Training and Development for Drupal


One off lessons and demi-trainings, usually via blog.

Cambridge, MA: Feb 13, 2009

Feb 13 2009 - 9:30am - 6:00pm

Drupaltherapy and Cambridge Community Television have buddied up to offer a one-day Drupal training. This training will take place on Feb 13, 9:30AM-6:00PM, at Cambridge Community Television in Cambridge, MA, lead by Sean Effel, an experienced Drupal trainer. The cost for this 8-hour bootcamp style training is $350.00 per seat and it will cover everything a beginner or novice should know about Drupal, from installation and configuration to contributed modules and themes. Even seasoned web professionals have enjoyed these bootcamps for helping to glue together the pieces of Drupal knowledge that inform better understanding of the whole project.

The proceeds of this class directly support Cambridge Community Television's capacity to provide low cost media production training to residents in Cambridge, MA. CCTV is not only a television station featuring works produced by city residents, it is also an educational center offering classes in digital videography, digital video editing, web design, and more.

To register for the class, follow this link.

Vote for my session proposal on Drupal training!

I've just snaked a session proposal in under the deadline for Drupalcon in DC. I just read that the proposal deadline was closing tonight, and a quick survey of the proposals didn't turn up anything in the training vein, I decided to put in my bid. I mean, what would Drupalcon be without it's one token session on training for Drupal users, right?

Well, I jammed together a proposal that is currently shaped like this:

"As fresh Drupal talent and more Drupal development shops enter the picture it is important to foster and raise supportive training operations as well. Speakers will share experiences on student knowledge assessments, curricula building, training theory, and evaluation techniques all based on familiar training scenarios. You'll walk away with a direction for implementing your own in-house training programs."

It's certainly very broad but my interest is in distributing the capacity to provide training altogether. I'd like to see more individuals offering training services and more documentation being created and added to the heap of Drupal knowledge. Right on the heels of this discussion is that of a common certification program, and whether this is within the scope of this workshop remains to be seen. I hope someone will help me make a case for one way or another.

I'd like to put together a panel that can speak to their experiences in answering the needs of their own clients in terms of training and building curriculum of all scales. Id like to also discuss models for training that are effective, participatory, and commercially viable so so that more companies do it (and do it well) for their own clients.

I've got to draw the right speakers into this discussion and I'm taking nominations. And, of course, I've got to pimp this workshop enough so that it gets voted up on the Drupalcon website. So, please, look it over and weigh in.

Views + Views Slideshow Screencast

FAIL (the browser should render some flash content, not this).

If you like this screencast, you can show it by pitching in to a special fundraising effort. (And here's why.)

Here is a fast screencast on creating slideshows using the Views and Views Slideshow modules.

Views Slideshow provides a new display style to any view called "slideshow". It uses jQuery to display screens of content on a rotating basis. Slideshows can be text, photo, video, or any sort of node, comment, or user. Users can even pause the slideshow just by hovering the mouse over the slideshow area.

To make the best use of this screencast it would be awesome to have some prior exposure to the Views module for Drupal 6. You should also have working knowledge of Drupal including the installation of contributed modules.

New Drupal 6 theme: Freestyle

I'm happy to announce that my first Drupal theme has been contributed and released to the Drupal community. The theme, called Freestyle, is a conversion of an excellent HTML template originally designed by Tony Pires. It's pink, it's yellow, it's different. Hopefully it will be good fun for many Drupal users all over.

Check it out:

There is a short to-to list mainly concentrated in strengthening the admin layout styles, making an maintenance override page, and killing a nagging IE clear:block problem. Aside from this the dev version is happy and on its way to adolescence.

Drop me a line, or help out on the issue queue, I would appreciate either.

Preparing a cute little theme for contrib

I'm finally following up on a threat I made in class to post a bunch of the themes that I created during past themeing workshop examples. I have an element that I teach on converting simple HTML templates into full fledged Drupal themes, as you can see here.

So the template that I pulled out to contribute was a great old school "punk" styled blog layout originally released as a free HTML template by Tony Pires. Tony's free template called "Free Style" was distributed in a batch of 2500 free HTML templates that are given free to new customers of a particular web hosting plan. I gobbled it up for a class because it had a little more teeth than some other Drupal themes and it was a great example to play with.

By "punk" I think the original author meant that it harkens to pink and yellow neon spray paint as a graffiti backdrop to a blocky stencil-like typeface. It's about as representative of anti-establishment rock n' roll as dreadlocked yellow smilies are of the reggae movement. But it has some cool things going for it like some nice positive and negative space usage and some torn edge styling almost like a DIY flyer printed in your friend's basement.

This theme could arguably align with a skateboarding style, which may have been the other element the author wanted to tap. The ink splash accent at the bottom is a dead giveaway to a well characterized style of the 1990's. I'm no style expert, I grew up in the 80's, conveniently right between the punks of the 70's and the skaters of the 90's.

So what I've done is walk through my tutorial to swap in Drupal theme elements and do my best to style the admin layouts. I've hit the major points but I'm hoping someone else with a smarter nose for themeing will pitch in help bang out the nuances. I'm also seeking CSS folks who can talk to Windows browser compatibility. With community feedback and support this could be a great little theme that is a bit unlike the others.

Apart from posting patch files on the forums and issue trackers, this will by my first direct contribution to the Drupal project and I'm pretty excited. I have an application open to the CVS repository at for an account to take this little theme to the big time.

I'll follow up here when the dev version theme is properly contributed and ready to try out.

Shared host eats its final Drupal site...

While I was away on vacation last week, got hosed by the shared hosting provider I've grown to hate. Days later I was informed that "due to dozens of database queries per second for several hours", all account services were suspended. Dozens of queries is exactly what a database should do, but apparently not for my twitchy host.

This reinforces one of my workshop lessons about shared web hosting services, the you-get-what-you-pay-for lesson. I've configured and managed Drupal in environments from shared to dedicated and the difference in price is reflected most brightly by the level of response and accountability. Dollar per pound, customers shouldn't really expect top levels of service for $4.99/mo.

There are good tips out there on reducing resource consumption, from caching and CSS aggregating as told by John Forsythe to optimizing your custom database queries especially in views.

But nothing can prepare you for a cheapo host pulling the plug and heading home for the weekend. No sites and no email, I was inches from a nice cliff I could have thrown myself from (pictured above). Drupaltherapy is now hosted by a new company and shouldn't be winking out any time soon.

Apologies to any folks who looked but could not find.

How I converted my HTML template into a Drupal 6 theme

In my recent Boston Drupaltherapy workshop I got stuck on an in-class example of how to convert a well-formed HTML template into a Drupal 6 theme. I was showing this off as an example for how new Drupal users could attack themeing in a lightweigh way by using an HTML template as a starting point. I picked a simple HTML template that I found with a free license on a free HTML template site.

The excercise uses Drupal's core default theme called Garland and mercilessly steals portions of theme code from it to paste into the correct places in the new HTML template. I've got screenshots below that show the windows for Garland open right beside my HTML template window so I can make direct comparisons between the files and their contents.

Here is my original default theme and some sample content:

Here is the unviolated HTML theme, Blackfairy, consisting of one HTML file and one CSS file:

 read more »

Tying Public Access Television to Drupal

I work in PEG access television and had the pleasure to present at the Alliance for Community Media national conference.

PEG (public, educational and government) access television is a model that provides local residents access to the local cable systems in their communities to produce and distribute their local perspectives within their cities. A lot of stuff comes along with that deal from the cable company, from the city, and from private non-profits. You can read all about that here if you want to learn more.

PEG faces challenges in adopting web-based distribution methods because of some very specific funding stream problems. The federal government requires cable companies to turn over a small percentage of revenue in each municipality (and lately to entire states with statewide franchising agreements) to make television. PEG organizations face risks by entering an internet-based video distribution market with their local content that cable providers and local governments may eliminate their funding streams because they are no longer making television.

With this picture fully painted, this conference workshop highlighted a number of organizations who are experimenting with Drupal as a platform to replace aspects of their television infrastructure. There are a bunch of projects in development around this PEG industry and I wanted to point some of them out. read more »

Filefield + jQuery Media Screencast

FAIL (the browser should render some flash content, not this).

If you like this screencast, you can show it by pitching in to a special fundraising effort. (And here's why.)

Here is a fast lesson on one of the many (many) ways of hosting and presenting video on your own Drupal website. read more »

Drupaltherapy 1-Year Retrospective

Drupaltherapy, my Drupal training operation based out of the Boston area, turns one year old this month. So as things go, eight therapies and several housecalls into this effort, I'm holding a little anniversary party for myself. In addition to some new collaborations, new Boston trainingopportunities and a good start on a new screencasting series, I thought I would write up a small reflection on the last year of Drupal therapy practice.

When I first tried these waters in 2006 through some workshops at Cambridge Community Television it was clear that there was a very hungry audience who needed user and admin Drupal training big time. Offering many more workshops through CCTV and then eventually on my own ticket, I've had the chance to train, guide and influence several hundred new Drupal users in the short span of a year. Even more so, I learned quite a bit about this spectrum of the Drupal user base and wanted to share a couple of the interesting lessons I've taken home. read more »

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