Aug 23 2011
Aug 23

Views3 UI

Views UI Design

Every site builder new to Drupal ought to learn and get used to Views in order to be able to build really flexible websites without writing code.
The current UI is kind of hard for beginners although it is much better than the one Views 1 had.

In order to achieve further improvements within the View UI, Acquia , a Drupal company founded by Drupal creator Dries Buytaert , asked its interaction designer Jeff Noyes to brainstorm and discuss designs with merlinofchaos, the maintainer of Views.

Their goal is to integrate Views 3 into Drupal
Gardens
, which provides customizable starter Drupal packages that can be set up an configurated in a few minutes and are then also hosted by Acquia.
The target group for Drupal Gardens is an audience with presumably little experience with module as complex as Views, thus, the Views 3 UI should be redesinged in order to make it more intuitive.

Codesprint

After Jeff's mockups were finalized, Acquia's engineering team knew they would need help from the Views maintainers to implement the design quickly enough, so they decided to host a code sprint.
Last week (14-18 February 2011), a group of developers met in San Jose (CA, US) and was joined virtually by others to further develop the new Views UI.

The working location for those developers from various parts of the globe was an apartement booked by Acquia, where they put together developers from all over the world, paying their travel costs and other expenses.

After a relaxing Sunday evening the work started the next morning.
Having determined the current state of the code, everyone got started on a specific part. On some days we had video-meetings with Jeff to discuss issues with the design.

During the day and the evening, and sometimes even at night, the hacking went on at incredible speed.

UI Changes/Designs

The new UI has many changes, here are just some of them:

  • A new wizard in order to create new views easily and provide some default settings.
    So for example if you create a new node view, the "node/content: published filter" is added by default.
  • A new listing of existing views integrated into CTools Export UI. So every module which uses CTools Export UI (and you should) has some kind of similar listing interface.
  • completely reorganized view edit screen.
  • The settings links got ordered/grouped by importance. See the screenshot [#1]
  • Every setting appears now by default in a modal
  • The add new field/filter/argument/sort form was redone. It provides some serious awesomeness[#2]
  • "Search-as-you-type" form
  • a listing of already added items is now at the bottom
  • the filter configuration page was completely redone in order to provide the 80% most frequent usecases as easy as possible.
  • The 80% usecase was considered in all areas of the new UI. So important stuff got moved up and less important stuff got moved into the "more" fieldset.
  • the same was done for arguments, fields and stuff like that, so, for example, the field configuration form is much smaller when you open it.[#3]
  • in order to calm down everyone: No views features were removed. Some bugs even got fixed.
  • Configure your view in the preview: You have contextual links for editing/adding new elements directly in the preview.[#4]
  • View templates: You can provide some default views which act as templates. The difference to a default view is that you "clone" the view template every time you use it.
  • Many more things that would exceed the average size of a blog entry Wink

If you want to try out the new UI you have to checkout the current UI from drupal.org/github or wait until it's merged into the official version of views.

Sadly enough, there's still one serious issue with the new interface: Once you get used to it, it's really hard to go back to the old one.

At the end of the week we nearly finished the work and the crowd scattered again. Some work also got started to provide an automatic migration of views for renamed tables from d6 to d7. This upgrade path is the main blocker for a beta.

People involved in making the new UI a reality:

Thanks for the really great week!
Thanks also to erdfisch for supporting me that week and in general, during my involvement in Views.

Sep 08 2010
Sep 08

By Ramona Fischer

A successful premiere: With 1 200 attendees from 52 countries, DrupalCon in Copenhagen (24th - 27th Aug) was the largest Drupal conference in Europe so far. In addition to the sessions, networking was one of the most important agenda highlights at the four-day conference. The conference featured its own bar (the "FooBar"), the premiere of the first Drupal rock band ("The Kitten Killers "), and a beer brewed especially for the event ("AwesomeSauce"). These were just some of the touches added by the organisers to foster the community spirit. What expectations did attendees have when arriving at DrupalCon? What challenges did the organisers face? And where is the community heading?

"I want to connect and expand my professional network," Drupal-programmer Julien Dubois (CommerceGuys , Paris) says. Attending DrupalCon for the first time, the 23-year-old has especially been looking forward to meeting people he already knows from the web. "It is amazing to be able to put a face to the names." Seeing familiar and new faces has also been the reason for which Drupal-consultant and author Hagen Graf (France) decided to attend the conference. "I have been involved with the community for a long time and find it most interesting to see who is still here and who is new", says Graf who has written various specialised books about Drupal. "Socialising is key to Drupal conferences". During the day people are discussing technical matters, Graf says, whereas at night at the bar the "real talks" take place. Bringing home contracts is what web producer Robert O'Connor (booksellers.com , London) came for. "I am looking for skilled Themers, Designers and Developers with whom we could work together in a project partnership." O'Connor, who is lead developer and was sent by his manager to DrupalCon for the first time, also attended for strategic reasons. "We are interested in the business models our competitors use and how they earn money with Drupal."

"Evolution is healthy"

The fact that more, and larger business are taking an interest in Drupal was quite noticeable at this year's DrupalCon. Whether freelancer, small or medium-sized company or major market player like IBM and Accenture: more and more people and companies are using the open sourced CMS to pay their bills. Their various interests put the community in motion. "Changes within the community are part of a natural evolution" says "User Number One", Dries Buytaert (Acquia , Belgium). The inventor of Drupal considers growth to be an opportunity: "We need to be open and adapt to changes in the market, otherwise we will stagnate." Drupal-trainer Bèr Kessels (Netherlands) knows how much the Drupal community has developed over the past years. The IT-expert joined the Drupal community in the early stages. "Our very first 'DrupalCons' took place in small meeting rooms, where internet access broke down on a regular basis and the pizza deliverer came by bicycle." At the second DrupalCon in Amsterdam various OpenSource conferences took place at the same time, among others a meeting of O'Reilly, the Drupal expert remembers. "Little by little the O'Reilly guys joined us because Drupal was much more interesting." This familial "every-body-knows-each-other" feeling is vanishing the more Drupal spreads, Kessels regrets. "On the other hand, however, the event becomes much more professional in terms of technnique and contents."

A matter of location

A symbol of the changes in the community are the dimension and infrastructure of DrupalCon. "In the beginning it was enough to have a room for 30 to 40 people, which was often available for free at some university", says the event manager of Drupal Association , Cary Gordon (Cherry Hill Company, California). With turnout numbers of currently 1,200 or 3,000 in San Francisco (USA, 2010), finding a scalable location is one of the biggest challenges the organisers have to face, he says. This is confimed by Copenhagen team-lead Morten Birch Heide-Jørgensen : "Our goal was to establish convenient surrounding conditions, connecting the community in a centrally located venue." says the web designer, who estimates his work input for the organisation of DrupalCon to be 800 to 1,000 working hours. After long discussions, they had to switch to Bella Center since a location in the inner city wasn't affordable, he says. A new model and possible solution for the location problem is being introduced by the team of DrupalCon 2011 in Chicago (USA). Organiser Tiffany Farriss revealed on DrupalCon in Copenhagen: "Everything's going to be concentrated in one location: DrupalCon attendees are taking over an entire hotel."

Plattform for exchange and inspiration

Drupal pioneer Dries Buytaert knows how important personal meet-ups are for the community: conferences like DrupalCon are vital for the community because people step out of anonymity and get to know the person behind a handle, the Drupal-inventor says. "Without conferences we could not work together". This is confirmed by the Drupal Association's infrastructure manager, Gerhard Killesreiter (Freiburg, Germany). Activities in local usergroups, drupalcamps and code sprints are just as important, the Drupal consultant adds. According to him, innovation and development take place on a local level. "The Drupal-spark originates locally", Killesreiter says. Web developer Robert O'Connor seems to have already caught the DrupalCon spark: "Once back in London, I will join the local Drupal community", O'Connor said before heading home.

A personal conclusion

My very first DrupalCon; it was an adventurous arrival, and an even more adventurous departure. And in between I had numerous interesting talks with amazing people about the whole world and Drupal. Despite the modest food rations at the 'Con, and the altogether immodest prices of Danish food elsewhere, I somehow managed to scratch by without spending too much money (at least by some definition of too much).

To me, DrupalCon in Copenhagen was an amazing and unique experience, which I won't forget too quickly. This is why I especially would like to thank erdfisch and The Drupal Initiative who made this adventure possible for me. And I would like to thank all those who shared their experience and thoughts with me, giving me the possibility to wrap it all up in words!

And last but not least: some numbers the organizers of DrupalCon CPH have collected:

Altogether 5000 bottles of the specially brewed beer "AwesomeSauce", two bottles of Jack Daniels and one bottle of Jägermeister were served in the "FooBar", the organisers say. "I have no idea how many people drank in the bar" says CPH Team-lead Morten Birch Heide-Jørgensen. "But they were happy." And Szeget-organiser Gábor Hojtsy comments: "Drupalers have a tendency to party very well."

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