Explanations of the new core modules were great.

The real value comes in the later chapters when Noble breaks down the API changes for developers. Chapter 7 describes some very specific API improvements within Drupal that will impact the work of many developers throughout the community - this chapter is a great guide to updating your own Drupal 6 modules. Theme changes are covered well in earlier chapters, too.

Altogether, I think the book is presented well to the administrator and developer level Drupal users. It would not be useful to new Drupal users as it skirts around some of the fundamentals of the software, but there are other books in Packt's catalog that would be good for that. Drupal 7 First Look can be found here.

Three New Instructional Screencasts

With some extra time on my hands I've produced some new screencasts on a few Drupal 7 topics. I found that video lessons like these go a long way for keeping my group therapy trainings on track. When a training client asks, "Hey, man, do you know anything about...", then I can respond with a "Sure, spend some time at this URL." If the screencast is solid and filled with great information then i feel great about referring people there when I can't give their questions the attention they deserve. I consult with a lot of new Drupal folks who need the following things, so here are the lessons for everyone to enjoy:

They are all CC licensed, feel free to sharealike. read more »

Boston, MA: Dec 6, 2010

Dec 6 2010 - 9:00am - 5:00pm

Hooray! The first Drupal 7 beta release just went live a few hours ago, and that's making us very happy. You, too?

We would like to announce this newest Drupal training opportunity that will take place on Monday, Dec 6, 2010, from 9:00AM to 5:00PM at CompuWorks in sunny Boston, MA. If you've enjoyed the Drupaltherapy screencasts then this is your chance to spend a day with the same level of high quality instruction in a supportive learning environment.

This intensive all-day workshop will arm new and novice users with fresh Drupal 7 skills including installation, configuration, core functions, theme development, and dose of Drupal stunt driving. We provide high quality Drupal instruction in a price bracket that non-profits and small businesses can afford. You'll get eight solid hours of training for a great rate.

If you want a kick start to the Drupal project then this class will give you a good one. Expect a dizzying overview to set you on course to better understanding with Drupal. These classes book full very quickly, so register early! Deadline to register is Nov 30, 2010. To learn more about these classes, check out the FAQ.

PS. Did we mention we'll be teaching Drupal 7? Oh, right, we pointed that out already.


Announcing "Booster Shots" for Drupal 7

Yes, we here at Drupaltherapy know you're so excited to roll up your sleeves and get dirty with Drupal 7. The only thing holding you back are a few nasty bugs. Well, before you start sticking your nose into features and code it's never been in before, you should take a couple of proactive steps to make sure your experience is a healthy and productive one.

Drupaltherapy announces Booster Shots for Drupal 7, a series of half day courses designed to keep beginner and intermediate Drupal users in the know on changes in Drupal 7. All Booster Shots take place in Boston, MA, on September 17, 2010, in two identical training sessions with your trusted Drupaltherapist, Sean Effel.

Consider this your immunization against shock, surprise and confusion when you see the new admin interface. You may likely avoid lightheadedness and fainting when you see D7's baked in field and file support, not to mention the native image handling solution. We can help you be prepared for the new season of Drupal development ahead of us rather than let this new environment get the better of you.

Please take a moment to see our offerings, Booster Shots or otherwise.

Vindicated by History (maybe)

About two years ago, I filed a common complaint about the muddiness of Drupal's terminology. So that blog post was addressing the lack of clarity of terms like story/page/post/content and some other things like the "content construction kit" that doesn't actually make content. As a trainer I get to explain these terms over and over again.

Well, I was thinking back to that post while perusing the admin menus of Drupal 7 and I was pleased to see some of the changes (for the better) that have been implemented since May 2008. I noticed that the "Story" content type is now called "Article", CCK's port into core is now called Fields, and even the area that was called "User Management" is being called "People" which was a thought I suggested that earned me a hearty scoffing. That's fine, I've gotten used to taking a little heat as one of those guys that works at the intersection between developers and other people, but I feel relieved that these terms will make it easier for my trainees gel their understanding of the concepts.

No doubt the people joining the Drupal project now can thank all the usability testing that the Drupal Association facilitated, as well as the influence of the D7UX effort, for not having to suffer through some muddy times.

Of course, there are new terms to use and learn - like the difference between "Entities" and "Bundles" in the Fields API. Let's see how my students approach that vocabulary on May 24.

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