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Fair or Foul: Learning the Hard Way?

Gnome Stew - 22 hours 32 min ago

During my last session of D&D, metagaming reared its ugly head again. My players were attacked by a couple of black dragons, and one of my players briefed the others on what tactics to use and what kind of breath weapon this particular type of dragon had, in spite of this being a low fantasy setting and the character having no idea what a black dragon was.

I think it’s fair to say that most GMs wouldn’t appreciate that, and I responded by yanking away the Inspiration die that the character had just earned during the previous scene, explaining that metagaming wouldn’t be tolerated at the table. That said, my friend’s “crime” was being overt; I’m sure other players at the table were familiar with black dragons and selectively chose their tactics accordingly. If I’m not interested in changing up monster stat blocks, then I should expect that sort of thing with seasoned players.

One of the things that sprang to mind while reflecting on this incident was that I would have allowed a character to make an appropriate ability check to see if she could recall anything about black dragons. That brought up the possibility of misinformation and how that could be applied at the table. It also brought up the question of what should I do, if anything, as a GM if I notice a player deviating from her character’s usual tactics?

Tackling misinformation first, one thing that I decided to change was how I set difficulty classes. In D&D, typical difficulty classes are set in 5 point increments (e.g. an easy task is DC 10, while a very hard task is DC 25). It’s easy to use the crutch of thinking that way (hmm, this seems like a hard task, so I’ll set it at DC 20). Players tend to think in those terms as well. However, if I randomly add or subtract a point or two then it keeps players guessing.

This enables me to factor in misinformation. Normally, my knee-jerk reaction is to use a “1” or similarly low number to state that the character “recalls” bad information. That said it’s not fooling the player, but if I put that “1” right behind a success (say, a 15 when the character needed to roll a 16) then I can give that player misinformation and she’ll run with it.

This, of course, only works when the players at the table don’t know anything about the monsters or if they suspect that I’m changing stat blocks. Otherwise, I’m left with the question of whether to enforce appropriate behaviors on the characters.

So, I have two “fair or foul” questions for today:

First, if a character always enters combat with a particular tactic, but the player suddenly decides to switch tactics (ostensibly because she’s metagaming and knows that her normal tactics wouldn’t be effective against this particular enemy), then would I be in my rights as a GM to insist that she use her usual tactic until it is evident that it’s not the best choice?

Second, if a character makes an ability check/skill roll to find out something about a creature and botches it, would I as the GM be in my rights to make her use an ineffective tactic? Can I spread that to other characters as well if the affected character was sharing her misinformation?



Categories: Game Theory & Design

OpenID Connect GitHub

New Drupal Modules - 26 April 2015 - 3:23pm

This integrates with the OpenID Connect module to allow sign in with GitHub.

While GitHub does not implement the actual OpenID Connect protocol, it does provide a similar flow for obtaining user data based on OAuth 2.0 tokens.

Configuration

Categories: Drupal

agoradesign: Naming conventions for D8 libraries

Planet Drupal - 26 April 2015 - 4:45am
Given the fact, that in Drupal 8 every module and theme has to declare their CSS and JS files as libraries, we should think about and discuss naming conventions and best practices for these.
Categories: Drupal

Bert Boerland: DrupalJam 2015, come for the Jam, stay for Drupal

Planet Drupal - 26 April 2015 - 12:22am


Drupal. I didnt come to Drupal code 14 years ago, I came for the community and stayed for the functionality. That is part why I never liked the "Come for the code, stay for the community" slogan. Sure, it is a perfect cheesy slogan. If all you want attract are coders in the community, it is even a perfect slogan. For a perfect community, of perfect happy coders.

We have got to learn to address humans. Not just humans who can code. That is, if we want to be a true community for a product. A product that is well designed and does attract both the business and the user to participate in the product, the process and hence the community.

Leaderers. Entrepeneurs. Visionaries. Testesters. Document writers. Project Managers, marketeers. To name just a few. Of course developers can also have the skills to do these jobs, an often overlooked fact. But someone who is "just" a marketeer, will not come for the code. (S)He might come for the job at hand, money that might be involved, the functionality, but the best reason why an external non developer should come to the community to help out, is the community that is helping her/him out. Not clean lines of code, but helping hands of love.


This is I am active in the Drupal community, to help out to get others on board. With a rocking team ( Marja, Imre, Rolf and Peter and others) we are organising the DrupalJam event in the low lands. The DrupalJam started with 20+ persons and pizzas in a room and is now a big event with over 300 people attending, over 25 sessions and a budget in the tens of thousands.

DrupalJam -organised by the Dutch Drupal foundation- will be held in Utrecht, April 30 and it really represents the helping hands -not just the lines of code- of the community. With keynotes from Bruce Lawson ( HTML fame), Marco Derksen (digital strategist, entrepreneur) and featured speakers like Jefrey Maguire (moustache fame, D8), Anton VanHouke (leading design agency in the NL, introduced scrum in to strategy and design), Stephan Hay (designer, writer) and Ben van 't Ende (Community Manager for the TYPO3 Asssociation).

And like last year, Dries will do a virtually Q-and-A. If you want to ask him nearly anything, do so at this form.

The event will be held in an old industrial complex as can be seen in these shots

I am really looking forward to this event, it has a long tradition and always strengthened the community and brought in new blood. People who "Come for the business and stay for the community" Those who come of the need for design and stay for the love. Or love the functional and stay for organising the next DrupalJam.

PS: Now this head has rolled, it is time we decide what we do the body. If you have 5 minutes of your spare time, read this post and if you have one minute more, see this one from 2008 as well.

Categories: Drupal

Views Timelinejs Extras

New Drupal Modules - 25 April 2015 - 12:24pm

This contains additional functionality to enhance the Views TimelineJS module but that falls outside the scope of that project.

Features include:
  • A Feature / content type that allows for definition of individual timelines via entity reference
  • A mechanism to support BCE Dates (by faking it cause computers hate BCE data storage)
Categories: Drupal

Drupal @ Penn State: Switching from one install profile to another

Planet Drupal - 25 April 2015 - 10:06am

I recently had to switch profiles for this website. In the process of doing that, I immediately afterwards said “wow, I feel like other people have had this issue”. Sure enough they have… on this blog early last year by our own @aitala in the post How to Remove Drupal Install Profile.

Categories: Drupal

From The Archives of S.P.O.O.K.Y: New Beginnings for Old Lives

New RPG Product Reviews - 25 April 2015 - 8:45am
Publisher: Modern Retro Gaming
Rating: 4
It is 1816 in Italy, and players take on the role of children aged 10-12 recruited by the Supernatural Protectorate Order of Knighted Youth in an adventure written for Call of Cthulhu 7e (but playable with earlier versions if preferred).

The adventure opens with a prelude episode that sees a monstrous attack on a tavern, the children's parents slain and them recruited by their saviour, a knight of S.P.O.O.K.Y. They are then whisked off...

To the next few scenes some five years later, with the characters now well-advanced in their training in what seems to be S.P.O.O.K.Y.'s equivalent of Hogwarts. There are some neat incidents designed to help them develop into their specialties, which range from alchemist to doctor, engineer or huntsman and more.

Fast forward once again another five years, when they are attending a history lecture by Alexandre Dumas as they prepare for their 'graduation mission' as they progress in the Order from initiates to novices (odd, it's usually the other way around). This mission, a werewolf hunt with a twist or two, completes the adventure, ending with the characters ready-formed into a team and hopefully ready for more adventure.

It makes for a novel and interesting twist and one which might appeal to younger players. The writing is somewhat clunky in places with need of polish, but shows promise, with game mechanical details such as the various specialties available being well thought out. An encouraging beginning for a new writer, now looking forwards to the next offering.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Dev From The Plains: Yeoman Generators for Drupal: What’s out there?

Planet Drupal - 25 April 2015 - 4:39am

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been hearing about Yeoman for quite some time now. Pretty much since the project took off, or soon after. As a tool born in the Javascript community, I came across this little gem when I was learning about Node.js and the different tools and frameworks available for it, either in my free time, or as part of my labs time at my company. Sadly, I didn’t really pay much attention to it. At the end of the day, Node.js was just something I was learning about, but not something I was going to be able to put in place or introduce in projects in the short term. Or, even if it was something I *could* do, it wasn’t in my plans, anyway.

The other reason why I didn’t look into it closer, was that I mistakenly thought it to be a tool only useful for Javascript developers. Some time ago I noticed that Yeoman was getting plenty of attention from other communities too, and in a closer look, I understood that it wasn’t a tool for Node.js, but instead, a tool built on top of Node.js, so I decided to give it a try and see if I could make something useful out of it for Drupal development.

Warming up…

So, what’s Yeoman then? It’s a code scaffolding tool. That is, it’s an utility to generate code for web apps. What’s the purpose of that? Well, the purpose is that developers save time by quickly generating the skeleton of the web apps they build, leaving more time for the important things, such as the most complex business logic of the app, integrations, testing, etc… In short: it’s a tool that should help developers deliver more quality in their apps. To get a better picture of what Yeoman can do, I’d point everyone at their site, which has some nice tutorials and a very good documentation for writing your own generators.

My plan was to write a few generators for the most common pieces of boilerplate code that I normally have to write in my projects. Unsurprisingly, I found that there are a few yeoman generators for Drupal already out there, so I thought I should review them and see if they’re of any use to me, before writing one that already exists. Yes, that can be a boring task if there are too many generators, but I was lucky that there aren’t *that* many for Drupal, so I just spent a couple of hours testing them and documenting my findings. Hopefully, this blog post will help other Drupal developers to find out in a matter of minutes whether the existing generators are useful for them or not. So, let’s get into it!

1.- Generator-drupalmodule

Github repository hereCreation date: Around 2 years ago.

Structure created:

module: |- drupalmodule.css |- drupalmodule.info |- drupalmodule.js |- drupalmodule.module |- package.json

This one scaffolds a basic structure for a simple module. Needs bower and a package.json file to download dependencies, but not a problem anyway since you’ll probably have drush. Creation is a bit unintuitive: you need to create the module folder first, cd into it, then execute yo drupalmodule.

The generator asks if you want JS and CSS files, but it doesn’t even add functions to add them to the page. It’s a generic purpose generator, and doesn’t have anything that is not in module_builder already.

2.- Generator-drupal-module

Github repository hereCreation date: Around 2 months ago. Latest commit about 2 weeks ago.

Structure created:

module: |- templates (if hook_theme chosen). |- drupal_module.info |- drupal_module.install |- drupal_module.module

More neat than drupalmodule in the surface, but doesn’t do much more. It asks us if we want hook_theme(), hook_menu(), hook_permission() and hook_block_info / view implementations, which is nice, yet that doesn’t make it much of a gain compared to other simple scaffolding tools, like PhpStorm live templates. In contrast to the drupal-module generator, this one doesn’t ask us if we want a CSS or JS file.

3.- Generator-drupalentities

Github repository hereCreation date: 9 months ago. Latest commit about 6 months ago.

Structure created (“publisher” entity):

Views and license files are optional, based on the settings specified in the command-line.

module: |- views |- publisher.views.inc |- publisher_handler_delete_link_field.inc |- publisher_handler_edit_link_field.inc |- publisher_handler_link_field.inc |- publisher_handler_publisher_operations_field.inc |- LICENSE.txt |- publisher.admin.inc |- publisher.info |- publisher.install |- publisher.module |- publisher.tpl.php |- publisher-sample-data.tpl.php |- publisher_type.admin.inc

Generates a full drupal module for a custom entity, based on the structure proposed by the model module.

One issue I experienced is that if I select to “add bundles”, the Field API screen seems broken (doesn’t load). However, a general “fields” tab appears, but if you try to add a field, you get some errors and get redirected to a 404. So, bundles are offered on the plugin creation menu, but not really supported! Same for revisions. It’s asked on the command-line prompt, but doesn’t seem to do much. Not choosing bundles support, still lets you add bundles on the admin UI, and doesn’t seem to break anything, though.

In spite of the issues I had testing it (I didn’t bother much investigating what was the issue), it seems to me an useful generator. The only reason why I doubt I’ll be using it, is that it’s based, as mentioned, on the model project for Drupal, which is quite nice, but rather outdated now (4 years old), and doesn’t leverage some of the latest Entity API goodies. Also, I’ve developed some opinions and preferences around how to structure custom Entity Types, so starting to use the model approach would be, in a sense, a step backwards.

4.- Generator-ctools-layout

Github repository hereCreation date: 5 months ago. Latest commit about 14 days ago.

Structure created:

my_layout: |- admin_my_layout.css |- my_layout.css |- my_layout.inc |- my_layout.png |- my-layout.tpl.php

Generates a ctools layout plugin folder structure, with all the files needed to get it to work out of the box. It makes no assumptions about how the content will be displayed, so there’s no styling by default (which is perfect), and it allows to specify as many regions as desired. It’s quite likely that I start using this in my projects. No cons or negative aspects to mention!

5.- Generator-gadget

Github repository hereCreation date: 1 month ago. Latest commit about 1 month ago.

This one, rather than a code generator for Drupal elements, is a yeoman generator to serve as an scaffolding tool for another repo from Phase 2. While I didn’t get to test it out, the grunt-drupal-tasks repo really looked interesting (check the features here), and I might try to give that a go, although I’m familiar with Gulp and not with Grunt. Long story short: very interesting project, but it’s not meant to scaffold any code for your drupal modules.

6.- Generator-drupalformat

Github repository hereCreation date: 6 months ago. Latest commit about 3 months ago.

Structure created:

drupalformat: |- includes |- js |- drupalformat.settings.js |- theme |- drupalformat.theme.inc |- drupalformat.tpl.php |- drupalformat.api.php |- drupalformat.info |- drupalformat.install |- drupalformat.module |- drupalformat.variable.inc |- generator.json |- LICENSE.txt

This one is very specific, tailored to provide views and field formatters for jQuery plugins, and it’s based on the owlcarousel module. It’s very useful if what you’re looking for is to easily integrate other jQuery plugins with your Drupal site. Very interesting generator, as it’s focused to scaffold the most repetitive parts for a very specific task, instead of trying to be a very generic solution that covers many things. You can see another great example leveraging this generator in Echo.co’s blog, for the jQuery Oridomi plugin. Not something that I have to pick up daily, but I’ll definitely have this plugin in mind if I have to integrate new Javascript libraries.

7.- Generator-drupal-component

Github repository hereCreation date: 6 months ago. Latest commit about 3 months ago.

Structure created:

drupal_component: |- ctools-content_types |- drupal_component.inc |- drupal_component.scss |- drupal_component.html.twig |- drupal_component.info |- drupal_component.js |- drupal_component.module |- drupal_component.tpl.php |- drupal_component.views.inc

I found this one rather peculiar. The boilerplate code it produces is rather basic, yet offers options such as creating a views style plugin by default, or a ctools content_type plugin. The good thing is that each component can be generated individually, which is rather convenient. The only issue that keeps me from using it is that, again, none of the components offer any options particularly advanced that could benefit from having an interactive tool like Yeoman (e.g: asking whether the ctools content type plugin will need one or more settings forms). For my particular case, I can generate all of these easily with PhpStorm live templates or template files easily.

Is that all, folks?

Ye… no! There are indeed a few more generators thought around drupal projects in the Yeoman registry (click here and search by “Drupal”). Some of them are very interesting, to do things such as:

However, I decided to leave those out of an in-depth review because, as interesting as they are, they cover several aspects of Drupal development, and people often has very specific preferences about how to structure a theme, for example, or what tools to use in order to create a Headless Drupal. 

Since the goal of this article was to give a bird’s eye view of what generators Drupal developers can use right now without changing anything in the way they work, I preferred to describe mainly the generators done around drupal modules, and more specific components. Hope this blog post has saved you some time. Expect to see a new one on this topic as soon as I’ve written my first Yeoman plugin.

Categories: Drupal

Commerce Reset

New Drupal Modules - 25 April 2015 - 3:29am

While a site is in development or testing phase we create hundreds orders, transactions and customer profiles.
This module allows you to reset commerce to a near blank slate.

At the moment we only support commerce core.

Features

1. Delete orders and reset order number.
2. Delete payment transactions.
3. Delete customer profiles.
4. Delete product variations.

Basic Installation

1. Download and enable the module.
2. Go to Administration > Store > Commerce reset (admin/commerce/reset/batch).

Categories: Drupal

Share Selection

New Drupal Modules - 24 April 2015 - 5:57pm

OVERVIEW

This module allows to share the selected text in social networks like Twitter, Google plus and Linkedin.

It has an API so that developers can to add their custom share selection links.

No facebook support due to Platform Policy 2.3 https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review/prefill

REQUIREMENTS

Categories: Drupal

Jira REST Rules

New Drupal Modules - 24 April 2015 - 4:15pm

The module provides an integration between Jira (via the jira_rest module) and rules.

In the current limited form the module provides a rules action for creating simple, basic issues in Jira.

You must configure the jira_rest module with username and password at admin/config/services/jira_rest.

In the rules action you can configure:

Categories: Drupal

Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Roleplaying Game Core Rules

New RPG Product Reviews - 24 April 2015 - 2:45pm
Publisher: Privateer Press
Rating: 5
Delicious, tasty, filling, meaty, something to dig your teeth into, but also a familiar flavour throughout.

Oh yeah, we’re talking about the new IKRPG Unleashed book. Not some meaty dish!

So previously I have reviewed the IKRPG Unleashed Abridged rulebook that comes in the new starter adventures kit. That basically covered what we are familiar with - primarily the core rules, and magic for Willweavers. But, we also got a taste of the new things. Harnessers, Warbeasts, and Blood Magic.

The main core book builds on that familiarity. It assumes that the reader is essentially new to the world of Caern and the Iron Kingdoms, or of course is a Hordes player. Thus we get the entire history of the setting all over again, but with certain events and characters and myths explored in more depth that they were in the IKRPG core book. These of course bring life in the wilderness into focus over life in the cities. Also, where IKRPG assumes the in game date is 605 AR as Llael has fallen to Khador, Unleashed assumes the in game date is 608 AR, and thus assumes that the events surrounding the war in the Thornwood between Cryx, Khador and Cygnar and others, have passed.

While IKRPG explored the nuances between the different ethnic groups that make up the Iron Kingdoms, Unleashed looks at the each of the main wilderness factions (Orboros, Trollkin Kriels, Farrow, Gatormen), plus the various other human tribes, and explores where their territories lie, what life is like in these societies, and their relationships with the other factions of Western Immoren. The amount of detail is excellent, and really allows you to delve into just one of these groups and use that as a basis for an adventuring party.

What is really excellent is that we get a healthy dollop of information about the Nyss, and their life that borders the wilds and the cities, and so builds upon the little information we had in the IKRPG core book.

Let’s not forget we have information on the Tharn and their tribes. They are presented then as a separate group, while also being allies to the Orboros. Perhaps not to a similar level of detail, we also get information on the Bog Trogs, who again are allies to the Gatormen, but are their own race.

What is important with all these sections, is that we are presented these groups so that while we get a sense of their communities and lives, but also these groups are not presented as monolithic entities. We get a sense of how diverse even Gatormen societies can be depending on the bayous they hail from.

Following the section on the different societies we get a section that explains the differences between different geographical regions, the way of life in those places, the hazards that they present, and the animals and plants that exist there. Each major forest, desert, mountain region etc are detail individually. This is all important for a GM who then has a reference text to help them paint an evocative picture of the landscapes that the adventuring party is travelling through.

With the setting out of the way, we get the familiar again. Character creation and stats. We have a number of races to choose in this book. Bog Trogs, Farrow (whose Warbeasts I learnt are just malformed Farrow births!), Gatormen (I really need to play one!), Humans Nyss, Pygmy Trolls, Tharn, and Trollkin. We have 4 archetypes are normal, but for the wilds, Intelligence is replaced by Cunning. Of course we then have the list and details on careers. Of course how these are used in character creation is the same as for IKRPG, but the options is quite interesting. Highlights are the Bokor, the Bone Grinder, the Bloodweaver (basically a close combat Gun Mage), a variety of mounted careers. Ugh… guess I will be getting some mounted troops for my armies!

The familiar continues, as we wade through abilities and skills, and the combat rules. Of course there are new entries that are more befitting the wilderness based games. Perhaps something that has a lot more options is the section on environmental hazards.

Magic. That most mysterious of arts. Is again… familiar. Character can be will weavers (just as in IKRPG) or harnessers, who are able to control beasts and channel fury, and thus be Warlocks. Much like Gun Mages, Blood Mages can be willweavers or harnessers, depending on career combinations.

Harnessers, as I explained in the previous review, are exactly what you expect. They use rules identical to how warlocks work in Hordes, and are able to rile beasts, force them, and channel fury from them.




Wolds, the construct monsters of the Orboros get their own section in the chapter on magic. We get details on their construction of Wolds, the golems made of wood and carved stones. While these creatures do generate Fury and so act as warbeasts, they differ in that they must be repaired rather than healed, and do not frenzy. This makes Wolds in the rpg rather like a cross between a warbeast and a warjack.

That all of course brings us to the next major chapter, Warbeasts.

Essentially as we already know from the abridged rulebook, that the rules for them are the same as they are in Hordes. Of course we do get some more information on the nature of the warbeast/warlock relationship, the dangers of an ill fed beast, the way such creatures frenzy when their warlock dies, and more. For every beast within the book, we get information on the rules for training, arming, and animi, that beasts can learn and be equipped with. The actual stats for the beasts are given later in the book, and so this saves space by separating the Warbeast specific rules from the Warbeast stats.

The chapter on gear is as expected, featuring the tools of the trade for many of these races. But we also get a whole load of items and ingredients for wilderness alchemy, which are great additions for even regular IKRPG alchemist characters. But Bone Grinders (who are not just farrow, but any race) are more like specialist cooks, who know the brews and broths to create. Bone Grinders can also fabricate magical fetishes from the body parts they harvest from creatures and fallen foes.




The penultimate chapter, preceding the GM section, is the bestiary, which serves both as a list of opponents for characters, and the selection of creatures for warlocks to control. Many of these will be familiar both from the wargame, or from the pages of No Quarter and the Monsternomicon. Creatures get the standard style of information we have become used to, plus the templates (given in the appendix and in No Quarter and the Monsternomicon) than allow us to present variations on the same creature (so a juvenile Argus, or a Argus Alpha, or a trained Argus etc). There are some new beasts in the pages here, like the different types of Drakes, and the Feral Geist.

So, how do I feel about this book?

If you are new to Iron Kingdoms, and start here rather than the IKRPG book, then it is an excellent, massive, and well presented book, filled with the art and lore that we have come to expect from Privateer Press.

However, if you are like me, and already play the war games, or play the IKRPG, then there is a lot that is familiar, or duplicated wholesale. Is that a bad thing? Perhaps. But then Privateer Press has two core books for two player bases for two different settings, which are bound together by a greater setting. In that respect, it is similar to the scenario FFG has with the Warhammer 40k rpgs. So if you really want the content of Unleashed, but don’t want to buy a book you already have half of, then go get the pdf is my suggestion.

Lastly, right at the back of the book are two pages of conversions done by the Privateer Press studio. Lots of cool ideas here and I hope PP will make models available in some manner to make getting bits easier for such things.

Oh and the hard copy version of this book is excellent. I guess with the IKRPG core book, I now have two core books for my group when basic rules need referencing. But then the abridged rulebook is great for that too.

Find more gaming articles http://darkerdaysradio.blogspot.co.uk/
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Media Cloudcast Chapters

New Drupal Modules - 24 April 2015 - 11:45am

The Media Cloudcast Chapters module provides a chapter field type for Cloudcast video files and provides an automated import process. Minimal CSS has been included to get you started with display. An example view has been provided for advanced display options.

It is highly recommended you watch the introductory video https://vimeo.com/125965156 to learn how to set up and configure this module.

Categories: Drupal

File Entity SWF

New Drupal Modules - 24 April 2015 - 10:38am

Add support for Flash files to your Drupal site.

What does it do?
  • Creates a new file entity type to support Flash .swf files!
  • Provides default file display configuration to output the swf file as an <object>.
  • Adds width and height metadata to .swf files.

NOTE: if you are using Media WYSIWYG and/or Media WYSIWYG View Mode be sure to double check your settings to include the Flash file type.

Categories: Drupal

Forum One: Edge Toolkit: Staying Relevant in the Long Run

Planet Drupal - 24 April 2015 - 8:01am

Launching a website is just the beginning of a process. Websites need nurturing and care over the long run to stay relevant and effective. This is even more true for a service or tool such as LibraryEdge.org. Why would users come back if they can only use the provided service once or can’t see progress over time? And how can you put that love and care into the service if it is not self-funded?

This month, LibraryEdge.org released a number of changes to address just these issues.

Helping Libraries Stay Relevant

Before we dive into the release, here’s a bit on the Edge Initiative.

With the changes created by modern technology, library systems need a way to stay both relevant and funded in the 21st century. A big part of solving that problem is developing public technology offerings. Even in the internet-connected age, many lower-income households don’t have access to the technology needed to apply to jobs, sign up for health insurance, or file taxes, because they don’t have personal computers and internet connections. So where can people go to use the technology necessary for these and other critical tasks? Libraries help bridge the gap with computers and internet access freely available to the public.

It’s important that libraries stay open and are funded so their resources remain widely available. By helping library systems improve their “public access computers/computing,” the Edge Initiative and its partners have made major strides in making sure libraries continue to be a valuable resource to our society.

That’s where LibraryEdge.org comes in. The Edge Coalition and Forum One built LibraryEdge.org in 2013 as a tool for library systems to self-evaluate their public technology services through a comprehensive assessment – plus a series of tools and resources to help library systems improve their services.

New Functionality Reassessment

The biggest feature update we recently launched was enabling libraries to retake the Assessment. They can see how they have improved and where they still need work compared to the previous year. To create a structure around how libraries can retake the Assessment, we built a new feature called Assessment Windows. This structure allows the state accounts to control when the libraries in their states can take the Assessment. States now have control over when their libraries conduct the Assessment and can track their libraries’ goals and progress on Action Items. This feature allows states to more accurately assess the progress of their libraries and adapt their priorities and programming to align with library needs.

Results Comparison

The Edge Toolkit was initially built to allow users to view their results online, along with providing downloadable PDF reports so libraries can easily share their results with their state legislatures and other interested parties. Now that libraries can have results for two assessments, we’ve updated the online results view and the PDFs. Libraries can now see a side-by-side comparison of their most recent results with their previous results.

Graphs

It’s common knowledge that people retain more of what they see, so we’ve also visualized important pieces of the results data with new graphs. If a library has only taken the assessment once, then the charts will only display its highest and lowest scoring benchmarks. However, if they’ve taken the assessment a second time, they can also see bar graphs for the most improved and most regressed benchmarks.

Improved User Experience Interviews

We made a number of enhancements based on feedback from libraries that have been using the tool for the past couple of years, as well as from interviews that we conducted with State Library Administrators. Starting with a series of interviews gave us great insight into how the tool was being used and what improvements were needed.

New Navigation

The added functionality of being able to retake the Assessment increased the level of complexity for the Edge Toolkit. So we redesigned the interface to guide users through this complex workflow. We split out the Toolkit into four sections: introduction/preparation, taking the assessment, reviewing your results, and taking action. This new workflow and navigation ensures a user is guided from one step to the next and is able to complete the assessment.

Notification Messages

Several dates and statuses affect a library system as they work through the assessment, such as how long they have to take it and whether it is open to be retaken. We’ve implemented notifications that inform the user of this information as they are guided through the workflow.

Automated Testing

When we release new features, we need to ensure other components on the site don’t break. Testing this complex of a system can take a long time and will get expensive over the lifetime of the site if it’s done manually. Furthermore, testing some sections or statuses involves taking a long assessment multiple times. In order to increase our efficiency and save time in our quality assurance efforts, we developed a suite of automated tests using Selenium.

What’s Next for Edge

The updated LibraryEdge.org now allows libraries to assess their offerings again and again so they can see how they are improving. Additionally, we’ve built a paywall so Edge can be self-supporting and continue to provide this valuable service to libraries after current funding ends. The launch of this updated site will help Edge remain relevant to its users and, therefore, ensure libraries remain relevant to our communities.

Categories: Drupal

Picture this: Graphene brings 3-D holograms clearer and closer

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 24 April 2015 - 7:54am
From mobile phones and computers to television, cinema and wearable devices, the display of full-color, wide-angle, 3-D holographic images is moving ever closer to fruition.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Lullabot: Distributed Design

Planet Drupal - 24 April 2015 - 6:27am

Design work is a lot of show-and-tell. It can be challenging to effectively communicate and collaborate on a distributed team. Join hostess Amber Matz, Lullabot Creative Director Jared Ponchot, Lullabot UX Designer Jen Witkowski, and Justin Harrell, Interactive Designer for Drupalize.Me, as they talk about the unique challenges, processes, and tools they use as part of a distributed team.

Categories: Drupal

Jim Birch: Drupal 7: Offsite Backups with Backup and Migrate

Planet Drupal - 24 April 2015 - 6:00am

At the time of this writing, just under 300,000 websites use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module.  It is an great tool for moving databases from production back to staging and development servers, and it is an essential tool for automatic backups of the database and files of the production server.

About a year ago, Version 3.0 was released, which integrated the offsite functionality from another module, and brought additional functionality, like files and code back ups.  This is what I would like to go through today in the steps below.

Why offsite backups?

I hope by now everyone has heard of the Backup 3-2-1 Rule.  If you haven't, it is a good thing to strive for in all things digital.  The rule mentions "In case your house burns down", but in our case, with web servers, there are a lot more risks.  The server could get hacked.  The developer or client could accidentally delete.  The hosting company could go out of business.  There are probably a lot more reasons that I sudder to think about!

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Categories: Drupal

Feeds KML Parser

New Drupal Modules - 24 April 2015 - 5:16am

Provides a KML Parser for the Feeds module.

This module is Alpha quality and is not extensively tested. Use at your own risk. Patches/co-maintainers welcome.

Categories: Drupal
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