very helpful lioness

Diaries of a Core Maintainer #6: A tale of two developers

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 18:58 -- webchick

(Hey, neat! This was mentioned on ZDNet: Perfectionists need not apply.)

Most people in the free software community have probably read Eric S. Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which compares and contrasts two free software development models: the Cathedral style (think, "perfectionism") and the Bazaar style (think, "chaos").

While Drupal itself is clearly an open, Bazaar-style project, many individuals in the Drupal community tend to take the perfectionist approach to development. After all, *thousands* of people will be using this code, and likely *hundreds* of developers carefully inspecting its inner-workings. How embarrassing would it be for another developer to stumble across a "no-brainer" bug in your code? Best to sit on things until you know it's really solid before putting it out there in front of people. Right?

Sure, that sounds logical. But in my experience, people who take this approach to development in an open source community, and especially the Drupal community, are at a severe disadvantage to those who embrace the chaos and put their changes out in front of everyone as they're going along, warts and all.

I'll attempt to illustrate this by way of a dramatization comparing the problem-solving approach of two hypothetical Drupal developers: Sloppy Sam, and Perfectionist Pat.

Contributor Spotlight: Daniel F. Kudwien

Thu, 01/08/2009 - 16:00 -- webchick

It's 2009, and Contributor Spotlight is back! This edition, we focus on Daniel F. Kudwien (sun on drupal.org and "tha_sun" in #drupal), CEO of Unleashed Mind.

Daniel is a rock-star Drupal coder who has contributed too many awesome modules to count. A few that you might be familiar with are Administration Menu, which makes the Drupal administrative interface a breeze to use, Upgrade Status, which gives you details on the porting status of your modules between major Drupal versions, and WYSIWYG API, a module with the goal to provide a single, centralized way to add any graphical editor you can imagine to Drupal.

Daniel has a real knack for staring down an extremely complicated problem, ruthlessly slapping away distractions, and coming up with an ingenious solution that not only solves the original problem, but does so with elegance.

Which brings us to the tale of node #8: Let users cancel their accounts.

node/8 is the oldest open Drupal core issue in existence, dating back to 2001. The deceptively simple title makes it seem like this would be a brain-dead problem to solve. Just provide a button for users to delete their own accounts. Duh! What's the problem?

The problem is, what happens when that button is clicked? Is the user account deleted from the database, or only blocked? Some organizations have legal requirements to retain data for 180 days, others have legal requirements to remove all traces of their users. But even trickier, what happens to the content that the user posted? Is it deleted as well? Scrubbed of contents? Attributed to the anonymous user? Simply unpublished? What about other users' content that might reference content posted by removed users, or might be direct replies? Do they get the axe, too?

If you read the issue comments, you will see people coming up with absolutely no shortage of opinions on all of the above, and multiple times, this has caused the issue to go completely off the rails. Most of us had lost hope, thinking node/8 would never get solved.

And then along came Daniel.

With swift precision, Daniel managed to distill the use cases down to the four most common, provide a hook so that other modules can cut in and do their business, and all the while rallying the troops in #drupal to contribute where they could, either by bouncing around ideas or providing language improvements or reviewing the code. And! I'm happy to report that node/8 was fixed at last earlier today, January 8... 8 days after Daniel began his journey. :) This was an inspiring process to watch and to be a part of, and showed that anything is possible if we all band together.

So, who is this mystery man? Is he tenacious, a little bit insane, or both? ;) Find out, in the following interview!

Diaries of a Core Maintainer #5: The 6-pass patch review

Mon, 11/10/2008 - 13:47 -- webchick

I would love to see a series of blog posts from Drupal developers on patch review strategies they employ, so we can share some tips and tricks and ramp up our collective review IQs. I'll start it off with mine. I call it "The 6-Pass Patch Review" (wittier names welcome! ;))

To begin, crack open your text editor. You'll use it to jot down notes and questions as you go through each of these passes. Other than that, no fancy tools are required to do most of this other than a keen set of eyes, an inquisitive mind, and the ability to empathize with people new to Drupal and put yourself in their shoes. (Of course, if you are relatively new to Drupal, then patch review can actually come easier for you than other people. :) Start today!)

Interview in The Next Women

Wed, 10/29/2008 - 18:30 -- webchick

Back at Drupalcon Szeged, I sat down with Michelle Pace from The Next Women to rave all about Drupal and the Drupal community for an hour or so. :) It was really interesting talking to her about her first impressions at Drupalcon and most of our discussions centered around what makes an open source community tick.

You can check out her write-up over at Sourcing Angie Byron.

Thanks, Michelle!

If table-based layouts offend you on a deeply personal level, we need your help!

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 05:46 -- webchick

As a standards zealot, one of the things I'd personally love to see happen in Drupal 7 is the eradication of table-based layouts. I'm giving stink-eye directly at you, Pushbutton, Chameleon, and Bluemarine. These themes are a strange abberation from the Drupal project's otherwise very meticulous attention to detail regarding web standards, and I'm quite positive that they directly contribute to the Drupal project's ongoing struggles to attract and retain visual designers. Garland is a huge step up, but it was never designed to be an easy to modify base theme, and unless designers happen to stumble across something like Zen, I imagine they come away thinking that Drupal's markup is ugly and antiquated and go to something a bit nicer out of the box like WordPress.

I want Drupal 7 to be an incredible release that ramps up the user experience by 1,000-fold, and making Drupal more accessible to designers and themers (along with an accompanying selection of great looking designs out of the box) is a huge part of that. Fortunately, I'm not alone!

In coordination with several prominent members of Drupal's design/theming community, including Joon Park, John Wilkins, Brad Bowman, Stephanie Pakrul, and Earl Miles, we've come up with what we think is a workable plan for accomplishing these goals.

The overall gist is:

  1. Replace Drupal's default markup with a flexible, standards-based framework that's easy to extend.
  2. Hold a theming contest which uses the base markup, and select the best N designs to go into core as sub-themes.
  3. Remove the old, crufty themes and replace them with the new, gorgeous ones.
  4. Profit!

So if you either a) are a web standards zealot who wants to lend your expertise to the discussion on selecting the default markup, or b) have some time / energy / etc. to help organize a theming contest, please coordinate over at http://groups.drupal.org/node/16200!

Lost all e-mail from Oct. 14 - 20 >:\

Tue, 10/21/2008 - 16:01 -- webchick

If you sent me a personal e-mail in the past week, I no longer have it. >:\ Apparently either DreamHost or Thunderbird choked to death on the 20,262 e-mails I had waiting for me after I came back from vacation and thought it'd be an awesome idea to just give up and delete them all. THANKS. Thankfully, @lullabot.com goes somewhere else, so those are ok.

On a related note, anyone know of any decent e-mail providers? :P

Sigh. :(


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