oh Lullabot

Lullabot Drupal Certification

The family side

I spent the week of January 15th in Providence, RI with a group known as Lullabot learning the ins and outs of Drupal. I’ve been working with Drupal for a while now, about 2 years in fact, and had learned quite a lot on my own by reading the Drupal Handbook and hacking the core (which really is a no-no, but a great way to learn). When my buddy Dave told me about the workshop Lullabot was having, I looked into it and convinced Shawn to get work to pay for it and let me go for the whole week. Since my Aunt and Uncle live near Providence, I asked them if I could stay with them and it just so happened that the week was filled with birthdays! Two of my cousins and my Uncle’s birthdays were that week. What luck! Carmen and Frank were more then happy to have me up for a week and I was so glad to get to spend some time with them. I lived with them for a summer when I was 17 and I’ve missed them ever since.

The technical side

The Lullabot workshops, however were the real reason for the trip (since work was sending me) and I was not disappointed in that fact at all. They were fantastic! I knew quite a bit about Drupal when I arrived, but soon learned how much I really didn’t know. I like to compare it to a huge puzzle that I had been putting together all by myself, not really knowing where all the pieces went, but I was getting them together on my own yet out of order. These workshops really helped to put the pieces I was missing into place and really helped fill out the whole picture. I learned in that one week what I had been missing and felt as though I crammed two months of learning on my own, into one week. My brain was soaking up the information like a sponge and it felt great! I wanted more and by the end of the week I felt like crying, knowing that I would have to leave and would not be able to maintain the rate of information absorption I was getting. I felt inspired, awed, and humbled by the amount of knowledge the Lullabots bestowed upon us, knowing that there was even more that could just not be taught with the time that we had. My only real consolation in that, was the fact that Drupal is open source and these were the people that had put enough time and effort into the creation of Drupal that they actually felt like they had an ownership in it. Maybe ownership si not the right word, but more like the feeling a parent might have towards a child, a very bright, intelligent, and well liked child. And with that realization, came the revelation that I too could have that as well! But it would take much time, effort and learning before that could ever be me. Now, I’m not one for New Years resolutions, and yes I know it’s already the end of January, but I submit to you now my New Years Revolution: I will contribute to the Drupal community as much as possible this coming year and will hopefully find that piece of mind in knowing that I’ve contributed to the greater good in a project that affects so many geeks lives. And I say geek with the utmost admiration and respect, because not only do I categorize myself as one, but because so many of the people I’ve come to respect categorize themselves as one as well.

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Another remembrance...

Christopher just got his tattoo and as you can see it’s almost exactly like Cody’s. So I’ll be getting mine as soon as I get some time and I’m going to keep the design as close to theirs as possible.

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Remembrance continued...

Here’s Cody’s tattoo. I’m going to schedule mine sometime this week, and Chris has his scheduled for next Saturday. I’ve also attached the original that Cody based his off of.

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Macbook Pro

I purchased a new Macbook Pro, 15” with 1G RAM and 256VRAM ATI Graphics and it is incredible! Not only does everything look so much better then windoze, but the operating system is just so much better.

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In the beginning... there was no Drupal.

Don’t cry, it’s true. But let me tell you about how I first came about my savior.

My first Drupal child was a project we call the Resource Center. When I say we, I mean Shawn Priesz, Kevin Poust, and me. I started off with writing a login system for a project Shawn had built that takes registered users from our main company’s website (c-sgroup.com) and gives our sales representatives the information of those users, that live in their respective area, along with what product details they were downloading. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Big Brother type stuff, eh?’. Well maybe a little, but these are our REGISTERED users and they know that their information is kept within the company. Or at least that’s what helps me sleep at night. In any case, we needed a way for our sales reps to log in before they could see the information so that it was not readily available to just anyone.

So I worked for a while on a login script and built it around this reporting program (after converting it from ASP to PHP) and finally had a working system when alas, I found Drupal. Praise be. A system that already did what I was looking to do AND MORE.

I devoured it, finding that not only was it free, but there were literally a TON of developers using and developing for Drupal. The modules came into site after my first initial shock wore off at all of the already prepackaged features, and then I started in on my own development.

Well, I really had no idea at first of how to develop a module, and quite frankly was a tad bit intimidated to try something of the like, so I resorted to inserted PHP code within custom pages and linking around ever so sloppily. But hey, we all start somewhere right? I was a beginner DrupalHEAD and I have the scars to prove it. Mainly mental scars that you can’t really see unless you sit beside me while I rework old code from a month or so ago. Then you hear a lot of ‘Daaang it!’s with Nepoleon Dynamite’s inflection. I had this folder in the Drupal root I called ‘myblocks’ and stuck all of my PHP code in there with a few links to scripts I would throw into the root/scripts/ folder… I’m a bit embarrassed of all this by now, but I really have no shame.

Between here and there I came across Ajax, and all of it’s wonders and took a bit of a break from the daily Drupal grind to relearn all of the javascript I had started out with almost 9 years ago. But you can read about that over at thethisorthat.com, one of my subsites run by my good friend INSANE Dave.

But then came a point where I really wanted to start a fresh module and get my hands dripping red (blue?) in Drupal’s inner core. I had gotten this email from a guy at work who thought it would be a good idea to display internal job openings on the Resource Center, so I got together with Human Resources and start hacking out a module. I started by reading the Module developer’s guide and tore apart a simple module (don’t remember which one) and it went form there like wildfire. I couldn’t get enough. Everything went into a module. I redeveloped all of the ‘myblocks’ crap into modules after I finished the iPost module (will post it later, this is the internal job listings module I made for HR). During the redevelopment of those, I we started wanting to put other sites into Drupal. Namely, Grand Entrance,, which is like a sub company of ours that sells our products.

From there we knew it was going to expand even more because of the ease of use and management that Drupal provides. So while I did research into Drupal multisite functionality, Shawn was busy learning and setting up everything for subversion. I’ll post sometime on my experience with that, but for now suffice to say, that if you are a developer, and you have not begun using subversion, DO IT! DO IT NOW! I seriously do not know what I did before subversion came into my life. This has been more a passion of Shawn’s, but I’ve reaped many of the benefits. Even if you don’t use it the correct way, which I’m still not sure I do entirely, for backup purposes alone it is a must.

But enough ranting on that, I’m focusing on Drupal multisites now. The basis of a drupal multisite is this: you have a domain, in fact, multiple domains, that point to the same core Drupal install. Drupal then routes the request to it’s /sites folder and looks for a folder with the requested uri. This folder, contains a settings.php which defines the database in which the site runs, and wala! That’s really all there is too it. One Drupal install, multiple database, multiple sites. So simple, yet so ingenious it makes me emotional…. well not really emotional, more sexually… no that’s not it either… nevermind.

So what have we learned here today boys and … well I doubt if you’re a girl you’ve made it this far ‘cuz I don’t know hardly any girls that speak techbabble.

  1. Drupal is the lord your god in code format.
  2. If you can't find a Drupal module to do it for you, start by developing a real Drupal module and not trying to 'just get by' on mashed up code.
  3. Multisite Drupal installs are an easy thing to learn, and well worth the time, (1-2 minutes) to setup if you have multiple sites that you want to run through Drupal.
  4. This Jerad guy probably never gets a date.
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