An Event Apart New Orleans

An Event Apart Banner
Originally uploaded by sdierdorf.

Last week I attended An Event Apart in New Orleans. The event is hosted by the good folks at A List Apart. I haven't attended web conferences outside of the Drupal community, so it was quite an experience just to see what there is to talk about in a conference made for the entire web community.

Great people there. Jeffrey Veen, Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Myers, and many many others. A lot of really smart cookies. I realized I'm actually shockingly out of touch with the "real" web community. You know, the people who fight for standards and accessibility, build our browsers, and teach us how to effectively use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

So here's to you web community: W3C, WaSP, the Zen Garden, the folks at A List Apart, and hundreds of others. Thank you for making our internet a pleasure, even if it isn't always easy.

Personal Post-DrupalCon Agenda

Once again, DrupalCon this year was no disappointment. After getting back and having a few days to refresh and set my priorities, I've laid out a bit of list of tasks that I hope to complete in the coming months.

Image handling. There's no getting out of it now. After announcing my drive to make image handling part of core during the Multimedia Panel session (with Aaron Winborn and James Walker), I don't think there's any way I can back down from the commitment.

Image issue on

A color picker for Fivestar. Before the Drupal code sprint at MIT, I brokered a deal that if Mahalie Pech made me a set of Bombs for Fivestar I'd make it so you can pick the colors. That's come along pretty nicely for code written during a code sprint. Look to a beta implementation of that in Fivestar soon.

Fivestar issue on

Popups (modal dialogs). Tao Starbow took the lead on implementations of popups (think Facebook) in Drupal 6 and I helped kick around some possibilities and how we can possible get this implemented into the Drupal UI. Seems like first candidates for popup implementation are the help text Drupal-wide, and the confirmation dialogs (Are you sure you want to delete this node, etc). Tao's done an amazing job and I'm very excited to see where this takes the Drupal UI.

Popups issue on

JavaScript in Drupal 6 - DrupalCon 2008

March 5, 2008 I'll be giving a presentation on two of the most exciting new JavaScript features in Drupal 6. You might be able to guess, on Drag and Drop and the new AHAH framework in Drupal 6. These are two features that slipped in at the last possible moment in the Drupal 6 development cycle, but I feel will be a serious player in module development in Drupal 6 contributed modules.

Drag and Drop

Drag and drop is already implemented in many places in core: the blocks page, book outlines, menu hierarchies, taxonomy terms, file uploads, and others. In the contributed modules, CCK has already implemented drag and drop for field organization and it's likely we'll see it in the final version of Views 2. I posted a screencast of the drag and drop for the blocks page a few months ago.

AHAH Framework

AHAH stands for Asynchronous HTML and HTTP. It's a close cousin of AJAX, which is the same concept of making a HTTP request in the background through javascript, then updating the page somehow with the new content from the second request. The difference between them is AHAH simply returns HTML back, then directly injects it into the page. It's a simpler and more direct method of page manipulation.

Webform 2.x Plans

Webform and I have had a long history together. It was used on my first Drupal site as a contact form, and it's been used ever since. It was the first module I reported a bug, and led me to learn how to roll a patch file. I became the maintainer and ported it to Drupal 4.7 after learning the then new FormsAPI. Not long after, Lullabot contracted me to write some enhancements for the a client, leading me to be hired full-time.

So I owe Webform a lot it seems, but yet it's long been the black mark on my CVS history, barely receiving patches months apart. With Drupal 6 around the corner, the requests for a port will come soon, probably requiring a large number of changes to accommodate for the improved FormsAPI. Because maintaining two drastically different version of the same module doesn't appeal to anyone, I've begun work on Webform 2.x for Drupal 5 to make it possible to support both D5 and D6 versions simultaneously.

So, what's new and different?

  • The components form has been moved from the main edit form to a separate tab.
  • Editing components immediately saves to the node, preventing nasty $_POST value checking and hidden elements passing data back and forth.
  • A new Grid element (also in the 1.x version)
    Grid component example
  • Individual components can be cloned, preventing repeated setup of the same elements

Fivestar 1.9 Demo

Fivestar is getting loads of new features very soon. Two of the most common problems will be solved in the next release:

- Fivestar now can display the current average by default, with user's rating underneath.
- Fivestar now can display when submitting comments, making reviews a one-click option.

As you'll see in this video, we also get several interface enhancements and new star sets (still looking for more though if you want to lend a hand!) You can grab the latest version of Fivestar demoed here as a tarball of the dev version, or you can wait for version 1.9 of Fivestar, due to be out shortly.