Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

They Hate Drupal, They Love Drupal

Does Drupal make the grade? The answer to that question evidently depends on who you ask. Last week, the Tech Republic posted a review by Justin James on the Drupal content management system. Mr. James concluded that "Overall, Drupal does not make the grade". This week the Drupal community is all a buzz over the decision for IBM's developerWorks to use Drupal for designing, developing, and deploying a collaborative Website.

Why is there such a disparity in viewpoints for using Drupal in content management? For many first time users of Drupal, Drupal doesn't leave them with a very good first impression. It's only after you spend some time with Drupal that you begin to discover it has a number of traits that make it an outstanding application to build your website around. While Drupal doesn't give you a good first impression, it will eventually give you a second or third good impression.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons to why people may not like Drupal. The review written by Justin James for Drupal 4.7 is in an article titled, A product review of the Drupal Content Management System, does it make the grade? The author states that "Drupal does not make the grade". He bases his opinion on issues with usability and ease of installation. With regards to usability he says:

Dizzying Thoughts of Drupal Developer, Nick Lewis

A post by Nick Lewis, Drupal and XML: Looking Forward, caught my attention. In his post he discusses work on developing the CAP XML format (Common Alerting Protocol).

In preparation for my /Nick Lewis/ trip to Washington D.C. next month, I’ve begun to develop a module that integrates the CAP XML format (Common Alerting Protocol) with drupal’s node, location, google map, category, and CCK modules.

Put plainly, the CAP format seeks:

“[to standardize] the content of alerts and notifications across all hazards, including law enforcement and public safety as well as natural hazards such as severe weather, fires, earthquakes, and tsunami. Systems using CAP have shown that a single authoritative and secure alert message can quickly launch Internet messages, news feeds, television text captions, highway sign messages, and synthesized voice over automated telephone calls or radio broadcasts.”

The United States' National Weather Service provides a listing of current watches, warnings, and advisories in CAP. While I've been curious about the CAP format, I've only used the RSS feeds from the NWS. I have not used the CAP format for two simple reasons:

IT Surveys are not the answer

I don't care who you are. I don't care how much education or how little education you have. If your profession is in information technology (IT), you and I share the same exact thoughts, questions, and even dread toward this particular topic. The topic is user surveys.

What am I talking about, you ask? Ok, picture yourself arriving to work and finding "it" in your inbox at the entrance of your cubicle. Let's go even further, you're the one that placed the survey in everyone's inbox and now the time has arrived to collect the paperwork, tally the results, and draw conclusions for the project that you are working on. At this moment, reflect on your thoughts and frame of mind while you hold those surveys in your hands. We all have that same creepy voice in our heads asking us the question, "Do these user surveys hold any real value?" The voice demands an answer.

Whether you answer that question with a "yes", "no", or "maybe" will depend on your own experiences with surveys. However, if I cared to guess I would say that most of us would answer the question with a "maybe" knowing full well we believe the answer is a "no". Yet if you're responsible in providing support to IT users you really wish the effort put into surveys would bear fruit and help identify the improvements needed for the products or services you provide.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Earl Miles in his quest to improve Drupal's administrative user-interface brings up his frustration with surveys.

This is excellent. They have surveys that they’ve used to figure out what new users want. This is…well, to my mind. not so excellent.

Akismet Anti-Spam Modules for Drupal and phpBB

For our Wordpress 2.0 sites, we have been using the Akismet plugin to fight off the spam thrown at us through our comment pages. We've been impressed with the results with over 550 spam filled comments blocked since early 2006 and only two spam comments slipping by Akismet's filters. With these impressive results, we have been hoping to see an Akismet Drupal module also developed. Now both Drupal and phpBB users have access to an Akismet module for their CMS.

Spring 2006

Logan at his new swing set

Karen and I posted some new pictures in our photo album. These pictures are from Easter 2006 and the rest of Spring 2006. During that time we celebrated our fifth anniversary and made a trip to Kansas City. The night of our anniversary was spent dining at the Plaza and staying at a nearby hotel. Logan spent the time being entertained by his Grandparents and this was really our first time away from Logan as a couple.

Over the past few weeks, I put together Logan's new swing set. The "two to four hour" project took one full day and several evenings. Logan didn't seem to mind though...