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Nov 12 2020
Nov 12

At the Portland Drupal User Group meeting, we had as a special guest, Tim Lehnen (hestenet on drupal.org) from the Drupal Association, who walked us through the new Issue Forks and Merge Requests features on drupal.org. We also talked about how this will help smooth the way for contributors to Drupal projects.

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Links mentioned in the meetup

Blog series on the Developer Tools Initiative

Live preview with TugboatQA

Also mentioned was the newly-launched Live preview with TugboatQA feature!

Contribution opportunities

We also talked about ways folks could get started with contributing to Drupal. Suggestions included:

  • Read the docs! The drupal.org guide, Quick information for new contributors will help you get started contributing to Drupal.
  • Joining the Drupal Slack (drupal.org/slack) community for your local Drupal community (Portland's is #drupal-pdx and asking folks there for suggestions or mentoring.)
  • Participating in an online Drupal camp. Drupal events often have contribution days and mentors to help contributors find issues and learn the process of contributing. DrupalCampNYC 2020 happening now (Nov. 12-14, 2020) is one example. And DrupalCon Europe is coming up in December.

We're excited about the new tools for contributors and thankful for all the work both volunteers and people at the Drupal Association have put into this initiative. #DrupalThanks!

Oct 26 2020
Oct 26

As a tutorial and documentation writer, UX writing is not at the top of my task list, but it's adjacent to the work I do on a day-to-day basis, and is definitely something I'm interested in learning more about.

All those bits and pieces of words -- on labels, buttons, navigation links, error messages, and confirmations -- it turns out they're really important! They communicate to the user where and how to interact with a site, and the results of actions they've taken (among other things). These little messages also tell the user a lot about the company behind the site or app.

UX writers are folks who pore over these messages, tweak them, test one version versus another, and write them to hopefully convey an accurate message at the right time in the proper tone. There's a lot to think about in the area of UX writing, a lot of pitfalls to avoid, and opportunities to explore as well. Fortunately, there are a host of books, articles, and even conferences dedicated to this discipline.

Recently, our marketing coordinator Philippa Stasiuk and I attended the online UX Writer Conference. I heard about it through the Write the Docs Slack community grapevine. (By the way, Write the Docs is a conference for technical writers I heartily recommend.)

The schedule was packed to the brim with sessions, networking, and booth-visiting opportunities, all taking place on the Hopin platform, one of the new "normals" of online conference attending. (DrupalCon, Write the Docs, and BADCamp took place on Hopin as well.)

My main takeaway from the conference was learning about concepts that I would like to take a deeper dive into. "Tone" in UX writing is one of those topics. I caught 1 of the sessions on tone (there were several) and this was my favorite slide. It shows a spectrum of emotions the user may be feeling and a corresponding tone that you as a UX writer should employ in the messages to the user when they are probably feeling a certain way.

Tone spectrum

A slide from Nicole Michaelis' UX Writer Conference presentation: Tonality -- When, Where, and Why?

Nicole gave several great examples, such as how to improve the tone of a message when a customer has just signed up (user is feeling excited) or when their free trial is almost up and you want them to consider signing up and paying (user may be feeling a range of things like busy, demotivated or frustrated).

Incidentally, the presenter, Nicole Michaelis has a podcast I'm looking forward to checking out: Content Rookie: A Podcast on All Things Content.

In another session I attended, Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: UX Writing for Divergent User Bases, Natalie Dunbar shared a number of helpful resources on discovering cognitive biases, including:

Philippa's takeaways were less about the applications to Drupal and the way we're teaching it, and more to do with how to optimize the way we connect with our customers, site visitors, social media followers, etc. Here's hers:

As someone who comes from a writing background, I was very interested -- and glad -- to see so many people who have specialized in UX writing coming from journalism with its direct applications to UX writing via editing, fact checking, and always leading with the most important information.

That was the case with presenter John Caldwell, who spoke about crafting content that connects customers by building trust and loyalty using three key elements:

  • Character: your brand, your core values -- what your company is about
  • Voice: how you bring that character to life -- where the customer relationship is created
  • Tone: mood, emotion -- more momentary language that addresses what's happening now and in context

Building voice and tone upon character are core strategies to demystify complex topics, (which is more Amber's job), but they're also relevant to what I do, which is to shepherd a brand that's built on meaningful connections.

Another key topic that I found relevant to both how we teach Drupal and how we engage with our customers was the importance of empathy. Through the various workshops, the idea of being actively empathetic -- that is, putting yourself in some else's perspective, in the micro moments that make up everything from UX design and tutorial making to social posts -- is key. It's something through which everything we create and say should be filtered (and honestly, something we could use a lot more of in the world in general).

If you found this intriguing, it looks like the UX Writer Conference is happening again online in February 2021. More details on their website, https://uxwriterconference.com/.

Jul 07 2020
Jul 07

DrupalCon Global 2020 will feature presenters from around the world on a virtual platform called Hopin (pronounced "Hop in!"). Drupalize.Me trainers Joe Shindelar and Amber Matz will be presenting sessions and participating in the conference. Both Amber and Joe's sessions will be on Thursday. (Times listed are in UTC. Convert to your time zone with this tool.)

I (Amber) will co-present with Gábor Hojtsy Deep dive: state of Drupal 9 on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 18:15 UTC. We'll dive into details not covered by the Driesnote. You'll learn how new features get into Drupal and how old APIs and libraries get updated in Drupal's release cycle. By the end of the session, you'll better understand what's involved with upgrading to Drupal 9. (And how it's probably not as bad as you might think!)

Joe will present Altering, extending, and enhancing Drupal also on Thursday at 21:15 UTC. There are various ways to extend Drupal without "hacking core" and in this session, you'll get a great overview of what those options are and how to decide which method to use. By the end of the session, you should have a more complete understanding of what the use-cases are for plugins, hooks, services, and events and how (at a high-level) they are implemented.

Osio Labs' (the company that makes Drupalize.Me) sister company Lullabot also has a strong group representing at DrupalCon Global. Check out Lullabots Speaking at DrupalCon Global 2020 to learn more.

Finally, you might be wondering how contribution will work at DrupalCon this year. Contribution groups are being organized at the virtual DrupalCon Global Contributions Room. Browse and join groups or create your own if you'd like to coordinate a sprint for your own Drupal community project. If you'd like to help out with Help Topics (programmers and writers/editors needed), join the Help Topics group. (I am co-maintainer of the core experimental module Help Topics.)

To learn more about the DrupalCon Global platform and attendee experience, we recommend the DrupalCon Global 2020: Attendee Experience Preview.

Register for DrupalCon Global 2020

Jun 24 2020
Jun 24

Layout Builder

Layout Builder, and the related ecosystem of modules, provides a set of powerful tools that allow content creators and site administrators to modify the layout of a page using a drag-and-drop interface. We've published 11 new tutorials to help you Learn Drupal's Layout Builder and create flexible layouts for your Drupal site.

Learn Drupal's Layout Builder

We're working on more tutorials on Layout Builder as well as new tutorials on managing media in Drupal and videos to accompany tutorials in the Views: Create Lists with Drupal series of tutorials.

Happy layout building!

P.S. Drupal 9 has launched! Learn more about the latest major release of Drupal and what it means for tutorial compatibility and your learning journey in our Guide to Drupal 9 video and resources page.

Jun 09 2020
Jun 09

Drupal 9.0 logo On June 3, 2020, Drupal 9.0.0 was released! This is a major version update for Drupal, but the most straightforward update in Drupal's history.

As major version updates in the past have been quite disruptive in bringing new features and APIs, you might be wondering how this update impacts your site and your Drupal learning journey. Will Drupalize.Me Drupal 8 tutorials apply to Drupal 9 sites? Will you have to learn a totally new system with Drupal 9?

Thankfully, there is good news about both those questions. The short answer to the first question is "Yes!" -- the vast majority of our Drupal 8 tutorials will apply to Drupal 9 sites. For the second question, the answer is "No!", you won't have to learn a new system. The exceptions to the question of tutorial compatibility are tutorials which feature APIs that have been removed in Drupal 9, like in SimpleTest for Automated Testing (which we have noted). Also, some contributed modules have updates that we are currently reviewing. They appear in our Search API and Solr tutorial series.

We've put together some resources to get you up to speed with Drupal 9, starting with our Guide to Drupal 9.

What's the deal with Drupal 9?

In this short video, we explain how our Drupal 8 tutorials are compatible with Drupal 9 sites because of the way that Drupal 9 was built inside of Drupal 8.

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Upgrade to Drupal 9

While there's no one-size-fits-all process for upgrading to Drupal 9, by the end of this tutorial you should be able to explain the major differences between Drupal 8 and 9, audit your existing Drupal 8 projects for Drupal 9 readiness, estimate the level of effort involved, and start the process of upgrading.

Learn about a key concept in understanding the difference between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9: deprecated code:

Tools for checking Drupal 9 readiness

On the blog, we've posted a couple of tutorials to help you check your site for Drupal 9 readiness.

May 4, 2020 - 12:47pm

Upgrade status generates a report that serves as a sort of checklist to help you determine whether or not your site is ready to be upgraded to Drupal 9. It packs a lot of useful information into a single report. It's worth taking the time to install it on a copy of your Drupal 8 site and seeing what it has to say.

April 20, 2020 - 1:36pm

Drupal check, and Drupal rector, are two useful command line tools you can use to help jump start the process of updating your Drupal 8 code to ensure it's compatible with Drupal 9. This post includes some notes about the process I went through while testing them out on some of the Drupalize.Me code base.

Community resources

There are a number of great Drupal 9 resources from the Drupal community at large. Here are a few you might want to check out.

How Drupal 9 is made and what is included (Drupal.org) -- This guide includes documentation about the code deprecation process, 3rd-party library changes, module removals, environment requirements, and other important information about Drupal 9 and its future development.

Drupal 9.0.0 released (dri.es) -- From the blog of Drupal project lead and founder, Dries Buytaert

A new Drupal 9 landing page on drupal.org (Drupal.org) -- Drupal.org has launched a shiny new landing page introducing Drupal 9.

Thank you

A heartfelt thank you to all the contributors who made Drupal 9 happen! And a thank you to the Drupal Association for supporting community infrastructure and events that keep Drupal moving forward.

Mar 12 2020
Mar 12

You might have noticed some changes on Drupalize.Me lately. We've just wrapped up a huge content archiving project and I'd like to share what we did and how this will help us move forward with a library of tutorials for Drupal learners that we're committed to keeping up-to-date.

Drupalize.Me has a long history of Drupal training that started with in-person workshops, DVDs, and even a multi-year conference (Do It With Drupal or DIWD) from Lullabot. Those DVDs on site building, module development, theming, jQuery, SEO, and more -- they were the start of the library of Drupal training videos on Drupalize.Me. And they've been on the site for a very long time.

During Drupal 7's life cycle (up to Drupal 8's release), we produced videos on core competencies such as module development, theming, and site building. We also covered a number of contributed modules including Views, Panels, and Webform.

When Drupal 8 was released in November of 2015, we were already daunted by the burden of our outdated content. Video-only tutorials made updates that much more cumbersome. We wanted a developer-friendly, code-copy-pasteable format as well as a feasible way to keep Drupal 8 content up-to-date with the new scheduled minor releases. So, we switched to a written-first format and augmented with video.

While this allowed us to move forward more rapidly with Drupal 8 tutorials and keep them updated with every minor release, we still had the baggage of the Drupal 6 and 7 (and other non-Drupal) video tutorials.

As the primary content manager for Drupalize.Me, I felt the pain of trying to manage approximately 1900 published tutorial and video nodes keenly. I felt that if we were going to effectively move forward with new content for Drupal 8 and 9, we needed to address the old content that was intermingling with the new, misleading learners and causing confusion. Frankly, it was overwhelming.

So what did we do? First, we inventoried our content. I was able to divide our material into manageable buckets by content (Drupal 6, Drupal 7, Drupal 8, and non-Drupal), and by format (written+video and video only). I then created a policy -- an outdated content flowchart -- that would help me decide what to do with different categories of outdated content. I presented my policy recommendation and flowchart to the team and got the "green light" to move forward with an audit focused on identifying outdated or misleading content.

One key takeaway during this point in the process was we decided to provide 2 levels of "archiving":

  1. Archive with a disclaimer and provide alternative resources if possible.
  2. Unpublish and redirect to a relevant page if possible.

I audited every single last one of our videos, tutorials, and collection pages and decided whether they should be archived, and at which level. In the process, I dug up alternative resources, updated pertinent topic pages, and basically went a little crazy with spreadsheets. I even tinkered a bit with Google Data Studio.

After our tech team implemented some new archiving and alternative resources fields on our content types, I got to work editing nodes and marking old content as archived, providing alternative resources where possible, and unpublishing the whole of our Drupal 6 and DIWD videos (except jQuery videos that also pertained to Drupal 7). It was amazingly tedious, but it's now done!

  • Drupal 6 content has been removed. Some of it was redirected to Drupal 7 counterparts.
  • Drupal 7 content has not been removed. We know there are still a lot of Drupal 7 users and site maintainers out there. This content has been marked as archived and you will see a banner across the top indicating so. Where possible, alternative resources are listed to point you to Drupal 8 material.
  • Non-Drupal content was archived or unpublished on a case-by-case basis. The bulk of it was marked as archived and remains on the site.
  • Drupal 8 content is here to stay for the time being. We will be forking our tutorial repository and maintaining Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 versions of our tutorials through Drupal 8's lifetime. Given how major releases now work in Drupal, these branches will be the same for a while and will diverge over time.

With content archiving complete, we hope this will provide clarity to our members about which content we are actively committed to keeping up-to-date and which content we consider archived and provided as-is. We also hope in many cases you will find more pertinent Drupal 8 content in the additional resources listed for much of our archived content.

So much for the past. What about the future of Drupalize.Me content? Here are a few of our content goals for this year.

  1. Our #1 priority is to update our Drupal 8 content with each minor version release. We are currently up-to-date with 8.8.0.
  2. Currently undergoing final stage peer review: a revamp of our popular React and Drupal tutorial series!
  3. Add videos to more of our Drupal 8 written tutorials. We will be starting on this immediately, creating videos for both our Content Moderation and Views series.
  4. Review and update Drupal 8 series, including contributing updates to the Drupal 8 User Guide community project, of which we host a fork.
  5. Create new tutorials for Layout Builder, now in core.
  6. Create new tutorials for Media, now in core.

We're excited to move forward with new videos and written tutorials on Drupal 8 (and 9). We'll be focusing the blog on #d9readiness posts in anticipation of both Drupal 9's release sometime in 2020 inspired by this State of Drupal 9 presentation (check out the open sourced slide deck). Sign up for our newsletter (see link in the footer) to get an email when the blog is updated.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web