Oct 21 2014
Oct 21
img_20141001_152214-smile_0.jpg

Some weeks ago (29th Sept - 3rd Oct) Cocomore attended the European DrupalCon in Amsterdam with five colleagues: penyaskito (Christian López), kfritsche (Karl Fritsche), jsbalsera (Jesús Sánchez), LoMo (Lowell Montgomery) and Carsten Müller where there, and we also attended to the extended sprints before and after the Con. The numbers of this Drupalcon are impressive: more than 2300 attendees from over 64 countries. There were more than 100 sessions so, either if you came or not, you will find the link to all the DrupalCon Amsterdam sessions handful!

Diary

Saturday - Getting there

On Saturday we travelled to Amsterdam. It’s like always an exciting day, looking forward to see again not only friends from the community and new people to know, but also being able to reunite again coworkers who live almost 2000 kms away. And when you get into the airport you start recognizing people from other events, or only because we all wear Drupal t-shirts!

Sunday - Extended Sprints

The extended Sprints were hosted at Berlage Meet & Workspace, an amazing place just near to the Centre Station. There was plenty of space there to sit and help working in Drupal 8 core. As always is great to work with all the people from the community.

Monday - Sprints and Community Summit

On Monday the Sprints moved to the conference venue, Amsterdam RAI. The place there was even bigger for all the sprinting people (around 180 sprinters) and you could see people working not only in Drupal Core but also in important projects like Drupal Commerce or Drush. Karl joined the Community Summit and participate in the group about training experiences.

Tuesday - Start of Sessions

There were 120 sessions this year. so it was a really hard decision to choose between them. You can access to the complete program including links to the recorded videos at the DrupalCon Amsterdam website. The Opening Session, or prenote, was mostly a history of DrupalCon told by people which lives were changed there. Some histories were fun and some others were beautiful, but there were time to include some jokes and fun parts with a curious recreation of some events. Then came the Keynote by Dries Buytaert, and the Drupal 8 Beta One was announced! The keynote was a discussion about how to make the Drupal project development sustainable, by making the contribution more attractive to people and organizations. After that the traditional Group Photo was taken.

As you can see, tons of people :-)

15399906982_2ee1d506c1_o_0.jpg

Wednesday

On Wednesday the beta was finally released, so everyone could just download and install it, and make all the needed testing. This day’s Keynote was delivered by Cory Doctorow, science fiction writer and the co-editor of Boing Boing, among other achievements. You can access to the Wednesday schedule and access to all the sessions descriptions and videos. But this day was also strange, because all the Spanish community, with ours Christian and Jesús among them, looked really agitated. As we knew the day after they were invited to assist to a secret meeting by the Drupal Association, because the city selected to held the next DrupalCon was Barcelona, and they should know in advance.

Thursday

On Thursday there wasn’t a Keynote, but instead a number of small but interesting Drupal Lightning Talks. We want to remark the Console module, based in the Symfony Console Component: a CLI tool that helps creating new modules, controllers, etc automatically. And the #D8in8 initiative looks like a great way to involve a company into learning and contributing in Drupal 8. Lowell made a awesome job summarizing the Q&A with Dries that we can only recommend you to read, although you can also hear the audio. Again, the schedule is available online with links to the sessions descriptions and videos. At the end there was the Closing session, where they talked about future events like DrupalCon Bogotá and DrupalCon Barcelona was unveiled. That same night we assisted to the Trivia Night, hosted by the Irish group. It was tons of fun, but really hard. Our team was named 1396891800, because the timestamp when Heartbleed was announced, and thanks to Christian we won the prize to the best handwriting!

Friday - Mentored Core Sprints

Fridays was all about sprinting. Karl and Christian worked as mentors helping people, and Carsten, Jesús and Lowell were sprinting.

Saturday - Extended Sprints

On Saturday we went back to Berlage Meet & Workspace, so we were sprinting again.

Sunday - Goodbye Amsterdam

At the end all the good things have to end, and we had to get into the airport and travel back to our respective cities, Christian and Jesús travelling to Sevilla and Carsten, Karl and Lowell to Frankfurt. It was a really great DrupalCon, but we expect Barcelona to be even better!

Sessions

We attended to a bunch of a great collection of sessions, so we want to recommend some of them that we found really interesting:

What's next?

DrupalCamp Berlin

There is the DrupalCamp Berlin happening at the 15th and 16th of November in our capital. We are looking forward to meet you there again.

DrupalCon in Barcelona!

The next european DrupalCon will happen in Barcelona. We are happy about the decision made by the Drupal Association and we are looking forward to see you all again next year in the sunny city of Barcelona!

Thanks!

So it was a great DrupalCon. We can only say thank you to the organizers, the mentors, the local group and all the outstanding people that are part of this amazing community. We are proud to be part of it. img-20140928-wa0001_0.jpg
Oct 06 2014
Oct 06

One Drupalcon session of particular interest to many in the community, since the first “episode”, has been the “Q&A with Dries”, a core-conversation-track session in which Dries is joined by a panel of his initiative leads and others in the “inner circle” of Drupal 8 core development. Since I’d wished, in the past, that sessions like these had a video recording to show who was talking, I brought my DSLR and a shotgun microphone this time, thinking I’d contribute the resulting video. I don’t think the video I shot was technically perfect enough to share; perhaps I could fix that, but I also realized that one panel member prefers to limit her exposure on the Web—and respect that, of course; since it’s much easier to blur or block out a face in a few images than in a video, and since you can read this summary in much less time than the hour+ -length session, I decided to provide stills from the video, along with a summary of the questions and answers, which ranged from the whimsical (a bet on how long it would be till Drupal 8 would be released as “stable”), to various business and architecture questions, and other concerns.

Q and A with Dries and panelists, Drupalcon Amsterdam

(You’ll find a more serious answer to that question if you read on...). Of course, Dries began by asking each of his panelists to introduce themselves. Those present were:

intro_gabor.jpgGábor Hojtsy, who works for Acquia and introduced himself, first, as the Drupal 6 maintainer; he also leads the Multilingual initiative for Drupal 8.

Nathaniel CatchpoleNathaniel Catchpole (catch), a major core maintainer with special focus on optimizing performance.

intro_alexpott.jpgAlex Pott, who works for ChapterThree, and supports Drupal as a core maintainer, also contributes actively in the configuration management initiative for Drupal 8.

yched introduces himselfYves Chedemois (yched), a freelancer and volunteer contributor to Drupal core, especially active as the maintainer of the Drupal 8 Field API (he formerly maintained CCK).

Wim Leers, core maintainerWim Leers (of Acquia, who works on the Spark initiative and Drupal 8 performance

Jess (xjm), who was the major heavy lifter for getting Views into Drupal 8 core, alongside her very active community mentoring role, now is most active with release planning and other steps toward getting Drupal 8 to the community.

Dries jokes and introduces himself as 'Drice'

Dries made everyone laugh, then, by introducing himself… and pronouncing his name as if it rhymed with “rice”. He followed by submitting the first questions to the panelists; these initial questions were selected from those emailed to him before the day of the session. Everyone had something to say for the first question.

Q: Are there any lessons learned, so far, from the Drupal 8 release cycle?

Alex Pott pointed out that changing core is taking longer and longer as the complexity increases and the needs of the greater Drupal community become more varied. “It’s no longer a matter of developers having a good idea and putting a patch on Drupal.org”, he said. You have to get everything reviewed and tested and re-tested, usually through many iterations, before a patch finally makes it into core.

Yves Chedemois (yched) added that it really helped having a bigger team of people assisting in the Field API initiative, compared to how things have sometimes been in the past, before the initiatives, with only one or two people working on a particular sub-system; so now he might have five or six developers actively supporting him and who are all able to review each others work, and take over from one another if anyone is ill or leaves the team. He pointed out that, of course, finding five or six people who can keep active for the full 2-3 years that has been this development cycle has been one challenge; it’s just not realistic to expect.

Gábor weighed in with the fact that the whole extra communication with the community was something that hadn’t been so present before and has helped to find people identify their strengths and find ways to contribute to the development process. Extra communications on Drupal.org, the core conversations like this Q&A session, and the initiatives, themselves, helped to build a better level of involvement and ability to contribute.

Dries also added that people asked whether the initiatives, themselves, were a success, and wanted to say that he, indeed, found them very useful for the development cycle. It helped communicate a sort of roadmap for Drupal with the key areas that needed work. Having clearly communicated, specific goals, and teams working with specific areas of interest, in turn helped gather more people to help. He pointed out that the initiatives which were most successful in gathering a team to rally to their cause tended to be the ones with leaders with the best ability to communicate their goals; and of course they also had to have great technical skills and be skilled project managers. Dries added that, if he were to do it again, he would try to get a small team together for each initiative, from the start, with individuals able to bring all important strengths to work for each initiative. It’s a lot to ask from one person.

Q: How do you best prepare for Drupal 8?

Nathaniel Catchpole (catch), suggested that if you are a site-builder, experiment with building up a Drupal 8 version of a site you want to migrate to Drupal 8, or just begin building up a site; just remember that we are just at the first beta, so things might be changing. But if you just practice building up your site structure and learn what you can do, that can be very helpful as a first step to being comfortable with Drupal 8.

Wim Leers added that it’s a good time for the community to get the input from experienced site builders who have familiarity with how things work in Drupal 7 and might find some areas where performance or user experience have been affected in a negative manner; there might still be time to fix remaining issues identified now.

Jess recommended that users who need to migrate from Drupal 6, which is scheduled for “end of life” about six months after the release of a stable Drupal 8.0.0, practice building up the functionality they need in Drupal 8, determining any areas where core functionality doesn’t fill their requirements. A lot of functionality which was formerly only in contrib is now in core, but you can identify what contrib modules you still need to see ported. Keep your Drupal 6 site running, but you can locally test and practice the migration path from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8. Currently this path lacks a user interface and has some other rough areas, but there is documentation. Then you can follow and support the development of contrib modules that are blockers for your ideal upgrade.

Alex Pott added that if you are a PHP developer, it’s a good time to be learning about all the new object-oriented stuff in core; getting your head around that. He recommended looking at PHP: The Right Way for some good tips. Themers should work on learning Twig and a new base theme, Classy, just committed to Drupal 8. But beware, the others added: the theme layer will not be frozen until closer to the final release date, so there are still some things that will change. Also, there is now a full-featured Entity API in core, so when modeling your site, think in terms of entities and think about what is really content or not.

Gábor reminded us that even if you aren’t ready to dive into Drupal 8, there are a lot of good talks, blog posts, and development surrounding bringing a lot of “Drupal 8 improvements” into Drupal 7 sites, so you can learn your way around PHPUnit, Composer, etc, as a first step to getting comfortable with Drupal 8.

Dries then opened the floor to additional questions from the audience. The first participant actually asked two questions, one more serious than the other.

Q: If you had to bet on the release date for Drupal 8, what date would that be?

That guy who asked three questions...This question got a good laugh and perhaps more discussion time than was necessary. After skipping it to take his serious question, this one actually did get some answer time; Jess made some cogent points: that it’s not a good idea to base business decisions on any predictions around the release date of Drupal 8, but that the community is betting on it being soon and successful. She suggested that any really large projects which will take years to develop are good candidates for looking at the components of Drupal 8 as appropriate building blocks and starting work. His second question was one that, perhaps other developers who haven’t yet worked (much) with Drupal 8 code, could relate to.

Q: In the past, someone who doesn’t do a lot of development could still make a simple tweak to simple module. Now there is so much code for the new Symfony-based modules. Isn’t all this code scary?

catch pointed out that once you are familiar with it, there are still lots of places you can easily make the same kind of tweaks with Views in core, and with plugins and the configuration management. yched added that most of the hooks available in Drupal 7 are still available. Gábor said that he could remember a time, not so long ago, when he’d also been daunted by the complexity and differences between the way things are done in Drupal 8 versus how they were done in Drupal 7, but after starting to work with it, you will learn the new patterns and it starts to make sense and actually be easier, in many ways. Dries added that it’s common to be daunted by the “more-lines-of-code”, but that the object orientation actually reduces the complexity and makes it easier to extend and understand, once you are familiar with the design patterns. He also pointed out that in Drupal 7 you had to know all the hooks and that now, it’s more declarative and you can work with what you want to happen, based on events. So there is less you need to learn, and less “magic”.

Wim reminded us that Drupal 8 introduces greater strictness, which translates to an increase in verbosity, but also makes it easier to find and avoid problems.

Q: How does Drupal 8 architecture matter to clients? Why should they care about developing a site in Drupal 8?

Chris Amato, aka knectar on drupal.orgChris Amato (knectar) asked this question, to which Dries began by pointing out that there is a lot more support “out-of-the-box” for things like mobile content, with responsive designs and services deeply integrated. yched added that every entity type is now natively translatable and versionable and that every field can be manipulated with the same familiar tools. Gábor added that there are lot more Views and things that can be individually tweaked to a clients needs. Even admin pages are Views-based and the modules you use will also incorporate this flexibility, so there should be less need for hacks to work around what a client needs.

The next question had to do with decoupling in Drupal 8 and so-called “headless Drupal”

Q: (paraphrased) How does “headless Drupal” and decoupling fit in and is this something we will be seeing more of in Drupal 9?

The guy who asked about headless Drupal in Drupal 9Dries said that it was really too early to know what the focus of Drupal 9 would be, but that it would likely involve greater decoupling, yes. Others pointed out that it’s already possible to do a lot with headless Drupal and that we can look for a big growth in that direction coming from contrib and possibly making its way into core before Drupal 9.

The next question brought us to the issue of documentation.

Q: Will there be some books for Drupal 8 and better documentation?

That guy who asked about documentation...Gábor started by pointing out that there is already a Drupal 8 API section, a lot of which is pretty well fleshed-out. There are still places for people to get involved and help update since there have been so many changes since the initial pages were written. And Jennifer Hodgdon is already working on a book for Drupal 8 development. Dries pointed out that there are now about 50 or so books on Drupal 7, and that things are still changing enough it’s still too early for publication of Drupal 8 books, but that we can expect a variety of books on Drupal 8 soon after its release. The API documentation and other Drupal 8 usage documentation is in various stages of completion. xjm pointed out that we need help with the documentation on drupal.org and that this is a great way to get involved.

Q: “What is being done or can be done to help bring funding to Drupal development?” (heavily paraphrased)

Rudi van Es of the local Amsterdam Drupal community

Rudi van Es, an Amsterdam-based member of the local Drupal shop, limongroen, came with this question.

Dries indicated that the Drupal Association can sometimes help find parties who would also benefit from certain development to help find funding for some projects, but that this is part of what Large Scale Drupal is working to accomplish and that maybe we also need a “Small Scale Drupal” to work more directly with individual developers. Some of the funding that has already come out of Large Scale Drupal went into improving workflows for media and publishing companies on Drupal; this effort has been added to the Workbench project. Dries also reminded us of his keynote, where he discussed better incentivizing contribution. And some organizations might be more willing or able to donate than actual time and expertise to Drupal development. Dries acknowledged that there are limits to the number of companies who are actively funding Drupal projects and initiatives and this is one of the challenges facing the community. While Wikipedia has been able to successfully crowdfund, they have a unique advantage in being able to directly access the end users; Drupal end-users are largely unaware of Drupal.

Q: Is it possible for us to reach a point where we can remove the trouble of upgrading and Drupal is just Drupal, regardless of version number?

Matt Smith, aka smithworx on Drupal.orgThat question came from Matt Smith of Lingotek, who asked a question I have asked before; a tough question. catch started by discussing what they have planned for Drupal releases now, which is already a huge improvement, that Drupal 8.1.0 and 8.2.0 can bring new functional improvements without breaking the API and that by growing slowly, they can minimize the API breakage needed when when it finally is necessary, to re-think a way of doing something and that would be the point we move to 9.x development. We might not be able to avoid breaking the API, because avoiding this can put us in a place the we have to deal with stagnation, but we will make our best efforts to minimize this going forward and it may be that in the beginning of Drupal 9, modules that have worked with each progressive minor version will, mostly not be broken by the initial changes in Drupal 9. As the architecture becomes closer to ideal, we should be able to greatly improve this, as we move forward. xjm added that the release cycle they have adopted now is like Ubuntu and there will be long-term support for some releases.

The final question taken was about tools. In short, the question was…

Q: What development tools are you (core committers) using to manage your work?

That guy again... asking the third questionThis question came, again, from the same fellow (sorry, I didn’t quite get your name), who asked “stable release date”, and the “Isn’t the big, new code complicated and scary?” questions. As the code-base becomes more and more complex, people who used to simply work with a text editor are finding it harder to manage and more and more developers are using IDEs, in particular PHPStorm, which this guy felt seems to be so prevalent now as to be almost a “soft requirement” for Drupal development.

Here, Dries suggested each of the panelists provide a quick answer about their preferred editors of choice and then wrap up the session: xjm started by saying she still mostly uses Emacs, but has started “tasting the forbidden fruit of an IDE in the form of PHPStorm” and said that without 16 years of using Emacs, it wouldn’t be a tough decision. It does make your development life a bit more sane. Gábor said that he has adopted PHPStorm. catch said that he’s still using Vim and holding out as long as he can, but will probably give in at some point and start using PHPStorm. There was brief discussion then, about fear that if everyone adopts a commercial product like PHPStorm, that this could lead to JetBrains taking advantage of us with monopolistic behavior. (Personally, I'm not worried and have respect for the offer they continue to honor: free licenses for open-source contributors.) Moving back to the panel, Alex Pott confessed that he uses PHPStorm. yched also uses PHPStorm and added that it really just makes navigating a large object-oriented codebase so much simpler; navigating between the classes, implementations, overrides, and so on. Wim Leers said that he continued to use text editors until a few months ago and has now also started using PHPStorm. Dries joked that he uses email, then confessed that he doesn’t get to code that much these days, so shouldn’t be taken as a reference, but still uses vi when he needs to make some quick changes.

Final thoughts…

It may be late in the game, but it’s a good time to help with the final work to get all the biggest bugs resolved so that Drupal 8 can be considered stable. There are lots of way to help, from identifying issues (beta testing or areas where documentation is lacking, etc), to simply verifying that bugfixes do what they are supposed to do. And there are a lot of nice tools, now, for helping review tickets. If tickets can be reviewed right away, it is more likely they just get finished before they drag on for months, require “re-rolls”, and all those hassles, and many such tickets are not difficult to review. I’m glad I made it to the Drupalcon rather than just watching/listening when I had the time.

And I should probably say that it’s been far too long since I’ve written a Drupal-related blog post here. I’m not going to make excuses: the truth is that I’ve been pretty much inundated with OtherStuff™, including some work on a complex, semi-mature project which only involves Drupal and so stopped having time to contribute, look at much actual Drupal code, or spend much time learning about all the “new things” going on. So I didn’t feel qualified to write about what was going on in the Drupal world. But I came to Cocomore for the Drupal, so I’ll work on reaching a better balance and hope to find time between all the OtherStuff™ to see you again, soon. The sprint Friday and weekend got my Drupal-thirst going again; Randi and I are already looking at a vacation rental for the full week in Barcelona next year (woohoo!), so you can count on it at least not being too long.

Sep 10 2014
Sep 10

We were going DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014.There is the European DrupalCon happening from Sept. 29th to the Oct. 3rd in Amsterdam and a team of Cocomore - as one of the biggest Drupal shops in Germany and Spain - will of course attend. Christian López Espínola (penyaskito - https://www.drupal.org/u/penyaskito), Jesús Sánchez Balsera (jsbalsera - https://www.drupal.org/u/jsbalsera), Karl Fritsche (attribdd - https://www.drupal.org/u/kfritsche) and Carsten Müller (Carsten Müller - https://www.drupal.org/u/carsten-müller) will join the Drupal community for code sprinting, networking, socializing and naturally help working on the new Drupal 8 version.

We will arrive to Amsterdam on Saturday 27th to attend the Pre-DrupalCon Extended Sprints and we will also be at the Post-DrupalCon Extended Sprints. During the Con we will mix participating in the sprints with attending the amazing sessions and BoFs scheduled. Our team will work on the initiatives we've been contributing lately, mainly D8MI (Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative, led by Gábor Hojtsy- http://hojtsy.hu/) issues, but with an eye in the critical and beta blockers issues, and to the Migrate in core initiative. Together with all the other awesome Drupal developers we will try get Drupal 8 ready for usage. The main goal is to achieve some good progress on Drupal 8 which will be a huge improvement in web development with Drupal. Who didn't watch Dries keynote at DrupalCon Austin yet – it is really worth to spend the hour and have a look at the big aims set on Drupal 8.

One whole week of sprints, meetings, discussions and socializing with the Drupal community – it will not be only great fun, but also lots of stress - but it is worth every minute. I think everybody who ever attended a Drupal event like a camp or con would agree. If you are still unsure about your participation – here you have the possibility to meet over 2000 members of the Drupal community. There will be all the roles involved in a Drupal project, from backend developers to the themers / frontend developers, designers, managers, architects, devops and more, who help to improve Drupal day by day. You can meet mostly everybody in one place and ask all the questions you might have. And, in comparison to other IT trainings or developer events, it is very cheap. If you‘re looking for a new job you can also contact all the Drupal shops there. By the way, Cocomore is also always looking for good developers, so maybe we can meet and talk about your future. Just send us an email (http://drupal.cocomore.com/contact) or contact us via Twitter (@cocomore_drupal) and we can drink something together. You can also do so if you are not looking for a new job but just want to share your time with us ;-)

We are looking forward for a great DrupalCon in Amsterdam, for amazing sessions, meeting old and new friends, the exchange of knowledge and the hopefully good progress on Drupal 8. See you there!

Nov 19 2013
Nov 19

Christian Lopez (Penyaskito) representing Drupal in the EBE13 CMS round table.

Penyaskito, aka Christian Lopez, Drupal developer at CocomoreThis past weekend was a busy one for some of our developers who attended EBE13, a major Spanish conference for digital marketing, blogging, social media, and online communication, held annually in Seville, not far from our Cocomore in Spain, which drew over 1000 developers this year. Christian Lopez (aka Penyaskito on Drupal.org and Twitter), participated as an expert panelist representing Drupal in a "round table" moderated debate, lending much credibility to our favorite popular open-source CMS and Web application framework. He spoke about typical use cases for Drupal, as well as some unusual places he has seen Drupal in action, such as in a POS system in McDonalds, among other odd uses. He was joined by Isidro Baquero, representing Joomla, and Rafael Poveda, representing Wordpress. The debate was moderated by Agile trainer and coach, Jeronimo Palacios.

What they learned was that, in the end, everyone who actively contributes to open-source is a winner, regardless of the technology! The benefits of being a part of a great open-source community turned out to be the most compelling reason for using each of these projects. Of course there are other strong reasons we, at Cocomore, favor Drupal, but involvement with a greater development community is a good way to become an expert in the CMS you use. So if you work with Drupal (or Wordpress or Joomla or any other open-source CMS), finding ways to contribute will help you grow as well as improving the code base that you use.

Sep 30 2013
Sep 30
We were at DrupalCon Prague 2013.

Last week (23.-27.09.) Cocomore attended the European DrupalCon in Prague with three colleagues penyaskito (Christian López Espínola), jsbalsera (Jesús Sánchez Balsera) and kfritsche (Karl Fritsche). We also attended the extended sprints before and after the Con to contribute to Drupal 8 Core.

Like on all the other Cons there were a lot of interesting sessions, BoFs and discussions with other Drupalists. If you couldn't make it to the DrupalCon you can watch most of the session records at the YouTube channel from the Drupal Association.

group picture by @schnitzel

Extended Sprints

The extended sprints were at the Hub Praha the weekend before and after the Con, which was located some tram stops away from the conference center. Everybody had enough space here to help working on Drupal 8 core. The hub had three conference rooms for the "Hard Problems" discussions. We used our experience with Drupal to help the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiatives (D8MI) to make Drupal 8 the best multilingual CMS! Also all the other core initiatives and core committers attended these sprints, so patches could be committed fast. It is always a pleasure and a good experience to work with all the people from the community.

Sprinting in the Hub Praha - Karl, Jesús, Christian

Sessions

The Con was located in the conference center in Prague next to the Vyšehrad. From here you had a good view over Prague, while contributing to Drupal 8 in the Coder Lounge. So at least everybody had something from the beautiful town of Prague.

Coder Lounge.jpg

It was hard to pick a sessions with nine parallel tracks (115 all in all). You can read the complete program including links to the recorded videos at the DrupalCon Prague website. I strongly recommend the keynotes from Dries about "State of Drupal" and Aral Balkan about "Experience Driven OpenSource". In advance I recommend the following sessions:

  • From Not-Invented-Here to Proudly-Found-Elsewhere: A Drupal 8 Story from Alex Pott (D8 Core Committer) about the possibilities and advantages from moving to already existing frameworks.
  • Standardization, the Symfony way from Fabien Potencier (Project-Lead Symfony) about the philosophy and concepts of Symfony.
  • Translation Management from Michael Schmid and Christophe Galli (Maintainer TMGMT) about the Translation Management Module. It was amazing to see what they did in the last two years and that they are already working on a Drupal 8 version. A must see if you have to translate a lot of nodes.
  • There were more good sessions but I tried to keep this short.

Outside the sessions

In the Coder Lounge next to the session rooms you had the time to contribute and test on Drupal 8. There were always a lot of people there so you could get help quickly. I think some of them have never seen a single session. Also the hard problems discussions were continued there.

by Gábor Hojtsy - "Busy in field translation/language discussion to make field DX better than D7. Fields/entity and multilingual! #d8mi"

In the day you had the sessions and at the night we went to the 24th floor of the Corinthia Hotel to continue sprinting with others all night, which led to a high shortfall of sleep but was really funny. For the dinner there was a nice social event "Cheap Frosty Beverages & A Killer View" in a beer garden in Prague, for all who found it. On Thursday the last day of the all the sessions the Drupal Trivia took place in the Hilton Hotel. It was a big fun and the team "Create Table" (Nathan Haug, Jen Lampton, Florian Weber, Vijaya Chandran Mani, Tobias Stöckler, Karl Fritsche) won in a three team tie against "Breaking Head" with Gabor Hojtsy and Cathy Theys and Acon Armada.

For everybody who wanted to contribute on Core but never did, there was an introduction to all community tools on Friday and 50 volunteer mentors (amongst others Karl Fritsche) to help everybody to get more contributors. This is a good example to see how helpful and welcoming the Drupal community is. A big thanks to Cathy Theys (YesCT) to organize this event in Prague.

Another good example how amazing the Drupal community is happened this week too. In under 24 hours yched's project on DrupalFund.us reached its goal. Now he can contribute to Fields API more powerful. Congratulations!

Next Drupal Events

It was a nice DrupalCon. Thanks to all organizers, sponsors and volunteers who made this happen. I'm excited about the next events, even if I now have to make up a lot of sleep.

next_0.jpg
Apr 18 2013
Apr 18

It's the year 2013 and here at Cocomore we are looking forward to the future of Drupal and the release of Drupal 8.

With the release of Drupal 8 the official support for Drupal 6 ends. At the latest from this event the use of Drupal 7 should be planned. There is still some time left, but a migration does not happen during overnight. And no one wants to run a system that is not supported any more and where no security updates are available. Even http://drupal.org will soon be migrated

On February 13th 2008 Drupal 6 was published. One year later in August 2009 Cocomore started to publish its own Drupal Core because there were several problems with the official Drupal 6 core. In all these years we started to love Drupal 6 - we had 5 really good years together.

Since Drupal 7 was published we started to use it for our new projects. Recently we neglected our Drupal 6 core because we do not have many Drupal 6 sites left. So we think now it's time to say "Bye, Bye Drupal 6". We had a good time with you, but now it's time to move forward. Drupal 8 is coming. We will stop supporting Drupal 6 and we will not publish any new updates for our Drupal 6 core.

Everybody who does not want to resign the Drupal 6 core we recommend to have a look at the repository of Markus Kalkbrenner (Bio.logis) - https://github.com/mkalkbrenner/6. This Drupal 6 Core is based on the Cocomore core and contains the same modifications. So, a change without problems is possible.

We want to thank everybody who helped to work at the Drupal 6 core and even on the huge amount of modules. You have done a very great job. Thank you all!

Apr 08 2013
Apr 08
xml3d rubick

The XML3D Module provides a simple and easy way to integrate the XML3D models and applications into Drupal. The current 7.x-1.x version allows to simply enter the XML3D code into a Long Text field that has the XML3D Input Field formatter. The content will then be displayed on the page in the form of an iframe having the same size as the XML3D application.

We added this module to the blog and added a field with a XML3D example, see it at the end of this Article in action.

Requirements

The module has the following requirements:

  • Drupal 7
  • the field, field_ui, libraries modules
  • a browser with Web GL support (currently, Firefox and Chrome)
    • if you have a Intel GPU Chip and are using Chromium/Chrome on a Linux based OS, try to enable "Override software rendering list Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS" under chrome://flags
  • the js library files (xml3d.js and camera.js) must be located in the corresponding folder in the libraries directory (the current version of the module uses XML3D version 4.3):
    xml3d library files structure

Adding the Field Type

After having installed and enabled the XML3D module, you must create a field of the Long Text type by going to Structure -> Content types -> Manage Fields:

xml3d add field

Then you must assign the XML3D Input Field formatter to the field by going to Structure -> Content types -> Display Fields and select it from the Format drop-down list.':

xml3d manage display

In order to add/modify your XML3D content you just need to go to your content type that contains a field with the XML3D formatter and paste the content into the field (you can grab the code from one of the examples available: http://xml3d.github.com/xml3d-examples/):

xml3d add content

The content is supposed to have one tag containing the rest of the content.

After performing all the step correctly, you should be able to see your XML3D content visualized:

xml3d rubick

As mentioned above, the XML3D element will be presented as an iframe that will have the size of the content inside (the width and height parameters of the element will be used for this). By default, the iframe has neither borders nor scrolling. That can easily be changed via the CSS file in the module ([modules folder]/xml3d/css/xml3d.css). The iframe has a class named "xml3d_frame" that you can use for styling it.

Global Integration into Drupal

While working on the module we met some obstacles. The major obstacle was the requirement to use the MIME-type application/xhtml+xml for the pages that have XML3D content. Moreover, the page must start with:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

The problem is that a standard page in Drupal is not of application/xhtml+xml type and it has the following header (doctype) element:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML+RDFa 1.0//EN"
  "http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/DTD/xhtml-rdfa-1.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="<?php print $language->language; ?>" version="XHTML+RDFa 1.0" dir="<?php print $language->dir; ?>"<?php print $rdf_namespaces; ?>>

The header is hard coded in the html template file (modules/system/html.tpl.php) and is not/or hardly editable from within a module (it could be overridden by a theme, though). Thus, the first attempt to set the MIME type with php and change the header in the template file manually failed (it worked in Chrome only).

The second attempt to build in an iframe and put the content using JavaScript on the fly failed as well. It worked neither in Chrome nor in Firefox. Different techniques have been used here: starting from contentDocument.open('') (or contentWindow.document) with different MIME types including 'application/xhtml+xml' and finishing with '...src="http://drupal.cocomore.com/blog/xml3d-and-drupal/data:application/xhtml+xml...."'.

At the end, an iframe referring to a separate page (generating the content for a certain field) was decided to be used. The page must receive four arguments: entity type, entity id, field name and delta. For example: http://example.com/xml3d/iframe/node/18/field_testxml3d/0

To Do

The current version of the module is aimed to present a simple integration of the XML3D technology into Drupal. Thus, the content to be inserted is not supposed to be very long.

As an alternative option to the currently implemented variant could be uploading a file (or files) with the content to be inserted or selecting from a predefined list of content residing on the same or a third-party server. It would make the integration process of large pieces of code easier for the end user.

Example:

Mar 03 2013
Mar 03
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

Well, February is always a short month, but this year it seemed like it passed in just a couple of weeks… and now it’s already March and I’m only finally getting around to putting the final touches on this posting for the January “Modules of the Month”. How did that happen? Well, I won’t try to bore you or make excuses. It’s just been one of those months. I’m going to try to keep up my current momentum and evaluate and write up my favorites from February now… hopefully finishing that in the next week or so. If it’s not done by the 15th, it won’t be done till April since I’ll be taking off for my first trip to India in the middle of this month.

But I’m not here to write about myself. This is about some modules which I found might be worthy of notice… specifically those released in January 2013. It’s interesting to see the evolution of a Drupal version and what kinds of modules are being released these days. Almost no modules are being released for Drupal 6 and Drupal 8’s developer API is still far enough from maturity that there are very few modules being released for it, so almost all the focus is on Drupal 7. Almost anything really critical has already been done, so most modules now fit into areas of workflow improvement, integration of third-party libraries, developer tools, and addressing the needs of an increasingly mobile audience (responsive design). There are a lot of new modules for image display, for keeping a closer eye on site administration issues, creating better e-shops, deploying content from one site to another, and managing caching, among other trends. It’s clear that Drupal 7 is a mature product serving the needs of an extremely diverse community and it’s exciting to see all the new ways that, each month, developers encounter new needs and find inventive ways to further extend on the feature-set. So read on to see what new and fun stuff we got in January… (and I promise to try to get February’s review done in the next week or so).

*/ Access denied backtrace

The Access denied backtrace module helps track down the point where access rights are denied.How many times have you had to try to sort out access issues on a Drupal site? Sometimes this can be a pain, but the module, by Eduardo Garcia of Anexus IT, promises to help put an end to this senseless suffering; it helps track down the exact point at which a particular role is denied access for a particular node or path. Perhaps the screenshot here is a bit contrived; the only reason the basic "authenticated user" cannot create a new node of type "Article" is that they don’t have the appropriate permission checked. In a more complex site with lots of custom content and custom user-access code, this could be very useful. (My primary work is on a team where the access model for all content types and users would require a full article to explain.)

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Advanced help dialog

The module, by Dan Polant of Commerce Guys, allows developers to extend the popular Advanced Help module. By implementing the provided hook, you can add a link to the "Help" region of specific paths; the link opens a modal box with the relevant "advanced help" content. Nice.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Anonymous Redirect

The module, from Michael Strelan of Glo Digital, redirects anonymous users to another domain, but visitors can still reach /user or /user/login to authenticate. After logging in, users have normal access. This can easily be configured to limit access to a staging server and redirect users to your production site, the most typical use case for the module.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Boost Custom Expire Rules

The module, authored by Zyxware Technologies, allows setting different expiry times for content cached with Boost. Complex rules can be configured to fine-tune how long various content on your site is cached. Older nodes can have a longer cache lifetime, for instance. Rules can be configured for the URL path, node type, age, etc. This definitely looks like a must-have for sites which use Boost, especially if they actively add new content on a regular basis and retain older content.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Block Up Down

The Block Up/Down module allows you to easily disable or move blocks within a region without going into block administration.The module, coded by Pol Dell'Aiera of Trasys, is dead simple. Just activate it and you get three new contextual links on blocks so you don’t need to go into the block administration page just to disable a block or move it up or down within a region. I think this is great, since probably most of the time I go into the block administration page, which can take a while to load on a complex site with a lot of blocks and regions, moving one block up or down (or disabling a block) is all I really want to do, so allowing administrators to manage this from within the front-end is a really sweet feature.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

CKEditor Link File

The CKEditor Link File module, created by Devin Carlson, integrates (and requires) the CKEditor Link and File entity modules so that editors on your site can easily add links to existing files on your site. This definitely looks useful for sites which use CKEditor.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Combined Termref

The module, written by Girish Nair, allows you to address up to three different vocabularies with one term-reference field; obviously only one vocabulary in the group can take “free tagging”. If new terms are added, they go into the first of the vocabularies selected for the Combined Termref field. There can be good reasons that you need different vocabularies, but the purpose can stay behind the scenes; content creation can be simpler by allowing entry with a single field. I think this looks cool.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Cart Message

The Drupal Commerce Cart Message module displays a message in the cart.The module, authored by Aidan Lister, provides an option to add rules for displaying messages on your Drupal Commerce cart. This definitely looks useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Views Contextual Range Filter

The module, written by Rik de Boer of flink, provides a Views plugin that allows you to filter views based on a range of values for any field where this might make sense. For instance, you might want to filter by price range, age range, etc. This kind of search is a pretty common use case, so I suspect this will become quite popular.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Creative commons field

The module, by Ben Scott, defines a field type for attaching Creative Commons licence types, so you can add CC licences to files or any entity type. There are other modules which can add a CC license, but they only work with nodes; files are likely a most common use case. Cool!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Entity Extras

Categories: Utility

The module, coded by Dave Hall, provides extra utility functions to extend the Entity API module. The idea is to share useful functions here and improve on them before proposing them for inclusion in Entity API or Drupal core. If you aren’t a developer, you’ll probably only enable this if another module requires it, but if you write your own modules which use the Entity API, this is probably worth taking a look at.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Facebook Album Fetcher

The module, written by Kaushal Kishore of OSSCube, allows you to import your Facebook albums and photo galleries. You can also import the images from your friends’ accounts, too, but be sure you ask your friends if it’s okay. Personally, I only allow friends to view my Facebook account, so people like me might be annoyed if the images they shared on Facebook were pulled into a public-facing album without their consent. That said, companies with a Facebook presence might like to pull the images from their Facebook galleries into a gallery on their main website, and I’m sure there are many other good use cases for this module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Field Collection Deploy

The module, created by Robert Castelo of Code Positive, provides a way to deploy content from the Field Collection fields from one site to another. It extends (and requires) Features, Field Collection (of course), UUID, Node Export, and Entity API. Getting this to work is clearly non-trivial, but if you need this functionality, you’ll be happy to find this module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

File Entity Preview

Categories: Media

The module, contributed by Graham Bates of Catch Digital, provides a widget for file fields with previews of uploaded files, as configured with File Entity. It otherwise works like the “core” File widget.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Graphviz

The module, written by Clemens Tolboom, renders a Graphviz text file for further processing; it hooks into Graph API to provide Views integration and can output an image file using the Graphviz Filter.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Graph Phyz

Graph Phyz helps display a nice relationships graph. is another graph-related module contributed by Clemens Tolboom. It renders an interactive graph using Graph API. Pretty cool, if your site calls for this, and I can think of at least one project where this might have saved some custom coding.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Hide PHP Fatal Error

The module, by B-Prod of MaPS System, redirects users to a configurable error page whenever a fatal error is thrown in PHP. Of course the error is also logged into the watchdog so you can work on eliminating the error for the next user. Nice.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Hierarchical taxonomy

The module, by Marcus Deglos of Techito, is a developer module (you won’t need this, as a non-coder unless another module requires it) which provides a simple hierarchical_taxonomy_get_tree() function which renders an array of a vocabulary’s hierarchical structure. This should probably be in “core”.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Image Zoomer

The Image Zoomer module integrates various Javascript libraries for getting a closer look at an photo.The module, contributed by Tuan, integrates two image zoom-related JQuery plugins; Power Zoomer and Featured Zoomer and the developer of this module is adding support for other modules which provide image zooming. This could be cool for online “catalog” images or for commercial photography sites who want to provide a closer look at an image without making it too simple for users to download a higher-resolution version.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Image Focus Crop

The module, contributed by Nguyễn Hải Nam of Open Web Solutions, helps find the focal center of an image you are scaling and cropping and includes advanced facial recognition algorithms. This looks interesting.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Image formatter link to image style

image_formatter_link_to_image_style.pngThe module, developed by Manuel García, provides an additional formatter for the core image field so that you can create, for instance, a “thumbnail” which links to a larger, watermarked version of the image. This seems like a common enough need that this kind of functionality should probably be added to core. Until then, there’s this.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

jQuery UI Slider Field

The Jquery Ui Slider Field module provides a simple way “slide” between a range of integer values.The module, developed by Sina Salek integrates the jQuery UI Slider plugin so you can easily allow users of your site to utilize a graphical slider to quickly enter an integer value in a field. This looks handy, especially for users accessing your site without a normal keyboard.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Juicebox HTML5 Responsive Image Galleries

The Juicebox integration module for Drupal helps you display a beautiful responsive image gallery.The module, written by Ryan Jacobs integrates the beautiful Juicebox HTML5 responsive gallery library into your Drupal site. There’s a lot to this module; probably enough to have a whole article dedicated to ways you can use it, but it definitely looks nice if you want to provide image galleries that render well on a wide range of devices. Like many other such modules that integrate third-party code, it requires Libraries and adding the Juicebox code to your sites/all/libraries directory. We should note that there are both Lite (free) and Pro (commercial) versions of Juicebox (you’ll need to decide which is more appropriate for your use case) and the maintainers of this module are not affiliated with the developers of Juicebox, itself. This module will work to integrate either version of Juicebox.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Lazy Entity

The module, written by James I. Armes of AllPlayers.com, allows field values for Drupal entities to be lazy-loaded rather than loaded at the time the entity loads, so can provide a boost to performance and memory usage. This module is for developers, so will not be useful to you unless you are a coder who needs to lazy-load fields. Otherwise you would only enable this module if another module requires it.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Linked Data Tools

The module, by Chris Skene of PreviousNext, is a developer module to help retrieve, cache, and work with linked data sources. It depends on EasyRDF and X Autoload and Guzzle is also recommended.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Library attach

The module, written by Dave Reid of Palantir.net, adds a Library reference field type so that libraries can be attached to individual entities when rendered, thus saving your site from loading lots of unnecessary Javascript for every page. It also adds an option to the Views UI so allows adding libraries for specific Views displays. This is a great idea!

Status: There is an RC release available for Drupal 7.

Lorempixel

The module, written by Fredric Bergström of Wunderkraut, provides “dummy images” which it fetches from the very slick lorempixel.com web service. Oh, and the module can also be used to get the placeholder images added to content by Devel generate.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

MD WordCloud

The MD Wordcloud displays a cloud of all terms in a vocabulary, sized according to frequency of their use.The module, written by Neo Khuat, creates a block with a “cloud” of terms from a taxonomy. You’ll need to download and add some Javascript files to the module’s “js” folder. So you don’t need to save and replace the Javascript files, it might be better to symlink them to a directory in sites/all/libraries.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Multisite wizard

The module, written by Alex Posidelov, helps simplify the process of converting a single site Drupal installation to multisite. A lot of the work is done for you with just one click of a button and it helps lead the administrator through the rest of the requirements. It depends on the Backup and Migrate module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Notify 404

, by teknic of Appnovation Technologies, provides a means to send notification emails to a site administrator when a configurable volume or frequency of 404 (page not found) errors have occurred.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Photobox

The Photobox module integrates the jQuery-powered Photo-box gallery as a display format for images.The module, developed by Andrew Berezovsky of Axel Springer Russia, adds an Image field formatter for viewing images in a Photobox image gallery. You’ll need to use the jQuery Update module since Photobox requires jQuery 1.8. This does look nice.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

RecommenderGhost

The Recommenderghost module integrates the free external recommender service to help show users other content of interest on your site.The module, coded by hhhc, integrates the free recommender services hosted by RecommenderGhost. It makes it easy to display recommendations for “other visitors bought…”, etc. This is much simpler than installing and integrating a separate server.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Reference helper

Categories: Fields

The module, created by Kevin Miller of Cal State Monterey Bay, is a helper module for displaying recent or most relevant entities under an entity reference field and was a winner of the Module Off challenge. It definitely sounds useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Regcheck

The module, produced by Tobias Haugen of Wunderkraut, adds a hidden checkbox to your site’s registration form; if checked, the registration process is aborted. “Robot” users tend to check the box, so it can be a simple way to eliminate at least some of the unwanted registrations used for spamming your site or other nefarious purposes. There are other modules which help with protecting forms like this, but a wide variety of spam prevention methods are useful for keeping a step ahead of the bot coders.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Simple hierarchical select

The module, written by Stefan Borchert of undpaul, defines a new form widget for hierarchical taxonomy fields so you can simply navigate the structure of the taxonomy and select a term.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Site Disclaimer

The module, by Ilya I, can add “Terms of Use”, “Privacy policy” or other agreements to the registration form. Visitors who want to register on your site need to agree to the terms of the “disclaimer” in order to register.

Status: There is a stable stable release available for Drupal 7.

Tablesorter

The Tablesorter module integrates a jQuery plugin to allow standard tables to be sorted by any column.The module, coded by Shoaib Rehman Mirza of Xululabs, integrates the tablesorter jQuery plugin so that any standard HTML table with THEAD and TBODY tags can be turned into a sortable table without even requiring a page refresh. Of course it’s not helpful if the data is paginated, but for normal tables with all the data on one page, this could be useful. Of course you need to download the Javascript libraries and install them in your sites/all/libraries directory, and of course that means this depends on Libraries API.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Taxonomy Protect

The Taxonomy Protect helps prevent users with some administration rights from deleting vocabularies.The module, contributed by Jay Beaton allows administrators to select certain taxonomy vocabularies and prevent them from being deleted. That way, even if some users who need to be able to administer taxonomies don’t fully understand the system, they won’t make the mistake of deleting a critical vocabulary.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Topbar Messages

The module, created by Mark Koester of Int3c.com: International Cross-Cultural Consulting, allows you to add a message in the top of your Drupal pages. The message can be dismissed with a click on a “close” link and can include links and other formatting. There are other such modules, but this one might be the best fit for your use case. It does look useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Views Ajax Fade

The module, authored by Thomas Lattimore of Classic Graphics, is a Views plugin which allows you to add a fade in/out effect for Ajax-enabled Views displays. This would be nice for some use cases.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Webform Countdown

Categories: Content

The module, by Andrew Lindsay provides a textarea component for Drupal webforms which includes a configurable, Twitter-style dynamic word or character count to limit the length of submissions. Of course it requires the Webformmodule and Libraries module (as well as the word-and-character-counter.js in sites/all/libraries.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Webform Postal Code

Categories: Content

The module, is another Webform-enhancing module contributed by Andrew Lindsay. It adds strong, configurable postal code validation which can even be set to handle multiple countries simultaneously. In addition to the obvious dependency on Webform, this also requires the Postal Code Validation module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Jan 02 2013
Jan 02
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

Closing out the year 2012 with a bang, December brought us quite a number of new modules which look promising enough to cover; a few that I’m covering this time are far from ready or even only at the “concept” stage and normally would not be included, but they seemed particularly interesting or unique, and I want to see how they develop. Anyway, this month there were quite a few modules released for mobile support/responsive content. There were also several search-related modules, anti-spam modules, a couple of novelty modules, some interesting commerce-related releases, a number of Features package modules customized for various special-purpose distributions, lots of new “Third-party Integration” modules, theme enhancements, and more… I only wish I had more time so I could actually try out more of them, but there are several I do plan to get back to.

As usual, this post is sorted alphabetically and only covers modules which had their first release, or at least a new project created, in December. Selection for the Modules of the Month is a completely arbitrary process, but normally excludes common or niche items like a new payment method for Commerce that provides connections for a payment system used in, e.g. Romania. We also don’t normally include commercial service integration modules (unless the service looks really cool and is reasonably priced).

Anyway, it seems like only last week that I was putting the final touches on the November “Modules of the Month” story… oh wait, it was only last week: nine days ago, as I write this. Well I promised to try to get December’s published in early January, so I pushed some days around to make this happen. Let’s take a look at the modules, then, shall we? …

*/ Activation Code

The module, brought to us by prolific über-contributor Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, provides a fieldable “activation_code” entity type with a number of fields for an ID, creation timestamp, redemption timestamp, username, etc. It’s used by the Course Information System distribution as another method for authorizing access to online course materials, etc, but for those who don’t need the module on their site, it could still provide a useful example for how to build a fieldable entity.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Apachesolr Link

Categories: Search

The module, produced by Michael Prasuhn of Shomeya, enables indexing a Link field’s “target”, along with the entity it is attached to, in the Apache Solr search index. It might be obvious, but this module depends on Link and Apache Solr Search Integration; the Apache Solr Attachments module will also be useful if some of the links you wish to index are to PDF files or other “non-plain-text” results which you wish to index.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Are You A Human PlayThru Are You a Human Playthru login

The module, written by Chris Keller of Commercial Progression, provides a more simple, fun, and intuitive means for a user to prove they are human than typical CAPTCHA options. It uses game mechanics which a user interacts with rather than having users try to interpret text in graphics. CAPTCHA fields can be frustratingly and tedious, so it’s nice to see people are working on interesting alternatives. Cool! I often skip over commercial third-party integration modules, but this seems interesting enough not to pass up, and they do provide free options which might be adequate for many sites.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Backstretch Formatter

The module, written by Yannick Leyendecker of LOOM GmbH, provides a field formatter for jQuery Backstretch - A simple jQuery plugin that allows you to add a dynamically-resized, slideshow-capable background image to any page or element. Once you have everything (JavaScript libraries and the module, etc) correctly installed, if you select “Backstretch” as field formatter for an image field which allows more than one image you will get a slideshow. If your slideshow needs don’t require anything too fancy, this could be the ideal module to implement it. Cool!

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Badbot

Because we wouldn’t want one CAPTCHA alternative to be lonely… the module, developed by Yuriy Babenko of Suite101, provides another method of CAPTCHA-free spam-prevention; it is currently limited to the user registration form, but comment forms are in the works. Visitors must have JavaScript enabled in their browsers for this system to work; it displays an error if JavaScript is disabled. Since spam bots generally do not parse JS, this helps avoid the need for CAPTCHAs, which are often solved by low-paid workers these days, anyway.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

BetterTip

The module, produced by Shoaib Rehman Mirza of Xululabs, is a lightweight jQuery plugin for clean, HTML5-valid tooltips which can provide a richer user experience than default tooltip text.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7 (and the project page includes a pledge to provide a Drupal 6 version).

Breakpoint Panels

The module, developed by Daniel Linn of Metal Toad Media, adds a Panel style called “Breakpoint Panel”. When selected, it will display checkboxes next to all of the breakpoints specified in that module’s UI. Unchecking any of these will “hide” it from that breakpoint. If you are lost by this description of the functionality, it probably helps to understand that “breakpoints” define different display-width ranges so that you can determine layout for content on different width devices or even eliminate some content from being displayed on, e.g. devices less than 480 pixels wide. Of course it depends on the Breakpoints module, whose functionality is going into Drupal 8 “core”, and Panels, but you’ll also need to download some Javascript files and enable them with Libraries. See the project page for further details, but this could definitely help improve mobile/responsive content and the roadmap looks good, too.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Christmas Lights

The module, created by Andrew Podlubnyj, is, depending on your use case, of course, probably just a novelty module, but one that might be fun to enable in the right season. It adds decorative “Christmas lights” for you and your users to enjoy.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

CKEditor for WYSIWYG Module

When Nathan Haug of Lullabot-fame releases a new module, it’s always GoodStuff™, so it’s no surprise that there are already hundreds of sites using the after just one month. It provides a WYSIWYG editor (surprise, surprise!) using the CKEditor library (surprise, again!). This project aims to combine some of the best of the Wysiwyg-module integration with CKEditor with the best of the standalone CKEditor-integration module, with support for the Drupal Image and Drupal Image captioning plugins, compatibility with other WYSIWYG editors integrated through the Wysiwyg module, and no inline styles inserted into HTML… among other nice features either already implemented or in the “roadmap”. It requires the Wysiwyg module and is incompatible with the normal CKEditor integration module (which must be completely removed before using this module).

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Coins wallet

The module, authored by ssm2017 Binder, is a Bitcoin wallet system to be used with a devcoin-compatible daemon. This module is a complete rewrite for Drupal 7 of the never-released original Drupal 6 version discussed here and uses the bitcoin-php library. While I confess that I’m a bit leery of how this all works, I’m also fascinated by the idea of alternative currencies which aren’t controlled and manipulated by bankers and other “white collar criminals”, so while the optimist in me is curious to see how this works, the pessimist in me worries that between human greed and governmental attempts to rein this in, well… interesting work, in any case.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Collapsible fieldset memory

The module, written by David Herminghaus, solves a nice little UX issue for Drupal. If you have ever worked on a project where you had to enter content into Drupal forms with fieldsets which needed to be uncollapsed to access required fields, or where closing fieldsets to get them out of your way is part of your workflow, you might like this module. It allows everyone, even anonymous users, to have stored defaults for any Drupal form with collapsible fieldsets, so if a fieldset on a form was uncollapsed when you last used it, it will start out that way the next time you do. Nice! Of course it requires Javascript (as do collapsible fieldsets). The developer is open to feature requests and issues, so pitch in if you use this module and help make it better. There’s a bit you should know about before implementing it on your site, so be sure to peruse the project page.

Status: There are alpha releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Commerce Check

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Message

The module, produced by Bojan Živanović of Commerce Guys, provides Commerce-specific Message integration, including some default message settings for common order states, such as “order paid”, “product added to cart”, “order confirmation”, etc. It looks like a pretty well-thought-out module to help provide automated or custom messages to clients at appropriate stages in their order process. It’s integrated with Commerce Backoffice and Commerce Kickstart v2, so is already in use on quite a number of sites.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Commons Polls

The module, by Ezra Barnett Gildesgame of Acquia, and the primary maintainer of Drupal Commons, integrates Drupal’s “core” Poll module as a group-enabled content type in Drupal Commons 3.0.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Content callback If you register a content callback via hook_content_callback_info() it will be available in the Content callback field options.

—Project description excerpt

The module, developed by Jasper Knops of Nascom, allows you to return any renderable array, created in code, via a field; it also contains a sub-module which provides a searchable Views display, as well as a context condition, among other features you should check out on the project page. If it’s not clear, though, I might mention this is not a simple add-and-enable module; it provides some tools for coders and advanced site builders.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Context Breakpoint

The module, developed by Christoph, helps bridge Context and Breakpoints so that you can alter a page based on the visitor’s screen resolution, browser window size, or aspect ratio. Installing it adds a context condition for “Breakpoint”. This could definitely be useful, especially if your site already uses Context. Of course it’s a bit complex, so please see the project page and the module’s README file for information about how to install, configure, and make use of this.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Context code

The is another module by Jasper Knops of Nascom. It provides “a new context condition plugin which allows you to trigger contexts from code”. It should probably go without saying that it requires the Context module and is a module developed for other developers. See the project page for implementation examples, but I think this looks very useful, at least for advanced Drupalists and coders.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

CP2P2: Content Profile to Profile2

The module, written by Damien McKenna of Mediacurrent, is an add-on for Profile2 to convert Content Profile content types into Profile types. Note that there is no admin user interface for this; all functionality is provided by Drush commands run in the terminal, so this module is targeted toward experienced Drupalists and coders.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Create and continue

The module, written by Dominique De Cooman of Ausy/DataFlow, simply adds a button to node forms which saves the current node and opens node/add/CONTENT_TYPE to create another instance of the same node type and help streamline the content creation process.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Crossdomain

Categories: Media

The module, written by Adam Moore of Stanford Graduate School of Business, simply creates a crossdomain.xml file at the root of your Drupal site and provides configuration setting for which domains should be included. This is useful for certain web services which may require different domains to have access to your site content.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Currency for Drupal Commerce

The module, produced by Bart Feenstra replaces the native currency-based price display in Drupal Commerce with locale-based display, using the Currency module. Because proper display depends on locale (language and country) and not on currencies, this module helps ensure that users see prices in a format they are used to.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Field Quick Required

The module, written by Jelle Sebreghts of attiks, provides a simple overview of which field are required for a given content type, without having to enter the settings for that field. You can also change the “required” setting for any field. Nice! It does this by adding an extra column to the “manage fields” overview for your content types, e.g. for /admin/structure/types/manage/article/fields, where you would normally have columns for “Label”, “Machine name”, “Field type”, “Widget”, and “Operations”, you would also have a column labeled “Required” with a checkbox that can easily be changed if you decide a certain field should (or should not) be required for a particular content type. This could be especially useful during the initial phases of designing a site’s content types and logic.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

"File Metadata Table" Field Formatter

Categories: Fields

The module, written by Jeremy Thorson, with support from Derek Wright, looks interesting. It’s still in development, but it provides a customizable “File Metadata Table” field formatter for file fields. All of the options are a bit much to list here, but given the profiles of these two super-contributors, I think this will be an interesting module to check back on. I’m expecting something awesome here!

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Foresight Images

The module, developed by Graham Bates of Catch Digital, provides a field formatter which integrates the foresight.js library to display image fields. Images are requested and generated at the exact size required. As with other such third-party Javascript library integrations, this will require Libraries and you install the additional JavaScript code in sites/all/libraries. I’m not convinced that this module offers enough benefits to select it rather than one of the other more-established responsive image modules; I’m also not convinced otherwise and the Foresight Images project page includes a list of other “similar” responsive images modules and some brief notes about how the approach or features differ from those provided by Foresight Images. So this project page could be worth looking at if you need an overview to help choose the appropriate module(s) or approach for your next project.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Forum notifications

The module, created by David Snopek, extends the Notifications module to add some nice UI improvements for notifications involving forums based on the “core” Forums module. If you have a site with forums and wish to have a nice user experience for “subscribing” (and “unsubscribing”) to forums or individual threads, this module could help.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7 and a beta release available for Drupal 6.

htaccess

The module, coded by giorgio79, autogenerates a Drupal root htaccess file based on your settings, including such configuration settings as automatic insertion of Boost htaccess settings, whether or not to use “www”, Followsymlinks or SymlinksIfOwnersMatch, etc. You simply configure these settings at /admin/config/system/htaccess if this module is enabled and of course you could only enable this module when upgrading Drupal, to replace the default .htaccess with one based on your settings. I don’t think it should be so dangerous to try this, but you might want to make your own backup copy of your current .htaccess file, just in case anything goes wrong (in theory, this module should also make a backup copy of your existing .htaccess file).

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Image optimize effect

The module, yet another contributed by Peter Droogmans of Attiks, adds two new image effects to optimize image files to reduce your average page size. Most websites do not have very well optimized images and images can be substantially reduced in size, even without noticeable change in quality. This module uses pngquant to optimize png files and imgmin, which can work on various formats, but is best for JPEG files. Of course it depends on the relevant libraries (see the project description). For more information, see this recent article on the Performance Calendar blog: Giving Your Images an Extra Squeeze

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Image Style Pregenerate

The module, developed by Gabor Szanto, helps you to generate all the images for a new image style before enabling the style; it’s designed for bulk image generation on production sites where the performance hit of switching the image style in your field formatter without already having the new images in place, could result in issues. It relies on Views Bulk Operations (VBO) and File Entity.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Insert image with text

Categories: Content

The module, developed by Esben von Buchwald of Reload!, extends the Insert module to modify the image markup to include caption text below the image. I don’t know how this compares to other methods of adding an image caption, but if you are already using Insert, and you want a simple way to include image captions, this module could be useful.

Status: There are dev releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Joyride

The module, written by Mark Koester of Int3c.com: International Cross-Cultural Consulting, integrates the Joyride plugin to provide a simple way to give a tour of features or information on your Drupal-based site. This looks pretty cool. Of course you need to download the Javascript and install it in your sites/all/libraries directory… and of course that means it also requires the Libraries module.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

jQuery Tabs Field

The module, contributed by Varun Mishra, allows you to create up to seven tab fields, each with a “body” and “tab title” on any node where this field is part of the content type. On viewing the node, the module will format the output to display each as horizontal tabs, which can make for more attractive output. This is relatively simple compared to options where you could have a number of fields in each tab, but if it fills the requirements of your use case, this simplicity would be ideal. There are already quite a few sites using this and it should become much more useful when the “body” of each tab supports HTML formats (currently it only accepts plain text, but the first issue for this module has elicited a promise to get HTML support in there.)

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Kazoo API

The module, contributed by Bevan Rudge of Drupal.geek.nz, integrates the Kazoo REST API telecommunications platform into Drupal-based sites. This is fairly complex and the use cases for this are somewhat limited, so I’m not going to bother going into great detail, but it’s interesting to know about, nonetheless.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Kim Jong-filter The Kim Jong filter is used to highlight specified words or phrases within content

The module, coded by the prolific Peter Lieverdink of Creative Contingencies, provides an input filter that wraps all occurrences of names of great leaders in a <span> element with a suitable class for easy highlighting. Of course you could use it for other purposes, so this might be more than an odd novelty module.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Language fallback

The module, written by Peter Droogmans, a very active contributor who has done a lot for multilingual functionality in Drupal, allows you to specify a fallback language for each language on your site, so if a string is found untranslated in the preferred language, you can get the next closest language translation file. Example use cases are for regional variants of a language, so if there is no translation in “nl-be” (Belgian Dutch), it would default to a translation found in Netherlands Dutch “nl-nl” and finally default to a standard translation found in “nl”, if available. This could certainly be useful and I believe this is a backport of functionality that’s already been built into Drupal 8 “core” (if not, I suspect it will be ported to Drupal 8 as a contrib module).

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Layouter - WYSIWYG layout templates The Layouter module helps create templates within content to facilitate columns or other layouts.

The module, from Alexander of ADCI, LLC, provides a simple way to select a particular “layout” (e.g. columns) for content. It already integrates with the CKEditor and the developer plans support for other popular editors, but it can apparently be used without a WYSIWYG editor, too.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Lazyloader filter

The module, authored by Derek Webb of CollectiveColors, provides an input filter for lazy loading images as they may appear in textareas and relies on the Lazyloader project for the actual lazy-loading of images. This module only provides a filter that renders <img> tags in a manner consistent with the needs of the Lazyloader module, while allowing you to theme the image output to your liking and preserve original image attributes. This looks useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Leaflet MapBox

The module, contributed by Jaime Herencia of WebPartners, provides integration between another Drupal contrib module, Leaflet (which integrates the Leaflet JavaScript mapping library), and MapBox. The Leaflet module’s project page actually links to an example which uses Mapbox: The Intertwine, which documents trails in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. This site really looks cool, so if mapping functionality is important for your site, this might be useful for you.
Caveat: Mapbox is not a free service, but is reasonably priced and includes some pretty cool tools and features, not to mention distributed map hosting.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Link CSS

The module, created by Graham Bates of Catch Digital, allows you to add CSS files using the <link> element instead of @import. This is useful for live refresh workflows such as CodeKit which do not support files loaded with @import.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Local Foodhub Local Foodhub defines the commerce functionality to support a foodhub in a community, where producers and consumers attend a regular collection day where ordered products can be collected. Foodhubs are a convenient way to provide local produce for people in the community while giving producers more regular orders.

—Project description

The module, developed by Paul Mackay, is a project description which definitely looks interesting, although there is, as of this time, no code released. Normally I don’t include modules in this column if there aren’t at least some Git code commits, but there is enough information already, and I like the idea well enough that I’m making an exception here. We need to have more local food production and distribution… and infrastructure to support this if we want to live in a future with more environmentally sustainable practices, so on behalf of my future children and grandchildren, I give thanks for people working on projects like this.

Status: Check back. Currently no project code.

Mobile Switch (Varnish version)

The module, developed by Paul Maddern of ITV, provides a simple automatic theme switch functionality for mobile devices, utilising Varnish for detecting the user-agent and providing proper cacheable pages using the same URLs per mobile device group. This helps avoid bootstrapping Drupal while still presenting the appropriate, cached content for each device type. Nice! Of course getting this all right is not simple, so be sure to peruse the project page for more complete implementation details.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Moodle Connector

The module, produced by Pere Orga, aims to provide a common interface for modules that integrate Drupal with the open-source Moodle e-learning system. It does not provide any end-user features and the initial release simple adds an admin configuration page for you to enter Moodle credentials, but there are plans for some other appropriate features. If you have a site that bridges Drupal and Moodle, this could be a worthwhile module for you.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Multilingual Panels

The module, created by Valeriy Sokolov, provides support for making Panels panes translatable, which could definitely be useful for multilingual sites which make use of Panels.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Organic Groups formatters

The module, produced by Eric Mulder of LimoenGroen, extends Organic Groups by adding additional field formatters for the “Groups Audience” field. The “Group delimited list” formatter allows you to display Group names (labels) as a delimited list. Other formatters may be added if requested in the issue queue.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Panels Image Link

The module, authored by Nick Piacentine of the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, provides a simple Panels content type to display an uploaded image and link it to a provided url/path. There are already quite a few sites using this, considering its very recent release, so I suppose this could become quite popular for sites using Panels.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Pants

The module, produced by Angie Byron of Acquia, is an actual module instead of just code used in a tutorial demonstration, but the purpose is the same. The previous version of the Pants “module” (not actually released) was for Drupal 5. This project updates it to Drupal 7 code and may be used as part of Angie’s DrupalCon Sydney core conversation presentation about “Upgrading your modules”, which will cover getting Drupal 7 code ready to run in Drupal 8.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

PDF Forms API

The module, authored by Kevin Kaland of WizOne Solutions, is an API module which you should only install if another module requires it or if you are a developer and want to use its functions, which are initially focused on PDF form functionality.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Pinterest Verify Website

The module, written by Peter Lieverdink of Creative Contingencies, simplifies the verication process for pinterest by adding a verification tag or page to a Drupal site.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Polychotomous Keys

The module, written by Ed Baker of the Natural History Museum, “allows you to build polychotomous keys using Views”. At least that is the “project description”, but currently there is not even a single code commit. While that would normally mean I’d skip the project for inclusion here, I’m interested in modules being developed for academics and there could be a lot of use cases for such a module. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

Status: Check back. Currently no project code available.

Prelaunch

The module, written by Dominique De Cooman of Ausy/DataFlow, allows you to set one page of a Drupal site as “prelaunch page”. An example use case might be to display a webform to collect emails to notify interested parties when your site is launched, or page with information about what’s coming. Your site can essentially be “offline” without using maintenance mode; it prevents users from accessing any part of the site besides the prelaunch page (although assigned roles can access other areas). This definitely sounds useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Pushtape Admin

is actually a Drupal distribution for musicians, which was initially released about 18 months ago. So why am I including it here? Well, I’m not really, but there are five new Features package modules which were released in December which are all geared toward improving support for building sites with Pushtape and which might be useful even if you aren’t using the distribution. All of the following modules were contributed by Farsheed of Zirafa Works:

  • contains admin views and menus.
  • adds a simple file field to the Track content type to allow uploading mp3 files.
  • configures an event content type, view, and menu link.
  • creates a news content type, view, and menu link.
  • creates a simple photo-set to share a group of photos. Content type, views, and menu link are bundled; this also uses Colorbox.

Status: For each of these modules, there are development releases available for Drupal 7.

Radix Layouts

The module, produced by Arshad Chummun, provides responsive panels layouts set to work with Panopoly and the Radix theme (also contributed by Arshad Chummun). If you are using Panopoly, you might like Radix and if you are using Radix, you might like this module, especially if you need responsive layouts for mobile devices.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Restaurant

is a new distribution, also developed by Arshad Chummun, which is based on Panopoly and designed to simplify hosting websites for restaurants. Several supporting modules were also released in December:

  • provides base configuration and structure.
  • adds a blog system.
  • provides structure for creating and managing events.
  • provides structure for creating and managing menus.
  • provides structure for creating and managing slideshows.
  • adds theming helpers.

Status: There are development releases available for Drupal 7 for the Restaurant distribution and each of the listed supporting modules.

Search API Stanbol

The module, written by Stéphane Corlosquet and Wolfgang Ziegler provides Drupal integration with Apache Stanbol, a new and exciting search technology for extracting information from “unstructured” text content. Getting into the full details of how this works is well outside the scope of this column, but this definitely does look interesting. This module requires the Search API and RDF Extensions modules.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Single Image Formatter

Categories: Fields

The module, created by Federico Jaramillo of SeeD, exposes a formatter that displays one image from a multi-value image field. It allows the same options as the original image formatter, but adds an option to choose which image to display. For some use cases, the Field multiple limit may be more suitable, but the Single Image Formatter might be more efficient for situations where there are many values in a multi-value image field.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Sky field

The module, created by Leonid Mamaev and Alexander of ADCI, LLC, is sort of a new, improved version of the Node field module released a few months back by the same developers. It allows you to add unique custom fields to any single Drupal entity (node, user, comment, etc). You can add text fields, long text fields, links, radios, select, checkbox, taxonomy terms, among others and includes an API to add support for additional field types. This could be very useful for sites where an occasional instance might benefit from an extra field that isn’t normally used for that content type.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Twitter Web Intents

Categories: Views

The module, developed by Francisco José Cruz Romanos of Hiberus, integrates Twitter’s Web Intents system to add extra Twitter links for replying, retweeting, adding to favorites, following, etc, into a view of Twitter messages. This allows users to interact with Twitter content from within the context of your site, without needing to leave the page or authorize an app just for this interaction.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Twysi

The module, created by Tony Star of Acronis, is “an amazing Twitter Bootstrap WYSIWYG HTML5 editor”, at least that’s what the project description says. But it might be a bit early to tell about the module, itself. Currently, if I install the wysihtml5 library, I can select it as the editor for a given text format, but no buttons are present and no editor shows up on a text area. That said, this does sound like a project worth checking back on.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

URL token URL token is an API module that provides token-based authentication for other modules, where the token can be used in URLs without requiring a Drupal user. Tokens can also be limited to a set number of uses or a fixed period of time.

—from the project’s README.txt

The module, by Marcus Deglos of Techito, is “an API module to make token-based access control simple”. Normal users should only install this module if another module requires it. Developers might want to take a look at the project page for some decent code examples of how to request a token and check that a token is valid. Note: in case this is not obvious, this module has nothing to do with the Token module. “Token”, in this context, is simply an access key.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Views OG cache

The module, from long-time contributor Amitai Burstein of Gizra, adds a Views time-based cache, configurable per group; uses OG-context to identify a group’s view to cache; includes OG-access integration: if the group is private, caching is done per-user instead of per-group… among other listed features. This definitely looks like it could be useful for sites using both Organic Groups and Views.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Welcome

The Welcome module displays a custom message when users log in.The module, from Blair Wadman displays a simple, configurable welcome message when a user logs in. Simply enable it at admin/config/people/welcome, and yes Token support is included. The example message displayed at left uses Tokens for both the site-name and username. (Of course the “Swachula” username is courtesy of “Devel generate” and “d7test” is my local Drupal 7 testing environment.)

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Yet Another Yellow Box This is mostly being used to announce weather-related school closings on sites where I've been using it.

—from the project description

The module, authored by Micah Webner of Access-Interactive, provides a simple way to add a prominent “announcement” block of filtered text to any pre-configured region. The contents and visibility of the announcement block can then be managed by users who may not otherwise have permission to manage blocks. If you have a site where staff may need to make emergency announcements, this could be a useful module to set up. See the project page for further information about how to get everything working.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7 and a stable release available for Drupal 6.

Zoundation Support

The module, written by Jeff Graham of FunnyMonkey, is designed to work with the responsive HTML5-based zoundation theme and its sub-themes. It provides custom menu builder functions and blocks for menus, a foundation navbar and topbar, a custom field formatter for orbit slideshow integration, improved placeholder integration for elements, and “other minor UI improvements” that work better in this module than in the zoundation theme, itself.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Dec 23 2012
Dec 23
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

November 2012 was a busy month for a lot of people involved in Drupal contribution. It was the final weeks before the “feature freeze” for Drupal 8, so a lot of the focus was on new features for the next great release of Drupal. Many of the “new projects” were simply “namespace reservations” for new core modules or planned contrib modules which relate to Drupal 8; most of which had no project code committed at all (for some, presumably, it’s all in the main Drupal 8 repository). But there were also a number of new feature-enhancing modules released for Drupal 7 (and a few for Drupal 6), several which improve search functionality, a few for delivering mobile-friendly content from a Drupal site, some for commerce, others designed to help manage Drupal sites and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks when moving from “development” to “production”, among other new gems.

It’s fun, too, that we got a couple new “novelty” modules in November: one, Driesday, puts a “Happy Driesday!” message on your site every November 19th; another is a bit more insidious, with a fully-disclosed dependency on Bad judgement: Feature creep allows you to nostalgically hang onto the “good old days” when Features had a few more quirks. So if you want to remember that fun, just turn this module on and, as the module description says, “every time that you export or update a feature the Feature creep module will randomly add an extra component to your feature, what fun!”

Before we get into the module descriptions, of course, I should acknowledge the very late arrival of this month’s release of this column. It’s been one of those months… again. But let me try to hold onto my optimism that I’ll be seeing you with December’s write-up in just a couple weeks. I’ll be aiming for the first week of January. Now let’s have a look at the “new” modules.

*/ Apache Solr Term Proximity

The module, coded by the prolific Chris Pliakas of Acquia fame, should be of interest for sites using Apache Solr. It boosts the relevancy of documents in which the search terms appear closer together. In other words, if I’m searching for “data migration”, a document which has these two words together should rank higher than another document where they are separated by a few words, which should rank higher than one where these words appear in different paragraphs. Nice!

Status: There is an RC release available for Drupal 7.

bigint

Categories: Fields

It’s always nice when developers share modules which help to get around some of the native limits in Drupal. One such limit is the lack of a proper “BigInt” integer type, which might not be needed for most sites, but is certainly a limitation that developers have to work around for some use cases. The module, by Ryan Coulombe of NewMedia!, provides a true BigInt field, thus saving site builders from having to find creative ways to handle text or decimal values that they really want to be an integer. Cool!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Block Group

Categories: Utility

An example “block group” to display the “user blocks”The module, by znerol, provides a taste of Drupal 8-like layouts by extending the Drupal block system with “block groups” which can be placed like a normal block, are nestable, and can have regions within them. A simple use case might be that you want all of your user-related blocks to be kept together in one “user blocks” block group, which you can then put into whatever theme region you wish, without having to always fix their order when adding them to a different theme or reorder them if you change the region. Very handy!

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Book Touch

The module, which requires the Thumbnav module, is another innovation from Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, who has been contributing loads of great modules in recent months. It provides gestures and touch events for mobile navigation of an online book to help replicate the experience of a touch-sensitive e-book reader. Most awesome!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Bounce reasons

The module, produced by Alexander of ADCI, LLC, may or may not be a good idea. It pops up a Webform in an overlay, when your site visitors attempt to close a window, where you can ask why they are leaving. Personally, I think I would just find this annoying and might likely avoid following future links to the site, but that’s just my initial reaction; maybe I’m not the typical web user and it’s possible that in some cultures people wouldn’t mind a site preventing a window from being closed to ask them why. That said, maybe it would be better to provide an “opt-in” for such an “exit poll” feature, i.e. ask visitors when they arrive to your site if they wouldn’t mind being asked about their experience when they leave. But perhaps you have a client who has asked you to build exactly this functionality? If so, rather than argue with them about why this might not be a good idea, you now know “there is a module for that”. And maybe using this for a while would help them improve their site. The project description page doesn’t specifically mention it, but it would seem to depend on Webform… and possibly also Bad judgement. Hmmm…

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

ckeditor_syntaxhighlighter

The module, by Jason Xie of VicTheme, integrates syntaxhighlighter into the CKEditor module by loading another yet another JavaScript project, ckeditor-syntaxhighlight. It depends on the CKEditor and SyntaxHighlighter modules, as well as the JavaScript libraries they require, installed in sites/all/libraries per installation directions (and the Libraries module, of course).

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Backoffice

The module, by Bojan Živanović of Commerce Guys, provides administration enhancements for Drupal Commerce and is already in use on over 2,000 sites less than a month after its release (perhaps largely since it’s a component of the latest release of the Commerce Kickstart distribution). It includes three sub-modules, each of which have a number of dependencies and the project page does a good job of explaining everything, so I won’t say more than this: if you are using Commerce and aren’t using the Kickstart distribution, you will probably benefit from adding and configuring this module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Price Extra

The module, from Marc ElBichon, adds extra features based on the price component in Drupal Commerce, including allowing ordering of price components in the cart pane, printing discounts on their own line, and other nifty features.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Rules Extra

The module, also developed by Marc ElBichon, is a library of Rules events, conditions, and actions to support Drupal Commerce site building.

My wish is to merge all modules based on Rules and Drupal Commerce in a single one. It forks the apparently-unmaintained Commerce Extra Rules Conditions module. See the project page for more information about what this module already supports or to suggest additional features.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Search API

Categories: Search

The another module, contributed by Bojan Živanović of Commerce Guys, provides Commerce-specific Search API integration and fulfills a feature request that dates back to the early days of Commerce. It was covered on Commerce Module Tuesday and is part of the latest Commerce Kickstart, so is already used by many sites. If you don’t use Kickstart, and want improved search functions for your Commerce-based site, this is a good module to consider.

Status: There is an RC release available for Drupal 7.

Context Block Visibility

The module, coded by Peter Berryman, provides context for block visibility using the normal block admin page. This could be handy for certain use cases.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Dictionary Export

The module, coded by Ed Baker of the Natural History Museum, provides support for Microsoft Office-compatible dictionaries in (*.dic) format for any vocabulary on your site.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Download Userpoints

The module, by Eugen, provides a way for you to allow access to private files via user points. This looks useful for communities which provide points for contribution and require points for downloads of community-contributed files (as one example use-case). It requires the Userpoints module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Drifter

The module, produced by Peter Anderson of PackWeb, allows fields to be floated to the left or right of content. While this kind of layout is normally provided by theme CSS, it can be useful for it to be theme-independent.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

EasyRdf

The module, from Chris Skene of PreviousNext, provides Libraries API compatibility for EasyRdf, which, in turn requires Libraries . It should only be installed if other modules require, but definitely looks useful.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Entity reference multiple display

The module, written by Jean Valverde of Linagora, provides a new field formatter for Entity Reference that let you configure different view modes for each referenced entity, for instance if you want the first elements to be displayed in full and subsequent elements to be displayed as teasers, this module could be your friend.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Entity Reference Views Formatter

Categories: Fields

The module, authored by Maxim Podorov, provides a Views-based entity reference field formatter which allows you to use any view to show entity reference field value(s). It’s based on the Entity Reference View Field Formatter (sandbox) project from Katherine Bailey.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Facebook Autopost

The module, written by Mateu Aguiló Bosch of Human Bits, provides simple configuration to allow your site to automatically post to designated Facebook Pages. It includes a good developer API, integrates with Rules and the Entity API and includes Libraries integration for the Facebook Developer PHP SDK. It includes a Facebook app, which you authorize to make posts on the designated accounts’ behalf. There is a detailed video tutorial on the setup process linked on the project page.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Field Formatter CSS Class

The module, by Christian Zuckschwerdt, is perhaps a bit similar to the aforementioned Drifter module; it adds a CSS selector for fields so that you can select to, for example, use a class which floats an element left or right on a per-node basis. Of course you need to set up your theme for the classes and configure your fields, so it’s not a simple “add-and-activate” module, but it should give content authors a bit more control of display for individual nodes. The author invites the community to request additional features, so I think this will definitely be useful for a lot of sites (and there are already quite a few using it). Nice!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Final Polish

Categories: Utility

The module, by Yannick Leyendecker of LOOM GmbH, helps take care of some of the last steps that are often forgotten when launching a Drupal site. It allows you to disable access to paths like /node, /rss.xml, etc; it uploads a “touch icon” to be used by mobile devices; it verifies the existence of /favicon.ico, /apple-touch-icon.png, etc, so that you don’t get a plethora of 404 errors in the logs, and the author invites input for additional features, but already has a nice development road-map to include checking recipients for Webform emails, checking the site email address, redirecting to the front page on errors (access denied / not found), etc. This can definitely streamline the last steps of getting our sites ready for use, so I’ll definitely be giving this a try.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Gumroad

The module, from Eric Peterson of Tableau Software, helps use Gumroad to sell products on a Drupal website. I normally skip over modules which integrate commercial services, but what Gumroad offers and what they charge for their services seems like a good deal. So if you want to, for instance, sell your self-produced music and don’t want to spend a lot of time (and/or money) building up e-commerce infrastructure, handling payments, and all that, this can be a simple way to collect a reasonable percentage of the incoming revenue, and start making sales, without a ton of work. Of course, if you have more involved needs for e-commerce functionality, you’ll probably want to use Drupal Commerce, but I think this module should be attractive for a lot of creatives who simply want to focus on the “fun stuff” and just sell a few things from their sites.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Hackpad

The module, contributed by Andrew Berry of Lullabot, integrates Hackpad into a Drupal site. Hackpad is a hosted service, based on Etherpad (but with a lot more cool, more modern features), which allows collaborative editing of documents; it’s very cool, fun, and can be used for a lot of purposes for teams, so I think the interest in Hackpad will definitely grow, as will the features supported by this module which is still new enough that the API for it has not yet been documented, but with Lullabot behind its development, you know it will be awesome!

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Image Combination Effects (ICE)

The illustration image from the ICE project page with three pictures placed on an easel.The module, by Guy A. Paddock of Red Bottle Design, is too complex to succinctly summarize, but if you are building an image-centric site (e.g. a site to display your photography), this looks very useful for combining image effects or displaying multiple images at the same time (as one image), i.e., like “spriting” icons, but with larger images. It was designed to reduce the number of requests necessary for loading a slideshow, where they still wanted the client to be able to add new images or adjust the display order, but it looks like there could be a lot of potential use cases. It looks like this offers some pretty cool features that you might want to consider if image display is an important part of your planned site. I’ll certainly be playing with this.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

jQuery Placeholder

An example of HTML5 placeholder text in a formThe module, written by James Silver of ComputerMinds, integrates the HTML5 Placeholder jQuery Plugin to provide backward compatibility, using a Javascript-only method, for older browsers which don’t support the HTML5 placeholder attribute. For those not so up on HTML5 attributes, the “placeholder” attribute provides the “placeholder text” you see in a form field before you click on it to, e.g. enter your name, but until HTML5-support improves, we need some fallbacks, so this looks like a useful module.) It requires jQuery 1.6+ and the Elements module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Legal Extras

Categories: Content

The module, contributed by Rafal W., adds additional features to the Legal module, including the option to allow a registered user to access your site with reduced permissions if they reject the “terms of use”, display the date each user accepted the terms of use, and a number of related features to help manage those annoying legal issues that might be a headache for you, too. I hope I won’t have to use this anytime soon, but it’s nice to know this module exists.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 6, but I suspect a Drupal 7 port will be in the works.

Mass Password Reset

The module, written by Mark Shropshire of Classic Graphics, allows a Drupal site administrator to reset the password on all user accounts (except user/1) and then notify all users. It’s good to know this module is available if there’s ever an emergency situation where we might need it.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Meta tags: Panels

The module, contributed by Diogo Correia of DRI, extends the Meta tags module with support for Panels pages. It also has Features integration, so that if you export a panels page, the meta-tag configuration is exported with it. Cool!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Mobile Switch Blocks

The module, written by Siegfried Neumann, extends Mobile Switch, a module contributed by the same author, to provide block visibility control for mobile devices. This sounds useful.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

OG homepage

The module, produced by enzipher, allows you to configure an Organic group’s front-page as the default “home” for logged in members of the group; it also includes options to determine how a user is redirected if they belong to more than one group, among other nifty features. This could be useful for a lot of Organic Groups -based sites.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Performance and Scalability Checklist

The module, contributed by Travis Carden, is similar to the popular SEO Checklist module, which he also helps maintain. It provides an interactive, step-by-step checklist to help manage the common tasks involved in launching or administering a Drupal site; in this case where it comes to optimizing your site’s software stack, from Apache to your Drupal theme.

The Performance and Scalability Checklist module interface for Drupal 7.

This module is still new and the topic it attempts to cover is so broad, that the module is sure to change and improve in time, but it already looks pretty darn useful. The author is actively seeking suggestions in the Performance and Scalability Checklist issue queue, so please give it a try, then add your 2¢ to help improve this module. Enabling this module requires the ChecklistAPI module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Performance data

The module, by Nathaniel Catchpole of Tag1 Consulting, is envisioned to be a UI for viewing and analyzing performance data that you’ve recorded and saved using other tools. When a key core maintainer starts a new project, there’s usually reason to take notice and expect there might be great things coming. That said, according to the project page, this is still in the early stages of development, so unless you have an interest in assisting the development process, you might want to wait a while to try it out.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Print Anything

The module, coded by Chris Desautels of R2integrated, helps you configure special rules for generating print-friendly output for any path. There is some work to getting it all working, but it has some nice features and helps you handle a lot of content that isn’t otherwise simple to print, as well as helps maintain your brand visibility by including your logo in the output, among other features.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Quo.js

The module, created by Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, integrates the Quo.js mobile event library into Drupal. As with other such modules, you’ll still need to download and install the JavaScript code, separately. It provides a number of features, including environment detection, and event detection, such as reading “tap”, “hold”, “pinch”, “rotate” and other such mobile gesture events. It integrates well with, and enhances, the other modules recently released by the same prolific contributor, including the aforementioned Book Touch and Thumbnav modules, so it certainly looks useful and I expect it will grow in use as more sites start providing mobile-specific features.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Search API Page Block

Categories: Search

The module, produced by Tobby Hagler of Phase2 Technology, uses the Search API Page module to perform a search using the currently viewed node’s title as keywords, displaying the results in a block, so you can direct users to related content.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Simple Anti-Spam

Simple Anti-Spam user interface for Drupal 7.The module, by xandeadx, adds two new elements to designated forms: one checkbox, labeled “I’m not a spammer” and a hidden checkbox, “I’m a spammer”. If user does not check the first or (is a bot which) has checked the second checkbox, the form is not submitted and displays a warning message.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Simple Table of Contents

Categories: Content

The module, coded by Devin Carlson of Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, automatically adds a table of contents to all of your node content, as long as the content is within the node’s “body” field. It’s a simple add-and-enable module which presumably depends on normally-structured content (with headings, etc.)

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Speedboxes - Fast checkbox handling

The module, produced by Manuel Pistner of Bright Solutions GmbH, provides a Javascript-based method to easily check, uncheck, or invert the current setting of a selected range of checkboxes in a grid, e.g. the Drupal permissions page; simply click and drag over a selection of checkboxes and a toolbar appears which allows you to modify the state of all the selected checkboxes. Too cool!

As an alternative to the module, the Bright Solutions blog also includes post about how to use speedboxes as a browser plugin so you can benefit from this feature on any page you visit with your browser.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Thumbnav

The module, yet another module produced by Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, provides a mobile-friendly framework for using a website on touch-driven devices, with support for a variety of navigation methods and an API for developers. It includes support for Quo.js, but doesn’t rely on Quo. See the project page for links to some nice demonstrations, but if you are looking for ways to improve your site’s mobile support, this could definitely be worth checking out.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Unit Conversion Formatters

The module, developed by Tony Rasmussen of Metal Toad Media, provides formatters for number fields to convert values between any unit supported by the Units API module. This could certainly be useful for some sites.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Views Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 upgrade

Categories: Views

BACK UP YOUR DATABASE BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO USE THIS MODULE FOR AN UPGRADE. Really. We're not kidding.

—from the module’s project page description

The module, written by Jess of University of Wisconsin-Madison, a major force behind getting “Views in core” in Drupal 8, helps migrate Drupal 7 Views data to Drupal 8. It’s nice to see work on this is this far along.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7 (really a Git repository you can check out).

Wunderstatus connector

The module, from Henri Hirvonen of Wunderkraut, sends information about installed modules as a JSON to a central service. This could be useful for monitoring a group of sites your company maintains, so I look forward to giving this a whirl and seeing how it develops.

Status: There are alpha releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

XSL Formatter

The module, developed by Dan Morrison of Sparks Interactive, provides a field formatter to process XML content through a defined XSL stylesheet for rendering. If that sounds useful, it’s probably best you just look at the well-written project page, because there is quite a lot of information there, which runs well outside the scope of this column.

Status: There are dev releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Nov 23 2012
Nov 23
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

October 2012 brought us a nice batch of interesting new modules. Of course I wanted to tell you all about them weeks ago, but without going into excuses and details, I’m afraid getting this published didn’t go as planned. I’d like to get back on schedule to release the next installation of this series in early December, though. Anyway, it’s great to see all of the innovations that have been introduced in the past month. You can tell that Drupal 7 has truly reached maturity by the kind of modules that are being released now. Many, if not most, of the new modules integrate with and extend the functionality of other contributed modules—for example, there are three new modules which provide plugins for the Facet API—or integrate exciting new jQuery plugins to bring a bit of sizzle to your site.

As usual, the list is in alphabetical order and I haven’t tried all of these modules (although I have experimented with quite a few of them and even eliminated a few from consideration since they seemed a bit too “broken” at this point.) Some of these modules might not be ready for use yet, but just show good promise and look worth keeping an eye on. Creating this monthly list is as much for me as it is for you, but I do hope that the modules I select work well for you, if you give them a try, and I look forward to seeing your comments about any of these modules.

*/ Adminimal Administration Menu It adds a nice and simple minimalist look and provides some tweaks to improve your Drupal administration experience. The menu hierarchy is now simpler and easier to understand […] The shortcuts fit nicely and have a small icon that separates them from the normal admin menu links.

(Adminimal Administration Menu project description)

The module, by Andonis Ratsos, changes the style of the popular module’s menu bar.

The adminimal_admin_menu look and feel

Whether or not you like the way it restyles the Admin menu is likely a matter of personal taste, but I do observe that even with only the default shortcuts in the menu (no custom shortcuts added) the larger font of the menu makes it take up a lot space at the top of the window and it starts to wrap to a second line if the window is narrower than about 1,100 pixels, so it’s possible that people administering Drupal sites from smaller devices (netbooks or tablets, not to mention smartphones) might find this modification less appealing. On the other hand, the larger links should make easier targets for a finger-tip… six of one, half a dozen of another.

adminimal_menu shortcuts

Personally, I like the theme change and I like the Adminimal Adminimal Theme admin theme, too, so for my personal testing sites, I’ll go ahead and leave these active. I’m hoping to see some simple customization available in the future… I think I would want to see that before recommending it for client sites.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Autocache

The module, by Teemu Merikoski of Wunderkraut simplifies caching of Views and Panels and has some support for appropriate clearing of Varnish caches, too. It’s still new and the roadmap is perhaps a bit longer than the current features list, but I’m sure that this will be worth keeping an eye on.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Bootstrap optimizer

The module, by Maslouski Yauheni, has only been released for a couple of weeks and there are already over 150 sites using it, so it must be worth a try! On the other hand, if you don’t “improperly delete” modules, perhaps it’s not so useful for you. It appears that its primary functionality is to remove modules from the system table which no longer exist in the modules directory, so if all your sites are well-maintained, this might not do much for you. It looks like Drupal 8 should hopefully resolve this issue. But until this is really fixed in core, there is a place for modules like this, especially for older projects that might not be very actively maintained and might have had some modules deleted over the time. For such sites, this module claims to provide a several-fold increase in the bootstrap time, and provides screenshots as evidence.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Bulk User Delete

The module, produced by Mark Theunissen of Four Kitchens, provides with a text area where you can enter a list of email addresses for users you wish to “bulk delete”. Normally, it’s probably easier to simply check the boxes next to the names of a group of users you wish to delete and select the action “Cancel the selected user accounts”. But I can imagine scenarios, especially scripted ones, where using this module might be a simpler solution, e.g. when creating a number of test users en masse, users with various combinations of roles and/or other custom relationships, and then removing them after the tests have been run. This could be useful if you want to run such tests on a busy production site without needing to take special care that you select only the right users for deletion or when you have so many test users that they wouldn’t all be visible on one page of users.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Cache Lifetime Options

The module, from giorgio79, provides additional cache-time options which can be selected on admin/config/development/performance, with cache lifetimes up to a year. This is especially useful for sites with a lot of static content. Boost is a recommended companion.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

ceaZine

The module, written by Carlos Espino Angulo, allows you to display PDFs in a Colorbox overlay with “page flip” effects and everything. If you want a nice effect for showing off your books, this is a great module. Setting it up is a bit involved, though, so be sure to check the project page for full details. It requires a few of jQuery libraries, and (of course) a recent version of the Libraries module, Views (for an included display of all your online magazines, if you wish to use it), and PDF to ImageField which, in turn, requires ImageMagick, but it uses only CSS, JS, and HTML—no Flash. Nice!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

CkEditor Plugin: Google Doc embedded iframe

The module, authored by Sergio García Fernández, is an extension for the popular CKEditor module, which provides a simple editor button for easily embedding Google Docs iframes in your content.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Cloze

The module, written by Sivaji Ganesh of KnackForge, provides Cloze question type for the Quiz module. Cloze questions are the type of question where blanks are inserted in the middle of questions, a question type commonly used in language assessments.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 6.

CodeMirror editor

The module, developed by Darren Mothersele, adds syntax highlighting directly to your Wysiwyg editor experience, using the Codemirror Javascript library, among other nice features. If you have a site where writing and displaying code is important, this could well be useful. It doesn’t even require WYSIWYG (although there are, perhaps, more fully developed alternatives if you simply want syntax highlighting for code entered in a basic text area), much less any particular editor. It’s still under active development, but the plans look interesting, so this is definitely worth keeping in mind for projects which involve presenting code.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Collapsible comment threads

The module, developed by Manuel Garcia, uses jQuery to collapse and expand comment threads, thus helping remove the “visual noise” of deeply threaded comment conversations. This could be especially useful for sites with a forum or very active discussion in blog comments.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Content Access Admin

The module, by Peter Lieverdink of Creative Contingencies, lists all node grants in a simple table. This is especially handy since special access grants, provided by the Content Access module, are otherwise only visible on the individual nodes.

Content Access Admin displays a table with some filters to see just what you want to, with links on each node title to help you jump right to each node and manage the access.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Date Facets

The module, contributed by Chris Pliakas of Acquia, provides date range facets similar to major search engines so that you can look for search results within a defined date range. Too cool! It integrates with the range of search modules available for Drupal, including Apache Solr, among others. Of course it’s search technology, so implementing it is not as simple as activating the module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Dates

The module, created by Chris Charlton of XTND.US, is not actually part of the Date module, but provides a range of additional advanced date formats. This could be especially handy, but beware that disabling or uninstalling this module does not remove the packaged date types and formats which are stored in the Drupal database when the module is enabled.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Devel Input Filter

The module, contributed by Garrett Albright of PINGV, aids development of input filters; it provides a page where you can enter test input to see filtered input, without caching. It’s really only for developers who are debugging text filters.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Email Log

The module, authored by Mikael Kundert of Wunderkraut, allows site maintainers to get email notification when there are critical log entries. Log entry tokens would need to be supported for this to be done by Rules, but even so, it greatly simplifies staying on top of important site updates. The user interface and options are almost exactly the same as the Watchdog Digest module’s, except that this module will send you an alert whenever there is a watchdog entry of a given severity level, so you might wish to send only the most critical alerts with this module and use Watchdog Digest to send an email which includes all the other log entries in one email.

Status: There is an RC release available for Drupal 7.

Entity Translation Tabs

The module, contributed by Ryan Weal of Kafei Interactive, gives site editors an edit tab for each enabled language. For the time-being, it only supports nodes, but the roadmap includes support for other entity types, e.g. taxonomy and user entities, among others. This should be great for multilingual sites! It is currently in active development, so I won’t list the potential caveats. Please see the project page for recommended usage.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Facet API Collapsible The search facet links from Facet API Collapsible

The module, by Peter Droogmans of Attiks, is a “full project” release of a sandbox project created by Acquia’s Katherine Bailey. If the name doesn’t make things especially clear, it probably helps to understand that the Facet API is another Drupal project, which this one extends (although the project description leaves that part out). Faceted search (e.g. searching within a range of pre-selected terms or dates) is what the Facet API does and this widget provides a slick interface for single-click searches.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Facet API tabs

Categories: Search

When it rains facets, it pours facets. The module is another widget for the Facet API, written by Erno Kaikkonen of Exove Ltd in Finland. It allows you to display search facets in tabs and the project description indicates you’ll want to do “some CSS work to style the tabs”. If a sidebar isn’t what you need, this might be the ticket.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Field collection feeds

The module, contributed by Howard Ge, provides feeds integration for field collections and also requires Feeds. This could well be useful.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Field Collection Tab formatter

Field Collection Tab Formatter imageThe module, written by Lee Rowlands of Australia’s PreviousNext gives us a nifty output for field collections in a tab-set. I can think of at least one place I’d personally like to use this and apparently I’m not the only one since there are already more than 50 sites using the module, barely a month after its release… a pretty solid start! Of course it requires the Field Collection module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Field formatter conditions

The module, written by Kristof De Jaeger of Wunderkraut, adds conditions to field formatters. The “Manage Display” tab for each entity type provides per-field configuration of field conditions. It supports fields from the Field API and Display Suite with a number of included conditions and it requires Field formatter settings

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Flipcard - nodes made into flashcards

The module, by Hugh, helps you create node-based flashcards where the node title is the “answer”. Users can sort based on custom taxonomies and can record whether they knew the answer to each card, so questions they are still having trouble with will show up more often. I used to cut up index cards to make actual paper flashcards to study for exams and more recently, but still some years ago, made them to study on an old Palm device, with great success, so I know the usefulness of flashcarding, but this even offers jPlayer support to use automatically-played audio recordings for the questions. Very cool! You can see the demo site, where you can also learn a bit of Thai, to get an idea of the usefulness this module already offers. There are always new things I’m trying to memorize, so I’ll be a likely candidate to give this module a try. The only thing I’m really hoping it will offer (that I didn’t notice in the demo) is the ability to use the “question” as the “answer” (i.e. to practice both directions), but I doubt that would be too hard to manage. The demo site already offers the option to “view words” (clicking on each word in English takes you to the audio recording of its equivalent in Thai, whereas in practice mode, you hear the word and check to see if you know what it means). Personally, I think the current mode is better for the initial phase of passive comprehension, but for learning to actively speak a language, it’s better to work from “mother tongue” to “other tongue”. So ideally, the module should support working in both directions and keeping track of your answers in both directions, too, but maybe all this is already in the development roadmap.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Invites

The module, developed by Raz Konforti of Linnovate, allows you and/or your site members to invite new members to your site and includes an OG module to provide for inviting people to a particular group; it provides for the creation of a custom, fieldable Invites type and for custom invitation emails with Rules integration, among other interesting features. Google has proven the power of viral campaigns to build a community around a new product with “invitation-only” access… so this could definitely be a good idea for your community site, too. Note: Administrators of OG sites might, alternatively, wish to use the OG Invite People module, which eliminates the registration process for invitees.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

jQuery selectBox Styles of SELECT element provided by the jQuery selectBox module.

The module, produced by Henry Umansky, provides multiple Javascript-enhanced styling options for SELECT elements. It integrates Cory LaViska's selectBoxjQuery library plugin, so like most such integration modules, it requires the Libraries module as well as the afore-mentioned and eponymous selectBox jQuery library installed in sites/all/libraries, according to the nicely detailed directions on the project page. The selectBox demo is really freakin' cool! There are various options for slick effects in addition to the various ways of building a SELECT box for improved UX.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

JS Watchdog

The module, coded by Bevan Rudge provides Drupal.watchdog() in Javascript to log errors to the database. It’s really mostly a developer tool for people working on Javascript code, but this should be useful. It provides a number of nice features, though, so if you are working on JS code, you might want to take a look at this. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Drupal 7 version (yet), but according to the project page, creating one should be “trivial”, so hopefully we’ll have a nice D7 version ready for use before long, too.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 6.

Leaflet Widget for Geofield Simple geometries supported by the Leaflet Widget

The module, developed by Tom Nightingale of Affinity Bridge, a Geofield widget that provides a Leaflet map and uses the Leaflet widget plugin to work with geometries, making it possible to, for example, mark up web-based maps with the outline of a real estate propery or city district. Of course it requires Libraries and configuring any kind of mapping is never as simple as just activating a module, so be sure to check the project page for more details.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Logo Block

The module, authored by Kristofer Tengström, provides flexibility in how you display your site logo, including applying an image style, and provides a block you can place anywhere, thus circumventing the limitations of the Drupal logo configuration.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

MC Hammer

The module, written by Nils destoop of Wunderkraut, provides tools and templates for sending sophisticated email newsletters from your Drupal site. There is only a development release, so far, but it already has an impressive feature-set, so if you plan want to produce a newsletter, this could be a great tool to look at, and with Wunderkraut behind this, we can bet this will develop nicely.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Nice Date This is the kind of date display provided by Nice Date

The module, written by Nicholas Thompson of Turner Broadcasting Systems, provides a nicely formatted date to display the publication date of nodes, e.g. blog posts, and comments. It uses a CSS Sprite with all the months, days and years to generate a 41x40px block with the date in it.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Node Display Field

The module, contributed by Christian Biggins of PreviousNext, provides an alternative teaser display mode which can be enabled for any node, e.g. a “promo” mode. This could be useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

No term pages

The module, written by Gaël Gosset of Insite, provides an extra option for a vocabulary which blocks the terms in that vocabulary from ever being displayed as a page. With all the different ways that terms are used in a typical Drupal site, not wanting term pages for some vocabularies is a pretty common use case, so now you know—there’s a module for that! This functionality should probably be in “core”.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

OG Invite People

The module, developed by Aleš Rebec, has some features in common with the previously-mentioned Invites module, but it’s only for Organic Groups. One interesting feature of this module is the complete elimination of the registration process. A user entity is during the invitation process and the invitees receive a one-time login link in their invitation emails.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Panels Content Cache

The module, developed by Graham Taylor of Capgemini, provides a content-aware cache plugin which supports caching Panels and other Ctools displays, until their content changes. Isn’t that how caching should work? Caching strategies and the technologies that support them are not trivial and there are a number of options, but this module looks promising for those who are working with Panels content.

Status: There are dev releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Permissions Grid The simple permissions UI provided by the Permission grid module Links to the Permissions grid on the general permissions page.

The module, by Joachim Noreiko, provides a per-role grid of permissions for modules which declare structured permissions. These permissions can be viewed, on a separate page for each role, with the entity types in rows and permission verbs in columns. Of course it doesn’t eliminate the normal sea of permissions… but for the basics related to your site content, this helps simplify things. This is very nicely done and I’ll be sure to use it.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Retina Images

The module, contributed by Michael Prasuhn, provides the option for core image styles to output a high resolution version of images for high DPI or retina displays. It can be used to return high resolution images for all devices. There can be very little difference in file-size between a low-resolution, high-quality image and a high-resolution, low-quality image. But the high-resolution image will work better on high-resolution devices and still look fine when scaled down for display on a normal-resolution monitor. This module already has a strong user-base, considering its recent release and the developer seems to be doing a great job managing the issues, so if improving mobile UX is important for your site, this module might well be worth considering.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Rich Snippets

The module, developed by Chris Pliakas of Acquia, enhances the search results to provide nicer “snippets” of content returned in search results, much like those displayed by major search engines. Instead of just displaying the teaser or first characters of an article, it displays that with ellipses and the user’s search term within the context of the content. Very nice! Caveat: Be sure to read the “Usage” and “Gotchas” on the project page. Configuring a perfect site search is a non-trivial task, but this definitely looks helpful and works with core search and Apache Solr.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Role memory limit The simple configuration for the role_memory_limit module.

The module, developed by Kevin Yousef, is a small module which allows you to configure separate PHP memory limits, per role. For normal users, the memory limit could be set to 128MB, while the admin interface, which can require much more memory, can be allocated what it needs. Of course you need access to change the memory limit in your php.ini file. Since the memory limit is set per-user and this often has to be higher than normal for a Drupal site, just because of the greater needs for the site administrator, logical configuration with this module could, in theory, dramatically improve the number of concurrent users your site can handle. I’ll certainly be giving this a try.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Scoville

The module, produced by Garrett Albright of PINGV, which gets its name from the “hotness” scale used for describing a variety of chili pepper’s level of spiciness, helps you easily display a block or page of your site’s “hottest” content. For more complicated use cases, you’ll probably want to use the Radioactivity module, instead, but since configuring it can be a bit of a chore, people who just want to get a basic “hot content” block into their site might want to give this one a try.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Search API Taxonomy

Categories: Search

The module, developed by Steven Jones of ComputerMinds, adds some extra features for integrating taxonomy into the Search API, including indexing the taxonomy term parents and display of a facet (using Facet API) for top-level terms. It’s still in development, so additional features could well be added, but this already looks very useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Taxonomy Freetag Detection

The module, by Leigh Morresi, extends Term reference fields of type Autocomplete term widget (free tagging) with an option to add a button to scan other fields (e.g. your node “body”) to and add words which it finds which match existing terms in that vocabulary. Of course you might need to eliminate any terms it adds, e.g. a word in your document might match an existing term, but have the wrong context for the meaning of the term (e.g. “Features” is a taxonomy term here on the Cocomore Drupal site, but if I simply talk about the features of a module, I’m not going to tag the article with that term). This looks pretty simple and very useful, especially if your site uses the standard autocomplete “tagging” widget, which is the only widget this module complements. See the project page for configuration tips.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Twitter Profile The Twitter Profile module in demo use.

The module, created by Rishikesh Bhatkar, provides a nice, very configurable, Twitter profile block which can show any or all of: your Twitter profile info, counts for Tweets, Favorites, Listed, Followers, and Following, and avatars for your Followers and Following, with a configurable size and number of avatars displayed. It also includes some theming presets for the block. This is much more configurable than many of the other Twitter blocks. What would be nice for community sites would be allowing each user to display their Twitter profile on their user profile page, but it looks like the block only supports one Twitter account.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

User Pic Kit

The module, written by Daniel Phin, allows your site’s users to choose a user image (avatar) to represent their account, from any of a number of providers, while still supporting a Drupal core image upload option. Each user can choose which provider they wish to use. The included third-party image host providers include Gravatar (which requires the Gravatar integration module) and Robohash, but with the add-on User Pic Kit Extras! module, you can add Twitter, Facebook, and other avatar hosts. You can also locally cache the remote pictures (such as Gravatar) and use Drupal image styles on the downloaded pictures! There is even a documented API which allows you to implement other image hosts. This looks like fun and can certainly improve the user experience for configuring a new user account profile for users who already have an established online persona.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

User Search to People Administration

The module, developed by Benjamin Melançon of Agaric, removes the user search functionality from your site (for normal users) and moves it into /admin/people/search (a tab on the /admin/people). Most sites probably have no need for visitors to search user accounts, but administrators can still find such a search useful. By moving the user search tab into the “admin realm”, this also opens up the option of allowing people to view user profiles without also providing the “search users” functionality (since, by default in Drupal 7, if you want to block access to /user/search for a particular role, you need to leave the permission to “access user profiles” unchecked. So in addition to moving the user search functionality into a tab where it’s convenient for site administrators, it also breaks this unnecessary relationship between access to user profiles and to using the user search feature. This looks useful for many common use cases, perhaps even more ideal for most sites than the Drupal default.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

View mode per Role

The module, developed by Edouard Cunibil allows site administrators to set a view mode for content depending on the user role, with configuration in the content type edit form. This can be useful when you want your content to be displayed differently, to different user roles, but do note that this is not a content access module, so if you must prevent certain roles from being able to gain any kind of access to certain fields, you should consider the Field Permissions module.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Watchdog digest

Configuration for the Watchdog digest module.The module, created by Edgár Prunk-Éger, sends watchdog entries by email in a digested format, so you don’t get a separate email for each entry (of a type where you might want to send a message to a site administrator). This looks very useful, but the current project page is very lacking in detail and there is no link to the configuration, so it took looking at the code to figure out where to adjust settings for this. It adds a fieldset to the “Logging and errors” configuration page (/admin/config/development/logging), where you can configure the number of messages per e-mail, the e-mail address(es), and the severity level threshold, which can be set anywhere between “debug (all)” and “emergency”, although probably for anything that extreme you might want a Rules-triggered action to immediately email the site administrator.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

WYSIWYG Configuration with TinyMCE and Shortcodes

The module, coded by Jurriaan Roelofs, is a Features-generated module which helps streamline a particular Wysiwyg configuration which is rather sophisticated. If it happens that you want all the features included here, it could be a nice way to get it all configured. But if you want something simpler or wish to use a different editor, etc, this is probably not for you. It includes Media integration and all kinds of things that a lot of sites won’t use, but which are notoriously tricky and time-consuming to work out, so if this kind of rich configuration is what you want, then all you need to do is download all the dependencies (see the project page, there are a ton!) and then simply enable this module to have it automatically enable and configure all its dependencies. This looks very useful if it happens to be exactly what you need; if not, it could be also be useful as a quick route to experimenting with a lot of modules and features that you might want to use.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Oct 11 2012
Oct 11
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

Once again, I’ve surveyed the looong list of modules from the past month (September 2012). This article highlights and summarizes the features of some I found most notable. As usual, the selection and any opinions are my own and the order of appearance here is strictly alphabetical. Category terms are links to Drupal.org projects categorized with the terms. I’ve added terms for modules whose description lacked appropriate categories or might have been missing categories I thought were appropriate.

This month, while we didn’t get any new novelty modules which require bad judgment, there was one which I thought was funny and which otherwise serves no real purpose, other than perhaps to provide an example of object oriented PHP design with interfaces, etc: the module, written by Jess of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Drupal.org’s reigning IRC queen. Its very short (non)description is sure to make you smile:

Q: You’re a vegetarian; why do you get to have the blt project namespace?

A: The BLT is actually a base implementation; a properly architected interface does not mandate bacon.

Now let’s get on to the serious modules…

*/ Apache Solr Exclude Node

Categories: Search

The module, by Jens Beltofte of Propeople, helps to exclude individual nodes from Apache Solr, which can be useful when you have indexed a specific content type, and want to exclude a few nodes of that type. A checkbox, “Exclude from Apache Solr” is added to the node edit forms for selected content types. It requires Apache Solr Search.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Apache Solr Field Collection

Categories: Search

The module, created by David Rothstein of Advomatic, allows content stored within a Field Collection to be indexed by Apache Solr search as part of the entity that the field collection is attached to. Enabling the Facet API module allows fields attached to the field collection to be available to add as search facets.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Architecture

The module, by Sheldon Rampton of DrupalSquad, provides reports documenting how your Drupal site is architected. These reports include “Site Entities”, which lists all content types, taxonomies, and other Drupal entities that have been defined for your website with a list of all fields for each fieldable entity; “Site Taxonomies” lists all taxonomies and their associated terms; and “Site Variables” lists all variables and their values. The purpose of this module is to provide some easy-to-read documentation of how your site is put together.

It looks like there are a number of other interesting features in the development roadmap, but this already looks very useful for documenting the way a complex Drupal project is put together.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Attribution

The module, written by Marcus Deglos of Techito, adds configurable attribution text at the bottom of your site content’s body field, so that if it’s scraped, attribution will normally be included.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Better 404

The module, contributed by Yvan Marques, is based on an article from A List Apart. It aims to provide more useful information when a visitor reaches your 404 page.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 6. This looks very promising, so I’m hopeful there will also be a Drupal 7 release and that perhaps functionality like this could be part of Drupal 8 “core”.

Commons Like

The module, by Ezra Barnett Gildesgame of Acquia, allows users to “like” content and comments using the Commons “Like” widget and the Rate module and VotingAPI and has a stated goal to be expanded to be useful on sites that are not on the Drupal Commons distribution.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Commons Radioactivity

The module, also contributed by Acquia’s Ezra Barnett Gildesgame provides integration with the Radioactivity module to help identify the most active content and includes Views displays to accelerate the site-building process.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Conditional Flags

The module, coded by Sebastian of Taller, provides additional API features for the Flag module, for custom conditions between flags, so that logically, if, when one flag is set, another flag should be unset, this can be done automatically. There are also plans to build a user interface for site builders.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Content Tab

The module, coded by Ashish Thakur of Srijan Technologies, India, makes it easy for site administrators or other users with appropriate permissions to view the content written by a particular user; it provides a page with sub-tabs for each content type created by a given user and a tab on each user page which lists all content written by that user and eliminates the need to build up this kind of functionality with Views. It also provides a admin UI to configure various display options, among other features lacking in the core “Tracker” module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Context Get

The module, created by Peter Vanhee of Marzee Labs, provides a Context condition plugin for $_GET arguments. It allows you to activate contexts with arguments like local?context=home or local?context=pro and was created to fill a feature request for Context.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Deploy Services Client

The module, by David Rothstein of Advomatic, provides a Services client which communicates with Deployment endpoints and helps perform other operations on the content which the Deployment module does not directly support such as deleting or unpublishing content on an endpoint. Note that this is an API for developers only; there is no user interface.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Drush Permissions

Categories: Drush

The module, created by Klaas Van Waesberghe of dotProjects, enables Drupal site administrators to easily query user permissions from the command line. It can display reports of all permissions with module and role filters, identify if a user has a given permission, or list all roles a permission is assigned to. It is not actually a module (but I’ve included it here since, like Drush, it’s on Drupal.org as a module and looks pretty darn useful). It should not be installed as a module, but as a Drush plugin, i.e. use drush dl drush_permissions to install, but from outside a Drupal root directory.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

eKaay - QR Code Login

The module, written by Daniel Wehner of erdfisch, allows users of a Drupal website to log into their accounts by scanning a QR code on the PC screen with a smartphone, thus streamlining the login process for users on devices where entering username and password tends to be less convenient.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Facetapi Multiselect

Categories: Search

The module, another contribution from David Rothstein, provides a multiselect widget plugin for the Facet API module which allows faceted searches to use a multiple select dropdown for drilling down into the search results. It’s primarily designed to help integrate faceted search with JavaScript plugins such as the jQuery UI MultiSelect Widget (where this module has primarily been tested), jQuery UI Multiselect, and Chosen.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Field Orbit

The module, coded by Elliott Foster of Four Kitchens, provides an Orbit slideshow display mode for image fields and field collections with images and much of it is a Drupal 7 port of the Field Slideshow module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Field UI permissions

The module is yet another coded by David Rothstein. It provides independent permissions for managing fields attached to each type of entity so that you could, for example, give an “administrator” role permissions like “administer users” and “administer taxonomy” but reserve the rights to modify the underlying field structure for a “developer” role. This could certainly be handy for complex use cases.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Godwin's Law

The module, by Tobby Hagler of Phase2 Technology, is helpful for managing online forums and allows you to automatically moderate threads and close the discussion when certain keywords are found. By default, the module is set to close comments when Godwin’s law is invoked, but other keywords can also be used as triggers.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Hide Site

The module, developed by Barry Fisher of Real Life Design, provides a way to practically hide a particular version of a site from search engines even though it’s on a publicly-available development server without needing to patch your .htaccess or robots.txt files. Getting into the particulars of how it works is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s fairly simple to configure and should help keep a site out of the public eye until you are ready to officially release it.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

highlight js

The module, contributed by Juned Kazi of ICF International, integrates the highlight.js library to provide language-appropriate syntax highlighting for code examples on your site. It automatically detects the language, but you can also set the language for any block of code to ensure correct behavior. Of course it depends on the Libraries API highlight.js library, installed per the directions in this module’s README.txt file.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Image Field Cross Slide Slideshow

The module, created by David Whitchurch-Bennett of Drupology allows images uploaded into an image field to be displayed with the jQuery Cross Slide plugin as a display formatter for the image field within the “Manage Display” settings of your content type.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Image link to preset

The module, written by Gabor Szanto extends on the two core-provided options for setting link for an image field (i.e. “link to content” and “link to file”) to also allow you to link to any image preset for the image. It requires the Field formatter settings API module and definitely looks useful for many use cases involving sites with images.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Image or Video field formatter

The module, developed by Chris Cohen of Tigerfish Interactive, adds a field formatter for a media field that can either be an image or a video and allows for separate thumbnails depending on whether an image or a video is displayed, e.g. so that you can show a “play icon” over thumbnails for video. The shadowbox Javascript library is used to display the full image or video when the thumbnail is clicked. The media module is normally used in conjunction with this, but other configurations are possible. Setting this up is non-trivial and the full details from the module description and README file should be consulted.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Live Feedback

The module, written by J. Renée Beach of Acquia, is similar to Google+’s feedback system; it leverages the html2canvas library to allow users to quickly report issues to site maintainers from within the context of the page where the issue occurred. By making it easier for users to report issues with all the detail needed for developers to replicate and resolve them, this module helps ensure that issues do get reported and resolved.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7 and given that Acquia is behind this work, we can hope that Drupal 8 might actually include such functionality in core.

Masonry

Masonry is a dynamic grid layout plugin for jQuery. Think of it as the flip-side of CSS floats. Whereas floating arranges elements horizontally then vertically, Masonry arranges elements vertically, positioning each element in the next open spot in the grid. The result minimizes vertical gaps between elements of varying height, just like a mason fitting stones in a wall.

The module, written by Peter Anderson of PackWeb, makes the jQuery Masonry plugin available to Drupal as a library. It contains sub-modules for integrating with fields and Views; its field formatter allows you to display multi-value fields in a Masonry grid layout and integrates with existing formatters so existing formatter-specific options, e.g. Colorbox settings, are retained. It currently supports the field types: image, “long text” and “long text with summary”, and like most modules which integrate a Javascript library, it relies on the Libraries module. The Field formatter settings module is also required for the Masonry field formatter and of course Views is required for Masonry views. Add the Masonry javascript and configure according to the directions on the project page.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Memory profiler

The module, written by Tim Hilliard of Acquia, logs peak PHP memory usage to the Drupal watchdog and is light-weight enough it shouldn’t add to the memory errors you would be trying to resolve when you activate it. It can be used in a production environment, where enabling Devel would not be appropriate. Knowing this is available when we need it will make all Drupal developers sleep easier.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Mobile Switch Block

The module, coded by Siegfried Neumann, extends the Mobile Switch module with a theme switch block with links to manually switch between your mobile or desktop theme and is compatible with Mobile jQuery. Of course it requires Mobile Switch (version 7.x-1.4+) and Respond.js is recommended. The block could be especially useful for people testing the site, but can also provide better options for users of mobile devices who might, for whatever reason, prefer to use your site’s desktop theme rather than the automatically-selected mobile theme.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Mozilla Persona

The module, coded by Daniel Pepin of Digital Bungalow, adds Mozilla Persona functionality to your site so users with a Persona account can authenticate without need for a site-specific password; you can still require registration. It should nicely enhance the usability of most sites which require login. It depends on the Session API module.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Panels Ajax Tabs

The module, developed by Patrick Hayes of HighWire Press / Stanford University, provides the ability to have a tabbed panel-pane that displays mini-panels within it and allows you to pass context from the “master” panel to the mini-panels via AJAX.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Password Field

Categories: Fields

The module, created by James Sinclair of OPC IT, provides for creating fields that store passwords, stored in encrypted format and (by default) will not display them on the website. This is useful, for example, if you are creating a website that integrates with other services and you would like users to be able to store their password more securely than using a text field, so could certainly be useful in unusual use cases. That said, the module description also bears a strong reminder not to use this module if you have any alternative.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Passwordless This is still an experimental module, and using it on production sites is not recommended.

The module, written by Antonio Savorelli of Communikitchen, provides a replacement for the standard Drupal login form to allow logging in without using a password. Instead, every login is done via a “one-time login” link, as if the user had forgotten their password. This could be useful on sites where users are not expected to log in very often, but there are still a few things about the way this works that makes me nervous; e.g., currently you need to confirm a change of email address at the new address, but not at the old address, which would make it simple for someone who jumps on your computer, while you are logged in and your back is turned, to take over your (Drupal site) account. That said, as it’s still considered experimental and not for use on production sites, we can hope such issues are addressed by the time this module is released as “stable”. Once that’s true, I can certainly imagine using this for some sites.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

PDF Archive

The module, authored by Brian Gilbert of Realityloop, allows you to generate PDF archives of any entity; generation is triggered by Rules actions and you can configure the entity view mode and role of the simulated user for each rule. It includes a Feature as an example for configuration and otherwise requires the Libraries API module, with TCPDF library installed, and the Rules module.

Status: There is an RC release available for Drupal 7.

Permissions per Webform

The module, written by Daniel Imhoff of UW-Platteville, lets you set standard (normally global) Webform permissions for each individual Webform, e.g. “Access webform results”, “Edit all webform submissions”, “Delete all webform submissions”, “Access own webform submissions ”, etc. It adds a “Permission settings” fieldset tab to each Webform node.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

PixGather

The module, developed by Mike Kadin of Merlin Education, is a Drupal Module and PhoneGap application that allows users to easily upload photos to your Drupal site. It was developed so that guests at a wedding could share their pictures, but it’s suitable for a variety of use cases. Currently, the mobile app part of this is only for Android, but an iOS version is planned.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Plugin tools

The module, written by Chris Skene of PreviousNext, allows developers to browse the various plugins provided by different modules, information normally hidden in the code. The Drupal 7 versions supports Chaos Tools plugins, but it’s possible that a Drupal 8 version will work with “core” plugins. See the project page for more details, but this definitely looks useful for developers working with cTools.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Render As

The module, by Stuart Clark of Realityloop, allows you to see page elements as they will be displayed to various users or roles without needing to switch users. Using it is not easy to succinctly summarize, so you should check the project page for directions, but this definitely looks like a useful project for developers and site builders.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Resumable Download

The module, authored by Sina Salek adds support in Drupal for resuming incomplete downloads, which could be very useful for users on slower connections or for larger downloads and provides a number of useful configuration options.

Status: There are beta releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Session Cache API If you are not a Drupal programmer, then you may stop reading now. Just enable this module if another module tells you to.

The module, written by Rik de Boer of flink, is a simple two-function API for programmers to cache and retrieve pieces of user/session -specific information, and works well even with anonymous users in a cached environment. It is not for caching large amounts of information or content, nor should it be used for anything sensitive, but definitely looks interesting as a replacement for the $_SESSION variable, which may not an option with Varnish or similar caching engines. Developers who find this short summary of interest should definitely read the directions on the project page because using this is not exactly trivial.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Session cookie lifetime

The module, created by Kornel Lugosi of Pronovix, provides an admin interface for setting the lifetime of the session cookie. This could definitely be useful for sites where convenience is more important than absolute security.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

StatsD

The module, developed by Owen Loy of Acquia, provides Drupal integration for StatsD and is intended for sites that have an existing StatsD / Graphite setup. It’s preconfigured to send statistics for Watchdog entries, user logins, page views, and active user sessions, but developers can also configure it to send custom statistics. It definitely looks useful.

Status: There are beta releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Suggested Modules

The module, written by Kevin Quillen of Inclind allows module maintainers to enter a “suggests” property to their module info file, with a link to a relevant module project page. This is a step down from “required” modules; it simply suggests other modules one might normally wish to use in conjunction with your module. Of course, for this to work, modules both need to have “suggests” entries on their .info pages, and users need to have this module installed and enabled. I think this is a great idea and could well be an improvement in “core”; otherwise, until it’s widely used by both site builders and coders, it won’t be very useful. Actually, combining this with Module supports (which still needs a Drupal 7 release) is a more likely future development; in any case it would be helpful if we got such functionality into Drupal core.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

System Status AJAX

The module, contributed by Chris Pliakas of Acquia, a small module which loads the system status check via AJAX so that the admin/config page is rendered more quickly, even when some of the status checks are delayed. Nice! I’m hoping this functionality is going into the System module in Drupal 8; in the meantime, this should definitely improve the user experience for Drupal 7 site administrators.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Textbook

The module, coded by the prolific Bryan Ollendyke, of Penn State University as part of the ELMS Initiative, provides Features which include CSS styles, WYSIWYG settings, and CSS3 page templates to help any theme provide consistent textbook styling for the production of online course materials. Users don’t need to be expert in CSS / HTML, but even experts should find this helps streamline their development. If you are producing an online learning site, this module, along with many others by this fine contributor, should be very useful.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Timezone Picker The timezone picker module from Nate Haug.

The module, written by Nathan Haug of Lullabot, provides a JavaScript-based timezone picker to replace the default Drupal timezone list with a clickable world map to select a user’s timezone and Geolocation support for compatible browsers, so setting a timezone is greatly simplified. Enabling it replaces the default timezone list on the site’s “Regional settings” page and user profile pages. All Javascript is included; no libraries need to be downloaded and quicksketch also wrote this to be mobile-friendly. Very cool!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Typo The Typo module’s user interface

The module, developed by Roman Arkharov, provides a simple way for site visitors to report typographical errors in your site content; all they need to do is select text which includes a typo and press Ctrl + Enter to automatically notify the site administrator. It includes preset Rules events you can use, as well as Views for administrators to see a list of reported typos, among other useful integrations. This could definitely be worth checking out.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Views fields combine

The module, contributed by Stefan Borchert of undpaul, allows you to combine the output of Views fields, separated by any desired custom text. Normally you would do this with "Global: Custom text", however if one field is optional, your output would include an unwanted separator. Once this module is enabled, you’ll have access to a new field type, "Global: Combined fields", where you can select the fields you would like to combine.

Development on Views fields combine is sponsored by undpaul.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Weather block

The module, developed by Antti Alamäki of Soprano Brain Alliance, provides blocks and pages in which you can display forecasts from Yahoo Weather, World Weather Online, or weather.com and may include additional future service integrations. Drupal 7 needed more support for weather forecast integration, so it’s good to see this and I’ll certainly be giving this a try on sites where I might want a Weather block.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Sep 12 2012
Sep 12
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

There are tons of new Drupal modules that got released in August; almost 200 module project pages were created. Some of them aren’t listed here because they currently have no release; some don’t even have code (yet). But a lot of very promising modules were released in August, perhaps due to the extra community involvement around DrupalCon Munich. There were even a couple novelty modules, good for a laugh if not much else: the Honey Badger module (“Honey badger don't care. Honey badger always clears cache.”), contributed by Camilla Krag Jensen of the Danish news site, Dagbladet Information, is one such module worth looking at if you need something to make you smile. The module, by Sally Young of Lullabot, “randomly swaps values of the variable table around.” Well, maybe it would if there were actually any code behind the project. Both require Bad Judgement. I suppose the latter project page could have been created for a new Lullabot training, but I’m curious what inspired Ms Jensen. Anyway, the women of Drupal came through with some laughs.

A more useful looking set of modules was also released in August by French developer, Guillaume Viguier-Just: The module is required for any of its related modules, which include Base Page, Base Article, Base Link, Base Media, and Base Apps. These modules are “… meant to be a set of features that will provide the "lowest common denominator" for building Drupal apps and distributions.” The Base modules depend on Apps Compatible, another new module from August which I think will be in very wide use before long (Apps Compatible is covered below). There are also a couple new modules for the Spark distribution (listed below), several new Drush extensions, and a number of other modules which look good for boosting developer/themer productivity.

As with previous editions of this article, all modules are listed in alphabetical order. If categories were missing on the Drupal.org project page, I’ve added appropriate categories. Additional caveat: I have not tested all of these modules and have not fully tested any of them. They are new modules and some come with new bugs, so beware.

*/ Anonymous login

The module, authored by Mike Stefanello and sponsored by Workout Spots, provides a login page with redirect to the originally requested page if an anonymous visitor to your site follows a link which requires higher privileges. The example use case is your site sends out emails with links which require a user is logged in; but subscribers to your email list get an “Access denied” when following the links (if not already logged in); a usability nightmare. Anonymous login to the rescue! Very nice.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Apps compatible As well as providing methods for shared components, Apps compatible includes a collection of methods handy for developing interoperable features and apps.

The module, by Nedjo Rogers, is already reported in use on 278 sites, which shows there must be a use case for this module that was only released a month ago; I anticipate a lot more sites will be using it shortly. It helps alleviate compatibility issues between different Apps and Features caused by conflicting dependencies, etc.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Backup and Migrate SFTP

The module, by Chad Robinson, extends the very popular Backup & Migrate module with SFTP, instead of simply FTP when setting up “Destinations”. This is a GoodThing™ for security. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this.

Status: There are dev releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Better Statistics

The module, authored by Eric Peterson of Tableau Software, extends the core Statistics module and collects additional data such as cache status and user agent without adding a lot of extra performance overhead. This could certainly be useful.

Status: There are stable releases available for Drupal 6 and 7.

Block Upload

The module, created by Alexander of ADCI, LLC, provides a simple block with an uploader for the node being viewed, so users who don’t have full “edit” permissions for the content can still upload files and images (or if all you want to do is upload a new attachment, you don’t need to open the content in edit mode). Cool!

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Book Title Override

The module, written by Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, allows you to change the titles displayed in Drupal’s “Book” navigation so they don’t have to be an exact match to the constituent node titles. This eliminates one limitation that many might have been frustrated by.

Status: There are beta releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Chamfer defaults

The module, also by Bryan Ollendyke maintains the default settings for the Chamfer theme, an Omega sub-theme with full HTML5 adaptive theme originally used for presenting online courses on the Penn State site (and another contribution from Ollendyke). It allows you to easily move defaults or your settings from one site to another.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7 and a development release available for Drupal 6.

Close Block

Categories: Content

The module, is another contribution by Alexander of ADCI, LLC. It allows users to close any block configured to be user-closable. Blocks can be configured to stay closed or reopen the next time a page with that block is displayed, be displayed a certain number of times before closing is permanent, or re-appear after a period of time. There are global settings, per-theme settings, and settings in the configuration for each block.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Configuration Interchange and Management

The module, coded by Thomas Fini Hansen of Reload!, is the first module I’ve seen which works with the new Drupal 8 Configuration Management system. Of course it’s still early for Drupal 8, so it goes without saying that all features are experimental, but this is intended to provide a simple way to save snapshots of configuration settings, roll back to snapshots, and deploy snapshots from one site to another. This could find a place in core by the time of “feature freeze”.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 8.

Cron Cache

The module, written by Will Vincent of Marker Seven, allows individual caches to be cleared at configurable intervals.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

CSS Flipper

The module, written by Tsachi Shlidor, can automatically create and maintain a “flipped version” of any RTL or LTR CSS code, which can greatly streamline developing and maintaining themes. Nice!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Dev Tools

The module, produced by Yuriy Babenko of Suite101, is “a collection of PHP classes and functions which help with and simplify Drupal module development”. From the looks of things, this could well be useful, perhaps especially for debugging.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Disable "Language neutral"

The module, written by rysmax, allows you to show only a sub-set of otherwise-allowable language options for each content-type, which means you can remove such nonsense as “language neutral” from the selectable languages for a Blog entry… Nice and simple, and most content types on most multilingual sites would probably benefit from this.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Dismiss

The module, produced by Chris Ruppel of Four Kitchens, allows you to “click away” Drupal messages so that they are out of your way without a page refresh. It’s a simple module with no configuration, but it could be handy for when you are documenting the steps of a process and end up with Drupal messages displayed that might distract from a screenshot.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Drupal-up

The module, written by Kosta Harlan of DesignHammer, is “a Drush extension that facilitates building virtual machines for local development of Drupal sites.” It includes blueprints for virtual machines for hosting Drupal 6–8 -based sites. Looks interesting.

Status: There is a beta release available “for Drupal 7” (presumably, like Drush, the Drupal version is not really applicable).

Drush Hosts

The module, written by Christopher Gervais of Koumbit.org, provides Drush commands for managing /etc/hosts, so you can easily add and remove entries. This definitely looks useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Drush Issue Queue Commands

The module, produced by Greg Anderson, is a Drush extension which includes commands which help manage a Drupal project issue queue, making things simpler for beginners and faster for everyone. I’m sold!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Entity RDF

The module, developed by Stéphane Corlosquet, the primary maintainer of Drupal’s core RDF, is a replacement for Drupal core RDF, which provides tight integration between the RDF mappings and Entity API and attempts to solve shortcomings of the Drupal 7 core RDF module. This is worth keeping an eye on.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Feeds YouTube Fetcher

The module, contributed by Travis Tidwell of AllPlayers.com and sponsored by Anglican TV, is a YouTube feeds fetcher which is able to overcome the situation where feeds are paginated, thus getting all of the videos in a feed rather than just the first 50. This could well be useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Flag expire

The module, by Joachim Noreiko, can use either the Date or Time period module to create flags which can be active for a preset period of time or which begin/end at specified times.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Flatfish

The module, developed by Mike Crittenden of Drupal Connect, uses the Ruby gem, Flatfish, to help scrape HTML data and import it into a Drupal site, useful, for instance when migrating an older website into Drupal. It includes other code to help with the migration of the data. I know there are other popular modules for this kind of task, but this could also be worth keeping in mind.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Icon fonts Icon Fonts can easily be changed for color, size, drop-shadows and other effects

The module, created by Gábor Hojtsy of Acquia as part of the Spark distribution definitely looks interesting. Icon fonts allow you to easily change size, shape, color, strokes and other attributes. See this CSS Tricks post about icon fonts for an example of how useful they can be as a replacement for standard icons.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Image CAPTCHA Refresh

The module, produced by Dmitry Drozdik of VolcanoIdeas, helps with one of the problems of Captcha; if the image is “too easy”, bots can parse the Captcha—too hard and humans have a hard time and might need to refresh the page a few times, which can be a real hassle if they have completely filled out a form. This brings in a feature that is missing in some Captcha plugins: the ability to get a new Captcha without refreshing the whole page and should result in less frustration for users and a lighter load on your server.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Leaflet More Maps The Stamen watercolor effect and Thunderforest cycling maps are both options with Leaflet Maps

The module, created by Rik de Boer of flink, expands your mapping horizons beyond Google maps, allowing you to include maps from a variety of alternative map providers, such as the watercolor-effect maps from Stamen or the trail and cycling maps from Thunderforest. As its name implies, it also depends on the Leaflet Javascript library.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

LGP

The module, which stands for “Lazy Guinea Pig”, created by develCuy and sponsored by dilygent, is another developer toolset which will help you debug your Drupal code. It can write to a temporary log file, works in places where Devel’s dsm() won’t, and has a number of other features that make me think this is worth knowing about. It also includes a number of Drush commands.

Status: There are development releases available for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.

Logic Block

The module, produced by Pat Lockley, provides a number of configuration options for blocks to allow site administrators to easily perform such actions as merging blocks, replacing one block with another in particular circumstances (e.g. if one block is empty or based on language, role, user ID, etc), and other nifty tricks. I’ve only just experimented with it a bit, but it definitely looks useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Mobile friendly navigation toolbar

Categories: Mobile

The module, produced by Gábor Hojtsy of Acquia, is another module developed and released as part of the Spark distribution. As the name implies, it provides a better toolbar for mobile navigation. Like the rest of Spark, it provides a way for us to test and use awesome new Drupal 8 features in our Drupal 7 projects. Very nice!

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Module configure links Module configure links opens the config page for a newly enabled module

The module, by Brad Erickson of ChapterThree, helps solve a typical Drupal problem, especially common when working on sites with a lot of modules: you enable a new module, but then need to search around to find its configuration page. This module presents obvious links for configuring any modules activated, for a smoother Drupal site-building workflow. If only one module is activated, it automatically redirects you to the configuration page for that module. I’ve tried it, I like it, and I’ll definitely be using it on more than just my local “module testing” site.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

OpenFolio Features OpenFolio is a distribution for photographers or other visual artists who want to create a web portfolio of their work.

The module, developed by Ted Bowman of Six Mile Tech, was released as part of the OpenFolio distribution, also released by Mr Bowman in August. it contains no custom code, but handy exported content types, Views displays, Panels, and other useful bits to help streamline the process of creating an online portfolio site to display visual art. Of course it depends on Features.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

OpenLayers Filters

The module, by Pol Dell'Aiera, provides a text filter which replaces a token representing any OpenLayers map preset with the map, right within your content.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Override css

The module, authored by Wim De Craene of Jeugdwerknet vzw, provides a simpler alternative to Sweaver or Livethemer which allows a client/administrator to make simple changes to site CSS, e.g. changing the color of H1 and H2 headings, through a simple UI, without even having to know any HTML or CSS.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Panels Extra Styles

The module, coded by Sean Dunaway provides additional region and pane styles for Panels with full HTML5 support. Since users are also encouraged to contribute their own styles, the options should increase with time. This looks well worth trying out if you are using Panels.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Pathinfo

The module, authored by Cameron Tod of NBC Universal, is a Devel plugin which displays useful information about which module and function is responsible for the page you are viewing. It links the appropriate Drupal API pages, where applicable, and displays full Krumo output for page arguments. This looks handy for those times you need to fix some issues in a Drupal site, but have no idea where things are coming from.

Status: There are beta releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Required by role Required By Role checkboxes on the Tags field configuration

The module, written by Alejandro Tabares, simply adds some extra checkboxes to each field configuration form so that you can not only specify that a field is required (for all roles), but can instead specify that a field is required only for particular roles. I suppose the use cases for this are not so common, but I’m sure I’ve had at least one situation where this would have been useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Resolve IP

The module, by Yannis Karampelas of Netstudio, is simple, but very useful for understanding what’s going on in the system log (Watchdog) entries: it resolves the hostname for each IP address so you see (for example) crawl-66-249-66-212.googlebot.com alongside the IP address.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Responsive Background Images

The module, is yet another contribution in the same vein as other modules recently released by Daniel Honrade of Promet Solutions. It provides a range of rules for background image sizes, which it loads based on the size of the browser window. Phones get a smaller background image than iPads, which get a smaller image size than a full-size browser window on an HD monitor. This, of course, helps conserve mobile bandwidth which helps make your whole site more “responsive”.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Search API Extended String Filter Did you ever want to be able to search partial string using the search API from within views, now you can, supports all the regular (exposed) filters and also 'Starts with', 'Contains', …

The module, contributed by Jelle Sebreghts of Attiks, enables searching for partial strings with the full Views search filters.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Search API stats

The module, authored by Brandon Stone of ImageX Media, provides a block which allows users to see your site’s top search phrases. Of course there is a bit more to getting this working than simply adding and enabling the module, but for a search-related module, this looks relatively easy to get working.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Searchcloud Block

The module, developed by Fabian de Rijk of Finalist, is similar to Search API Stats (above). Instead of a block with a simple list of most-searched terms, it provides a block with a “cloud” of those search terms.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Services Entity API

The module, created by Pedro Cambra of Commerce Guys, provides integration of Services and Entity API. It was developed with the needs of Drupal Commerce users in mind, but can be used for any Drupal entities.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Setup

Categories: Utility

The module, developed by Stuart Clark of Realityloop, gives developers and “adventurous site builders” a way to create a script for a client with a series of steps to enter their personal data (e.g. social networking accounts, Google Analytics tracking codes, etc); information which might not have been available during the development process.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Simple Editor

The module, contributed by Ki H. Kim of Urban Insight, provides an almost-completely pre-configured WYSIWYG editor, based on TinyMCE. The aim is to give users a Wordpress-like, “ready-to-use”, editor, and not to be super-flexible, but if the common use case assumed applies to you, this could be a great time-saver.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Simple oEmbed

Categories: Media

The module, also by Ki H. Kim, integrates a simple setup of oEmbed with the Simple Editor, to make it easy to add videos and other rich media to content. Like the Simple Editor, it assumes a lot of the configuration, so for less typical use cases, you might want to use the full oEmbed project, which provides additional configuration options.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Taxonomy Group Fields

, by Chris Albrecht of the National Renewable Energy Lab, is a taxonomy selection “widget” intended for larger vocabularies, currently those with two levels of hierarchy (parents and children, but no “grandparents” or “grandchildren”), however the project page indicates that there is an interest in expanding to multiple hierarchy levels, among a number of other useful features. Currently, if a parent is selected, all of its children are automatically included (parent acts as “select all” for children), but the developer also indicates he would like to provide this behavior as an option, rather than as the “only way”. This module is similar to one of my favorite, not-yet-for-D7 taxonomy selection/management tools, Taxonomy Super Select. What TGF lacks (a feature in TSS) is the ability to add new terms; I think it would be cool if it supported adding a new term into any group (with role-based limits on adding new terms). But there are so many use cases for Taxonomy widgets that it’s probably best to just create a limited module that does one thing well rather than trying to be everything for everyone.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Taxonomy Orphanage

The module, coded by Elliott Foster of Four Kitchens, is a module that helps resolve a rather painful bug in Drupal core. If you delete a taxonomy term, references to it still are retained in entities which used it. Taxonomy Orphanage provides interfaces for cleaning up such references. Nice work, Elliott!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Theme Hider

The module, authored by Victor Quinn, provides a method for site administrators to hide particular themes on sites where users are allowed to select their preferred theme. Some enabled themes might only be for admin or for special purposes, so this is a good thing to have if you want your site to be displayed nicely for everyone.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 6.

tinynav.js

The module is another contribution from Bryan Ollendyke. It integrates the tinynav.js jQuery library, which converts a typical list-based menu into a select-list drop-down if the browser window is narrow (e.g. on smaller displays). It’s extremely light-weight at only 362 bytes (minimized and gzipped). This module provides a number of configuration options and was designed for use with the Chamfer theme, but also should work well with other Omega-based themes (what it’s been tested with) and possibly other themes. Looks good!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

URL Alias Permissions

The module, written by Justin Phelan of Blackwood Media Group, “allows site administrators to set permissions to create and edit url path settings by content type”. This is certainly useful for particular use cases.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

User Import Framework Plus

The module, written by Deji Akala of JB Global, extends the User Import Framework to allow importing more than just the basic three fields (email, username, password) the UIF supports. This certainly looks like it could be useful.

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

Visual select file

The module, coded by Rudie Dirkx of ezCompany, is simpler than Media and easier to extend, plus it includes visuals (thumbnails) to help you select files. It uses Views and FileField Sources to help it work its magic. Nicely done!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Webform Email Raw Emailing raw, unfiltered (filter_xss) data from a Webform submission can be risky, so only use this module if you absolutely require this behavior and understand the risks.

Categories: Mail

The module, contributed by Robert Bates of Phase2 Technology, provides a solution for sending raw, unfiltered XML from Webform submissions.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Webform Serial

Categories: Content

The module, developed by Peter Lieverdink of Creative Contingencies, simply “provides an auto-incrementing number field for webforms.”

Status: There is a development release available for Drupal 7.

WireDocs … a large legacy of documents in proprietary formats, such as MS Word or Excel, may discourage from moving to an online editor. Additionally, legal issues might arise if confidential files are hosted by a third party service provider.

The module, from Gottfried Nindl of OSCE, allows your Drupal site to host files in various office formats which can be opened (seamlessly downloaded and opened by a native, local application), edited, and saved (seamlessly uploaded back to the server) with a Java applet that bridges the gap between Drupal and the client operating systems. This looks like a pretty cool alternative to third-party document-hosting systems.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Sep 07 2012
Sep 07

Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative Code Sprint weekend

I took a train from Frankfurt (Germany) down to Munich the Saturday before the DrupalCon. When I joined the Multilingual Sprint on Sunday morning, many of them had already been sprinting for a full day and a number of issues were ready for review, so I dived in, observing the behavior of Drupal 8 before and after applying patches, proof-reading the patches for anything odd (e.g. typos in the documentation), discussing the issues in comments and in IRC with people who were sitting just across the room (other times actually speaking in person). By the end of the day, instead of the dozen or so people that Gábor Hojtsy, the Multilingual Initiative team lead, had expected, there were close to 50 people at the location, some joining us in the work on Multilingual issues, some working on other Drupal 8 tasks, and some who were just arriving in Munich and followed the Tweets to where we were. Luckily, the location rented for the Saturdays and Sundays before and after the DrupalCon week was big enough to accommodate all the extra arrivals.

While on the topic of the venue we used for those weekends, I’d like to personally thank Stephan Luckow and Florian (“Floh”) Klare of the Drupal-Initiative e.V. for all that they did to find a nice place that would still leave us with a budget for food and for their valiant work on stretching the food budget while still serving up excellent fare, in keeping with the fantastic meals we enjoyed the rest of the week. Instead of ordering delivery, they prepared almost everything themselves, including beautiful open-face sandwiches, fruit platters, and lovely grilled specialties at a club we went to where you can barbecue in the Biergarten.

…thanks for the huge help to the local organizers, especially Florian Klare and Stephan Luckow. They helped us manage collecting and spending sponsor money wisely with the Drupal Initiative e.V, prepared great sandwiches and fruit plates for us and even organized a sprinter party night with grill food. It was amazing to work with such helpful and flexible local organizers.
Gábor Hojtsy, September 5, 2012

Luckow and SirFiChi of the Drupal Initiative, organized the location and made us great food!

Since people were “fresh”, I think a lot of work got done on the first weekend and the Monday before the conference (more than 50 people joined us and worked on various core initiatives on Monday in the room we later used for core most conversations at the Sheraton), which also meant that issues were still fresh in our minds while we had days of sessions and conversations, so when we started sprinting again on Friday we had lots of new ideas for the tasks we were still working on. Friday’s sprints were at the Westin Grand, where there was great attendance both upstairs in the main room as well as a large room downstairs from it, where Drupalize.me hosted a core contribution workshop to ease people into the process of contributing to core. I decided to go to that workshop since I’m still pretty new to it all and found a few people sitting nearby who were I was also able to interest in some Multilingual tasks, so while the main group sprinted upstairs, we also worked downstairs. Later on, I came upstairs, and since there were not a lot of simpler tasks for “core newbies”, like myself, I took some time to sprint on a module I contributed some time back, before there was much of anything for Drupal 7 in the area of “multilingual”… and tried to make my module more multilingual-friendly. I got a few good commits and a new release out for Internal Links and also recruited a colleague to look at the code with me, provide some ideas, and become another maintainer. So I personally found Friday quite productive.

*/ First off, a sprint on this scale would not be possible without sponsors and significant on-site help. DrupalCon provided us with space on Monday and Friday, and some great food on Friday. The rest of the days would not have been doable without comm-press, dotProjects.be, Open8.se, OSINet and Acquia. The [ … ] financial sponsorships they provided paid for our weekend venue [ … ].

I continued sprinting with the Multilingual initiative at the Film Coop Saturday and Sunday, leaving mid-afternoon on Sunday to get back to the train station. When I left the other sprinters, Webchick was only finally getting some rest after her trip home and we had about 20 issues that were marked “RTBC”. In all, there were dozens of issues tackled over the weekend. For a complete overview of all the issues we made progress on, see Gábor’s post about the sprints, where you can also check out his excellent DrupalCon core conversation presentation, “Drupal 8’s Multilingual Wonderland”. There is still a lot to do in the time between now and the “feature freeze” deadline, but we made good progress in the DrupalCon sprints, so hopefully we can push on and get the rest of the critical tasks done in the time remaining.

One of the less trivial tasks I took on during the final sprint weekend was documenting the new language_select field type, which involved checking out the Drupal API (documentation) project, updating the Form API table to include a new Element column (language_select) and Property row (#languages), as well as information about these (below the table) and linking them in all the appropriate places. Currently, updating this page is a bit of a pain, but hopefully we will move to a better system for maintaining this information, perhaps even automated generation. While I’d worked on other Drupal documentation pages before, this was the first time I’d actually contributed patches to update the API, so it was a good learning experience.

If you’d like to help out with the Multilingual initiative or other core contribution, you might first want to take a look at the Drupal 8 Initiatives page, where announcements about coming IRC meeting can be seen. This page also has links to the news, roadmaps, filtered issues, and other pertinent information. Drupalladder.org is also a great place to go for lessons to help you work through the steps of being ready to contribute to Drupal core.

I look forward to seeing you all in IRC and in coming code sprints.

Sep 07 2012
Sep 07

I started writing this post at the DrupalCon and then continued work on it on the train back home after a long week, last Sunday after the code sprints—even now, more than a week later (after being ill for a week—I think I was burning the candle at both ends for a bit too long), it’s hard to believe that it’s finally over. I arrived the weekend before to participate in the pre-con code sprints and stayed for the Friday–Sunday after the conference to continue that effort. I’ll write about the sprints in another post. This one will cover the highlights of the actual DrupalCon, what I think worked well, and recommendations for those attending their first DrupalCon; with two new continents getting a ’con this year, I think there will be more than a few at their first.

The food at DrupalCon Munich was great

For me, one of the major highlights of this conference was the outstanding food quality. It was so good I was distracted enough I never pulled out my camera to take photos of i, but it was attractive, gourmet, and delicious and there was something for everyone, even a fantastic salad buffet as well as more desserts than anyone could try… and hot dishes with plenty of options for both vegetarians and omnivores, alike. In the closing plenary, it was revealed that the catering costs for the event were about €352,000 for the 1800+ of us in attendance; not surprising for the quality and abundant variety of fare they served us. Food service tables were put in place in all areas of the conference so that there was no crowding into one area and the same dishes were provided at both the Sheraton and the Westin Grand, which were a few minutes’ walk away from each other. The conference occupied the three conference center floors of the Westin Grand and a few smaller rooms in the Sheraton, which were primarily “core conversations”. One might think I would gorge myself, but most days I had simple salad items, walnuts, and seeds… and gave myself a break before finishing with some fresh fruit and a light mousse from the dessert buffet. Despite the fact that the days were hot and many of the rooms weren’t well conditioned, people were alert and in good spirits and I think the food had more than a bit to do with that.

To continue a moment in the vein of “food”, since I really do think it was notable at this DrupalCon, I hope this reflects some new recognition of the importance of good sustenance when organizing a successful event like this. And I hope that future Drupal events will also place emphasis on food quality. That said, I also think that the community would pull together if we had commercial kitchen space and quality ingredients—we could prepare similar gourmet meals without quite the budget we used for catering at this conference; on the other hand, such a model might work better at one of the large DrupalCamps (a few hundred attendees) than at a huge (North American or European) DrupalCon. Of course preparing our own food would provide another place for people to connect (food preparation and more volunteer service), which I think would offset the downsides (not being able to be someplace else whenever you have “kitchen duty”).

The Venue

munich_olympic-park.jpg

Munich is a beautiful city I’d never really visited before the DrupalCon. Public transportation was not too expensive, but I got to see a bit more of Munich by walking almost everywhere, so my walks back from the pre-conference sprints and out to dinner (beer) in the evening were mostly through parks where I got to see the huge Olympics installation and unusual sights like Munich’s famous river surfing.

Surfers have a man-made wave on the Eichbach

Sessions and participation

Choosing sessions

This was my second time attending a DrupalCon and I decided I wanted to primarily attend the “core conversations” track (with a few exceptions). For those who don’t know, the “core conversations” sessions are where plans for the future of Drupal are presented, discussed, and refined. It’s truly an amazing experience to sit in a room with dozens of top-notch developers as they hash out the architecture for new Drupal features or present the innovations they have already completed. Of course participating in the Drupal 8 (Multilingual initiative) sprints in Barcelona (a couple months ago) and before and after the DrupalCon session days probably also spurred my interest in the areas being covered by other initiatives, but it is definitely an interesting track if you are not sure what to attend. In the past, core conversations were often not fully recorded, another reason I chose to attend this track, but it looks like you can view most core conversations pretty well now, online. If you missed them and are interested in the future of Drupal (i.e. Drupal 8), there are many that you might want to watch.

Volunteering

Another first for me was helping the DrupalCon staff as a volunteer, mostly monitoring the rooms I was in and taking a head-count in mid-session. Other activities of a room monitor included being a bit early and making sure the speakers had everything they needed; I got to loan out a display adapter for one session and was prepared with multiple power adapters if anyone happened to be missing a way to plug in—we also tried to make sure that questions were recorded in session audio (either by having those with questions come to a microphone or the speaker repeating the question). I found volunteering rewarding and I thank Adam Hill, the DrupalCon Munich volunteer coordinator, for being a great guy to work with.

DrupalCon Munich Volunteers

Drupal 8 will be great!

Angie Byron’s current overview of Drupal 8 (aka “”) had not changed a lot since I last saw her similar presentation at the “Developer Days” in Barcelona a couple of months earlier, but it filled the largest session room, so there may have been close to 1,000 in attendance. Some features are more polished, some of the features are not yet written, but are better conceptualized than they were a couple of months ago, but the general ideas are mostly the same so in a presentation providing an overview of Drupal 8, while much has changed, it wasn’t much that affected the presentation. I’ve take the liberty to add a few specifics which were actually covered in separate sessions (sessions which covered each core initiative, for example), just for the sake of brevity and consolidation of information.

Webchick presents an overview of Drupal 8 features and initiatives

One key point that was made by all Drupal 8 core initiative leads is that we are only 3 months away from “Feature freeze” for Drupal 8 (December 1st, 2012), so it’s time to pitch in and try to help get all the great planned features into Drupal 8. All of the major initiatives need help and have areas where they are behind schedule as far as being ready for the freeze deadline with all the features the community would like to have in core.

Key Drupal 8 initiatives and components

- This finally ends the problem of having an evolving set of configuration on the development/staging sites which needs to be moved to production… but can’t be since the configuration (in Drupal 6 and 7) tends to be all over the place. Having a set of YAML documents stored in your sites “files” directory is a good way to manage and deploy common patterns to multiple sites, update configuration on production sites, etc. And it gets around the issue that pushing a database update from a development/staging server to production might overwrite actual content. So we now have a working configuration management system based on YAML files and a developers’ API, but no user interface for adjusting configurations; the UI still needs to be written. We also need ways to determine if configuration has been changed on the production server, have a range of multilingual configuration issues to still resolve, and performance issues, among other outstanding tasks. Join the #drupal-cmi IRC channel during the CMI meeting times and work on the issue queue if you want to help get the CMI full-featured for Drupal 8. Most active work is in the CMI sandbox repository.

deals with helping sort out inconsistencies and inflexibility in the core blocks functionality. It’s been described as, “Like panels in core, only better”… well at least that’s the goal. Everything on a page has context and is a block or layout/nested layout. Since blocks are rendered independently, caching is well-supported. A responsive layout designer from Spark can allow you to figure out your layouts for different screen sizes without a ton of divs complicating their HTML. If you would like to help with improving Drupal 8 layouts, there are office hours every Friday in Drupal IRC in the #drupal-scotch channel and you can read more about their current issues by looking at the “sandbox” project for the Drupal 8 Blocks and Layouts Everywhere initiative (it is not yet in the 8.x master branch of Drupal).

features will be in core and better than ever before. Interface translation, content translation, base language functionality and language configuration are all being greatly simplified so that it can all be in core with a nice, normal workflow. A lot of the real “pain points” with multilingual sites (or even simply non-English ones) have already been addressed and there is a ton that’s been done, but there is still a lot more to complete in the next three months if we want to really consider this a success. A lot of great progress was made during the code sprints before and after the conference. If you would like to help improve the Multilingual workflow in Drupal 8, there are lots of ways for anyone new to Drupal core development to still pitch in. There many open issues and many ways to move them forward without even writing a single patch. The best place to find active issues is probably to look at Gábor Hojtsy’s “focus issues” list. You can join the Drupal Multilingual initiative meetings in IRC (#drupal-i18n). See the meeting schedule on the main Drupal 8 initiatives’ help page.

is one of the biggest initiatives in terms of importance to Drupal 8’s success… ensuring that a site is responsive to the display size and has toolbars which nicely resize for device type is one of the major aspects of this work. We need good front-end performance for running on smaller, lower-powered devices; we need good, solid, clean, uncomplicated HTML5 code, and we need to be able to support easily using Drupal as a back-end for native mobile apps, purely responsive web design, web apps, or anything in between. There are some big parts of this which are not far along yet, so this is a great place for front-end developers and others interested in Drupal 8 mobile experience to get involved. One current obstacle to the Mobile initiative achieving its goals is greater completion of the Web Services initiative (WSCCI) also achieving its goals. Otherwise, John Albin Wilkins, the Mobile initiative project lead indicated two other areas which need a lot of work: front-end performance and the Drupal 8 mobile admin interface, likely designed with Spark’s Responsive Layout Builder. There are regular meetings on IRC (see meeting schedule on the mobile initiative’s official Drupal Groups page) and the Drupal 8 issue queue has a tag for "mobile" so it’s easy to jump in and help make mobile support rock in Drupal 8. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to help move the issue queue along. As Dries and others have indicated, this might be the primary initiative for determining Drupal’s future success, given current trends.

: One of the highlights of DrupalCon Munich sessions certainly had to be Angie Byron and the Spark team’s presentation of all the awesomeness that comes from the Spark-distribution modules. Spark is only still in “alpha”, but you can already tell how amazing the features are. The idea is that while they design the perfect authoring experience for Drupal 8, the community can use, test, and help to refine the new functionality (in Drupal 7 via the Spark distribution) so that the feature-set will be well-tested and as awesome as possible when Drupal 8 is launched. Spark allows you to simply edit content, in-place (via the Aloha editor used by the Edit module) and also has a number of nice tools for designing responsive layouts, and has a tool palette which pulls out from the side and responsively adapts to the device. The goal is for the editor system to output only clean code without a mess of ugly divs and inline styling… and the editor is already living up to most of that promise. Words don’t really do Spark justice, so rather than take my word, you can try the demo. Note: Since anyone can make changes to the demo site that might be a bit weird, if things are really messed up, you can check back later. And of course reviewing patches in the Spark issue queue and creating new issues, where applicable, can help smooth the way to getting the envisioned “perfect” content authoring experience into Drupal 8.x core.

The Aquia Spark team prepare their presentation at DrupalCon Munich.

: Theming/Templating improvements in Drupal 8 include the use of Twig, a templating system also designed by Fabien Potencier of Symfony. It eliminates PHP from the theming layer for simpler code and removal of many security threats. The work on Twig does figure heavily into some of the initiatives, but is not an official core initiative on its own. Work is being done in a Twig sandbox led by Andreas Sahle of Wunderkraut. If you are interested in helping build this up, you can check out this sandbox and assist with the issues.

: Drupal 7 was released in January 2011, but it took over a year before there were enough of the important contrib modules ready enough for it that Drupal 6 was finally surpassed (in terms of numbers of Drupal 7 installations). Getting Views into core will hopefully help boost the uptake of Drupal 8 use as soon as it’s released. This will be a lot of work and there is a fund to help pay for development time. A lot of Drupal 8 Views features actually already work. Major parts of cTools are now in core. There is a funding request for getting Views into core (I threw 10 € into the donation box at the DrupalCamp in Barcelona), and the more we can donate, the more the Views team can allocate paid developer time to ensure that Drupal has a nice version of Views available when it ships. Of course you can also help with the Views for Drupal 8.x issues.

in core (only better). There is still a lot to do, but the idea is that the site can take any kind of request and send appropriate responses without a lot of headache. A lot of Symfony components being brought into Drupal are especially important here. Symfony integration helps bridge a gap between ours and the also-dynamic PHP-based developer community around Symfony, so should help provide a lot more experienced developers for Drupal. There is still a lot to do here; you can check out the current status via the WSCCI sandbox and help with the issue queue. See the core initiatives overview page for IRC meeting times and details. If you weren’t there for Larry Garfield’s Munich presentation, Web Services and Symfony Core Initiative, you can still watch it to get a good overview.

Automated testing in Drupal 8 is much faster and the Symfony components also help allow us to have more modular modules… ones which can more easily be unit-tested. In Drupal 8, PHPUnit will replace Simpletest although the latter may remain in core for a transition period.

The social side of the DrupalCon

What happens between sessions is the real reason that most of us go to DrupalCons. There is nothing quite like participating in code sprints with Webchick sitting across the room, committing the patches you’ve just been helping with. And of course you can take your favorite Drupal developer out for a beer or something. It’s great to be in an atmosphere where there are thousands of people who actually have an idea what you are talking about when you tell them your occupation—and of course it’s nice, for a change, to be able to leave out any explanation of Drupal. If you go to a DrupalCon, it’s a given that you will leave having made new friends—new friends who will feel a bit more like “old friends” the next time you see them.

More DrupalCons in the coming year than ever before

If you have never been to a DrupalCon, there are more DrupalCons coming in the next year than we’ve ever had in a year period, before. Granted, the two new (Australia / South America) cons are planned as smaller events that would actually be dwarfed by some of the larger DrupalCamps, but this is all a sign that Drupal is growing, world-wide. Note that the U.S. and European DrupalCons are both being held a bit later than in previous years. I look forward to seeing you all at a coming DrupalCon.

Jul 11 2012
Jul 11
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

In June 2012, there were over 160 new Drupal modules released. This article provides some coverage for the most noteworthy of those modules, at least from our point of view. As in the past editions of this article, we generally ignore modules which are only for limited use cases or which simply provide integration of commercial third-party services. We also have not tried out many of these modules and have not thoroughly tested any of them. We normally don’t list modules that seem to be far from “ready” (e.g. no actual release yet), but we can make no claims as to the stability of the modules covered. Be sure to back up your database before testing new modules that might cause pain and suffering.

I think that many might agree that some of the most significant new modules from June were Author, Edit, and Layout—released by Angie Byron and Wim Leers as part of the Acquia-sponsored Spark distribution, which aims to improve the content-authoring user experience for Drupal 8 (the current distribution and modules allows us to use these improvements in Drupal 7 and help improve them). This work is still not ready for use on production sites (“dev” releases at most), but the progress is exciting, nonetheless. And despite the fact that Acquia is sponsoring development, we can all contribute to this awesome project by experimenting and reporting our experience (bug reports or ideas about ways to further improve the user experience) and/or submitting patches. We are definitely excited about Spark!

Thanks to Sascha Grossenbacher and Miro Dietiker of MD Systems there are a number of new support plugins for the Translation Management Tools (TMGMT) which they have recently released, now providing support for translation services available from Google, Microsoft, MyGengo, Nativy, and Supertext. Each of these new modules that extend the main Translation management module are currently available as dev releases for Drupal 7.

Matt Cheney of Pantheon Systems has also recently released a number of exciting “apps” (modules which depend on the Apps module) to flesh out the feature-set of their popular Panopoly distribution; these include: Panopoly Admin , Panopoly Core , Panopoly Demo , Panopoly Images , Panopoly Magic , Panopoly Pages , Panopoly Search , Panopoly Theme , Panopoly Users , Panopoly Widgets , and Panopoly WYSIWYG. All of these new modules are still considered to be in “beta” for Drupal 7, and while some of these may work without the Panopoly distribution, I won’t cover their functionality in detail. They do appear to provide some useful enhancements to Drupal’s standard installation and what their distribution could formerly offer, so this is some significant progress and worth taking a look at if you want to provide a friendly user experience or want to keep up with the latest and greatest in development for distributions.

The rest of the most noteworthy modules are listed in alphabetical order with brief descriptions of their functionality, development status, and module categories on Drupal.org (in some cases, we selected appropriate categories if none were provided on the project page. A couple are not actual modules, but are included as Drupal “projects” also worthy of mention.)

*/ Bean Panels

The module, authored by Lee Rowlands of PreviousNext, allows Beans to be used within Panels. Very cool!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Booking.com API

The module, written by Rafal W., is an API for Drupal developers to allow us to build Booking.com (hotel booking) features into our sites.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Clean Comments

The module, written by Manuel Garcia, adds a bit of JavaScript to each page which hides the comment links (edit/delete/reply) so that they only appear when hovering over a comment.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Community Media Header

The module, written by Kevin Reynen of makedatamakesense.com, allows you to provide header images which can vary based on site section or context.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Conditional Rules

The module, from Jason Zhang of the Australian National University, allows you to provide branched conditions for Rules using “if / else” and “switch / case” so that you don’t need to create multiple similar rules just to manage basic differences in conditions. This functionality is a long time coming, in my opinion, so I’ll definitely be giving this one a whirl.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Contentment

The module, written by Peter Anderson of Alma Technology, gets its name as a contraction of “content management”, which might seem odd since one might say that Drupal, itself, is for for content management. So what does it do? It provides a nicer overview of site content with tabs for each content type, links and overview of numbers of comments, etc. From what I’ve seen, these are sweet improvements for site administrators. It would be nice to see such enhancements to the content overview pages in Drupal 8.

Status: There is a release candidate available for Drupal 7.

Cryptolog

The module, from Mark Burdett of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, enhances user privacy by replacing IP addresses in site logs with randomized identifiers. Each identifier is unique to an IP address for each day, so you can still analyze site statistics (such as visitors per day). This would be useful for certain kinds of sites where user privacy might be more important, but it might also make it harder to track longer term patterns of spam posting or repeat visitors.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Dropdown Checkboxes

The module, by arijit dutta of Faichi Solutions, integrates the DDCL library, to replace normal HTML select lists with a drop-down checkbox list for better usability. It would be nice to see this kind of functionality natively provided by browsers.

Status: There is a release candidate available for Drupal 7.

DrupalPro

The project, contributed by Mike Stewart of Media Done Right, is not a module at all, but definitely an interesting project for people who want to get up and running with a new Drupal development environment. It’s an Ubuntu-based VirtualBox disk image which can be run right off of a USB3 stick. It has loads of great utilities already installed, as well, of course, as a full DAMP stack. Assuming your production server is Linux-based, this Virtual box should provide a much more compatible testing environment than a MAMP/WAMP development environment. The disk image includes Drush 5, Git, Netbeans, Compass, Sass, Dreditor, and a number of other very useful utilities that can take time to set up.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Drush live

Categories: Drush

The module, produced by James Silver of ComputerMinds, provides some nice enhancements for Drush. Explaining it here is outside the scope of this article, but it does look like it could be useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Entity Property Field

The module, by Erik Summerfield of Phase2 Technology, provides a simple display field with format widgets to display entity properties as if they were normal fields (e.g. to provide a field with formatters to show the date/time updated information for a node or other entity.)

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Felix

The module, by Maurits Lawende of Dutch Open Projects, provides a simplified way for site editors to add a preset selection of blocks to pre-defined page regions without any need to use block administration. Cool stuff!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

GMap3 Tools

The module, contributed by Ivica Puljic of MontenaSoft, is a developer API for integrating Google Maps (version 3) into a Drupal site.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Handy Block

The module, developed by Jeremy Epstein, helps eliminate the need for custom modules just to provide a block which relates to the current entity. It’s considered a “convenience module” for developers and themers.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Image Annotator

Categories: Fields

The module, written by Peter Droogmans, helps add annotation markers to images.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Image Autosize filter

The module, written by Hai-Nam Nguyen of Open Web Solutions, keeps content consistent and streamlines the editorial workflow by forcing a preset image size based on the selected image “alignment” (left/right/center/none).

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Image Preset

The module, by Yuriy Babenko of Suite101, allows you to simply select an ImageCache preset for Views, DisplaySuite or other places where you might set up an image to be displayed.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

jQuery File Upload and jQuery Kaltura Uploader

The and modules, both coded by John Youssef of JesoX, are similar modules which provide enhanced file upload functionality and a “multi-uploader”. Both modules depend on the jQuery Update module and look similar. Differences include that the jQuery File Upload module supports non-image/video documents (e.g. .doc and .pdf files, etc), whereas the Kaltura uploader supports only images and video file-types, requires the Kaltura module, and uploads files to your configured Kaltura account.

Status: There are dev releases available (for both modules) for Drupal 7.

jQuery LocalScroll

The module, written by Gabor Szanto, uses the jQuery LocalScroll library (installed separately using the Libraries API module) and allows you to build sites with links to anchor points on a page which smoothly scroll to those anchor point links, when clicked. This can look pretty cool and is ideal for mini-sites or to minimize page requests. See the project page for links to example sites.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

JSON 2

The module, is also produced by Peter Droogmans and provides integration of the JSON 2 JavaScript library. This could definitely be useful.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Link API

Categories: Content

The module, by Chris Skene of PreviousNext, provides some nice tools for developers to manage links on a Drupal site. This can include validation of links, maintaining a list of all links, etc. This definitely looks handy!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 6 (and we are hoping this will get ported to D7.).

Link Badges and Menu Badges

The and modules, both developed by Wayne Eaker of Zengenuity, work together (Link badges is a developer API which is used by Menu badges and can be used by developers for other modules) to provide iOS-style “badges” next to links, e.g. to indicate the number of unread messages, items in a cart, etc. Very nice!

Status: There are stable releases available for Drupal 7.

Microsites

The module, also contributed by Chris Skene of PreviousNext, helps simplify using Drupal to produce “Microsites” within a Drupal installation, so they can have their own menus, etc. This looks very cool!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 6.

Ming

is yet another module by Chris Skene of PreviousNext. Ming allows site developers to work with data stored in MongoDB databases and provides a number of nice features, including maintaining multiple persistent connections to MongoDB databases, shortcuts for MongoDB tasks and for accessing stored objects without need for creating full MongoID classes, etc. This looks very interesting.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Postal Code Validation

The module, produced by Liam Morland of University of Waterloo, is a developer API which helps provide postal code validation for a number of different countries. It has no user interface of its own, but allows developers to utilize its functions in their own modules.

Status: There is a release candidate available for Drupal 7.

Promo node

The module, created by Mikke Schirén of NodeOne, provides a system for promoting various Drupal nodes on your site, thus eliminating the need for creating a special “promo” content type.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Publish button

The module, also created by Mikke Schirén, provides a simple “publish” button next to the “Save” button so you don’t need to force your site’s content creators to check the “publish” box, then click on “Save”. This provides a more natural workflow and helps prevent accidentally creating nodes without publishing them (or vice-versa, depending on how you might create your content type defaults.) Very simple… but very nifty!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Reverse Proxy Check

The module, written by Justin Emond, helps verify that nothing has broken your reverse proxy caching for anonymous site visitors (e.g. Varnish). It provides an extra line in your site’s status report (admin/reports/status)

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Rules URL Argument

The module, written by Tadej Baša, allows you to check for and get the value of arguments used in the URL and use them in Rules.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

SAML Service Provider

The module, by Marcus Deglos of Acquia, is pretty cool… it allows users to verify their identity with a SAML IDP (Identitity Provider) server to streamline registration and login.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Scheduler Workbench Integration

The module, produced by William Hurley of Forum One Communications, allows you to set dates for Workbench-moderated content to be published and/or unpublished. This is definitely useful for managing the scheduled release of editor-moderated content.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Search synonyms

Categories: Search

The module, produced by Aidan Lister, allows you to add synonyms for search terms to the index so that, for example, people searching for “Holland” will see full search results which also include the (usually-synonymous term), “The Netherlands”.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Taxonomy add previous

The module, created by Joachim Noreiko, helps streamline the process of adding related or similar taxonomy terms by automatically populating the new term fields with the values used for the previous taxonomy term and provides a second link for this functionality next to the normal “add term” link. This could definitely be useful for certain use cases.

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Views Dataviz

The module, developed by Jurriaan Roelofs, is a modern, HTML5-based data visualization system for providing charts from Views data, etc. Nicely done!

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Views Rules

The module, is another contribution (like the Conditional Rules, above) by Jason Zhang of the Australian National University, which provides integration between Rules and Views. Getting into the particulars of using this module would be a separate article on its own, but it definitely looks cool!

Status: There is an alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Views Slideshow Liquid Carousel

The module, written by Jonathan DeLaigle of Advomatic, integrates the Liquid Carousel Javascript library into Views Slideshow, allowing you to provide fluid layout to a Views Slideshow, e.g. fluidly alter the number of thumbnail links visible as the window’s width changes. This looks slick!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Jun 19 2012
Jun 19

It’s been a busy past several days in Barcelona (for the Drupal Developer Days) and most of us who’d been sprinting during the week before seemed to be in the same condition by Sunday—rapidly running out of energy from progressive sleep deprivation from an increasingly later return to our hotels. But it’s been an exciting week for Drupal core (and contrib) development and significant work has been completed on the Drupal core (mostly building up Drupal 8, but also some for added features in Drupal 7) while a lot of important decisions have been made which will likely shape development in a number of initiatives for the coming months until the sprints at DrupalCon Munich.

In addition to the Sprint I was primarily involved in (I was just trying to get my feet wet with assisting the Drupal 8 core development process by joining the multilingual sprint, but I did write my first committed core patch—admittedly this was a very basic patch), there were also sprints running for “Views in core”, Entity API, Media initiative, Mapping in Drupal 7, configuration management, abstracting social networking, search-related sprints, the Drupal.org upgrade… and possibly more still. I’ll cover some of the highlights of the week that I’m most knowledgeable about.

Multilingual Initiative

The multilingual initiative sprinted all week before the Developer Days sessions, and even continued through the weekend. And a lot of key decisions were made and important code changes committed and pushed to the central Drupal 8.x repository.

New user interface translation improvements in Drupal 8

This is something I got to do a bit with, but Swiss developer, Michael Schmid (Schnitzel on d.o), of Amazee Labs, was the primary developer working on this task during the Sprint. He and his colleague, Vasi Chindris, were among the stars of the week. It was a real privilege to get to look over their shoulders and to get Michael’s support when it came to using Git to manage code in the sandbox we were using for the issue. (Thank you, once again, Michael!) Once everyone was happy with the work, it got committed to core. This new sandbox workflow, used for larger issues, helps avoid a lot of bugs creeping into the main branch, as has happened during previous periods of intense core development. Of course the tests and test bots catch a lot of issues which could otherwise be major headaches for all concerned (automated testing was also a part of Drupal 7 development). If you recall, the long wait for Drupal 7’s release was due to hundreds of critical bugs. Now this should be a thing of the past since we have an established threshold for critical issues; and the core team only commit new patches to the central repository when we are below that threshold (15 “critical” bugs, 100 “major” bugs… among other thresholds specified).

New system for translating Drupal’s user interface

The new user interface translation system allows you to keep imported (community contributed) translations separate from customized translations and search for a particular translation within either or both categories as well as filter by translated strings, untranslated strings, or both. If you have any unsaved translations, they are highlighted to help remind you not to leave the page without saving them and there discussion about providing a dialogue to prevent a site admin from accidentally leaving the page with unsaved changes, too. There is also an issue to allow the string search to be non-case-sensitive (checkbox) to find more strings that contain a particular word or phrase, regardless of text case. Since this feature came up in discussion after the rest of the user-interface changes had already been made, we elected to put the discussion about adding this feature in a separate issue. If you have ideas for what might further improve the Drupal 8 user-interface translation workflow, your input is valued.Customized and imported (community) translations are stored separately

*/

New content language options

Drupal 8 has new language settings per content typeYou can enable translation for a particular content type and also choose to hide the language selector (automatically selecting the language for a new piece of content by any of a number of contextual rules). The automatically selected language for a new piece of content can be any particular language enabled on your site, “not specified”, “not applicable”, “multiple”, the “site’s default language”, the “current interface language”, or the “author’s preferred language”. While all these settings might arguably be a bit confusing for new users, they should help smooth the content creation and translation workflow for most sites. Of course the option to “enable translation” is hidden if the default language for the content type cannot be resolved to a single language (i.e. for “not specified”, “not applicable”, or “multiple”), since translation does not make sense here.

Translate the English UI to… English!

Drupal 8 — Enable English UI translationIn the edit preferences for the English language, you can enable translation to English and then it’s easy to change, for instance, the “Log out” link to “Sign out” (or “Disembark”, “Abandon ship”, “Terminate session” or anything else you might want on a particular site). Of course this could also be useful for fixing any oddities you find in the UI strings provided by contributed modules if you find a mistake in a field description, for instance, you don’t need to wait for a module developer to commit your patch or add a “site English” custom language just to modify a few strings.

Configuration Management related to Multilingual sites

Drupal core team leads and other sprinters discussed multilanguage configuration

One of the biggest issues of the week was determining how multilingual configuration would be handled in Drupal 8. The core team knew that they wanted to store language configuration in files rather than in the database, so that it’s easy to “push” new language configurations to an established site that already has content, among other benefits of this approach. But this brought with it a number of challenges which the Multilingual Initiative team, Configuration Management Initiative team, and other interested parties discussed in several sprint discussions through the week. Many of the standard configurations for a site might also differ, depending on the language: you might, for example, want a different site name or site slogan or logo for each language. There were three different proposals for how to handle multilingual configuration, and to keep a long story short, the final decision was to go with “Plan B” (or a minor variant, thereof). You can still lend your voice to the “review” process in the main issue for the language configuration system in Drupal 8. If you would like an overview of the plans, there is a nice graphic by Gábor Hojtsy (the Multilingual Team lead) which outlines the differences between the three proposals and some variants.

Drupal 8 Configuration Management

Greg Dunlap (“heyrocker” on drupal.org) presented the new configuration management

Angie Byron, aka “webchick” gave a quick overview of the configuration management initiatives goals, tooOne great session from the weekend was the Introduction to the Drupal 8 Configuration Managment System by Greg Dunlap (“heyrocker” on Drupal.org), the Configuration Management Initiative team lead. There has been some good progress in determining what this is going to look like, some of which took place during the sprints in Barcelona. Basically, this will be a bunch of smaller files stored within a logical directory structure in the sites/[…]/files directory. The new configuration system is currently planned to be YAML-based (rather than PHP or XML, which were used in earlier visualizations of the system). And the goal, as described by a slide in Angie Byron’s Sunday-morning keynote, “Drupal 8: What you need to know” is to be like “Features in core, only better”. The aim is to help us remove the complications involved in pushing configuration changes, modified in a development or staging environment, to a site that already has user-created content that we don’t want to lose. The main problem with the current system is that there is no consistent system: configuration settings are scattered across multiple tables, variables, files, and other locations and there is no consistent structure in any case. The idea is now to have a contexts, which Drupal responds to, when determining which configurations files to use.

Angela Byron (“webchick”) talks about the problems the new configuration management system aims to solve

What it should look like when loading a configuration from module code, is something like this:

  $config = config('image.style.large.yml';
  $config->get('effects.image_scale_480_480_1.data');

And when setting and saving configuration data:

  $config = config('system.performance');
  $config->set('cache', $form_state['values']['cache']);
  $config->save();

The YAML code for the image example, which saves configuration for the “large” image style would look something like this:

  name: large
  effects:
    image_scale_480_480_1:
      name: image_scale
      data:
          width: '480'
          height: '480'
          upscale: '1'
      weight: '0'
      ieid: image_scale_480_480_1

This should be pretty easy for developers and site builders to learn to work with and of course an interface is planned which should automatically build the configuration files, when edited by site builders. Configurations will be loaded into the “active store”. Changes are saved back to the active store and back to the YAML files so they can easily be moved between sites (staging and production sites, or completely different sites if they should have some settings in common). Building up an ideal import/export system for configurations is one of the major remaining hurdles. Update: heyrocker’s presentation slides are now available for download, so you can see other examples of Drupal 8 configuration.

Other Drupal 8 news

Twig library committed to core!

Drupal 8 now has Twig in the core/vendor directoryOne of the new developments which has received some press is that Twig, the templating system designed by Fabien Potencier, the innovator behind Symfony, which also bundles Twig, has now been added to the Drupal core repository.

However, the fact that the Twig library is in the repository does not mean that it’s ready for any kind of use yet, except for those who are working to build a new templating engine for Drupal, which uses it. How this works is still open to discussion; according to webchick, it may be that we keep both PHP-based and Twig-based templating engines to ease the pain of this change. On the other hand, while there is a learning curve involved, there are many advantages to Twig, especially in terms of security (removing PHP vulnerabilities from themes, altogether), and the saying that “the drop is always moving” applies here. It may be that Twig is the only templating engine which will be supported by Drupal 8, but if you feel strongly about this or have ideas for how to do this “right”, it’s a good time to get involved.Twig vs PHP template syntax

Context-based layout and blocks

Angela Byron lays out the plan for Drupal 8 layout with contexts

Everything in Drupal 8 will be a block or a layout area and blocks can have multiple contexts which determine their behavior (and whether or not they are displayed). This is going to be a major change which should produce much more flexible layouts and site designs. Of course this will touch on every major Drupal initiative: configuration, HTML5, mobile, multilingual… all are involved.

Drupal 8 will have clean, semantic HTML5 (and will abandon IE)!

Say goodbye to the messy nested div hell! Drupal 8 code is going to be much smaller and cleaner which will make designer/themer types love Drupal and make it possible to produce code that renders nicely, regardless of display size. Oh, and don’t worry about trying to support older versions of Internet Explorer; the community has decided it’s time to put that tiresome task to rest. Yay!

Drupal 8 development needs you!

Webchick, heyrocker, Gábor Hojtsy… all made the same point: As a community effort that’s still underway, the Drupal 8 effort needs more of the community at large to get involved and find ways to help out. There is a lot of complexity, but there will be smaller tasks that anyone could work on, so there’s going to be something for everyone. Even non-coders can help by testing, filing bug reports, helping manage the issue queues, making suggestions, documenting finished features and APIs. There are several places where you can get involved:

  • The core initiatives overview page provides information about when the different teams meet in IRC and in which channels among other information which can help people who want to find ways to get involved.
  • Drupal Ladder is a project aimed at helping more people learn how to contribute to Drupal
  • [ … ] (Comment below if you have other tips for where to get involved)

Big thanks to the organizers, sprint leads, and session speakers

The Drupal Developer Days in Barcelona were a big success because of all of you pulling together to make things happen. The local organizers made us all feel welcome and provided a lovely venue and took us out on the town just about every night. The sprint leaders helped find ways for everyone to play a part in building Drupal 8 or contributing in other ways, and the sessions were awesome.

Jun 14 2012
Jun 14
Morning stand-up meeting at the Drupal 8 Multilingual Sprint

I was supposed to get into Barcelona at 10:30PM on Tuesday evening, but with delays in my flight, it wasn’t till after midnight that our plane landed; it was after 1 a.m. by the time I reached my hotel. Normally travel, when it runs late and long, makes me feel exhausted, but I was excited to be joining my first Drupal core sprint. I’ve been wanting to do a bit more to help build Drupal and it’s great to not only be somewhat aware of what’s coming in Drupal 8, but to also know that I’ve at least played a small part in making it happen.

I wasn’t sure I would attend the Drupal Dev Days in Barcelona till a couple of weeks ago, but I’m glad I’m here. We have a fairly sizable group of developers here at the Citilab helping work on cutting through the issues for Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative (D8MI). I’ve been helping with some user interface quirks and since it had been long enough since I’d actually done string translations of the user interface, I started out yesterday as a “tester”… at least trying to look at the problem of translating the interface (e.g. translating “Add content” to German) as if I had never done anything like that before. And we did find some issues and, even better, we were able to address and correct those issues during yesterday’s coding. Others have been working on multilingual issues related to the new configuration management system, and a number of other issues which you, too, can help with, if you’d like to join us remotely (or in person, if you happen to already be in Barcelona — the Sprints continue through Friday, too). There are currently about 40 of us in the IRC channel for i18n and I'd say that at least half of those are working on the Sprint. There are about a dozen (give or take, since people are working on other sprints, too) who are here in Barcelona working on D8MI.

You can help make Drupal 8 better, too!

Jump on IRC (#drupal-i18n) and look at the focus issues for Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative if you’d like to join use remotely. There is a lot going on right now and it’s not all on Multilingual issues, so if you have some time, I’d like to encourage others to join me in helping ease the burden on the few who do so much and at least do a small bit to make Drupal 8 as awesome as it can be.

Jun 11 2012
Jun 11
Modules of the month story banner illustration.

In May 2012, 150 new Drupal modules were released; this post provides an overview of some of the most promising modules including developer APIs, theming tools, configuration assistants, useful enhancements to other modules and much more.

Going through the list of new modules, I found it difficult, this time, to select the “most useful”. Of course what seems “useful” depends largely on ones use case, so what you find indispensable, I might I find useless today, and tomorrow I might decide it’s a vital part of my new project. With one exception, the selected modules should all be reasonably “ready for use” (i.e. they at least have a release of some kind) and are mostly modules I could imagine using, myself, even if I don’t have an immediate need for many of them. Some modules which were not included in this selection include several "third-party integration” modules, especially those for “commercial” services. And in contrast to the post made for the April’s “modules-of-the-month”, I have not attempted to sort the selection of modules by category, but instead have the list sorted alphabetically, by project name—the summaries include the categories used on the modules’ Drupal.org project descriptions (and reasonable categories have been added for a few modules which currently haven’t got any categories selected on drupal.org).

As with last time, I have not been able to personally test all of the modules, so don’t blame me if you enable one that looks promising… and it hoses your database.

*/ Addressfield Tokens

The module, by Andrew Marcus of New Signature, has already got over a hundred sites using it, so clearly this was an innovation that people had been waiting for. It’s a nifty extension to the Address Field module (so obviously depends on that) which also requires the Entity Token sub-module (part of the Entity API module). A token such as [addressfield:full] can be used to insert (in this example) a full, formatted address. It integrates well with MailChimp and Webform.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Apache log4php integration

The module, by Erik Webb of Acquia, like most modules from Acquia, is complex enough that it’s not easy to summarize; that said, this module provides integration with the Apache log4php™ library to simplify the process of logging errors. It’s a “better watchdog” that uses a common-purpose library to log messages to a wide variety of backend logging systems with improved control compared to Drupal’s standard message logging (Watchdog) system. You obviously need to install the log4php library (using PEAR or the Libraries module)

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Article Templater

Categories: Content

The module, by John Youssef (JesoX), sounds like a great idea (caveat: I’ve yet to actually experiment with this). It provides savable structure for any content type body, including snippets, etc, so if you have a particular article format it can be easily inserted into your body field. It supports CKEditor and Wysiwyg.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Block Conditional Visibility by URI Query Parameters

The module, written by Solomon Gifford, extends the normal controls for where a block is displayed to allow blocks to be shown (or hidden) if a particular query string is appended to the URL, e.g. https://example.com?referrer=google. Tres cool!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Colorbox Node

The module, produced by Dennis Blake, allows you to display any page (minus header and footer) within a Colorbox modal. Despite the word “node” in the module name, it supports user pages, Views pages, Webforms, and more.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Commerce Fancy Attributes The example color selector for Commerce Fancy Attributes

The module, developed by Julien Dubois and Bojan Živanović of Commerce Guys, provides a Javascript-enabled way to change the boring, ugly radio button set into a prettier selector. The example use case is a color selector used on a product’s “add to cart” form with nice color swatches to click rather than labeled radio buttons. But if Javascript is disabled, it gracefully degrades to normal radio buttons. Nice!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Compass: Commerce Dashboard & Analytics Compass is my effort to turn Drupal Commerce data into comprehensible information.

The module, authored by Jurriaan Roelofs, provides nice visualizations in the form of graphs and charts of your Drupal commerce data using interactive HTML5/VML Google Charts with views integration. It has a long list of dependencies, but most of these will already be in use on a complex Drupal Commerce-enabled site.

Status: There is a alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Cookie Log

The module, produced by PK Vaish of Livelink New Media, provides a simple record of all cookies set by your site so that you can better audit cookies for compliance with the new EU “cookie law”.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Corresponding Entity References As this is the next evolution of Corresponding Node References, I would like to say thanks for all the work done over on Corresponding Node References. This is almost a direct upgrade from CNR to include handling of entities.

The module, by Chris Hertzog of CODEwork Designs, allows two entity types to have references to each other which are automatically automatically updated if changed in one of the entity instances.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Create-editor The development has just started and the module is not yet usable, we are just testing the concept and a complete rewrite will probably occur once we know how to deal with everything. All help is welcome.

The module, written by Finish developers Roni Kantis of Soprano Brain Alliance and Riku Virta, the front-end developer of the actual Create library, is the only project listed here which does not yet have any kind of usable release. Despite not yet being usable and being in the early stages of development, the goals of this project are so impressive and worthy of continued interest, that I felt it deserved mention. Create, from the Midgard Project allows you to integrate the browsing and content editing user experience to allow editing without going into a “content administration” form. So you can easily change content directly on a page and submit changes back to the server. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this.

Status: There is no real release available yet (but you can download the current state of the project as a development snapshot or check out the project with Git).

Data Visualization Wizard

The module, written by Jason Hoekstra of the U.S. Department of Education, has a goal to simplify and streamline the process of creating complex data visualizations in Drupal.

[…]Views, OpenLayers, Charts and Graphs and others provided a quick way to show data online without custom programming, but became a maintenance burden in the long run, often taking 8-32 hours to create a new visualization. For this reason, we distilled the best practices from these patterns into a single module. The end goal is to lower the technical complexity required to create new visualizations and decrease the time required to do so.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 6.

Entity Reference Count

The module, written by Pablo Cerda of BlueSpark Labs, is an entity-based adaptation of the Nodereference Count module, which allows you to add an automatically-calculated field to any entity which will display a value for the number of other entities which reference it.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Exclusive Value

The module, by Robert Castelo of Code Positive, is a module which provides a basic checkbox field (boolean setting) which can be enabled for any one node to make it the featured node. When the checkbox is set on one node, it is unset for all others (only one node is featured with this setting). While this might not be useful on every Drupal site, I can certainly think of situations where I would definitely make use of this simple module.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Fallback language negotiation Change the Default language without changing the default language by using a other language as fallback.

The module, coded by German Drupal developers, Florian Weber of [di] digitale informationssysteme gmbh and Dennis Brücke, has a funny description (see quote to right). I’ve not had a need for it yet, but I’m sure it’s useful for some situations.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Google Viewer file formatter

The module, by Janez Urevc of Delo, integrates the Google doc viewer to display a number of different document types (.pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, etc). It requires enabling the File entity module.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

LimeSurvey Sync

The module, contributed by Julien Duteil , provides integration of LimeSurvey results into a Drupal site.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Log Em Out

The module, from Minnur Yunusov of Urban Insight, prevents multiple concurrent sessions from different IPs on the same user account by automatically logging out any previous connection if a user logs in from a different IP. For membership sites this could help prevent sharing of accounts and it should also help ensure security. In permissions, you can select which roles this behavior is applied to.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Lorempixel

The module, contributed by Fredric Bergström of NodeOne, brings improved “placeholder image” creation to Drupal by accessing free images on lorempixel.com, which can be “generated” at any image size needed. It integrates with Devel generate, but can also be used to add an image as a file entity.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Node Field

Categories: Fields

The module, contributed by Alexander of ADCI, LLC, allows you to add unique extra fields to individual Drupal nodes without needing to add the fields to the content type. This provides a lot of flexibility and helps prevent excessive “field clutter” or the need for more content types.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Node View Permissions

The module, was (like Node Field) also developed by Alexander of ADCI, LLC, provides Drupal 7 with the permissions: "View own content" and "View any content" for each content type, just as it was in Drupal 6. This could be especially useful for D6 sites which made special use of these permissions and now need to be upgraded to Drupal 7.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

OG Extras

The module, contributed by one of the Drupal community’s superstars, Karen Stevenson, is a set of “extras” for Organic Groups. It’s especially useful for sites which don’t use Panels since it provides Views and Blocks for Organic Groups which don’t depend on Panels.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Panels Frame

The module, written by Helior Colorado of Commerce Guys, gives Panels users a simpler way to build new complex layouts by stacking existing Panels layouts. Cool!

Status: There is a alpha release available for Drupal 7.

Pathauto i18n Taxonomy

The module, by Marco Kleine-Albers, provides i18n tokens for taxonomy paths in Pathauto so users get paths in their own language. Of course this is also good for SEO.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Popcorn.js

The module, written by Kevin Reynen of makedatamakesense, integrates the cool media viewer, Popcorn.js, which includes support for YouTube and Vimeo as well as other interesting HTML5 applications.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Portable path

is a module, from the great Jim Berry, which helps make it easier to move a site from a development/staging domain to “production”.

After a review of existing input filters and related modules, none seemed to do this. Some remove the domain portion of the path, making the path portable in certain contexts but not across all use cases. But none finished the job by replacing the file structure path. If someone is aware of a module doing what this does, let me know.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Reviews

The module, written by Scot Hubbard of Base One Ltd, simplifies adding reviews to site content. Reviews can be configured per content type. For those of us who have had to jump through hoops using the Voting API paired with node references and creation of a “review” content type, this is definitely a breath of fresh air and I am betting the Reviews modules will quickly grow in popularity!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Role Delay

The module, created by World Fallz, allows a Drupal site to automatically promote a user from a basic “Authenticated user” role (which might not have many permissions at all) to a more trusted role after a period of time and then further promote their permissions (role) after another period of time.

Status: There are stable releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

Save Form State

Categories: Content

The module, coded by John Youssef of JesoX, provides “autosave” functionality in Drupal forms. Woohoo! You’ll need to add some additional jQuery libraries and do a bit of configuration, but this definitely does look promising.

Status: There are dev releases available for both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

TagCanvas tagcanvas.png

The module, written by Chin Kiong Ng of MyFineJob.com, integrates the TagCanvas library, which uses the HTML5 Canvas to build one of those fancy new 3D animated tag clouds, similar to what Cumulus does, but without using Flash (thank God!). It depends on the Tagadelic module, used by over 30,000 Drupal sites and I can only imagine that TagCanvas could quickly gain thousands of installations.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Template Field Variables This is a utility module for themers. Its only purpose is to make Drupal template development less painful. It has no front-end. It stores no data. It implements no hooks.

Categories:

The module, by Jeremy Epstein, is a nifty new theming tool which takes the pain out of theming fieldable entities. Variables hidden in the massive nested arrays are moved into simple variables. It works on all core content types and fields as well as many fields and content types provided by the most popular contributed modules (link, email, date, reference, etc). This should make theming a bit less headache and a bit more fun. Yay!

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Tooltip Field Formatter

Categories:

The module, developed by Marc van Gend, uses BeautyTips to provide a nice display of field contents when you mouse over an appropriate icon or other trigger. Nicely done, Marc!

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Users Export

The module, created by Aaron Klump of In the Loft Studios, is a lean module with basic features for exporting common fields from the user table into common formats (e.g. CSV). It has an API which developers can use to extend the set of fields that it can export.

Status: There is a stable release available for Drupal 7.

Views iCal

The module, developed by Max Rakhimov, allows you to create iCal feeds of events from Views, simply and easily.

Status: There is a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Workbench Moderation Notes

Categories: Utility

The module, by Kevin Miller of Cal State Monterey Bay, provides a “Notes” field to display comments attached to changes in the moderation state of content revisions managed by Workbench Moderation; it improves communication in the editorial workflow process.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

Xtools

The module, by Bart Feenstra, is yet another module for to help developers test the modules they are writing. It allows developers to create “blueprints” against which input and output is checked. I look forward to see how this develops and to giving it a go.

Status: There is a dev release available for Drupal 7.

May 02 2012
May 02

April 2012 delivered a fresh batch of promising and useful-looking new contributed modules to the Drupal world. Perhaps because the immediately-preceding DrupalCon gave developers some time to collaborate and work on their contributions more than they normally might, this month seems to have a notable number of interesting new projects, especially considering the relatively “mature” state of Drupal 7 at this point. To help keep abreast of some of the most interesting new developments we have planned a monthly article to showcase these new modules; this is the first edition of our “Modules of the Month”. At this point in the release cycle, newly released modules are mostly only being released for Drupal 7, but a few have also been released for Drupal 6 as well; where Drupal versions are not mentioned, you should assume the module is only for Drupal 7.

Caveat: I have tested some, but not all of these modules. Be especially careful if you choose to use any of the “pre-stable” releases on production sites. I should also note that some other awesome modules released in April may not be included—I did my best to select the modules I’d be most likely to use, but there are some “special use case” modules which were not covered, but which might be very useful for some sites. The 30-something modules included here have been sorted into very loose categories.

3rd Party Integration / Social Media

Twitter Follow Block

The Twitter follow block

The Twitter Follow Block module, by Pradeep Saran, provides a nicely styled box to show your Twitter link and followers in a jQuery-loaded block that can be placed in any region of your theme. You can configure the dimensions of the block (and thus, the number of “follower thumbnails” displayed) and you can choose from different color schemes to better match your current theme. It currently only displays the Twitter feed for one Twitter user, but what might be an interesting development would be a way to dynamically load the Twitter username (e.g. from a Profile field) so that the Twitter follow block would link to different users (based on the author of content currently viewed or the profile page being viewed, if applicable). The module is currently available as a “stable” 7.x-1.0 release and I look forward to seeing this get further developed.

Social Buttons

The Social Buttons module by Linnovate’s Raz Konforti, provides a field that can be added and configured for any content type (or any fieldable entity) and includes default button code for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, but you can also easily add new buttons. Since it’s a field, you can also determine where and whether it is shown for each display (node view, teaser, RSS, etc). It has a 7.x-1.0-beta2 release as well as more recent commits to the developer branch.

Content Access Control

Hidden Nodes

The Hidden Nodes module, created by Bryan Ollendyke of Penn State University, helps allow staff to hide nodes from regular visitors while still allowing users with “staff” permissions (admin or author/editor -type roles) to see the content in the menu as it will appear when the content is finished. This helps get around the issues caused by the “black-and-white” absoluteness of published/unpublished status (and only being able to access content through the “administer content” system). It was created to integrate well with the Outline Designer module, another project sponsored by Penn State. Hidden Nodes has recently had its fourth beta release and is certainly an interesting project for streamlining team-based content workflows.

Restrict node page view

The Restrict node page view module, authored by Christian Johansson of Sweden’s Kodamera AB, helps prevent users from viewing content outside of its intended context. The example use case for this module involves a requirement to prevent users from directly viewing Views slideshow nodes (via their node/xxx paths), but of course there could be other content you want to restrict access to but still have its information available in a Views display, so direct access to the node by most roles can easily be blocked with this module. The initial release is shown as “stable”, and it’s simple enough, so may never require any fixes or updates. That said, I do hope that they modify the module so that full-node access is only restricted to selected node types (i.e. blacklist). It currently adds a set of permissions for all node types, which defaults to no view access for all roles and content types, which would be a pain on sites with lots of roles and content types, especially if the goal is only to restrict non-staff access to one limited node type out of many.

The permissions created by the Restrict Node Page Access module.

Node access book

The Node access book module, by the prolific danielb, is a content access module which allows access settings placed on a parent “book” page to apply to all child pages of that book; or, similarly, if content includes a reference to another node to which they have access. It makes it easy to change access to a whole Drupal “book”, according to roles. The module is still new and very experimental, so you should use it with caution; at this time the only release is a development snapshot.

Theme Enhancements

Content Theme Code

The Content Theme Code module, developed by Josh Lind, helps with performance by only delivering JS and CSS from your theme if you are on a content type or node which requires it. This makes absolute sense to me as I was originally baffled when looking at the code of Drupal-delivered pages, wondering why so much CSS and Javascript that was only used on limited parts of a site was part of what was loaded for any other page. Streamlining content delivery is especially important in these days of increasing need for mobile support, with slower and more expensive bandwidth. I understand this functionality is planned for Drupal 8, but until then, we should consider modules like this to help lighten the load on the server and improve the for users on lower-bandwidth devices. There is currently a stable release for Drupal 6 and a release candidate for Drupal 7.

Autoload JS

The Autoload JS module, authored by Justin Dodge, provides for particular JS files to be loaded according to their filenames. Labels added to the Javascript filenames or used in the path (directory names within your theme folder) can determine JS to be loaded on blog pages, your site’s front page, all pages, etc. For example, the file found at sites/all/mytheme/js/nodetype--blog.js would automatically be loaded only for page loads for the “blog” content type. A “stable” 7.x-1.0 version was released in mid-April.

Twig template engine

The Drupal Twig template engine module, by Steve Mokris integrates the Twig PHP template engine, an exciting, new-generation template system for PHP which is faster, more secure, extensible, and uses compact code which is easy to read and to learn. Twig is another awesome innovation from Fabien Potencier, the creator of the Symfony framework (of particular interest since Drupal 8 will incorporate a number of key Symfony components). It has a stable 7.x-1.0 release and should be worth experimenting with and keeping an eye on.

Fields

Field Extractor

The Field Extractor module, by Commerce Guys’ Bojan Živanović, allows you to easily get information from a referenced entity (e.g. within a Views display). This looks very useful and I look forward to seeing a “stable” release (the module is currently only available as a “developer snapshot”).

Hierarchical Term Formatter

The Hierarchical Term Formatter module, by Hannes Lilljequist, provides additional formatting options for a term reference so that you can display its hierarchy (on, for example, a node display), with “parent > child” rather than simply “child”. It provides a number of options to control the levels of hierarchy displayed, the markup used for display, and whether or not the terms are linked to “term pages” and at this time is available in with an “alpha” release for Drupal 7.

Token formatters

The Token formatters module, by super-contributor Dave Reid, enhances your control over how fields are output, by providing token support for field display formatting. This module has a beta release available for Drupal 7.

Google Map Field

The Google Map field module, by Scot Hubbard, provides a simple way to add maps to any fieldable entity with a relatively light-weight system compared to Location/GMap -type implementations. The location and zoom level for each map is independently selectable, directly from a map. It also provides an option to add the map within your Wysiwyg content by providing a simple map selection button (which inserts a custom token) that can be enabled for your editor; so you could potentially have several maps displayed within, e.g., a blog post. There are a few rough edges, but this looks like a promising way to embed maps, directly within content, without all the overhead of using other methods.

Search

Defacto

The Defacto module, by Acquia’s Christian Yates, extends ApacheSolr search to provide biasing on content which has been tagged (using a specific taxonomy reference field) with a particular term, e.g. searches for that term will be biased in favor of content tagged with the term. You can also mark specific content as the “canonical” (default) result for a search on a particular term to push the content to the top of the search results. This is a very new module, which currently only has a developer snapshot available, but it does look promising.

Administration and Content Management

Content Menu

The Content Menu module, by Wunderkraut’s Daniel Nolde (also the local “sitebuilding” track chair for the upcoming DrupalCon Munich), provides a system to streamline the process of working on menus and the associated content in one simple interface to make “building a structure-oriented website [ … ] effortless and intuitive”. Getting into the specifics of how this works is outside the scope of this article and since it’s also currently only available as a developer snapshot I will only say that this module looks very worthy of notice.

UUID Redirect

The UUID Redirect module, by David Rothstein, sounds like a very useful module for a rather complex use case: If you use the Deployment module to stage content to your production site, and use the Universally Unique ID module, UUID Redirect allows you to configure administrative “edit” links on the “production” site to link to your “content staging” site’s edit page so that certain content types (or any other entities) are only ever edited on the non-public-facing server. This module currently only has a 7.x-1.0-alpha1 release.

UUID Entity Autocomplete, Context UUID, and UUID Link (three related modules)

The UUID Entity Autocomplete module, by Dave Hall, provides a simple autocomplete/lookup field for Universally Unique IDs. It is a dependency of Context UUID, also recently released by Dave Hall, a module that “provides a context condition so reactions can be based on a collection of entity UUID—so they remain consistent between environments” (of course it also depends on Context and UUID and would normally be used in a situation where the Deployment module is used to stage content between “administrative” and “live” servers.) Finally, the UUID Link module, also by Dave Hall, provides a link field based on a UUID, which means that links won’t break when content is deployed to a “live” server. At present, all three of these modules have 7.x-1.0-beta1 releases.

Views

Views arg parent term

The Views arg parent term module, by David Langarica Lorenzo, provides a simple Views plugin which allows you to access a parent taxonomy term in order to display more “related content” than might be shown through the child term. It currently has a “stable” 1.0 release for Drupal 7.

Views argument cache

The Views argument cache module, by Mike Stefanello, allows administrators to configure individual caches for each argument in a Views display so that you only need to clear a particular argument’s sub-cache when relevant content has been added. This should help boost your site’s performance, especially for sites with a lot of content displayed with argument-enabled Views.

Content/Filters/Editors/Multilingual

Link Title

The Link Title module, by Rolf Meijer, is a text filter which can be enabled to add a “title attribute” to any link created which does not include a title, e.g. those automatically generated by the “convert URLs” filter. The added title attribute is taken from the HTML header of the linked resource. It currently has a “stable” 7.x-1.1 release.

Context Set Message

The Context set message module, by RJ Pittman of Phase2, allows your site to display a user message based on the current context. It supports a variety of tokens for more dynamic messages and depends on the Context module. The current release is only in an “alpha” stage, but this looks like a promising and useful module.

Media Gallery Extra

The Media Gallery Extra module, by Sergio Martín Morillas, extends the Media Gallery module (surprise, surprise!) to provide a number of extra useful features. There is only a development snapshot available at this time, but the features which have already been implemented look like a great start and we can only hope to see the planned features and roadmap implemented without issue. If you are planning to use the Media Gallery module to display images or videos on a new website, you might want to keep an eye on development here.

Internationalization contributions

The Internationalization contributions module, by Jose Reyero (who also happens to be the primary committer to the Internationization module) provides additional sub-modules which can be enabled to provide extra i18n functionality, e.g. synchronizing node references across different translations of content and adding "hreflang" attributes. It’s still a development module and likely will remain that way (presumably this module is a place to experiment with new features before rolling them into the main i18n module.) But if you have urgent need for these features, the new submodules could be stable enough for use, provided you carefully check them out, beforehand.

Performance

pjax for Drupal

The pjax for Drupal module, by Hannes Lilljequist, uses jQuery’s pjax library to load new content into a browser window without fully redrawing the page. It correctly updates the page title and URL path and loads any new content with a smooth process, lessening load on the server and lowering bandwidth that need be transferred, so is especially useful for delivery to limited-bandwidth mobile devices. The module is still only in a “development” state, and has a number of limitations which you should examine before use, but I think you will agree that there are some cool ideas going into this development and it is worth watching.

Variables that suck less

The Variables that suck less module, by beejeebus, is partially described with the caveat: “This module requires a core patch, and can break your site and eat your lunch.” That said, if you need to resolve some site-crashing variable cache-clearing behavior and boost performance, and don’t mind “killing kittens” in the process, this module might be helpful. It’s currently got a 7.x-1.0-beta3 release.

Fast Private Downloads

The Fast Private Downloads module, by beejeebus, provides a Node.js -enabled method to improve the performance of private downloads in Drupal. It’s still in an “alpha” development state for Drupal 7, but looks interesting, especially if you already have Node.js set up on your server for other features.

Other

jReject

The jReject module, by Domenic Santangelo, allows a site to present a “your browser is out of date” message with download links for recommended browser versions if a user visits using an older browser version. Most such modules simply target Internet Explorer, but this module allows you to recommend a newer version of any browser which has older versions that might not support the cool features your site includes. It has a stable 7.x-1.0 release.

env

The env project (not actually a “module”, per se), sponsored by NPR and authored by Irakli Nadareishvili, improves the ease of creating a portable environment-dependent set of configurations for Drupal so that you can easily have multiple configurations for dev, staging, and production sites, etc. Be sure to read the installation instructions, since this is not installed the same as “other modules” and requires changes to your settings.php file and additions to your sites/default directory.

Genova

The Genova project, by blueMinds, is not an actual module; it’s a Drush utility which helps developers provide a “stub” for the creation of new modules, creating basic files, implementing hooks, database schemas, etc. The aim is to streamline all the boring, repetitive aspects of creating a new module to allow developers to focus on the important logic. It’s still only available as a development snapshot, but what’s been implemented and what’s planned provide enough hints of coming awesomeness that we should plan to keep an eye on this.

Subs

The Subs module, by Alex Weber, helps create subscription services to a website’s “premium content” with a broad range of features (e.g. useful subscription duration preset defaults, integration with Devel, Drush, Features, Rules and Views, automatic expiration of subscriptions, grace periods, etc.) Its only dependency is the Entity API (integration with aforementioned modules would obviously require having those available and active, too). If you are planning to build a paid-subscription service-based site this module could be exactly what you are looking for to streamline some of the involved business logic. The current version is a 7.x-1.0-beta2 release.

Feb 29 2012
Feb 29
Florian Lorétan holds out the official DrupalCon Munich promotional beer coaster

Over the past weekend at DrupalCamp Essen, I had the opportunity to sit down with Florian Lorétan, who has been instrumental in organizing and coordinating all the work which goes into bringing the next European DrupalCon to Munich, Germany. Since the last time we’d spoken, at Drupal City (the Drupal Camp held in Berlin, September 2011, less than a month after the initial announcement in London), there had been a lot of new developments. I asked Florian to catch us up.

Lowell: I’m Lowell Montgomery from Cocomore and I’m here in the BoF room at DrupalCamp Essen, speaking with Florian Lorétan, Munich’s community representative and a co-founder of Wunderkraut, about new developments in the planning of DrupalCon Munich. So what’s the latest news, Florian?

Florian: There are a lot of things going on right now. One of the big things we have on our plates right now is just making all these developments communicable. There’s a lot of work being done on the website, both on content and also on making the content look good — so it’s styling all the content types, different views, new content types, different blogs — and making sure that the sponsors get the attention they deserve on the website and also preparing for the session poll results which will open in a few weeks. One of the things that needs to be communicated are the featured sessions. We have some very exciting speakers coming from the outside — some very exciting topics, too. This is not completely final; but we do have some sessions which are confirmed, so this will probably be going up on the website in the next couple of weeks.

Florian: If it’s ready before DrupalCon Denver, we’ll put it on the website then, but at the latest it will be there at Denver.

Lowell: And you mentioned that the sponsor slots are pretty much all filled?

[…] For Munich, we still have Silver (very limited), Bronze, Sponsor Lunch, Sponsor Coffee Break, Sponsor a contest (like Tropo's hackathan or Twilio contest) [ … ]

Megan Sanicki, from email update, 29 Feb, 2012

Florian: All the top ones are sold out; Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and I think Silver, too, is sold out. The day stage sponsors, the beer garden sponsor, the coffee sponsor; are also given away. With Wunderkraut, we’re also happy to get the contribution lounge and contribution sprint sponsorship slots, which is something that fits for us, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind sponsorship of our community. I think that it’s been going very quickly; we weren’t expecting things to go that fast. Megan Sanicki is responsible for all the finances and sponsorships for DrupalCon and she’s has been doing a fantastic job at it. I think it’s really great that the sponsors have shown such incredible enthusiasm. I think it’s an indicator of how much interest there is in the conference and I hope that the attendees show as much interest as the sponsors have.

Lowell: That’s great news. But there are still unlimited Bronze sponsorships available, though, right?

Florian: Indeed there are. And it’s still a great way for Drupal-related companies to help make this an event which everyone in the community can afford to attend, while also getting good value. I’m not sure of the exact pricing and details right now, but on the DrupalCon Munich website the sponsorship packages are fully described. There may also still be some other opportunities for special sponsorships, but the opportunities for getting a booth or table are getting very limited, if not completely sold out.

Lowell: So one thing I really wanted to ask you about is: how can people who aren’t already involved in the planning do something to help make sure this the most awesome DrupalCon Europe to date?

Florian: The best thing to do is really just to spread the word: blog about it, tweet about it, make a presentation about it at the local user group, to get people up to speed, to get people to know what it’s about. There’re still a lot of people who don’t know exactly what DrupalCon is, and what the goals of DrupalCon are. Many people think that it’s a for-profit event, which it’s not, it’s really an event that’s fully targeted at getting the Drupal people of all kinds together, whether they are business people, developers, designers; getting all these people from the Drupal world together and really also growing the Drupal community, so reaching out, outside all those who already do business with Drupal. And this is one of the main goals of this specific conference; our slogan is “Open up: Connecting systems and people” and behind this “open up”, we also want to reach out to related communities, so to people working with new Javascript technologies which can be combined with Drupal, reaching out to people from the Typo3 community, which is particularly strong in Germany; it’s also an open-source project — in some ways it’s a competitor, but we have a lot in common and I think it’s great to have that kind of open discussion, to really be able to have that as some positive and constructive exchange of ideas. So this is one of the things that we are looking for in our featured sessions: to reach out to people who would not normally be participating at DrupalCon, to get people from the outside so that we can have a wider range of topics and also have topics that are interesting for people who are not working exclusively with Drupal.

Lowell: For people who do know what a DrupalCon is and live far away, say in North or South America; it’s easier for them to get to Denver. What can you say to encourage them to come to DrupalCon Munich other being able to go to interesting beer gardens and see Germany?

Florian: Well, a lot of people travel to DrupalCons both for professional reasons and as tourists and a lot of people bring their families for the trip to DrupalCon, so we are planning all the special events and parallel activities with DrupalCon.

Florian: Right, Drupalganger outings and also making sure we have some cultural activities.

Florian: Besides that, Germany is probably the largest Drupal market in Europe and the market with the biggest potential. There is a lot of demand and a lot of growth potential. And so I think it’s inevitable that there will be a lot of interest from the outside to get some presence in the German market, so for large companies it’s really a very interesting market to open branches, do more business with Germany, and also for the European market: more and more we are seeing that we’re not dealing with local projects anymore. It’s not a local Drupal shop working for a local company; we’re seeing companies from all over the world doing projects for clients all over the world. Since the German market has a lot of weight in the global economy, I think it’s important to have connections there; it’s important to have a presence there. And also there are a lot of very important contributors to Drupal core and to contrib modules who are from Germany. There’s a very active community in Germany. So for people who are more interested in the community-contribution aspects, there’s a lot of activity in Germany and the rest of Europe, too. So one of the things we are particularly looking at is turning the contribution lounge into a place which really supports and encourages people to contribute, to work with each other, and to have conversations about improvements that can be made to Drupal, to contrib modules, to the way we do business, to the way we do marketing, to the way we do design. We want this conference to be a conference where people participate actively. It’s not a conference where people just go, watch awesome sessions and take notes, and then go home. It’s really a conference where people are active, they discuss things, they meet people, they make new connections, they do business, they write code; it’s really a hands-on conference.

Lowell: Right. So there’s a lot that takes place at a DrupalCon and a lot that goes on in the half-year between the DrupalCons, so if people only attend once-per-year at the conference closer to them, they are missing a lot and missing the opportunities to meet and connect with other members of the community who might not be able to make the longer trips to Europe or to North America.

So are there other ways that people outside of Germany could help support the preparation processes?

Florian: Actually for the teams doing the coordination and organization of the event before the start of the conference, we already have a pretty good team. We have about 30 people involved, split between the design team, the website building team, the track chairs, the people doing the coordination of various events; there are also people working on the marketing. We really actually have a very good team. We have a couple of positions coming up, but what we’re really looking for are people who can make a time commitment, and who can take up responsibility and say I’m going to dedicate myself to do that and we need people who are reliable, because when we are working with such a big team of people, if we have people who are not reliable, then we just spend more time looking after people and we just want people to get the things done. But there are couple of opportunities and if someone wants to get involved, they should just contact us directly through the contact page and say “Hey, I’m available and I have one day a week that I can dedicate to this cause.” And their contact will be forwarded to the correct person. Otherwise there’s going to be the possibility to be involved on-site maybe one or two days before the conference helping with registrations, with distributing T-shirts, with showing the way, helping by being a room monitor during the conference, just making sure that things start on time, and that the speakers have water and so on. But for this kind of volunteering, we’ll post a form on the website one or two months before the event. It’s currently too early to start working on that.

Lowell: Right. How does that work, anyway? If you want to help out at the event, can you do that just for part of the day, so that the rest of the time they can be in sessions and participate in other aspects of the conference?

Florian: Yes. This is generally done in half-day slots or something like that, so we generally have plenty of people who just want to help. I’ve done it before; it’s a lot of fun. You work with other people who are also really passionate about what they do. So it’s a fun experience. You normally get a T-shirt for it and that’s pretty much it, but it’s a great opportunity to start being involved. So sign up for our newsletter on the website and you’ll be notified when we have the call for volunteers.

Lowell: Okay. So is it time yet to register for the conference and buy a ticket or when does that happen?

Florian: It’s not open yet. There are still some things to do to finalize the budget and determine the ticket price. This will be coming soon; it will probably be open a couple of days before Denver, but the official announcement, when we expect a lot of people to register, will happen on the last day at Denver.So it should be ready in a couple of weeks.

Lowell: What are your expectations about how many people might be in attendance at DrupalCon Europe?

Lowell Montgomery, at left, interviews Florian Lorétan at DrupalCamp EssenFlorian: Well, we have enough space for 2500 people. This is bigger than other European conferences, but at the same time, well… there’s been steady growth in the community. Also Munich has a very central location in Europe. It’s very easily accessible from pretty much anywhere by either plane or train, so I’m expecting a lot of people to come. Also, since we want to reach out more to people outside the community, it’s not going to be an event that’s just for a niche group. We want to make it a great event that we hope will attract people from outside the community. I personally expect the conference to sell out. It might not be possible to buy tickets at the entrance. If we get as much interest from attendees as we got from sponsors, if it goes as quickly, then we will definitely be sold out.

Lowell: That’s great! Unfortunately, I’m not personally going to be able to get to Denver… between the cost of airfare, the cost of staying in a hotel for a week, and other expenses, it’s just not in my personal budget right now, so I’m wondering how the prices of hotel accommodations in Munich compare to the costs in London and in winter-tourist-season Denver?

Florian: In Munich, the conference is taking place at a hotel where they’ve offered conference attendees a special price which includes, among other things, free Wi-Fi in the rooms. There are various advantages. You can already make reservations by phone or by e-mail just by mentioning DrupalCon and there’ll be a special form for booking your hotel accommodations which should be ready soon. Otherwise, Munich is not a cheap city, but there are some budget priced hotels in the area and the local transportation is good, so it should be possible to stay at other hotels and easily get to and from the conference location. Public transportation there is great and I would certainly recommend anyone coming for the week, especially if they are staying at another hotel, to buy a public transportation ticket for the week. I think it’s 13 or 14 Euros.

Lowell: That’s a good deal. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with us.

Florian: Well one of the things that we did in London is that when we announced the conference in Munich we handed out stickers. The logo for the conference is actually a beer coaster. And our design team from Cocomore came up with the idea, “Hey, the logo is a beer coaster, how about printing real beer coasters?” And so we looked into that, and then when we were looking at the quantities, we realized that we could actually use a lot of those. And so a couple of weeks ago they were printed and then just last week we received them in our office. It’s two very big and very heavy boxes full of beer coasters, and now we’re distributing those at various Drupal events. so we’re here at DrupalCamp Essen and people are very excited about them already and they’re taking them back to their respective user groups. We’re taking them to CeBIT, the largest IT conference in Europe, where Drupal has a booth. We are also taking many of them to DrupalCon Denver and to many other events. And so one of the things that were going to do with these is we’re going to have a contest for the most creative use of these coasters. So it’s going to be on Twitter; just post a creative use of your beer coaster. And, of course you first need to get your hands on one of them. So if you’re in Denver, be sure to get one. And if you’re not going to Denver, make sure you ask someone who’s going to Denver to get one for you. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, so more details will be coming up soon. Make sure you get your hands on one of those beer coasters. The design team from Cocomore really did a fantastic job! It’s been a pleasure working with them.

Lowell: I agree. I think the DrupalCon site really looks terrific, too.

Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today and I’m definitely looking forward to Munich.

Florian: You’re welcome, Lowell. I’m looking forward to it, too.

Feb 25 2012
Feb 25

What makes a memorable Drupalcamp

A group of us Cocomore Drupal developers and themers have taken a weekend trip to attend DrupalCamp Essen, 2012. The venue is the Unperfekthaus, an interesting, artsy building which feels like a hip café spread across several stories of a building — but is also part hotel, part restaurant, part art studio/gallery, and part club. Some rooms are furnished with sofas and there is a top-floor room illuminated by natural sunlight, at least during the daytime, with a translucent glass ceiling, like a greenhouse, covering most of the room. Mirrored disco balls and lighting offer proof that hosting a couple hundred geeks is not the most glamorous use the room gets. This is our primary session room. The other “second track” room is a “performance hall” with a stage area and no windows; the presentation slides are easier to see, but people are less likely to hang out and socialize. And there are other rooms where community discussions and BoFs are being held. All in all, it’s a comfortable, cosy environment — a good choice for an event with a bit fewer than 200 people — and lends a unique atmosphere to the event with plenty of space for more intimate conversations rather than simply presentations. morning-greeting-drupalcamp-essen-2012_img7063.jpg

With the Drupal community growing as large as it is, the irony of the success of this event, in part due to the pleasant venue, is that had the event been promoted much at all, especially to regions outside Germany, there would have been too many attendees to support such a venue. Even the larger DrupalCamps are still able to use less “corporate” locations, often at universities or similar sites, and can be more flexible about scheduling and run with a bit less rigorous planning — all of which is not to say that a lot of work didn’t go into the organization of this event; it clearly did and is much appreciated by the whole local community, many of whom are also currently actively involved in all the lengthy steps of organizing the fast-approaching European DrupalCon 2012, coming to Munich in less than 6 months now, with attendance likely to be at least an order of magnitude greater than this DrupalCamp’s, many more “tracks”, and a duration more than double that of this weekend-long DrupalCamp.

Using cTools plugins to enrich a ‘Hello World’ module

The first session I attended (in German) was presented by Ricardo Kelling, of Comm-Press, about developing modules which leverage the power of cTools. Of course I was aware of cTools since Views and Panels, both of the popular modules written by the prolific Earl Miles (aka merlinofchaos on Drupal.org), have now been abstracted to move common functions into it, so cTools is now a requirement for their use. And of course I knew cTools offered a developer API to allow others to take advantage of these useful functions. But I’m still a relative n00b when it comes to the coding behind Drupal, so it was good to just get an overview of what is available in cTools (a lot!). Of course a 45-minute session is not enough to cover more than the most basic of concepts (Ricardo demonstrated using cTools plugins to create a simple “Hello world” block which had multiple language versions, each of which could be independently selected and edited), but it’s left me inspired to take some time to explore the API in greater depth.

Flexible session scheduling

Drupal Camps are much less formal than a DrupalCon, so if someone falls ill and a session isn't being held, often things will get completely changed around. Karsten Frohwein (Kars-T on Drupal.org), CEO and senior developer at Comm-Press, was scheduled to present his session, about Drupal 7 Fields and Entities, in English, but not only was the original time rescheduled due to rearrangements from one session being canceled, but the language also magically got changed to German (when I didn’t protest… it did make most sense for the rest of the audience). I stayed for long enough to take a few photos and get some idea of his topic, which I had at least a basic knowledge of already) but as the pace picked up and a rapid discussion, without visual aids, was underway, I realized my German comprehension wasn’t quite up to the task, so decided to look in on another, previously-unscheduled session taking place in the main room. I didn’t know anything about it before going, but at least that one was in English.

mojzis_about_drupal_commerce_challenges_in_case_study-drupalcamp-essen-2012-img7077.jpgThis nearly-impromptu session was related to Drupal Commerce and involved a case study by Mojzis Stupka one of the few non-German in attendance, who joined us from the Czech Republic. He related his experience developing a website designed for a photography service which had images of children which their parents could order. He discussed various obstacles he had had to overcome: dealing with watermarking sample images (public/free), with other un-watermarked versions of the same image which were “private” (i.e. they had to be purchased), and then the further hurdle, to ensure that only parents could access the images of their own children (meaning the watermarked “public” versions had to actually be private and could only be viewed after proof was provided that they really were the parents of the child), then tracking which images had already been purchased so that parents would not be made to pay for the same images twice. It was an interesting case study which gave good insight into the incremental development of custom functionality to serve a unique use case and the flexibility one has to demonstrate when the requirements change several times during the course of development (examples of difficulties faced in this project included: only after parents protested their children’s images being visible to the general public did the restrictions come into play on the “public” copies of the images and the photographer decided he wanted a different watermark on the “public” copies of the images; and so the project evolved. These kind of changes are typical of ambitious development projects and is a big reason that many projects run over-budget and past deadline… grace when dealing with such situations is a necessary part of the human processes of software development, but it also illustrates the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders are involved, or at least their needs anticipated, in the process of eliciting requirements for a project.)

A peek at XHProf in action

karsten_frohwein-xhprof_demo-drupalcamp-essen-2012_img7089.jpgKarsten Frohwein provided another session about using XHProf and Devel to profile a Drupal installation. The presentation is related to a German-language blog article about installing and configuring xhprof which he recently wrote, but he took a deeper look under the hood of XHProf to show what’s possible, how it works, and what kind of problems it can resolve. I found it particularly interesting to see the map of all processes involved in a node request, with highlighted areas of greatest resource consumption. He stressed the importance of experimenting with different caching systems and finding ways to resolve sub-optimal performance.

Feb 21 2012
Feb 21

Story header graphic logos associated with the Drupal 8 initiatives

I was already planning to provide an overview of what’s been going on in the various Drupal 8 initiatives even before last week, when Dries announced the timeline for Drupal 8, which includes a “feature freeze” for Drupal 8 in only a little more than nine months from now, and planned release at the DrupalCon Europe, in late August 2013.

Drupal 7’s Plateau of Productivity?

I think we reached the Plateau of Productivity for Drupal 6 sometime in late 2009, about 18 months after its release. At that point there was no advantage to developing in Drupal 5, and Drupal 7 was still a long way off. --Dries Buytaert, June 8, 2011 (about 5 months after Drupal 7’s release)While most of the top Drupal 6 modules are now available, in some state or another, for Drupal 7, and I would certainly choose Drupal 7 for a large Drupal-based project that is not expected to be deployed for some time, from the outcry of protests I think there are a lot of people who would not agree that Drupal 7 is yet at its Plateau of Productivity. I would choose development in Drupal 7 for most projects, but there is still plenty of reason for site builders to work with Drupal 6, especially if they need particular features (e.g Nodewords / Metatag functioning properly, among others) and if they need to deploy the site now, with those features ready for use. Dries indicated that he thought Drupal 6 reached its Plateau of Productivity in late 2009, about 18 months after its initial release. At that point, there were fewer than 20,000 sites using Drupal 5 and more than 200,000 sites using Drupal 6. While this order-of-magnitude-greater-usage is not likely to ever be seen comparing Drupal 7 vs Drupal 6 usage (at least not before Drupal 8 is released), I do think that it’s significant that Drupal 7 usage has finally overtaken Drupal 6. That said, I don’t think we are truly at Drupal 7’s Plateau of Productivity, the point where building a new site on Drupal 6 would be “pointless”. Both in terms of time-after-release and usage statistics, it is arguably premature to say we are quite to that point yet.

Quibbling aside, I also don’t think it matters whether we believe we have reached the Plateau of Productivity for Drupal 7, or not — and it certainly doesn’t matter whether we are all in agreement about that. I do think Drupal 7 is very “ready for use”, though and I do think we are ready to see core development for Drupal 8 get kicked into high gear and I don’t think it will significantly delay the development of certain lagging contrib modules or resolving core issues in Drupal 7 which are the final barrier, in my view, to truly reaching its Plateau of Productivity. Additionally, many of the fixes and features going into Drupal 8 are regularly being back-ported to Drupal 7, and there is increased discussion of relaxing the criteria for what can be back-ported to Drupal 7, so I see the increased attention to Drupal 8 core development as exciting: a win-win for the whole Drupal community. We now have a release date for Drupal 8, which is important for business decisions, and a better timeline to facilitate a roadmap for the final stages of determining feature inclusion.

Drupal 8 Core Initiatives

Currently there are 6 official Drupal 8 Core Initiatives which are working on various aspects of desired improvements to core. There are others likely to be added to the list as soon as a bit more progress has been made on the current list and/or as qualified individuals step up to take on some of the other “top 10” desired improvements we had on our collective community wishlist. Some of the improvements require fixes to issues plaguing Drupal 7 and 6 and have been backported. Most of the others involve dozens, if not hundreds, of related issues. Following is a brief summary of each of the current core initiatives and what their priority goals are for Drupal 8. In the interest of brevity, the explanations leave out a lot of juicy details, but for those who haven’t been paying close attention and who might like to get involved, I hope this summary is useful:

Web Services and Context Core Initiative

The Web Services and Context Core Initiative (WSCCI, pronounced “Whiskey”), formerly referred to as the “Butler” project, is a core initiative led by Larry Garfield of Palantir.net, aka “Crell” on Drupal.org. While the traditionally typical HTTP request has been for HTML pages, the modern Web has brought with it the need for HTTP services which deliver information which is not necessarily in the form of HTML. This is especially true for mobile applications, but also applies to feeds and other communications via HTTP. The goal is to “take Drupal from being a first-class Web CMS to being a first-class REST server which includes a first-class Web CMS”. Really, this initiative spans a huge range of related issues and without writing an article many times the length of this one, I could not possibly cover everything, but…

Symfony2 logoUsing Symfony2 components is a big part of this effort; Symfony2 is an open-source application framework with a lot of nicely abstracted and discrete components, several of which are being integrated into Drupal to build on its strengths as a CMS. The HttpFoundation and ClassLoader elements have already been added to Drupal 8, but the latest WSCCI Sprint, attended by almost all of the Drupal core developers most of us can probably name, along with Fabien Potencier, the Symfony lead developer, determined that several other Symfony2 components would also be included. While these changes may sound daunting to many long-time Drupal developers, it should actually make the core much more approachable for developers new to Drupal, while also making Drupal inviting to experienced Symfony developers. Additional benefits include reducing a the heavy load of Drupal requests, making it more “lean and mean” and providing partial page caching for example, while also delivering a number of powerful features for Panels-like applications, better blocks, and much, much more. Some of the work related to the WSCCI project has been underway for some time now and was encapsulated in a Drupal 7 development module called “Butler”. [Update: I had linked in the Butler project, but Larry Garfield has indicated it is “vestigial” and there is no way that any of the final WSCCI changes will be back-portable or functional as a D7 module.]

If you want to learn more about WSCCI, Daniel Kudwien (aka ‘sun’ on Drupal.org) has recently posted an excellent article which, similar to Dries’s post about the Sprint, also focuses largely on what was covered at the recent WSCCI Sprint and goes into greater technical depth about what it all means. Update: There is also a new post from Larry Garfied which also explains some of the latest developments in WSCCI. Again, this is a huge and crucial initiative for Drupal 8 to live up to the envisioned dreams, and there are ways for community members of all experience levels to dive in and contribute to its success. There is a ton to do in the months remaining.

Multilingual Initiative

Multilingual InitiativeThe Multilingual Initiative, led by Gábor Hojtsy of Acquia, covers a wide range of issues related to improving Drupal 8’s support for multilingual support (internationalization and localization issues). The issue queue is daunting, but there are a lot of experienced developers pitching in. If you’ve worked with non-English sites in Drupal or sites with more than one language, or have written and contributed a module and then realized you had to sort out how to deal with all the issues related to multilingual support, this work should be of interest. I’m not going to go into all the pain points you might be aware of in Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 or which of the improvements have been or might be backported, but we can only hope that many of them will be. Issues related to language negotiation, translation, and associated APIs are a particularly confusing area of Drupal and the more they can be improved, the better. There was a Multilingual Sprint which was just held in Budapest (with participants in other areas communicating via IRC) and a multi-day Sprint is planned to follow the Denver DrupalCon.

Since a primary reason for the existence of the Cocomore Drupal Core and other related Cocomore-maintained contrib module forks has been issues related to multilingual support, this is of particular interest to the Cocomore development staff, as it should be to anyone working with non-English or multilingual Drupal sites or who cares about making their modules and themes properly locale-aware. So jump in and help out if you can!

Mobile Initiative

Mobile InitiativeThe primary goal of the Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative, led by John Albin Wilkins of Palantir.net, is to make Drupal the leading mobile CMS. While there are naturally overlaps between the goals of the Mobile Initiative and the WSCCI (web services needed for native mobile applications) and HTML5 initiatives, there are still a wide range of goals left for the Mobile Initiative to work on, including (but not limited to):

  • Getting Drupal’s administrative forms mobile-device-ready
  • Converting Drupal 8 themes to be “responsive”
  • Performance improvements (e.g. “responsive” images)
You can read more about the strategy for the Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative and John Albin’s more detailed blog post about the initiative to get further information.

For the Mobile Initiative to be truly successful, the team will need a great deal of community support, not only from the obvious PHP and Javascript coders, but also people with design and usability knowledge and ideas, people knowledgeable about accessibility issues, HTML and CSS gurus, people to help with documentation, and testers… lots and lots of testers with every kind of mobile device.

I should mention, for readers who are new to Drupal, that mobile support is not something new to Drupal 8; you don’t need to wait for it since there are already ways to produce mobile content in Drupal 6 and Drupal 7. But the mobile initiative will hopefully take a lot of the current pain out of working with all the inter-related modules, themes and other technologies required to have anything approaching an ideal solution to mobile issues in current versions of Drupal. You should still do a search to find the right solution for your use case, but some of the popular mobile-related modules include: Mobile Tools, the Mobile Theme module, Browscap, SMS Framework, WURFL, and Mobile Codes, Phonegap, among other common modules which are not specifically for mobile development, but can be helpful. And DrupalGap is another promising module which is still in the developer’s “sandbox” at this time. There are a number of themes which are well suited to Drupal development, including the Mobile theme, which can be used as-is or as a basis for a custom mobile theme, AdaptiveTheme (as well as all of the themes based on it, such as Pixture Reloaded, Sky, and Corolla), and Boilerplate. You’ll find numerous blog articles, recorded DrupalCon sessions, and resources. There is also a new book which is expected soon and which you can already pre-order and start reading (RAW): Drupal 7 Mobile Web Development Beginner’s Guide.

HTML5 Initiative

Drupal html5 logoThe HTML5 Initiative, headed by Jacine Luisi, is another of the major initiatives for Drupal 8, which (as mentioned, above) has strong ties to the success of the Mobile Initiative, as well. You probably saw the announcement a few months back that Drupal 8 already has HTML5 as its default “doctype”, but that was just the first step toward getting Drupal 8 fully HTML5-ready. Templates, theme functions, markup… everything needs to be ready and there are still plenty of open issues related to HTML5 in Drupal 8 if you’d like to join the effort.

The HTML5 Initiative also has close connection to the web services and mobile initiatives, of course, so getting this all working is a vital part of the effort.

Configuration Management Initiative

The Configuration Management Initiative (CMI), led by Greg Dunlap (aka heyrocker on drupal.org), aims to sort out the issues related to maintaining, storing, and deploying configuration of a Drupal site. Currently, all the configuration for a Drupal site (except, of course, for the basic database access settings stored in settings.php) is stored in the database, and deploying it is a pain. Furthermore, if someone changes settings and it breaks site functionality, there is no simple way to “roll back” just those changes. The CMI moves all configuration from database to disk in a standard format which can be more easily deployed, can be stored in a version control system, and can be used in multiple sites more easily. This provides a much better development workflow to easily take configuration used on one site to another, and to modify it, as needed. Of course it should provide for much more useful distributions and installation profiles.

You can read more technical details about the CMI, at least as it was initially conceptualized, in Webchick’s summary of the first CMI Sprint held in June 2011 and there is ongoing discussion of the initiative in this Drupal Groups thread. Needless to say, this should be a big improvement over what’s currently possible to do with Drupal’s Features module, but if you need to package configurations to use them on multiple sites, the Features module is currently your best friend.

Design Initiative and Usability/UX

Design Initiative PseudologoLast, but certainly not least, the Design Initiative, led by Jeff Burnz of AdaptiveThemes, aims to give Drupal a new look for Drupal 8 Of course the theme design will also be fully mobile-ready. Part of the effort involved designers collaborating about the new look before the coding phase for the theme was begun. According to the official timeline set out by the initiative team, we are now in the middle of the development phase. If you are a theming expert and want to help, contact the initiative team and see what you can do. Currently all work is in the initiative development sandbox, so you won’s see it committed to the “current” (Git) version of Drupal 8 until it’s pretty well done.

I know, I know... my graphic for this section has more to do with UX than “Design”, per se, although they are closely related. Good designs should be user-friendly. Anyway, strictly speaking, Usability is a completely different initiative which is not currently on the “hot-plate”, at least not for Drupal 8. Why? I guess there is always time to improve the UX of a product as long as it does not break (too much) and does more good than harm, so improvement to UX can continue even after product release. And of course we still have 18 months before Drupal 8’s release, so getting the core features right, first, is of most importance. If you are interested in Usability issues, however, there are regular meetings held in IRC. You can connect with the Drupal Usability group here. You might be particularly interested in the discussion of the recent Drupal 7 Usability Study at Google. The videos videos from usability study are particularly useful for identifying current “sticky points” in Drupal 7’s usability. Presumably all of these usability issues will be fixed in Drupal 8 and hopefully most can be backported to Drupal 7 without causing more harm than good.

The “Current” State of Drupal 8 Core Initiatives is in the initiative sandboxes

As a point of reminder, don’t expect to see much of the progress in Drupal 8 if you check out the project from Git. Not a lot has been pushed to the central repository and is, instead, on individual developers’ repositories and/or in shared initiative “sandbox” repositories. By keeping experimental code out of the “master” repository, the hope is to keep the issue count down and prevent issues caused by incomplete code in one area of the product from wreaking havoc (or masking issues) in other parts. This is the benefit of a distributed VCS like Git, but it also means that in order to test the latest, most experimental features, you will need to work with the sandbox versions.

So many initiatives, so little time!

If you are like me, you are now inspired but you might be having trouble picking where to best apply your talents. Check out the issue queues for each initiative if that’s the case. You might find something you can take on and help lay a few stones in the foundation of what’s sure to be the most awesome version of Drupal yet!

Feb 03 2012
Feb 03
*/

While this article focuses primarily on the state of Drupal “contrib” (modules and themes which are not part of the “core” Drupal download), it also takes a look at the greater “State of Drupal” in terms of sites known to be running on some version of Drupal, comparisons of the rate of uptake after Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 release, and a small case study involving attempting to perform a “major upgrade” from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 on a site using a significant number of contributed modules.

The recent history of Drupal core usage

dries-quote_drupal-growth.pngAs a starting point, I think it is helpful to look at the recent history of Drupal core usage and compare the uptake of Drupal 6, after its release, with the uptake of Drupal 7. On June 22nd, 2008, when Drupal 6.0 was released, there were already significantly more sites using Drupal 6 than Drupal 5 (almost 32,000 on Drupal 6 vs almost 17,000 on Drupal 5). Both core versions of Drupal steadily gained users for a time, with Drupal 5 reaching a peak of about 24,000 sites about 7 months later, but by that time Drupal 6 was running on more than 100,000 sites. By late July 2009 (a similar point to now in terms of months after the major version release), Drupal 5 usage had dropped to about 20,000 sites and Drupal 6 was running on more than 160,000 sites; more than eight times as many installations. Since then, Drupal 5 usage has tapered to about 7,000 sites; a bit more than 1% of total Drupal usage (please note: it’s likely that many of the existing Drupal 5 sites do not report usage back to Drupal.org).

Now let’s look at the usage of Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 since the time of Drupal 7’s release. Drupal 6 peaked with about 355,000 sites, shortly after Drupal 7’s release in January 2011. At that time Drupal 7 was running on about 24,000 sites, a fraction of Drupal 6 usage at that time. Since then, while sites running on Drupal 7 have steadily increased to their present values, about 280,000 sites, Drupal 6 has hovered around the same value, drifting between about 320,000 and 350,000 sites, but not yet significantly dropping. Almost 13 months after Drupal 7’s official release, we still have more sites running Drupal 6 than Drupal 7 (and I suspect that a significant percentage of the Drupal 7 sites are in development rather than production). But what does this really say? Let’s look a bit closer at the numbers and trends:

Note: I banged this graph out in Excel since the Google chart of Drupal usage, normally displayed on project pages, seems to fail as “too large to process” for “core” usage statistics.

drupal_usage_june-2008_to_jan-2011-sm.png

Drupal usage has grown by leaps and bounds since Drupal 6’s release. In June 2008, there were fewer than 50,000 sites using Drupal 5 and 6 combined. Now, a bit more than three-and-a-half years later, there are more than 615,000 sites running on some version of Drupal — more than a 12-fold increase in that time period! A year ago, this figure was less than 400,000, so Drupal 7 sites make up a large proportion of the more-than-200,000 Drupal sites added since then. The growth was steeper after Drupal 6’s release, but we still did not have 200,000 sites, total, by July 2009. In any case, it’s safe to say that for most use cases, we have the modules necessary to build a good site based on Drupal 7, so if you are hesitant to use it, don’t be. There are many great advantages to Drupal 7 and with the continual improvement of the contributed modules, we should probably build new sites on Drupal 6, only if modules critical to the use case are lacking for Drupal 7 (or if the “new” site is another site in an existing Drupal 6 “multi-sites” installation). Even if a “critical” module exists for Drupal 6 and not yet for Drupal 7, it may still be worth building the site on Drupal 7 if you have the coding experience to port the Drupal 6 module to Drupal 7, which would help alleviate the current issue that many significant modules are not yet available for Drupal 7.

State of Drupal 7 contrib (modules)

Good news: Almost all “Top 100” Drupal 6 Modules are ported to Drupal 7

state_of_top_100_modules-sm.pngThe good news, especially for site builders creating a new Drupal 7 site, is that most of the top 100 modules are ready for use on Drupal 7. Nine of them are redundant (now included in “core”), 43 have “stable” releases, 23 have beta or RC, 11 have an alpha release, and 9 are in “dev” status, while a couple others recommend using another module which performs similarly.

Depending on your use case and needs, it is likely that for common needs a site builder will be able to build a Drupal 7 site without any worries about whether Drupal 6 might have been a better choice at this time. As more of the bugs are fixed, this should only get better. Of course it’s worth pointing out that there is no general consensus about what defines a “stable” release, release candidate, beta, alpha, or dev version. I’ve personally used dev versions on sites I’ve built which seemed to be rock solid releases and have attempted to use “stable” releases which did not seem to work at all. It often comes down to the particulars of a use case, so additional complications such as multilingual support or random compatibility issues with the other 100 modules activated on a site can be factors which make one user’s “stable” another user’s headache. In any case, as far as the most-used modules are concerned, things are looking reasonably good, especially considering that since the time of Drupal 7’s release, developers have also had to get over the learning curve associated with the Drupal.org migration to Git (migration from CVS to Git was finished in May 2011, a few months after Drupal 7 was released).

Many other popular modules are not yet ported to Drupal 7

On the other hand, many useful modules may never be ported if they aren’t used on a significant percentage of Drupal sites, and many sites doing anything at all unique are likely using at least one module which is not ready for Drupal 7. The median D6 module is used by about 0.1% of sites*, but such modules still account for A LOT of Drupal installations and many may be critical for a particular use case, such as the “Project” module used on Drupal.org, which has not yet even got a dev release for Drupal 7.

*How did I reach the conclusion that most Drupal 6 modules are used by fewer than 1 in 1,000 sites?
If you search Drupal modules by full-projects compatible with Drupal 6, sorted by decreasing popularity, you will find that there are about 257 pages of results with 25 modules per page, currently 6410 modules. (By the way, in December, when I started putting together this article, that figure has gone up by about 100 modules since I started researching this article back in December). Everything past about page 200 is probably obsolete, experimental, or no longer used by any sites or just a handful of sites. So let’s consider about 5,000 modules are viable projects. Around page 70, you’ll find there are 300 or fewer sites using the module (less than 1 in 1,000). So the majority of the viable modules available for Drupal 6 are used by less than one in a thousand sites. While the need for a significant number of modules is obviated by the additional functionalities added to Drupal 7 “core” modules, this is probably not more than a couple percent of all the viable Drupal 6 modules. They say that “necessity is the mother of invention”, but it applies equally to “re-invention”. If a developer has many other modules they have written for Drupal 6 and have a personal need or a lot of people begging them for the Drupal 7 port, and do not, themselves, have a particular need for some of their “niche need” modules, these modules may never get ported to Drupal 7. If you take a random sampling of modules on or past page 70 of these results, you’ll probably see, as I did, that there are very few modules ported to Drupal 7, and this number steadily decreases as you move through the pages. At this time, more than a year after the release of Drupal 7, I found exactly three stable Drupal 7 releases out of the 25 modules on page 70, with some development for Drupal 7 on about a third of them. This is actually significantly better than the picture only a couple months ago (when I saw only one stable Drupal 7 release), but it will likely be some time yet before many other useful modules have been ported by the community.

You have to go to about page 18 to get to about the 1% use rate (about 3,000 sites for each module). At this point, my examination shows that two of those modules won’t be ported since their functionality is in the D7 core, and eight of the other 23 have a beta, release candidate, or “stable” release, and of the remaining modules, there is at least some development (dev version or a port in progress) for another 7, so the majority of modules used by at least 1% of sites seem to have at least some level of Drupal 7 support, even if somewhat less than half are really ready for production use; and these are modules in the “top 500”. Looking at the next page, the numbers are somewhat lower, but there are at least 10 (of 25) modules which are partially or fully ported to Drupal 7, discussion of a Drupal 7 version for a couple of others, one which is redundant (functionality now in “core”), and proposed alternatives for some of the rest. Again, as you move to modules used by fewer sites, the tendency is that development has either been abandoned or there is less work on a D7 port.

To sum it up: if you are building a new site, and need the functionality of a particular Drupal 6 module, you’ll probably find that there are alternative modules which do something similar and where development for Drupal 7 is further along, so for most Drupal 7 sites and use cases, you may be able to build a great site without the need for much (if any) custom coding or waiting for module availability.

State of the Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 upgrade path

Personal case study of an attempt to upgrade a Drupal 6 site to Drupal 7

Background: Before I started working for Cocomore, I built a personal Drupal project (which unfortunately has not received much of my attention since I launched the site). My year of full-time work, with Cocomore on Drupal projects, first an internship and then as a developer trainee, and additional Drupal self-study in that time helped keep me from working on that project while also helping me reach the conclusion that there was a lot more that the site needs besides what I already knew about (even when I first put it “live”, I considered it “under construction”). Since I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to work on a “major upgrade” from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, I figured this was a good place to start, since I was the “client” and could decide to trim features or revamp functionality as I saw fit. Of course I decided it was best to start with a “local” installation of the site, so I took a database dump from the live site and a copy of all the Drupal 6 files and followed all the upgrade instructions to get an impression of how ready Drupal 7 is for migration of a semi-complex Drupal 6 site (the site uses quite a lot of “contrib” modules, but currently no real custom ones.)

I was prepared to do without the benefits of some of these modules since their use, in many cases, was “educational”, i.e. mostly to get some experience while adding and experimenting with a cool feature that I might want to use on another project. Others were more critical for my data and I don’t want to do without them (or at least a similar module). And then there are yet others which are sitting dormant on my D6 site and which I do want to use, at least at some point. I list all these modules simply to illustrate that a site with a reasonable feature-set has a lot of dependencies for upgrading and obviously a lot of interdependencies which need to be met in a particular order or you will have problems. And ironically, many of the modules whose functionality is now “in core” are the ones causing issues for my upgrade. Go figure.

cck_field_migration_errors.pngI want to keep this story short, so I’ll simply say that, even with many modules removed from the site or not yet enabled, I started getting site-crashing fatal errors when activating certain modules (and would need to restore my database and then avoid activating that module again as I continued with the task of carefully activating a module at a time, running update and backing up my database if everything still worked). Some simple CCK fields, inexplicably, were not imported when I used D7’s CCK module to try to migrate the data to Drupal 7 fields; I say “inexplicably” because in one case we are talking about a simple integer field, exactly like others which were migrated without any issues, but I would get an error on attempting to import it. All of my Views displays were non-functional with “broken or missing handler” -type errors for many fields, so the displays had to be rebuilt, mostly “from scratch”, and then changes to data in one field on a node sometimes seemed to result in loss of data in other fields. I couldn’t seem to get my Nodewords data to properly migrate to either Meta tags quick or the new Metatag module, Fivestar ratings were showing up in some node views, but not in Views displays (perhaps I should not be surprised since Fivestar is only released as alpha and dev, neither of which seem to work quite as expected), and other features of the site just generally seemed to fail in odd ways, even after more than a week of experimentation, thinking I was getting close, and then renewed frustration.

In summary: I realized, at a certain point, that the same amount of effort spent on simply improving my Drupal 6 site (content, structure, improvements to configuration, etc) would have been far more useful, since after much effort, I still did not have a Drupal 7 site that I was happy with. On the other hand, it was a good learning experience and I made enough progress and learned enough that I won’t completely scrap the Drupal 7 upgrade effort. But, for now, I will work on getting some of my improvements I added to the Drupal 7 site “back-ported” to my live (Drupal 6) site. And at some point I might try other approaches, such as using the Migrate module to help with getting my data into Drupal 7, learning some new Drush tricks and possibly trying other modules or new releases, as they become available, and of course working on improving my Drupal 7 theme, which was not my initial priority.

My advice for Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 upgrades

If you are working on a Drupal 6 site with quite a lot of contributed modules and wish to avoid a headache and a lot of wasted time, you might want to wait a while longer, but it really depends on the use case and particulars of modules used. People with a lot more Drupal development knowledge may be able to more easily overcome the issues I resolved or find solutions to ones that had me frustrated, but you will likely not find it “quick and easy” if you have a site that’s at all complex. And if you have custom modules to port to Drupal 7, the effort needed could easily outweigh any benefit. Bear in mind that several modules have changed names between Drupal 6 and Drupal 7, so are now considered new projects. You will need to take a close look if you don’t immediately see a Drupal 7 version of a popular Drupal 6 module. For example, the Nodewords module in Drupal 6 is now known as Metatag, Path Redirect is simply Redirect, and several other modules have been forked since the original maintainers took no action to put out a Drupal 7 version before someone else worked on it and created a new project from their efforts, so you will likely find links to the fork in the respective Drupal 6 modules’ issue queues. Time spent reading the issue queues, beforehand and carefully reading all notes from maintainers will certainly be time well spent if you want to avoid frustration, but if you really want to avoid frustration, you might just want to stick with Drupal 6.

Enable the ‘Check for updates of disabled modules and themes’ option

Enable the &quot;check for updates of disabled modules and themes&quot; optionFor lengthy upgrade processes, like the one I’m undergoing, or for modules which a site builder or developer might turn off most of the time, but turn on for troubleshooting, theming etc, it is helpful to turn on the option to have the “available updates” page display information for modules and themes which are not activated. This is especially important if certain modules are not yet stable enough to run without crashing a site, but their use is desired as soon as a more stable release is available. I forgot this setting was available and turning it on during the lengthy process of getting a somewhat complex site upgraded can be very helpful. Do this at: admin/reports/updates/settings

Some final thoughts about the current state of Drupal

  • Given the fact that the median module popularity is only about 100 sites, and many Drupal projects of significant complexity, uniqueness, and size either use some of these less popular modules which have not been ported and/or have several custom modules, perhaps not fully documented and possibly written by external consultants, freelancers, or ex-employees, it seems likely that at least half of the current Drupal 6 sites may never migrate to Drupal 7.
  • We have a high demand for official support for more than two major versions whenever Drupal 8 is released (probably still at least 18 months from now). It’s likely that many of us in the greater Drupal community will still have a stake in Drupal 6 and will want to see security issues maintained for it into the future (past Drupal 8’s release). I would not be surprised if there are still 200,000 Drupal 6 sites at that time.
  • It seems to indicate to me that we are reaching a point where non-version-specific support for module compatibility would generally be popular. Perhaps we would have far fewer Drupal 6 sites now than Drupal 7 if upgraded sites could run with some Drupal 6 modules (e.g. by turning on a theoretical “core” API compatibility module to automatically run as a Drupal 6/7 “hybrid” site, perhaps using data sharding, until stable Drupal 7 -native modules were available).

Briefly revisiting this issue of API backward compatibility

I don’t know what is realistic or likely to come of this situation, but I think a long-range plan to have some kind of compatibility API available to run version-prior modules could be a solution in 5 years or so, when people want to migrate Drupal 8 sites to Drupal 9, assuming the differences between Drupal 7 and 8 are too great to allow for such a solution. From the comments left on my recent article on the topic, it’s clear that backward compatibility in the API is a topic that produces heated debate and I am not sure which side I stand on. There are clear disadvantages to retaining backward compatibility, but as Drupal matures, I don’t think that breaking backward compatibility with every major release is a viable long-range strategy for retaining a loyal user-base.

Maintaining backward compatibility may not be possible with every major version of Drupal or it might create too many complications, so my thoughts are that such API backward compatibility could be included as an “API compatibility layer”, comprised of extra API definitions to allow version-prior modules to run (i.e. to seamlessly run a hybrid Drupal X / Drupal Y site while Drupal Y contrib modules are still becoming ready for production use), then perhaps alternating versions of Drupal would be a major re-write with little or no backward compatibility, possibly released about three years after the previous version; then there could be two major core releases which share more similarity at the core and fully support backward compatibility, e.g. what is being developed for Drupal 8 may be too great a departure from Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 to easily support any kind of backward compatibility without losing too many of the benefits of Drupal 8 and the benefit of “clean slate” innovation. But Drupal 9 could extend Drupal 8 and provide for full backward compatibility, and with fewer people inconvenienced by a shorter release cycle, Drupal 9 could come 1–2 years after Drupal 8. And then Drupal 10, if deemed necessary, could be another full re-write, released 3 years, or so, after Drupal 9… and so on. But this is just wild brainstorming on my part, so please don’t quote this back to me in two years as my “suggested approach”. ;-)

State of Drupal contrib themes

Drupal 7 themes — and the improvements in core which relate to “the display layer” — are truly awesome! You’ll find improved support for mobile devices and increased granularity of control over the display of individual fields due to render arrays, among other core improvements. If you have done much custom theming on a Drupal 6 site, however, getting a new theme customized for Drupal 7 will likely be a lot of work and you should plan accordingly. If you are building a new Drupal site, you will likely find that improvements to theming is one of the major benefits of Drupal 7, even if all the contributed modules (and some of the new themes) are not yet quite perfect. Of course, by building your new site on Drupal 7, you will also save yourself a lot of the potential headaches of upgrading it at some future time.

Drupal is a moving target and YMMV

Please bear in mind that the downsides and statistics I provided are going to change and possibly quite rapidly. With any luck, I hope to be able to complete my own Drupal 7 migration in the next month or so, either by persevering and finding workarounds or from newer versions of critical contributed modules being released, probably both. I have come far enough in the process and am curious enough and interested enough in the learning experience that continuing to spend some time on this process is of value to me, but for now I will focus in fixing what needs to be fixed on the Drupal 6 version of the site and building up the stale content. From the comments I’ve read in the greater web, it seems I am not alone in finding that the major version upgrade is probably best left alone if you have many contrib modules and wish to retain their data and functionality. But if you have a project with very experienced developers and a generous time budget allocated to the migration (not just a small personal project), you might find the upgrade process goes smoothly by “team project” standards.

Dec 16 2011
Dec 16

[…] there are both advantages and disadvantages to backward compatibility. […] If you start dragging baggage along, your product will, eventually, be replaced by something that offers the same functionality but without the baggage. — Dries Buytaert, May 17 2006 (just after Drupal 4.7 releaseThe topic of Drupal’s backward compatibility issues has come up in various ways over the years and has been an issue of debate in most cases. When we responded to Dries’s “State of Drupal 2011” survey, only about 8.2% of the community members who responded indicated that improving backward compatibility was one of Drupal’s “biggest challenges”. But this is actually a pretty large number of respondents, considering that there were 19 other options for the question, and we could only select three, and also considering that the majority of those who took the survey might not represent the majority of Drupal stakeholders who would most benefit from improved backward compatibility: people who might not work with Drupal full-time, and might not personally maintain any code, and who want to upgrade their sites to the next major versions, but cannot do so easily because of missing modules and the fact that, regardless of whether a module might be very close to compliant with the next major-version API, modules are only for one major Drupal version.

If this lack of API backward compatibility were common with Windows or Mac applications, or Firefox plugins, or just about any other software written for a platform, far fewer people would make these upgrades or they would wait a very long time to do so (and might end up changing operating systems or browsers to avoid the headache). The opposite is actually true in the case of Mac apps; Apple has historically supported legacy code and legacy processor types with compatibility bridges which, although not particularly great for performance, at least allowed needed software to run. Firefox and Safari, my two most-used browsers, regularly release major updates which don't break every plugin (at least with Firefox, some add-ons are identified as incompatible and disabled until a compatible version is released). And PHP deprecates functions, but usually doesn’t make it impossible to use code that worked in the previous major PHP release. But Drupal introduces major changes that result in developers having to learn a whole new API just to get their modules or themes ready to run again. This made sense in the past for a variety of reasons, at least back when Drupal was still in diapers, but there might be sufficient reason, now, to revisit the issue and explore whether this approach still makes sense in the foreseeable future.

Lest it sound like I think this approach was always a bad idea, I should say that I do understand the logic behind breaking compatibility, at least historically. Too much attention to backward compatibility and it limits innovation, more bugs creep in, and the code starts to bloat. There are even former Drupal developers who claim they now work on slimmer platforms in order to avoid what they consider too much bloat in Drupal, already. It’s doubtful that Drupal would be as popular as it is today if the core team had focused on maintaining backward compatibility in the API just to keep from breaking legacy code. But what worked in the early days of Drupal may not work so well when there are thousands of modules which are not considered high enough priority to port to the next major Drupal release and most larger Drupal sites seem to have at least one of those that they consider a necessity.

Bar chart from Dries’s summary of the State of Drupal 2011 survey results:
State of Drupal 2011 Survey results — Biggest Challenges For the purposes of this post, I’ve marked up the image to discuss a few points. Yes, there are “only” 269 respondents who chose backward compatibility as one of Drupal’s biggest challenges. But it is also arguable that this challenge is directly related to many of the other challenges which ranked higher.

Consider the following survey options for “biggest challenges” as they relate to the issue of backward compatibility:

  1. Determining what modules to use (24.3%): When the modules you used on Project X aren’t available for months, or even a year after the release of Drupal N, you might be back to square one; looking for modules that can do the same job and trying to determine a migration path for your data.
  2. Release cycle length (6.3%): When developers have to practically re-write many modules every time a new Drupal major release comes along, this puts a damper on the community enthusiasm to see new major versions of core. Shorter release cycles would be welcomed by the community if modules were not tied to a major Drupal version.
  3. Usability and ease of use (28.1%): I think it goes without saying that needing to upgrade every module along with the Drupal core is a barrier to “ease of use”, at least for site admins, especially if not every module is available for Drupal N
  4. Rate of Drupal 7 adoption (16.1%): Clearly if Drupal 6 modules could still run in Drupal 7, without major work involved on the part of individual site maintainers, there would be more sites being migrated to Drupal 7. But instead, many developers who might have written a module for Drupal 6, due to the requirements of a particular project, and who were kind enough to contribute their work to the community, have reduced incentive to port it to Drupal 7 if other modules they need for their own sites aren’t ready yet. So there is a knock-on effect as each developer waits for another’s work to reach a particular state of completion.
  5. Losing the low-end/grassroots market (7.2%): This is another side-effect of the complexity involved in maintaining Drupal-based sites.
  6. Increasing complexity of core (19.1%): This is definitely a factor affecting porting modules to Drupal 7. Developers think that they really need to completely redesign for “fields in core”, entities, and all the other great stuff that came with Drupal 7, but they are so busy working on Drupal 6 projects that they don’t have time to stop long enough to work on Drupal 7 releases of their projects. And since they want to “do it right” they delay until they are sure they know how to write a module that takes advantage of the improvements.

All together, these total 101%, in addition to the 8.2% who actually marked the “backward compatibility” option. Clearly there is some overlap, but the majority of the Drupal community would likely find significant benefit from any improvement in API compatibility which helped smooth the upgrade path between major releases of Drupal. Note: Supporting API backward compatibility would, of course, be likely to have at least some significant negative impact on Performance and Scalability (22.5%), so any approach we take will need to be a balancing act.

Of course the great Git migration, as fantastic and long-overdue as it was, is probably another obstacle currently delaying many smaller modules, ones which might be maintained by part-timers who now have to learn a new version control system as well as a new API. (This is ameliorated by the influx of developers who might have been put off by CVS and are now happily contributing with Git, possibly writing better versions of the modules that haven’t been ported, but possibly not interested in developing a migration path from similar modules that have not been ported.)

It’s a very different landscape from what the community faced when Drupal 4.7 was just released:

quote […] After more than a year of development we are ready to release Drupal 4.7.0 to the world. More than five years, 13 major releases, 30+ servicing firms employing 100+ Drupal professionals, 300+ third party modules, and over 55,000+ Drupal powered sites later, Drupal 4.7.0 is finally here and it rocks!

—Dries Buytaert,


When Drupal 7 was released at the beginning of this year, there were hundreds of thousands of Drupal 6 sites and several thousand modules for Drupal 6. Most of the statistics Dries quoted in 2006 have increased by an order of magnitude or more, as have the complications of upgrading to more complex APIs. I think it is likely that whenever Drupal 8 is released, we will also need to re-think the position about not supporting more than two major versions as it is likely that there will still be hundreds of thousands of Drupal 6 sites, a lot more than there were Drupal 4.7 sites when Drupal 6 was released, or Drupal 5 sites when Drupal 7 was released. The number of new sites running on Drupal 7 is steadily increasing, but the number of Drupal 6 sites has stayed fairly flat.

Even back in 2006, when Dries stated his position about ignoring backward compatibility to avoid bloat and performance issues, he did acknowledge that the time might come when this approach would no longer be acceptable:

quote […] It seems inevitable that sooner than later, we will have to be a lot more careful about breaking peoples’ code. And when that happens, I fear that this will be the end of Drupal as we have come to know it. […]

—Dries Buytaert,

How alienating is it that modules are tied to versions of Drupal and block major version upgrades?

quoteBreaking the user experience in order to ‘fix’ something is a totally broken concept; you cannot do it. If you break the user experience, you may feel that you have ‘fixed’ something in the code, but if you fixed it by breaking the user, you just violated that second point; you thought the code was more important than the user. Which is not true.

A lot of people, if they find they have to go through a painful migration process to get from one version of software to the next might start considering alternatives to the software or at least find that it dampens their enthusiasm to continue innovation. I suspect, also, that developers who spend some time writing a simple module, one which does a simple task and does it well, may also not feel motivated to go back and think about how to re-write that module if they already have other projects going. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, but when the necessity is being pushed on you by arbitrary decisions to change an API, it could really be demotivating. Working on last year’s module is not what you want to be doing on Christmas Eve. Yes, it’s a compromise to hold onto imperfect code in core, but as long as the API can be maintained without any security issues, it should be, so that contrib modules are not specific to just one major version of Drupal. This will certainly be a welcome change for most of the community at this point.

What can we do… and when?

Ideally, modules which work for one version of Drupal should work in the next, without change, even if they don’t take advantage of “new core features”, just like many of the OS X apps I used to use years ago are still functional after five years, even if they no longer have all the “bells and whistles” I might have come to expect ina “modern” app and there be be some glitches here and there. But I think it’s likely the historical trend toward no backward compatibility will continue when Drupal 8 is released (D7 modules will not work in a D8 installation unless significant work is taken to ensure that old paradigms still get results); I don’t know for sure, but it seems likely that many very fundamental changes (e.g. the use of Symfony™ 2 components in core, not to mention the changes to the core directory structure) are coming in Drupal 8 and it could be difficult to maintain much backward compatibility in the API without performance-crushing “compatibility layer” modules needing to do too much work. On the other hand, if we expect applications like Drush to sort out the URL changes between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 (the new directory structure), i.e. remain Drupal-version-agnostic, we should be able to incorporate a lot of that same logic in Drupal, itself. If a path makes sense based on the old structure, revise the path to match the pattern used in the new directory structure.

Personally, I do hope that steps can be taken to remedy this issue in the future. Not all modules will be compatible from one version to the next, but it would be ideal if there were a way to keep as much backward compatibility (in the API) as possible from one major version to the next so that upgrading a site doesn’t mean every module needs to have been maintained and released for the new version of Drupal. This functionality could be provided by a group of API “bridge” modules which could be disabled once all modules are running non-deprecated APIs, but would otherwise allow running a previous version’s modules, even if at a loss in performance. The cost of queries and server processes has dropped a lot since 2006, along with the price of hardware, and it’s likely to continue that drop. We get much more bang for the buck than we used to. And there are also promising technologies which could offer better performance to Drupal, such as HipHop compilation of PHP code and new database technologies which can already be used with Drupal. If we have a nice cart for our “baggage” it might be considerably less problematic for the community than “waiting for the next flight”. I’m curious to see how this plays out and hope that “the end of Drupal as we know it” could be a good thing (maybe we’ve already seen that, since Drupal 4.7 was certainly a very different beast from D7 or what we expect to have in D8. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have we reached a point where the performance concerns are outweighed by the bulk of contrib code that needs to be ready in order to migrate a typical site? What approaches might work best? Could it be done in Drupal 8 or do we need to wait for a future “Drupal N”?

Dec 01 2011
Dec 01

drupal8_release_date_confusion.pngOkay, so the title of this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek (it’s a reference to a particular Drupal 8 usability issue); I don’t really think this misunderstanding is “universal” but there does seem to be a bit of confusion about when to expect Drupal 8. The confusion seems common among the greater Drupal user-base, and it seems to affect more than just new Drupal users and those evaluating or considering using it, but also Drupal stakeholders who have several years’ of experience. According to Dries, we should not expect to see Drupal 8 released for at least another 18 months. Yes, I’m aware that he was talking about 18 months after Drupal 7 hits its “productivity plateau”, and since he also indicated that he would announce when he thought we were at that plateau (and to my knowledge, he has not yet) it’s likely to be more than 18 months before we see Drupal 8’s release.

And yet, for the past few months, we have been seeing increasing questions about Drupal 8 (in the greater developer and discussion community); questions which make the assumption that Drupal 8 is very close to release; a couple examples of such questions:

One user wrote:
... I have several years working with Drupal 6 and I am thinking to start building sites and develop over Drupal 7, but it seems that Drupal 8 will be launched very fast. Is it best to wait some months and learn about Drupal 8? It’s easy to just think “Well, that’s just silly!” when we see one question like this, but when we see many such questions popping up, we have to know this points to some murkiness in terms of the Drupal release cycle.

We need some clear announcements about Drupal 8’s status

While a release date announcement is certainly premature, we should probably have some kind of clearly-posted announcements that Drupal 8 almost certainly will not be released before 2013. There is so much information and “buzz” about Drupal 8 on Drupal.org, Drupal groups, blog posts, and other internet sources that it’s not at all surprising that people will start to think it’s coming soon, but of course the fact is that Drupal 8 is simply in a very active state of development by the community and the discussion is not hidden from the public, indeed, the public is encouraged to become a part of the process and find ways to contribute; hence all the regular flow of information about a product that is far from release.

In commercial technology companies, there is often much pressure to hide details of a planned product right up to the point it’s ready for the market. This helps prevent any ideas in the user-base that they are advertising vaporware or otherwise producing too much hype too early on. But a healthy open-source community thrives on the discussion and open planning, which can lead to a lot more information about a coming product than they (e.g. someone searching for information about Drupal) might even find in a Google search for the current release. This can contribute to the confusion, so those of us writing about Drupal need to make sure that references to Drupal 8 come with a reminder that it’s still far from release.

Drupal 7 release numbers seem to cause part of the confusion…

Part of the confusion seems to be associated with the greater user community not quite “getting” the Drupal release numbering and assuming that the current version numbers (getting close to 8.0 if seen as decimal fractions) indicated that Drupal 8 was just around the corner. This should hopefully be ameliorated as soon as a 7.10 release is made, next Monday; but it couldn’t hurt to have an announcement that the Drupal 8 API is not even complete yet (and won’t be for some time). Currently it’s too easy to find information on Drupal.org about Drupal 8 without any information that the pages are essentially “placeholders” (e.g “stubs” for the documentation team to work on) or are for people actively working on core development.

In conclusion... encourage Drupal 7 use and Drupal 8 involvement

Personally, I think that we can, as a community, recommend that most users starting a Drupal site today should consider Drupal 7 rather than Drupal 6 (though many people maintaining Drupal 6 sites may not have much reason to migrate, especially if the state of necessary contrib modules make a smooth migration non-trivial). Drupal 7’s end-of-life is much further away and most of the important modules most people will want have now been ported and have a stable release for Drupal 7 and many other nice modules have been written from scratch and are only available for Drupal 7. But Drupal 7 has taken a long time, since it’s release, to get to this point — and while I’d like to think otherwise, realistically it’s likely that when Drupal 8 is released there will also be a “pain period” during which most developers working on complex sites will probably still want to use Drupal 7 (because of core issues and lack of modules). So recommending Drupal 7 for new sites and an announcement that Drupal 8 won’t be released for more than a year really ought to be added to the main downloads page on Drupal.org, the Drupal 8 API page, and other places where people might encounter information about Drupal 8. We, in the greater community, should get the word out that Drupal 8 will be awesome, but we shouldn’t give people the impression that it’s closer to release than it really is. And we should also make sure they know that there are modules and themes which will help them achieve the “coming-to-core-in-Drupal-8 features” they might be eager to use (HTML5 support, targeting mobile devices, etc).

Now is the time to bring new Drupal 7 users into the fold and recruit more people to help make Drupal 8 as awesome as it can be… so we need to ensure that anyone new to the community knows that there are ways that they can help and that it’s not to late to pitch in for the effort!

Nov 13 2011
Nov 13

An exciting change has finally been committed to Drupal; the directory structure has been improved to move basically all of the files which are replaced during Drupal updates into a '/core' subdirectory. This should make it much simpler to manage updates and should also mean that there is less chance of new users unwittingly placing their downloaded ‘contributed’ modules and themes into the top-level directories. While it might seem like a very simple change, there is a reason that the issue which proposed the reorganization, first created over six-and-a-half years ago and originally intended as a change for the not-yet-released Drupal 4.7, took so long to be committed — and that it had over 300 comments on it by the time it was closed and marked as “fixed”.

Just what was moved where, anyway?

The Drupal “core” files have been reorganized.All of the core ‘.txt’ files were moved to the new /core directory. In addition, the php scripts, authorize.php, cron.php, install.php, update.php and xmlrpc.php were also moved there, along with the /includes, /misc, /modules, /scripts, and /themes sub-directories (and of course all of their files). Of course this meant that paths had to be corrected in many, many files.

I’ve just downloaded Drupal; why don’t I see the core files in a /core subdirectory?

What might not have been clear to everyone from the initial announcement of this re-organization is that this really only applies to Drupal 8 and can’t be backported to Drupal 6 or 7. Even with the 8.x branch the process took place over a number of months and committing it was postponed till after the European Drupalcon (with a couple extra months’ padding). There are too many references from one file to another and paths referenced in patches would also be broken. As it is, the location to run a patch is now (normally) from the /core subdirectory rather than the top-level directory, but some patches which affect other files not moved to '/core' have to be tweaked to run properly. This problem would be multiplied several-fold with the number of outstanding patches for Drupal 6.x and 7.x … and there would also likely be a host of issues with contributed themes and modules. So while I would love to see this issue fix get back-ported to Drupal 7 (and 6, for that matter), I'm not holding my breath. I think we'll have to wait till we are all using Drupal 8 before we can take advantage of this simple but significant reorganization.

Many thanks to Nate Haug (Quicksketch), among others…

It’s been a long time coming and we could have waited till Drupal 9 (or later) had someone (or really more than one) not finally taken the time to sort out all the changes necessary to make this happen and had the core team not moved to commit the changes while they were still fresh enough to include all affected files. As it is, we can see from reading the relevant issue queue’s thread, this was not as quick and smooth as it could have been. There were valid reasons for postponing the commit (for several months till after DrupalCon London), so patches had to be updated to include the removal of many modules from the Drupal 8 core and for the addition of new files, perhaps most notably the new Symfony2 components in the /includes subdirectory. From reading over the issue queue, it’s clear that one of the Drupal community’s greatest assets was among those responsible for muchof the work involved in making this happen: Nate Haug. We already knew you were awesome, but this is icing on the cake of your Drupal awesomeness. Many thanks, Quicksketch!

How can we thank you?

I think it’s not enough, but a start, at least, if we all take the time to vote for his proposed sessions for DrupalCon Denver. Time is running out and with so many sessions, it can be overwhelming to go through them all, but it’s clear that, just like everything else these guys do, their sessions will be done right and will fill a need. So while I’m doubtful that this rockstar of the community needs any more votes than he’ll already be getting, a bit of promotion could clinch any question and at least provide some more flattering numbers.

Nate Haug’s (Quicksketch’s) proposed DrupalCon Denver sessions include:

Randy Fay’s (rfay’s) proposed DrupalCon Denver sessions:

(I know Randy put some real work into this effort and helped keep it moving forward, but he’s told me that the real credit should all be Nate’s… I respect that and have edited this post, accordingly, but I hope he won't mind if I retain a plug for his sure-to-be-great DrupalCon sessions: )

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