Drupal Ramblings

A Practical Tutorial on Drupal Project Management

I'm currently in the midst of learning some awful lessons about providing customized drupal installations. Because of this, I'll be following a couple strict rules in terms managing all future projects. For those of you who may just beginning in this field, save yourself, and follow these rules from the get-go:

  • If you work by contract, always bid the project for significantly more than you think its worth. (hint: if you bid under $950, you've underbid) Even when you overbid, don't be suprised if the number of hours divided by your bid come out to a 5-15 dollars an hour range.(When I was contracting, some of my first projects ended paying under minimum wage per hour)
  • Schedule your projects in blocks, and never take on more than one project at a time. If your potential client or supervisor needs the project before you have a free block, you should nevertheless say no. If they protest, explain to them that your effectiveness per hour decreases exponentially for every project you take on. If they still refuse to accept your answer, respectfully remind them that you both have an interest in having projects turn out well, and that taking on another project jeapordizes your mutual intersts. If that doesn't work, I'd consider quitting.
  • If you think a project is going to take 24 hours of work, than be prepared to expect 72 hours of work. If your working with drupal, than your job description will have expanded dramatically from that of a typical web developer's. Thanks to email, phone call's, planning, research, and other activities that usually aren't taken into account in the beginning, I'm left with less than one third of a work day to spend on actual development.
  • Remember that you can't read minds, and you're supervisor or client nearly always wants drupal, and 3rd party modules to behave differently than they do by default. Typically, you'll find your job is not to combine, and configure drupal. Forsee specific areas where you will need to extend, combine, or rewrite modules, and let everyone involved with the project know about them.

Remember, save yourself, and follow these rules. Do not put yourself through the hardship of learning these lessons through experience. It ain't worth it, kids.

Introducing telecommunity.us

Three of you might have noticed that my blogging has been light. I'm not dead, though (though arguably, working 12 hours a day on drupal sites is a death-like experience). Anyhow, one project of mine, and Gene Crick's is beginning to take shape. I'd like to introduce telecommunity.us.

Though we're by no means "launched", we've nevertheless already received a lot of queries about it. If you're curious as to what it's all about, I think a good place to start is my boss/mentor's article in Community Technology Review.

A Drupal Developers Guide to Hacking Away at CiviCRM

Who This "Guide" is For:

Drupal Developers, and wannabe Drupal Developers.

Intro

Civicspace 0.8.2 now includes a full fledged opensource CRM called CiviCRM. For the past three weeks, instead of blogging, I've been tunneling through CiviCRM's source code, and applying its features in a wide variety of situations. My early conclusion on CiviCRM is that it is very powerful. And CiviCRM combined with Civicspace is an advocacy, and information management platform that rivials any "enterprise class CMS/CRM solution", and most if not all ASPs. Any serious civicspace developer or user will want to start getting comfortable with working with CiviCRM. Hints, this guide. That said, let's move on to a question that many of you no doubt are asking:

2005: The Year Drupal Exploded

At present, Google can find 54,700 Drupal sites on the internet.

Drupal alexa rank has increased 600%+ in last year

Drupal node count has increased 290% in the past year

The Return to Civicspace

Civicspace Logo

I've put Nick Lewis:The Blog back on the official Civicspace fork. The product has come a long way since I first started using it last November. Civicspace and Drupal are both at a tipping point -- this Saturday, I'll be making the case for Civicspace at Penguin Day in San Antonio. I plan on being rather frank: if you invest in any other platform, you are making a bad investment, and you'll end up moving to Civicspace later anyways. More on why later... I need to get this site up and running again.

Success through Shear Stupidity

One of those weeks. Already clocked 30 hours of work straight work. My skin is turning pale from lack of sunlight, and a combination of constant eye strain, caffiene, and lack of sleep has resulted in me looking like I have too black eyes. And yet, I can't help but admit: I love my job.

Its funny to think that I've only been aware of drupal for a year, and yet it is already paying my bills. Getting to the point where those bills got payed was not easy; and I don't recommend going into this field if you need little security blankets like "money to pay rent", or "enough income to eat a healthy diet". Admittedly, a great deal of the reason it was such a difficult year was that I started with absolutely no background in web development. In many ways, the plight was like that of a college student who both takes on a fulltime load at school, and has a fulltime job to pay rent. You are required to do two exhausting tasks: learn new concepts, and earn money to live.

Drupal 4.7

...rocks my world.

Six Apart "Ups the Ante" for Weblogging

"Ups the Ante..." ...that's pretty funny.

Six Apart, the proprieters of typepad, think that their upcoming blogging service, code named Project Comet, will revolutionize the platform. Their press release said it all:

Project Comet is creating technologies that will advance weblogging as we know it today, giving millions of people worldwide the ability to easily stake out, build and share their own distinctive place online.

Let's begin with "new technologies"...

Users will be able to create individual blogs and share sections of them with other users in an elegant and customizable way that has never been done before.

Hmmmmm..... Drupal does that. Or wait, its done that for over 3 years... So, where does one go from drupal's "a blog for every user, infinite categories for every blog, (and more content types beyond blogs)"? I suppose Six Apart is just saying that their's does it in a "elegant and customizable way that has never been done before." Just as I cry the elegant sentence: "Quick! Hide the fish-sticks in the ditch, and get your cain out! The sun will be up soon." -- which, most likely, was a sentence that has never been said before.

Why Xaneon Switched from Mambo to Drupal

Xaneon, a group of former hardcore Mambo developers explain why they switched from Mambo to Drupal:

Mambo has, for a long time, been ahead of competing CMS projects with regards to marketing. Mambo's public image is pretty, appealing and very marketable to management. Mambo has no doubt benefited from the sponsoring company and trademark owner Miro's advertising dollars in this regard.

...Now we come to the real meat of the matter. During our sojourn into the dark art known as Mambo SEF, we've necessarily become quite familiar with the internal workings of Mambo. To be candidly honest, it's not exactly impressive. Mambo is a very limiting design...

The Onion Goes Drupal!

Who would have thunk it? The Onion, a fake news site (and by far the funniest site in the genre), has just implemented what I believe to be the most impressive configuration of drupal to date. In a very real sense, this site disproves the popular theory that drupal is only good for some things, while Mambo, and proprietary bloatware CMS's are good for others. Take a look at how the Onion used drupal, and then I dare you to come back and argue that Drupal is a limited platform that is only good for blogs.

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