June Denver Drupal Meetup Recap

DrupalCamp Colorado 2011 gave many people their first taste of the friendliness, helpfulness and overwhelming awesomeness of the Colorado Drupal community, so it wasn't a big surprise to see the June Denver Drupal meetup filled with new faces. If you weren't able to attend DrupalCamp Colorado, many of the sessions were recorded and are available on the DrupalCamp site or from Archive.org.

Following introductions, Scott Reynen gave a presentation about Drupal Web Stocks - A stock market-like game involving Drupal projects. Drupal Web Stocks gives users a limited amount of Web Stock cash which they can use to purchase shares of Drupal projects. The value of Drupal projects are determined by the usage statistics provided by drupal.org. When more sites use a project, the Web Stocks value of the project and the portfolio value of those who hold shares increase. As with real-world "penny" stocks, projects with low use are cheap, but can offer large rewards and multiply your portfolio value. This encourages users to learn about, and potentially use, lesser-known projects. Web Stocks also encourages users to directly affect their share values by participating in project issue queues. By helping to make a project better, Web Stocks users can encourage others to use a project and increase its value.

Under the hood, Drupal Web Stocks takes advantage of the URL Content Field module and the DrupalQueue system to capture updates to Drupal's usage page, then process the statistics and apply them to the project nodes in Web Stocks. Many aspects of the site are views, including the project charts, which use a view to gather statistics that are passed to HighCharts JS, a javascript based charting and graphing library.

Following Scott's presentation, we held an open question and answer time. Some of the questions included:

  • How can I integrate Salesforce.com with a Drupal site? While there is some conversation on drupal.org regarding how to do this, Zivtech has created Houston Command Center to provide an easier way to integrate Drupal with Salesforce.com and other services.
  • How can I create a calendar list of events with a collapsible monthly interface? It's easy to create an "event" content type by adding date fields (provided by the Date module) to nodes. Once you have events, you can create a list of the events with Views. View results can be grouped by setting a "Grouping field" under the Format Settings. Finally, Views Accordion integrates jQuery Accordion functionality to provide clickable, collapsible sections within a view.
  • How can I customize the home page of my Drupal site? As with many things in Drupal, there are a number of ways to accomplish home or front page customizations.
    • To set a basic home or front page, first create a node. Next, navigate to Administration > Configuration > Site Information and set the Default front page to the node you created. Since the Default front page setting accepts any URL, you can use anything associated with a URL, such as a page display from a view.
    • To further customize a front page, you can set the visibility settings on blocks to show on "Only the listed pages" and add "<front>" to the list of pages.
    • The Context module can also be used to customize a front page (and many other pages). Context operates on "conditions" and "reactions." Conditions are prerequisites, such as "when viewing the front page," "when a user has role X" or "when viewing a node of content type Y." Reactions are the customizations made if the conditions are met, such as displaying specific blocks, changing the menu or disabling regions of the theme.
    • For even more control, Panels allows you to adjust the layout and the content displayed on any page. Panels provides an interface to specify the layout of your page (e.g. two columns with a header pane or three columns with a header in the center column). It also allows you to put non-block content, such as nodes or custom PHP code, into any pane.

Despite Panels' graphical interface, it can be daunting and confusing for those who are unfamiliar with it. To help introduce Panels, Dallas Ramsden presented a lightning session using his Marathon Diary to demonstrate Panels. The marathon page catalogs Dallas' quest to run a marathon on every continent and features a header and 3 column Panels layout. Each pane may contain existing Drupal content such as views (in the center and right panes) and custom pane content (which can be HTML or PHP code). The page also implements the Views Infinite Scroll module to load more content as the page is scrolled down.

Unfortunately there was some confusion and video of the meetup was not broadcast on TV or streamed online. We hope to be back on air and online for the next meetup, but you can always avoid broadcast issues by joining us at the Open Media Foundation. We'd love to see you at the next meetup! More information about the Denver Drupal meetup and other Colorado Drupal meetups can be found at the DBUG groups page.

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