It's funny how quick things happen - Really it is!
Just a week ago I posted I am a Follower & Thinker describing some of my experiences from Open Source. Then, just days later, someone had left me a message in an open Drupal chatroom. What happened after is the result of a chain of interesting - but more or less isolated - events and situations.Quick background
I'm currently spending some of my time working on an open initiative called Baksteg. I have quite a bit of experience with Drupal and for me it is more than good enough to build the site I have in mind with. Just recently I begun doing some real prototyping of ideas too. Most of the testing have gone very well, but some not so and for those I have started to seek the online community more - poking for help to find solutions or alternative ways.Online communities are everywhere
www.drupal.org is a fantastic resource to start with. Many problems can quickly be solved doing a quick search there, or it's related sites such as groups.drupal.org and api.drupal.org. Then, when you struggle to find useful help by just searching, you have already started to find other channels to communicate on. In fact you find people using, working with, Drupal everywhere these days. That even includes the same social networks everyone else uses, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Personally I prefer Twitter as it fills my needs and interests good enough, both with Drupal and other ones.
Over the last few months I have worked on tuning my own use of Twitter. I wanted it less as a *megaphone* and more a communication tool to have meaningful, while at the same time a bit entertaining, conversations on. It has worked out really well, while also - as an welcomed bonus - helped me much better appreciate what others actually share out there. My two main feeds are now @tsvenson (personal, mainly in English) and @Baksteg (mainly in Swedish). They both play important roles for my daily needs, which - totally coincidently - works really well with how I now see open source collaboration works out to ;)Kinda one of the original Social Networks, not that long time ago
However this story happened in the Swedish Drupal-channel on IRC - a social network for geeks and nerds since long ago. It was from kristofferw_ (Kristoffer Wiklund) asking me about this entity ID *problem* I was having troubles with. Some days earlier I had posted a description of it in the Swedish Drupal Group. While that post resulted in some nice advices and ideas, they all turned out to be dead ends. Still, it gave me opportunity to play around with some other modules that later will be used.
- Practice is always good I'm told ;)
Kristoffer was one of them who had helped there. We also go further back, including several Drupal events around. Thus we already know each other, at least when it comes to Drupal stuff. I explained that testing been good, but the work had to, for good reasons, be *pushed* forward. That's when Kristoffer offered to help and write a simple module, if nothing else just to get some coding experience poking around.
As things often end up then, when passionate nerds and geeks find an interesting problem or challenge, brainstorming starts and ideas flows back and forth.
IRC is an important channel in the Drupal community, but it is not because of it's fancy features. It's its simplicity that makes it into such a useful tool to use as a communication hub. A hub that connects us to worldwide chatrooms that can run in the background only to be brought forward when needed or when we have a moment to spare. Or just as inspiration...
Just following the discussions is itself educational and often spurns new ideas. There are many different specialized chatrooms too, one simply called #Drupal-support, most often filled with several hundreds of users, helping each other. It is in these chatrooms many of the toughest challenges with improving the project is ironed out.A new project is born
It is also here many new projects are born, small as larger ones. As Kristoffer and I began to talk, we quickly found a much more interesting approach. This one had much better potential and many more use cases as well as better flexibility and UX benefits too - So we created a sandbox project on drupal.org. It is now used so that we can experiment further in a better collaborative, open and efficient way.
If this module turns out the way we think it will, then we can take the next step and apply for it to become a Full project. This is a form of quality assurance process that includes us behind the project too, but to get there we need to pass gateways. These are not put in place to stop us though, quite the opposite. Many members in the community voluntary spend their own time to help others to pass. The whole guided process is filled with tools, tips and personal advices about how to make the project work as good as possible, not just for one self but for others too.
Once a full project, access to new features to organize and administrate is granted. Includes proper name space and better ways to manage versions and releases. These are features rarely needed when just poking around and testing ideas in the sandbox.
What I have also learned is what an amazing way to improve my own skills this is. Not just coding related, but also the way to collaborate and how great knowledge transfer can work too. All while at the same time get to know new interesting people and getting exposed to new cultures and ideas.
For me the Drupal community encapsulates all this, and more. Then, taking its size and success into count, it is a pretty remarkable achievement that shows how things can be done quite differently.
Add this to the mix:
- Drupal is used on millions of sites
- Drupal probably already generates a multi billion dollar ecosystem around it
Still there is room for practically anyone, like myself, to feel welcomed and included.
Even if it just starts out as a learning experience!What this module does
At first glance it looks to do little more than adding an extra step, when creating new content, while hiding parts of the form from displaying. That's right, that is basically what it does and one of its main purposes.
Some might now say - Hey, you just going to end up with tons of garbage content! - and they would be right too. Sure, this is going to make it quicker to create a lot of content - Yes, it can certainly be used for that!
But it also makes some other quite interesting new things possible - This is why:
- Entities in Drupal have unique ID-numbers, which can be used for all sorts of interesting things.
- A new entity doesn't get its own ID until after it has been saved the first time.
Therein we find my initial problem! There where no smooth way to get around the fact: Users filling in those forms must remember and manually save once before adding content to certain fields. Worse, it would be tricky to notice, when forgotten, as in most cases the data would evaluate, just with something much different than the entity ID needed.
As I played around, with several other modules to see if it was possible to circumvent this somehow, I always hit the same brick-wall. Problem was: Every new idea that showed promise resulted in a solution with tons of complexity, not just in one place but several. Gladly, that complexity was what Kristoffer and I could avoid with just a little bit collaborative brainstorming!
What this module now does is simple:
- Hijacks entity create (just for content types yet)
- Allows to limit to content create form down to only display the Title field
- Creates the new entity
- Immediately reopens it in normal edit
Content type settings:
Adding a new node:
Thanks to this, I can now avoid displaying any fields that needs the entity ID, minimizing the risk of mistakes. At the same time it also means this new - pre create content - step can be used to only show the bare essential fields while opening up to new interesting possibilities. Any rarely used, and other optional, fields can be dealt with better as they come into play.
This new, less complex, solution will also be much easier to improve upon. It has actually already allowed me to visualize and identify a whole bunch of interesting uses and UX-benefits. It will improve for many roles, not the least site builders and content editors.
So, for me, this is no garbage creator. Instead I see how a small improvement can open up many new creative ways to work and collaborate on content. However that depends, after all it is still just a sandbox project on drupal.org a kind of - Open Source playground - for nerds and geeks like myself.
Not everything is as limited as what is usually read on the tin. For me, this is a few good examples of how things in Open Source can work out just nicely.
Note: What *specifics* Kristoffer gets out of this I know little of. Those specifics are his to share and actually not that important for me - As long as I sense we both get something of value out of the collaboration.
Since our last update, May 2014, the #d8rules initiative was able to complete funding for Milestone 1 and has made major development progress with two unstable releases and loads of commits on our GitHub repository.
Thanks to 142 great supports, we were able to raise $ 15k on Drupalfund. In addition to that, Technocrat stepped in with buying our second largest sponsor package "Reusable component providers" which helps us cover 100 hours of Rules 8.x development. All in all, we are excited to say that Milestone 1 is now fully funded thanks to the crowd funding and 10 companies sponsoring #d8rules.
If you are interested in more background on the #d8rules Drupalfund campaign, make sure to Virginia's blog post with all the details.#d8rules Rulers & invoices info
As promised, everybody who has donated $65+ on the Drupalfund will get one of the fancy Rulers provided by Nico from Ausgetrock.net! We just finished production & packaging and will send them out by the next week!Development update
Development has mainly focused on working with Drupal's context system. Rules actions and conditions need parameters (for example a node object), which is represented as plugin context as used in Drupal core. They also need to provide variables (for example an entity load action will provide the loaded node object), which is implemented as provided plugin context in Rules itself. Provided context might be interesting for other Drupal 8 modules as well, so this might be moved out of Rules either into Drupal core or a Ctools-like project in D8 contributed space.
Currently we try to figure out all parts of the Rules core engine, how context is passed around and how data selectors are applied (example: node:uid:entity:mail:value to access the email adress of a node author). We implemented prototypes of those system parts, but the API is still experimental and we expect to change and improve things here a lot.
We are currently working towards milestone 1 of our roadmap and we are doing monthly unstable releases to keep you up to date with development progress.Drupalaton training & sprints: Porting Actions
After a great training/sprint session at DrupalCamp Alpe-Adria Portoroz we finished porting most of the conditions. This weekend, at Drupalaton we just delivered our second training session to get contributors up to speed with Rules in Drupal 8. Topics delivered include our git pull request workflow and the new and shiny things about Drupal 8 including the plug-in system, CMI and many more.Follow [META] Port all actions to 8.x to find out about the current status of actions being ported. Our getting started google doc provides steps in addition to the documentation available on fago's Rules GitHub repository. Upcoming sprint: DrupalCon Amsterdam
- See the sprints information & make sure to fill in at the #d8rules section in the sign-up sheet.
- Drupal 8 Contrib Module Update
Thank you all for contributing.
Josef / dasjo on behalf of the #d8rules team
Drupal 8 is not far off from being released, and you may have heard some chatter about the differences in how you create custom modules. The reality is that, while there are some differences, it's not really that hard to wrap your head around them. This article provides a gentle introduction to creating forms in Drupal 8, and highlights the differences and similarities to how you would do this in previous versions of the platform.
Topics: Tools, Technique, Education
Lately I've been very interested in declarative programming. Last week Smashing Magazine published my article on Declarative Programming and the Web, and last weekend I gave a talk at DrupalCamp Colorado on "Footless Drupal" in which I talked about how Drupal 8 is using declarative programming for configuration; how the Config in Code (CINC) module is aiming to, among other things, backport that to Drupal 7; and how it's already possible to use custom configuration workflows outside the default Drupal interfaces.
If you're not already familiar with declarative programming and/or the Drupal 8 configuration API, I recommend reading my declarative programming article in Smashing (of course I do), as well as Drupal's configuration API documentation before continuing. All caught up? Great, let's talk about some next steps for expanding declarative programming in Drupal.Custom Configuration Tools
First, we need more tools for managing configuration, with interfaces designed around more specific workflows. We're using a wide variety of approaches to building Drupal sites, and with a standard configuration format, there's no reason we shouldn't have the same variety of configuration interfaces. Do you define your content types in spreadsheets? Me too. I made an interface for that. Do you test your menus as static HTML? Great, let's make an interface that converts HTML menus to Drupal menu config. Do 90% of your views show all content of a given type? Let's auto-generate those Views configs.
While there's still a lot changing in Drupal 8, and some of that will likely impact configuration structures, those structures are stable enough and simple enough that we should be building our own tools around them today. And as CINC gets closer to D8 config API parity, we can use more and more of the same configuration in D7 as well. These tools can be written entirely outside Drupal, in a completely different language if you prefer, which then exports to YAML. Or you can take advantage of the information available within Drupal, i.e. current site configuration and content, and build modules with new interfaces. The world is our new Drupal configuration playground. Let's get playing.Declarative Forms
But there's also no reason declarative programming in Drupal needs to stop at configuration. Drupal has a wide variety of non-configuration concepts that could benefit from declarative approaches. One area I've been thinking a lot about lately is forms. Drupal's form API is already mostly declarative, but it's built around PHP arrays, and we interact with form arrays with imperative code. We could probably learn a lot by comparing Drupal forms to existing standards for declarative forms, like XForms. But simply taking a form array and formatting it as YAML would be a good start. (Or we could do it as JSON, as Amitai Burstein has suggested).
I'm sure declarative forms in Drupal would end up being a large and complex project, but it would come with large benefits as well. Many form alters apply universally to a given form, so they might as well be editing the original form definition directly. That wouldn't make sense in community module code, but moving the form definition outside code would allow such form alters to happen directly in the configuration. The same way we can now do \Drupal::config('node.type.page')->set('name', 'Basic page')->save(), we could do form alters with something like \Drupal::form('formid')->set('mytextfield.#title', 'My Text Field')->save(). Or with a YAML workflow, simply editing a YAML file would edit the form. That's already a huge benefit, as it would open up many form alters to a much wider group of implementers. Remember when we edited forms directly in HTML? A YAML form interface could give us that same ease of editing while still maintaining the power of Drupal's form API.
And just like with declarative configuration, declarative forms would open up a wider world of use cases. Forms created in Webform or the field API could be easily reused in custom modules. And the same forms could be built or used entirely outside Drupal, opening the door for more form-building tools focused on specific workflows.
Hopefully this is enough to get more people excited about taking advantage of the parts of Drupal that already have declarative interfaces, and also pushing declarative programming even further in Drupal. I'm continuing to work on these ideas and will likely have more examples to share soon, but I'd really like to see more people playing here. If you're already working or interested in working on declarative programming in Drupal, let's talk.
This week the podcast gets a little bit meta by discussing how to find Drupal news. Addison Berry is joined by three different community news sources: Mike Anello of DrupalEasy podcast, Bob Kepford of The Weekly Drop newsletter, and Chris Weber from Drupal and Coffee in the Morning hangout and the Google+ Drupal community. We discuss why following the news is important, and how we manage to keep up with it.
Will you be coming to DrupalCon Amsterdam?
DrupalCon is where all the big magic happens. From sprints that improve the project to training that brings in new talent, attending DrupalCon is the best way to get involved, get connected, and give back.
Take a break from your summer holiday and secure your place at DrupalCon before ticket prices rise on 8 August (that's tonight!) at 23:59 Amsterdam local time. Save the €50 you'd pay on a late ticket and make sure you buy your tickets now to take advantage of the regular rate. You can even buy for your company, with our easy prepaid tickets.On the fence about attending?
If you're having trouble deciding whether to attend, we suggest you check out the schedule of sessions, BoFs, parties, and more, see who's going to be in Amsterdam, what you can learn, and how you can help the project while you're there. We've even got Cory Doctorow keynoting the event on Wednesday! What's not to love about that?
If you're having trouble convincing your boss to send you, check out these resources we've put together to help you get your manager's buy-in on the conference.
We hope to see you in Amsterdam!
I've just released the OG Group Content module https://www.drupal.org/project/og_groupcontent on drupal.org. Here is the description of the module from drupal.org:
Join me and Acquia on Tuesday, August 12, 2014, to explore Drupal 8 from a business owner's perspective. In this session, you’ll get to see what Drupal 8 has in store for you, including better support for mobile, internationalization, web services, HTML5 and the enterprise marketplace. For attendees already using Drupal, we’ll dive into how to prepare your site now for Drupal 8 and what you can do to get help when the newest version comes out.
We will review:
I just joined Last Call Media a couple of weeks ago, and was invited to join my new peers for a trip to Boston for Design 4 Drupal. I was super excited for a couple of reasons. A) I love a road trip, and B) this was my first opportunity to meet my new and extended Drupal family.
So, given that I am not a morning person, I set two alarms. I did not want to be late to the meet-up spot and have my new coworkers leave without me, or think that I am a total slacker. I showed up at 5:57am and was the only car there. I started to feel foolish, like I had been the subject of a hilarious practical joke designed to break in the new team members. I imagined my coworkers plotting against me “Just string a couple letters and numbers together, make an early meeting time on one of her first weekends. You can imagine my relief, as the earliest of my coworkers started to trickle in, oh, and it turns out they are not the bullies I had imagined. I now know that 6am means 6ish (I think this is called Last Call standard time or LCST, for any event that begins before 8am). From here we started our convoy, with 11 Last Callers en route. Monster Energy Drink and Old School Rap tunes first thing in the morning had me amped for my first day long All-Geek event!
We arrived at MIT (what an amazing campus, btw) with plenty of time to set up a booth and attend the Keynote: Steve from Republic of Quality gave a heartfelt talk about being emotionally connected to your work and how to demonstrate this with your content.
We had one of the first sessions of the morning, Case Study: lastcallmedia.com, where we were able show how heartfelt and connected we all are to our work.
It became clear to me that I have joined a very engaging team, as I sat in on my new coworkers presenting their work; I learned that we have the first commercial site in the US running on Drupal 8. It was a great opportunity to treat ourselves to a very special site redesign and tackle Drupal 8, which was still alpha, and get our hands dirty with constant upgrades. The team was so pumped to share their experience with the Drupal community!
There was a great deal of excitement from the attendees who were impressed that we invested the time and resources to work with Drupal 8. It made me very proud of where I work! After the session, attendees flocked to our booth to find out more about our site and to ask more specific questions. There is certainly is a lot of buzz about Drupal 8 and lastcallmedia.com.
I met a lot of great people in the Drupal community, and went to a few sessions myself.
Erin Holloway gave a lot of nice pointers for streamlining communication in the Anti-Handoff session and visuals to increase efficiency in the design/development process, from emails to Photoshop shortcuts. This session was well attended by Last Call; I looked around the room and saw, Sean, Colin and Julia.
Jeff reported that he really enjoyed The Accessible Experience: Designing for Everyone session, where he was introduced to different accessibility tools and was able to see them demonstrated.
Jayme reported that the presentation RWD on a Budget WTF offered a good reminder about the countless small non-profits who both require and deserve a quality responsive website, but who do not have much of a budget. Large scale, and hence, expensive projects have more and more become the central focus of the industry. In our enthusiasm to see how far we can push the envelope of what we can do with Drupal for clients who have the budget to allow us to take it to this level, smaller companies--and in particular smaller non-profits--often get left behind. Johanna Bates and her collaborative made the important point that Drupal is still an excellent tool for making responsive websites that, while are perhaps not as ambitious to produce, offer a way to contribute to making the world a better place.”
Our very own Rob hosted a well-attended session at the end of the day, although technically way over my head, it must have had some good meat that developer types could chew into because I received several requests for the slides and code samples. You can find his presentation here.
Most of us finished out the night at the General Assembly in Boston for a super time at the WeWork coworking space. What a cool spot. We challenged other developers to table tennis, learned a little mixology as we played “bartender” by hand squeezing our own lemons and crafting our Tom Collins drinks.
Our top goal for the sprints is to make significant progress on the three remaining beta blocker issues. These issues aren't the best place to jump in if you're not already following them, but plach, alexpott, effulgentsia, fago, and others are going to do what they can to get these issues done.
Beta deadline issues
The next priority for the sprints are the beta deadline issues, which are non-critical issues that will have to be postponed to either Drupal 8.1.x or Drupal 9 if they are not done by the time the beta is ready. Many of these issues are related to the Entity Field API, so if you're interested in those systems, reach out to entity and field maintainers fago and swentel at Drupalaton to see if there's a beta deadline issue for you.
Twig autoescape followups and double-escaping bugs
One of the beta-blocking issues that's already been resolved is enabling Twig's autoescape functionality, so that strings that have not already been sanitized by Drupal can be escaped automatically in the theme layer. There are a lot of important followups to this change, which can be grouped into two categories:
Double-escaping issues (#2297711)
Since Drupal already does its own sanitization at many different points, there are a number of places where we are unintentionally escaping markup twice, resulting in double-escaping bugs like:
<em>My double-escaped string</em>
When code uses the appropriate sanitization functions or the theme and render systems so that the output can can be themed, escaped, and altered properly, double-escaping is not an issue. So, we need to fix these regressions, ideally by removing the markup from the code entirely and converting to a Twig template, or failing that, by using the inline templating render element. In some cases these issues might be simple to fix; in others they will require some refactoring.
Improper uses of SafeMarkup::set() (#2297703)
In order to inform the theme layer about what markup Drupal has already sanitized, strings that have been processed by t(), String::checkPlain() or Xss::filter() are automatically marked safe, as are markup strings created from render arrays via drupal_render(). This list of sanitized strings is stored by the SafeMarkup class, which is intended for internal use only. However, the initial conversion patch added SafeMarkup::set() calls in many places as an interim fix. We now need to remove as many of these improper uses of SafeMarkup as possible, by converting or refactoring the code in the same way that we would to fix double-escaping bugs.
We will be sprinting on these issues at TCDrupal. Talk to YesCT or mdrummond for help getting started.
- Double-escaping issues (#2297711)
Critical issue triage
Once Drupal 8 is in beta, the next step will be to resolve the other critical issues that block a Drupal 8 release candidate. As a first step, we need to assess all of the critical issues to determine which are most important, which are no longer relevant, etc., as well as what the path to get each done is. In each critical, we should clearly identify:
- Why is it critical?
- What would be the implications of not fixing the issue?
- What would be the implications of fixing the issue between betas? (Code changed for modules, upgrade path, etc.)
- What would be the implications of fixing the issue after the first release candidate?
- What is the next step to make progress? What are the remaining tasks?
Talk to xjm to help with this essential task.
If you're sprinting at TCDrupal, remember to put the TCDrupal 2014 issue tag on issues you work on at the sprint. Similarly, use the Drupalaton 2014 tag at Drupalaton. And whether you're sprinting in Minnesota, in Hungary, or remotely, join the #drupal-contribute IRC channel to coordinate with other sprinters.
This past week at Drupal Costa Rica, I had a nice conversation with Todd Ross Neinkerk of Four Kitchens, who was there presenting on the notion of de-coupling content management and content display (here's video of a similar talk he did in Austin). I also spoke with Jesus Olivias who recently did a great Spanish-language podcast with Omar Aguierre on the topic, and he was kind enough to give me his two cents.
Headless Drupal is officially now "a thing". It's all happening. If you're curious why this is exciting people, see my previous blog post on the topic: what's the big deal with headless websites? In this blog post I will dig into the technologies at your disposal for exploring Headless Drupal today.
Headless Drupal Now!
For those looking to develop Headless Drupal websites right now, you can totally do it with version 7. Even though there's excitement about the upcoming Drupal 8 release — and I'll detail the action below — you don't need to wait to get started with these techniques. Drupal 7 still has a long life ahead of it, and with the right contrib modules it is usable for anyone looking to build headless websites today.
The most well-known interface for Drupal 7 and an alternate front-end is the Services module, which has a very Drupal-ish manner (e.g. hook_services_alter()) of exposing various interfaces. It comes with built-in REST and XML-RPC interfaces, and allows you to expose, nodes, users, taxonomies and other core data fairly easily behind custom endpoints (API paths). You can also use it as a basis for specifying your own custom services.
There's also the restWS module, which exposes any Drupal entity on its existing URL based on headers. This module is the basis for Drupal 8's REST module, which we'll discuss more later.
Finally there's a really interesting package from the developers at Gizra, the Restful module, which is also entity-centric, but takes a different philosophical approach. Rather than exposing Drupal's internals, it allows developers to define what data they specifically want sent in response to a request. It also allows the exposure of some entity types and not others (e.g. the "Article" nodes, but not "Pages"). This module is definitely more developer-centric, but they have some nice blog posts about how they use it with AngularJS that will help you get up to speed.The Future of Headless Drupal in Version 8
The future of Headless Drupal opens up significantly with version 8. Core includes both a REST interface module and a brand new routing system built on the Symphony2 HTTP kernel. This provides a lot of opportunity for headless implementations both for beginning and more advanced developers.
The REST module is a souped-up version of what you got from RestWS in Drupal 7. Your core entities are all eligible for exposure, using the JSON+HAL format by default. This gives consumers of entity data the ability to follow "links" to other data sources — for instance you can pull the definition of a content type from any node.
Making Drupal's native entity data model accessible to other apps via REST takes only a few clicks. Views — also in core for Drupal 8 — natively supports "REST export" as a type of display. You can configure your way to a robust REST API into your content without installing a single extra module.
For those looking for more specific or nuanced functionality, the core HTTP routing framework is one of the most exciting pieces. It's a general upgrade for how all Drupal modules handle requests, replacing the legendary hook_menu() with a fully-featured HTTP server. You can set up custom routes, define controllers for callbacks, and manage responses based on headers, status codes, and all the other things one cares about once you make the mental leap from "serving pages" to "talking HTTP" in your application.
For developers with experience building server-side applications in Python, Ruby on Rails, or Node, this is a welcome change. It opens the door to much more sophisticated implementations with Drupal — powering the backend for complex mobile applications, serving as a lightweight integration point for different kinds of data, even acting as a pure API to external application developers.Much More To Come
There's still more to come. A big part of the equation is what's on the other side: now that we know how to build a headless backend in Drupal, what's the client? There are many exciting answers, which I'll address in another post, ideally with code samples for AngularJS, Backbone, and others.
There's also exciting movement in the headless direction in WordPress, where the WP-API project aims to have a native REST/JSON server bundled into the 4.1 or 4.2 releases later this/next year. I'll be doing a dive into the potential for those implementations soon as well.
Are you building headless applications? Do you have tips tricks or techniques to share? Let me know and let's spread the word!Blog Categories: EngineeringRelated posts: Headless Websites: What's the big deal?WP REST API - A Superficial Review Tweet
Drupal has a nice Internal tool to block IP addresses. It is available in core with no additional modules required. It can be accessed via Configuration -> People -> IP Address Blocking.
But it is practically useless without any automation to control spammers as it requires each IP to be manually submitted by the admin.
And there are the suite of modules available for Drupal. Ranging from captcha to mollom. And all of these target preventing form submission. While they do a good job in preventing the spammer from submitting forms on your site, the spam bots are still able to access your site/form.
And most of the times, there are some really dumb spam boths that do not bother whether they have been successful in the spam attempt. They do not realise that the same and they keep attempting to submit the same form repeatedly. While cpatcha, mollom, honeypot etc on your site are discarding these form submissions from bots, your site’s resources are being utilised to generate this form and show it again to the bots thousands of times.
And the worst part is that many of these form pages are not really cached allowing capcha etc to function properly. This makes the condition ever worse.
Have you ever wished there was a small module that just blocks a spammer completely after he either submits / attempts to submit a form a dozen times times on your site?
So FBIP is here now!
It keeps a track of form submissions and if some user crosses a threshold that you specify, the user’s IP will be automatically blocked!
It is Leightweight. It does not add any additional tables to your site. It makes use of the Flood Control API available in the core of Drupal to keep a track of submissions per user.
You can choose between tracking either all forms on your site. Or specific form ids.
You can whitelist some IPs that you do not want to be tracked (Like your site administrators)
You can also choose to reset the IP bans at each cron run, if you wish to not to block any user permanently!
Beware Spammer, FBI(p) is watching you!
The organizers of D4D made a conscious effort to gear the first day more toward business, and I relished the opportunity to think more about client communication.
I attended a great session on getting better client feedback, and you can read my favorite client communication tips here.
Another gem of the day was a detailed explanation of copyright and creative commons, and robust list of places to get open source fonts and stock imagery.
And check out window.matchMedia() -- it's a simple way to check if you have hit different breakpoints. (Be sure to grab the polyfill for IE9 and below.)
Last, but not least, was the discussion on streamlining development and testing. We got an overview of Google's Web Starter Kit and all of it's goodies, like live reloading, synchronized browser testing, and a built-in, living style guide. And there was an audible gasp (from me) when they showed what browsersync.io could do; all devices on the network could look at the same local site, and when you scrolled down on one device THEY WOULD ALL SCROLL DOWN. Stunning.
The presentation was interesting, and the dev environment really parallels the dev environment we have home-brewed for ourselves here at Advomatic with a combination of Compass/Sass, Grunt, LiveReload, xip.io, and KSS. I quickly learned that there aren't many other shops doing this yet, so we couldn't talk the nitty gritty details (like gnarly compile times). So that conversation is to be continued.
I can't wait to hear next year how others are using these tools to improve their workflow.
Home base was this magical Ghery building, the Stata Center, on the MIT campus.
Drupal Association News: From Poverty to Prosperity: How Drupal is Improving Lives in South Los Angeles
For many people all over the world, Drupal is a fun hobby or even a means to a career. But for some young men in South Los Angeles, it’s more than that: it’s a ticket to a better life.
Teens Exploring Technology is the brainchild of Oscar Menjivar, a social entrepreneur, programmer, and Drupal user. The program serves young men who are at risk of recruitment by gangs in Los Angeles’ southern neighborhoods by bringing them off the streets and educating them on community, leadership, academics, and technology.
Each year, thirty or more high-school boys are selected to participate in the program. Through it, they are introduced to computers and computing, and attend weekly classes held by the program and hosted in one of the classrooms at the University of Southern California (USC). Classes are instructed by volunteers who donate their time and expertise to the program, teaching the boys to improve their lives and their community through technological innovation.
“Currently, we partner with USC but we are starting to look at other universities for expansion” said Menjivar. “Our program is in demand and we need to expand. Right now, we’re building relationships with other universities, so in the next few years we’ll probably be meeting at USC and another university in the area."
The program, which is completely free for its students, has already made waves in its local community. Numerous alumni of Teens Exploring Technology are currently studying Computer Science and Information Systems at schools such as Stanford, Syracuse, USC, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and elsewhere; the projects that these students completed while participating in Teens Exploring Technology, meanwhile, are still doing good in their communities.
“Last year, one of the groups developed a Drupal website called South LA Run,” said Menjivar. "It’s an interactive map that displays safe places where people in south central LA can run. The site allows users to make accounts, and create and share routes with each other. Our students collected data and research from the community in South LA, then used it to build the site, which launched last summer.
"The project perfectly embodied our mission to help the kids recognize some of the problems in their communities, identify ways they can solve these problems, and give them the resources to solve those problems with technology,” Menjivar added.Fighting poverty with technology
The program, which has won a Google Rise award, was inspired by Menjivar’s past.
"I grew up in South Los Angeles in the ‘90s and went to one of the worst high schools in the city,” said Menjivar. “They promised me a technology magnet program, but at the time we had nothing but typing classes. The lack of resources at my school made it harder for me to focus on bigger goals in life, like college.”
From a young age, Menjivar had been interested in computing and computer science. "I wanted to do computer science and learn how to code, and [my upbringing] was a huge barrier for me to overcome. Luckily, I had a good friend in college who took me under his wing.” Now, Menjivar is paying the favor forward by giving young men in rough neighborhoods the same help that he once received.
“Seven or eight years ago, I went back to my old high school and spoke to sixty kids. I asked if they knew what a website was, or knew what HTML was, and out of these kids only 5 of them knew what that meant. That was what opened my eyes,” he said. “I thought, there’s something that we need to do about this.”
For most young men who live in the inner cities, survival can be difficult. Many are recruited by gangs, or turn to crime to keep money coming in. "The biggest problem that I encountered with myself was that, in the '90s I had a lot of friends who… one ended up shot, another ended up in jail, and most didn’t go to college,” said Menjivar. "I was lucky because I had good mentors, but most of my friends didn’t have the same opportunity."
Now, Teens Exploring Technology is serving the neighborhood that Menjivar himself grew up in. The program focuses on educating young at-risk men about technology, inspiring them to use technology for social good, and instilling high-integrity values in the process. But Menjivar doesn’t want to stop there.
"The overall vision for what we’re doing is to develop leaders and change makers who can improve world through technology,” Menjivar said. “We want our students to go and use technology for good, and develop solutions for their communities. Our main focus is always on addressing problems in our students’ community, specifically how can we use technology to transform the lives of kids.”Doing good with Drupal
In the Teens Exploring Technology program, the participants are introduced to a wide range of technologies— and Drupal is by far the most popular.
“We decided to use Drupal because it gives the kids a chance to learn on the spot and not have to wait for something to be pushed out,” Menjivar said. “They can practice their coding skills, and if they make a mistake they can redo it again easily in Drupal. The flexibility of it, the modules that the kids can play with, and the themes that Drupal can do all make it very popular. With kids, you have to be able to give them a choice for how to customize their website and make it their own, and Drupal does that really well.
“Last year, we had 8 different web apps and I would say 4 of them were Drupal-based. The other ones were Wordpress, Android, iPhone, and Shortstack, which is a Facebook app. This year we’re throwing in Unity, so the kids will be able to build games.
“Every year we experiment a lot but Drupal always stays at the core of what we do,” said Menjivar.How Teens Exploring Technology is changing South Los Angeles
The pilot program for Teens Exploring Technology began five years ago.
“At first, we did recruiting,” said Menjivar. “We went out into the community and approached kids about participating in the program that first year, but it’s all word of mouth now. The kids call themselves TxTrs, and they really spread the word. It happens often that, in schools, an 8th or 9th grader will come to a current student and say 'I want to do this, how do I do this.’
“In the community, we feel that people are starting to recognize potential with technology. We had 150 applications this past year, and even though we were only able to pick 45 participants, we’ve created a database of kids who didn’t get in and their parents. We reach out to give them information whenever we can, and pretty soon we’ll have an open space that we’re opening up so that everyone can come, build with technology, and take workshops on different tools,” Menjivar added.
Helping at-risk young men build better lives for themselves and for their communities is at the heart of what Menjivar does— but he doesn’t plan to stop just with Teens Exploring Technology. Currently, the Teens Exploring Technology team is working to expand the program so that everyone in South Los Angeles has an opportunity to learn and grow.
Menjivar’s vision for the Hackerspace isn’t one of a formal classroom, but rather a safe space for knowledge-sharing where people can help each other out-- or, in his words, “We want a ‘learn by doing’ space.”
“We want to build an organic community of technology culture so people can come in and do peer to peer teaching,” Menjivar said. “We want it to be a place where you can come hang out and have fun while learning to build online products. We aim to build culture of knowledge using the latest dev tools.”
“I find that the best way to build knowledge is together, instead of just doing workshops all the time,” Menjivar added.
“When we began setting the place up, picture a big mess right in the middle of the room: chairs everywhere and stucco and paint all over the place,” said Menjivar. “People came in and asked us what we were doing, and when we told them they could come and learn to develop, they got excited. In fact, as soon as we announced the Hackerspace to the community, we had tons of people coming in and asking how they could get involved.
“The community in South LA has a lot of talent, but it just isn’t being nurtured and fostered. So that’s what we want to do,” said Menjivar.Getting Involved
Alumni of the Teens Exploring Technology program give back to the program by donating their expertise and recruiting for the community— but the program’s expansion means that more help is needed.
“Right now, we’ve got a summer leadership academy going on for boys who are between 14 and 17 years old,” said Menjivar. “We put the kids in production and development groups, and then everyone picks a different role: product developer, project manager, and so on. The boys go through process of identifying a problem and then using the technology to solve that problem, and to make this happen, we need mentors.
“Finding volunteers with exceptional skills is critical. We don’t just want people to volunteer, we want them to build relationships. Our volunteers become role models to the kids, become people they can look up to. Finding volunteers who can commit an hour to the program, and who are willing to stay in touch with the kids afterwards, can be a challenge.”
Beyond the need for more volunteers, resources are tight with the program. “getting funding is a challenge, especially since it’s a completely free program for the students,” said Menjivar. “Many of the boys we serve are from low income families, families whose annual income is about $15,000. In order for us to serve more students and provide new opportunities, we need to increase our income. This year we were invited to a startup weekend but we didn’t have transportation so going was difficult. Funding is definitely a challenge.”
“One of the questions we ask ourselves a lot is, how do we use this program to continue helping the Drupal community grow, and how do we get the Drupal community more involved in the future? One thing that would help would be sponsorship from companies for the program and for its volunteers.
“Our summer volunteers put in 20-25 hours a week helping the boys, and do so for no pay. Right now we’re looking for people or companies who can sponsor those volunteers, and maybe even give them a stipend,” said Menjivar.
"Currently, the culture of creating technology doesn’t exist in South L.A., so we’re building that technical dream and people are recognizing that. We’ve become the place where, if you want to learn to build or create, you go to Teens Exploring Technology or you go to Hackerspace. It’s a small space but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of it,” said Menjivar.
"Above all, the emphasis for me is our pillars of community, leadership, academics, and technology, because that’s what we anchor ourselves around. We want to help our kids understand how those pillars change the world, and really understand the technology that will make a difference in their lives and the lives of others as they become a developer."
We arrived in beautiful Budapest on Tuesday night already excited for Drupalaton, Hungary’s premier annual Drupal event which takes place at the town of Keszthely on Lake Balaton (from which the event gets its name).
Yesterday morning we met up with our friends at the Cheppers office, and loaded our bags into the cars to caravan down. Cheppers is one of the major sponsors for Drupalaton, and a good example of the new breed of Drupal shops coming out of Eastern Europe. Incidentally they also happen to be a fantastic road trip crew.
On the way down we talked about what we all hoped to get out of the big Drupal event. Personally I’m looking forward to a couple of uninterrupted days of contributing to Drupal 8. In a regular work week it’s hard to get this much time for contribution all at once, and it will be great to feel like I’m making a dent in the issue queue. Adam Juran, one of our Interface Engineers, talked about the friends we’d get to see and the “community track” of discussing code over a beer, which seems particularly appealing given the dearth of local lakeside restaurants. We’re seriously considering extending that idea by hosting an unofficial Forum One code sprint on the beach!
Drupalaton promises to be a fantastic conference. These local Drupal events are one of the few places where you can rub shoulders with well-known contributors and local first-timers all at once. Most of these European Drupal camps are fairly intimate gatherings of only about a hundred participants, which means that everyone eats, codes, and hangs out in just one or two big groups. Not to mention, these events are much lower pressure than the larger Drupalcons for everyone involved. People are often running through their presentations for the first time, and very few of them have other project or marketing work to distract them. This means that everyone is there for the same reasons: to code, to learn, and to have fun!
Sure to be one of the highlights of the event program is my three-hour workshop: Coder vs. Themer: Ultimate Grudge Smackdown Fight to the Death! with my colleague Adam Juran. Adam, using only the theme layer, and I, using only the module layer, will compete and invite our audience to do the same to determine who is able to build the better Drupal website: Coder or Themer?! We’ve had a lot of fun with this session in the past and it’s sure to be a popular one among the Drupalaton crowd.
This conference will also include well known Drupal contributors like Morten DK, Wim Leers, Dan Wehner, Reuben Teijieroand of course Gabor Hojtsy. Big names in the community like Stephanie El Hajj and Steve Purkiss will be there too, alongside some of our favorite local Drupal organizers like Lauri Eskola and Zsofi Major. A lot of these people are old friends for us – but whom we often only see on the Drupal.org issue queues – so it’s a special treat to hang out in person, even if we essentially have the same conversations. As for the people we don’t yet know: it will be great to code, session, and enjoy some tasty Hungarian Palinka with them as well!
Drupalaton will also feature some of the best of the local Hungarian community, in a beautiful lakeside setting. At Forum One we talk a lot about the value of local engagement with open source products like Drupal, and it’s very rewarding to be a part of that core value in action. Hungarian Drupalists are some of the most talented – not to mention friendly! – in the European community. We’ll definitely post more when the con gets started!