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Drupal @ Penn State: The future of Drupal under the hood

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2015 - 7:36pm

I’m in the middle of several Drupal Camp / Con’s (any event over 1000 people is no longer a “Camp” but that’s for another time) and it’s occured to me: I can no longer learn by going. Now, this is learn in the traditional sense of what I used to go to Camps for (been coming to camps for 8 years now).

Categories: Drupal

ThinkShout: Four Things You Can Learn About Content Strategy...from Mad Max

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2015 - 5:00pm

George Miller has a vision of the future. Judging by the non-stop mayhem and desolation that is Mad Max: Fury Road, if I had the same vision, I wouldn’t sleep very much. As a piece of action cinema, however, Fury Road succeeds on every level. I couldn’t look away – but the second time I saw it, I was surprised by the number of carefully rendered details I missed the first time. I want to see it again.

After you emerge into the sunlight and finally manage to blink after two hours of wide-eyed apocalyptic rapture and think about Fury Road as a piece of content produced by a distributed team that had an audience in mind, there are plenty of lessons we can take away from it.

It takes time to make great content

Miller first tried to make Fury Road in 2001, took it up again in as a live action film in 2011, and wrapped photography in 2013. The movie itself didn’t come out until mid-2015. Typically, Hollywood calls that sort of timeline "development hell", and it presages an Ishtar-scale flop.

When you consider recent successes like The Lego Movie (4 years in production) and the fantastic Boyhood (12 years in production), it’s clear that, with the right people involved, movies benefit from allowing directors to realize their vision. Expand that to books and music, and the quickly-created masterpiece is the clear outlier.

To think that your organization can churn out content that best serves its mission without careful thought and robust process, then, would be a mistake.

There’s a long-standing notion that people don’t read on the Internet, backed up by careful research. I believe people don’t read on the Internet because, by and large, the available content is crap.

When you think about your own habits, though, haven’t there been at least a few pieces you’ve read almost word for word? I certainly absorbed the New Yorker’s recent terrifying article about how the Cascadia Subduction Zone is going to reduce Portland to the set of the next Mad Max. And ESPN’s Outside the Lines regularly produces content I read carefully – because they’re well-written pieces about topics that interest me.

Research shows that people who read for pleasure read more carefully. As Slate’s Michael Agger points out, even Jakob Nielsen, one of the founders of "People don’t read on the Internet", believes people will read content that interests them:

Nielsen's idea is that people will read (and maybe even pay) for expertise that they can't find anywhere else. If you want to beat the Internet, you're not going to do it by blogging (since even OK thinkers occasionally write a great blog post) but by offering a comprehensive take on a subject (thus saving the reader time from searching many sites) and supplying original thinking (offering trusted insight that cannot be easily duplicated by the nonexpert).

That sounds to me like the very definition of great content – and great content takes time to produce. I’m not talking about three-levels-of-bureaucratic review time, but about putting effort and craft into your explanations of what your organization believes is important to the world, be it through written word, a video, a podcast, or even just an image.

That can seem overwhelming, particularly when most nonprofits don’t have a cadre of trained writers on staff. There are plenty of tools out there to help you. Editorial calendars. Page tables and content templates. (Yes, content strategy, when it comes to implementation, involves a lot of spreadsheets.)

But it comes down to this: Don’t try to do too many things well. Try to do a few things better than everybody else.

You’re never going to bring everybody on board with your cause, so writing for the masses may not be the most effective strategy. Take time to create at least some content for those who care enough to read it.

Technical infrastructure should be so good, it renders itself invisible

If you take the time to produce great content, you want to make sure it’s displayed in the best possible light – and by that, I mean your users shouldn’t notice the technology at all.

Fury Road benefits from a huge number of practical effects: things look like they’re blowing up because they are, not because some computer rendered its idea of what an explosion should look like. But almost every shot was still digitally enhanced. This allowed Miller to create the impression of large crowds:

Fury Road also makes extensive use of compositing to expand its visual palette:

When you’re actually watching the film, however, the "How did they do that?" gives way to breathless enjoyment of the chase. The movie feels real because the effects are integrated so well, they become part of the story instead of superseding it.

The same has to be true of your technology platforms.

Nobody cares what email platform you're using if the contents are interesting and easy to absorb – but they will notice broken HTML. And your constituents aren’t coming to your website to ogle its features, they’re coming for the content. If they notice the underlying functionality, then your technology is not serving your mission.

Stay true to your vision

When you think about it empirically, Fury Road should not have succeeded with a mainstream audience. It’s a two-hour chase scene. Its nominal hero’s face is obscured by a mask for almost half the film’s run-time. Its night scenes were filmed in bright daylight. It prominently features a tanker truck full of breast milk. And yet it has grossed nearly $400 million worldwide.

Fury Road succeeds because it stays true to its director’s vision. George Miller knew what he wanted – the entire film was storyboarded and the cast largely worked without a script – and put exactly that, and only that, on film.

By Google’s count, Fury Road has roughly 3600 spoken words. Even a relatively action-oriented movie like Jupiter Ascending has nearly 9000 – largely because it’s burdened by the presumed need to explain what’s going on to the audience through background exposition:

Your planet is just now entering its genetic age. You understand very little about something which is a vital part of our reality. In our world, genes have an almost spiritual significance. They are the seeds of our immortality. When the exact same genes reappear in the exact same order, it is for us what you would call reincarnation.


Fury Road doesn’t care about telling you what’s going on or why it’s happening, just that it is. Why doesn’t Furiosa have an arm? How did Immortan Joe come to control all the water? It doesn’t matter in the visceral thrill of the chase. We trust Miller because we know he’s thought through all of the backstory and decided it didn’t matter here. He’s right. And cutting the movie to its barest bones serves his vision perfectly.

All that to say: If you produce content for a nonprofit, you have a built-in advantage because you have your Mission, Vision, and Values as touchstones. You know the backstory about why your organization does the work it does, and that can – and should – inform every piece of content you produce.

Think about the story you’re telling in terms of narrative arcs. Most of the content you produce, while illuminating some aspect of your Mission, Vision, and Values, can’t tell the entire story of your work. Instead, capture the interest of your audience, delight them with carefully crafted, finely honed content, and link back to the bigger picture. Hyperlinks were created before content strategy was even a phrase, but they allow us to lay out our story in pieces, tied back to a central narrative.

Prepare for the haters

The Internet is pretty great at disseminating information. Now that it’s easy for anybody and everybody to post their opinions in a public forum, our access to information is limited more by our imaginations than the media gatekeepers of old who decided what story should land on the front page.

The Internet has both improved public discourse – and degraded it. Because here’s the thing: if you have an opinion, it’s almost guaranteed that somebody out there has an opposing point of view. While these used to be confined to local conversations, when you post that opinion online, they can find you. They will find you.

Social media has been great for nonprofits in terms of community building and direct interactions with constituents. But it has also allowed the haters to find each other. What might have been a marginal response to your organization’s work in the past becomes amplified by technology.

In the case of Fury Road, that response was a call for boycott from a group of "meninists". (I know! I had no idea that was a thing, either.)

After the movie came out, noted misogynist Aaron Clarey wrote some pretty hateful things on his blog: "Let us be clear. This is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat… This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic."

You can read the entire article if you need a little anger in your day, but Clarey ends with a Call to Spitefulness: "So do yourself and all men across the world a favor. Not only REFUSE to see the movie, but spread the word to as many men as possible."

Never mind that everything that happens in Fury Road serves the story, not a philosophy. The plot, such as it is, hinges on the escape of five women from captivity. As director George Miller puts it, "Initially, there wasn’t a feminist agenda... I needed a warrior. But it couldn’t be a man taking five wives from another man. That’s an entirely different story. So everything grew out of that."

He’s supported by Chris Hansen, the director of the film and digital media division at Baylor University: "We’re used to women being in the background, not men. But Miller isn’t doing it as a statement, he’s doing it because that’s what the story calls for."

Because the story your organization is telling supports and builds upon your Mission, Vision, and Values, somebody, somewhere is going to assume you are trying to diminish them in some way. And they will spew their hatred like a firehose.

As part of your content strategy, you need to be prepared for reactions to the information you put out into the world. Carie Lewis, Director of Communications Marketing for the Humane Society of the United States, knows too well that "When sensitive topics come up, trolls come out in droves, and misinformation spreads... In today’s world, the only thing you can do is have a crisis plan in place for what to do if/when you get attacked. Because you just never know what the internet is going to glom onto."

The producers of Fury Road ended up benefitting from the "men’s rights" backlash because it stirred up a controversy that made people want to see the movie even more. We probably can’t hope for that.

Carie notes that, "Internal education is key. Help your staff navigate the waters with social media policies and trainings to protect them as well as the organization."

The HSUS has standards and procedures for responding to negative publicity, and those have been documented. Carie says, "It’s important for us to be honest while at the same time not drawing unnecessary attention to the issue... We develop talking points that address the issue but don’t get into internal details. They get routed through PR, membership, social media, and the executive offices."

Building on that, The HSUS tries "to respond to everyone who comes to us on one of our social media channels with a legitimate question or concern, and within 24 hours. That means all questions unless it's someone we know is just trying to stir up trouble. There are some people who live to cause trouble and that you will never win over. You have to know when to stop, and when to not even start. That comes with time and experience."

As a final word of advice, Carie offers that "One thing I see a lot is organizations trying to talk over the issue. We learned the hard way that approach just doesn’t work; people will see right through you and it will only make matters worse."

Your mission should be at the heart of the content you produce. When that’s the case, it will be easier to defend the work you do – and it will energize the people already passionate about your work.

Everybody wants to be loved, but the prospect of online backlash shouldn’t stop you from crafting great content that articulates the reasons you do the work that you do.

Now go see the movie already!

Thanks to Ivan Boothe and April Lambert for their edits and additions.

All images copyright 2015 Warner Bros. Pictures.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalCon News: Training Spotlight: Translate Your Web Site in One Day

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2015 - 12:44pm

Do you need to translate a website but don't have the time or money to pay someone to do it? This training will provide you with an overview of internationalization (i18n), localization (l10n), multilingual issues, and translation basics using the Lingotek Translation module. You will also receive mentored help translating a copy of your Drupal website (or a different one, if you'd rather).

Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: Find the Node ID of Drupal Content

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2015 - 11:35am

Several times, our members have asked about finding the Node ID of individual pieces of Drupal content. The Node ID is the primary key in the database for Drupal content and it's useful in many situations.

If you don't have the Pathauto module installed, this information is easy to find. By default, the Node ID is directly in the URL of the content.

However, if you have the Pathauto module enabled (as most sites do) the Node ID can be hard to find. Here's the solution ...

Categories: Drupal

Cheeky Monkey Media: Resistance is Futile!

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2015 - 7:00am

Back in June of 2014, the monkeys headed for Austin, Texas. We stormed the Drupalcon with adventure gear, and a few clever and even controversial tee shirt giveaways. One of the most popular tee shirt was the "We are Drupal - Resistance is Futile" tees.

We have brought it back for you in a free wallpaper version. Feel free to download the zip file (a whack of various sizes are available). We hope you enjoy, and feel free to spread the word.

Download Wallpaper


Categories: Drupal


New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2015 - 5:28am

A module to allow Drupal to make CARE API calls to access and update data held in the CARE database.

CARE has been known by various names over the years, and has been maintained by various software companies. Originally known as IRIS CARE, it is currently called CARENG, from Advanced Computer Software Group Ltd

Categories: Drupal

Advanced Poll Media

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2015 - 2:46am

This module extends Advanced Poll choice field in order to accept files from media module via library or any media source is allowed.
To show the selected media it uses two different view modes one for Choice form and another for results.

Categories: Drupal

Commerce Entity+

New Drupal Modules - 22 July 2015 - 8:21pm

This module aims to wrapper around the Drupal Commerce entities and simplify working with the entities and entity wrappers. It provides new classes to represent the entities returned through the Drupal Commerce entity controllers. This means your orders, products, line items, customer profiles, and payment transactions will resemble structured objects.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalCon News: Preparing to Make Connections at DrupalCon

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 1:20pm

Attending a conference with thousands of people from around the globe can be quite daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many opportunities to network with people from around the world, but once you take the plunge, you’ll find that you have a great time building on your online relationships, advancing business opportunities, and becoming more involved in the community.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal Watchdog: VIDEO: DrupalCon Los Angeles Interview: Brett Meyer & Stephanie Gutowski

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 9:36am

Back in high school, Brett Meyer (ThinkShout Director of Strategy) played the entire Ultima Series, right through Ultima IV; Stephanie Gutowski (ThinkShout Community Engagement Organizer) confesses to playing video games “since I was old enough to hold a controller.”
Together, they wrote a nifty article – “Got Game?” – in Drupal Watchdog 5.01 (Subscribe now!, analyzing Dragon Age: Inquisition from a Drupalist perspective.

BONUS! A revealing answer to a provocative question: Would you be in a relationship with someone who practices open source?

Tags:  DrupalCon LA Drupal Video Video: 
Categories: Drupal

Viktor Bán: GSoC 2015 - Security Review D8 - Week 8: Request for review

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 9:11am

I'm working on porting Security Review to Drupal 8 as my Google Summer of Code project this year. 8 weeks have passed since the beginning of the coding period, and the port is ready to be reviewed. In the remaining 4 weeks I'm going to address issues found by reviewers, possibly add more functionality and solve some issues related to the old version of the module prioritizing issues that are already solved in the D8 port. 

What is Security Review?

Security Review automates checking many of the configuration errors that lead to an insecure Drupal site and looks for existing vulnerabilities and attack attempts. The primary goal of the module is to elevate your awareness of the importance of securing your Drupal site. 

How can you help?

If you would like to help, you could review the ported module and post your findings in this issue. It helps if you have used Security Review before.

The 8.x-1.x branch of the code can be downloaded from here. For installation instructions check README.txt.

Alternatively you can use and you won't even have to leave your browser. Start writing Security Review in the first input box, choose the 8.x-1.x branch and start the sandbox! After going through the Drupal installation enable the module on /admin/modules (Extend) and you are ready to start testing. Note: the module has a Drush function that won't be testable this way.

Developer blog for Week 8

This is mainly a developer blog post, so let's walk through what I've worked on this week.

Added status icons

I've added some icons to the first column of the table on Run & review, and that instantly made it look a lot better. Below are the results.

The icons are loaded from /core/misc/icons which has some weirdly named subdirectories inside it, but I'm sure there's an explanation for that, I haven't looked into it.

Added progress bar (Batch)

I've implemented the usage of the Batch API in hope that it would let the user know which check runs slow on their system. Sadly the progress bar doesn't provide the needed information as it can't update itself in the right times. Anyway it does let the user know that something is happening, and it might prevent a few timeouts, so implementing it was still useful.

Wrote tests

I've added a test module that defines 2 security checks. Both checks fill the findings array with some random integers and strings, the difference is that one stores it in the State system, the other does not. This way some tests got more controlled (they don't use the real security checks), and it's also a good way of providing an example implementation of a module that defines security checks.

Fixed code style issues

I've checked for code style issues in the project. I was stunned by the amount of errors it listed, but I've successfully addressed all of them (except false positives). This is the commit that fixed all of them. 

Categories: Drupal

Mediacurrent: Getting your Drupal 6 site ready to run on PHP 5.6

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 7:14am

The Drop isn't the only thing that is moving; so is PHP. If you have a Drupal 6 site you are most likely running PHP 5.3 or older, versions that stopped being supported in 2014 or prior. Now that PHP 5.5 has moved out of active support, some hosts, such as Acquia, are dropping support for anything older and sites will be forced to upgrade, ready or not. The good news is that Drupal 6 can be made to work with PHP 5.6, which is actively supported.

Categories: Drupal

Realityloop: 6 image related website performance tips

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 6:24am
22 Jul Brian Gilbert

Two of the services Realityloop provide are Drupal Site Audits and Drupal Performance Audits. We almost always see that images used in a site haven’t been optimised, something I find surprising given images are often the weightiest parts of a webpage.

There are really 2 separate places where images can be optimised, in the theme, and in site content, I personally think that optimising theme images is a no brainer as you can usually just do it before the site goes live. Content images are something that aren’t something you can really expect your content creators to optimise, luckily we’ve implemented something to deal with that which I will outline in my next post.


Image Types

There are essentially 2 types of images. Raster images define the position of each of the pixels each a different colour arranged to display an image. Vector images are made of paths each mathematically defined that tell it’s shape and what colour it is bordered or filled with.

Raster images can display nuances in light and shading at their created resolution but cannot be made larger without sacrificing quality. Vector images are scalable, allowing the same images to be designed once and resized for any application.

Here are my key tips for optimising the graphics in your theme.


What filetype.. GIF, PNG, JPEG or SVG?

For raster images you’ll usually want to use either PNG or JPEG. SVG’s are your go to web friendly vector format.

Basically GIF’s are almost always larger than a well optimised PNG. JPEGs are usually better than PNG’s when there aren’t any sharp edges, text, or transparency.

If you’re not sure whether you should use a raster or vector file, follow this simple rule of thumb: If you’re drawing something from scratch with only a few colors, go with vector. If you’re editing a photo with multiple colors and gradients, go with raster.

Work with the grid (JPEG)

Nearly everyone has seen a heavily compressed jpeg image that show lots of artifacts,  this is because JPEG’s are made up of a series of 8x8 pixel blocks. We can use these blocks to our advantage in 2 key ways:

Align rectangular objects to this 8x8 grid:

The above image is not aligned to the 8 pixel grid it's file size is 2.53KB

The above image is aligned to the 8 pixel grid it's file size is only 1.84KB using the exact same save settings in Photoshop.

If jpeg images are allowed for upload I try to make the dimensions of any related image styles a multiple of 8 to work with the 8x8 compression system of jpeg.


Use Image Sprites in your theme

Image sprites allow you to reduce the http requests required to load your webpages, you create them by making a single image that contains all of the required images in a grid and then using CSS to manage the display of the correct part of the image.

The simplest way I’m aware of to create image sprites is to use compass sprites, this only works with PNG’s though.

I personally prefer to use SVG’s so that a single asset can be used for all breakpoints within the site, unfortunately the only way I know of to do this is manually create the sprite using an SVG editor (Inkscape or Illustrator for example).


Compress your images

Photoshop has “Save for web” but you can get much better compression using other applications.  If you do use a lossy compression I also recommend using a lossless optimiser straight afterwards to get further filesize savings if it is possible for the filetype you are compressing.

Lossy Compressors

Lossless Compressors

Learn to use Pixel Fitting when shrinking images with hard lines

For a vector graphic to be displayed, the computer has to perform a translation from the mathematical vectors into something that can be displayed with pixels.

This translation process is relatively simple: the computer takes vector lines, lays them on top of a pixel canvas, and then fills in each pixel that the lines enclose. So, for important icons and logos– really, for all rasterised vector images–you should fit the pixels to the grid and ensure they are as sharp as possible.

An excellent description of this can be found at


For the greatest reduction in filesize optimise files manually

To gain the greatest saving in file size you will need to choose a lossy compression method, for this reason you will pretty much need to play with settings to adjust the image quality versus file size tradeoff.


Stay tuned for my upcoming post about how to implement on-the-fly lossless compression to image uploads on all image fields in your Drupal site

drupal planet
Categories: Drupal

Commerce Address templates

New Drupal Modules - 22 July 2015 - 6:03am

This module provides a way to create Commerce Address Templates, that are separate entities and can be used as a template to prefill customer profile on the checkout page, for both billing and shipping addresses.

The advantage of this method is that the user sees exactly the number of templates he created, and these templates can be edited and deleted anytime without side effect, since these template entities will not be referenced on any order. They are strictly used for prefill purposes.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal Easy: DrupalEasy Podcast 159: How Drude (Leonid Makarov talks Docker)

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 5:20am
Download Podcast 159

Leonid Makarov (inqui), Chief Architect at FFW US East joins Ryan to talk about Docker and FFW's (Blink Reaction's) internal developer environment, Drude.

read more

Categories: Drupal Saving the web with responsible websites

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 3:06am

I recently read the trending article The Web We Have to Save, by blogger Hossein Derakhshan ('Hoder'), who had been imprisoned in Iran for six years. In the article, he talks about how the internet had changed over that time. Quality can be drowned out; what is important is diluted in amongst the trivial.

Personally, I believe any expression of culture will reflect the society it flows from. The internet is a global society, so incorporates so many different aspects of humanity - different, good, and bad. What does the internet say about our global society? I believe that we should all take responsibility to some extent -- especially those of us in the business of websites and content on the internet! Can we contribute to a more responsible internet? Are we equipped to do so?

Categories: Drupal

Annertech: Website Security: What You Need to Know as a Site Owner

Planet Drupal - 22 July 2015 - 3:00am
Website Security: What You Need to Know as a Site Owner

Hacked sites. Security flaws. Lost data. Loss of trust. Lost customers. Lost revenue. Nightmare.

Just thinking about themes such as these in the media can send a shiver down your spine. It can all seem very daunting, and not just a bit scary when you start to think about it. This article aims to paint a clear picture of what you should be aware of as a site owner - where security weak points are, and strategies to avoid them.

Categories: Drupal

Nodequeue Services

New Drupal Modules - 21 July 2015 - 9:53pm

Add nodequeues as services 3.x CRUD (I) resource.

Categories: Drupal

Restaurant Images

New Drupal Modules - 21 July 2015 - 3:42pm

Responsive images for Open Restaurant.

Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: Webinar: 10 Things Site Builders Need to Know Before Leaping to Drupal 8

Planet Drupal - 21 July 2015 - 1:22pm

Everyone is excited for the launch of Drupal 8.

Come and join us and Acquia on August 20th for a fast-paced Drupal 8 webinar.

Rod will introduce you to all the major advances in Drupal 8. Rod will cover user-friendly features including the mobile-friendly admin interface and the in-place WYSIWYG editor, plus improvements in theming and module development.

Categories: Drupal
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