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Book Review: Drupal 6 Panels Cookbook

It's pretty rare for me to read a Drupal book that I can't recommend to anyone. So rare, in fact, that this will be the first time I've done so while reviewing books for DrupalEasy.

Before I go into details, I want to be clear about something: writing a technical book isn't easy. While I haven't written one myself (unless my Master's thesis counts), I have written my share of technical articles and I'm never surprised at how much longer it takes me than I originally imagined. This is mainly due to the difficulty to make my thoughts clear to a large group of people. Combine that with a topic as difficult as the Panels module and you've got quite a task ahead of you.

While the idea behind panels is easy to grok, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Earl Miles (merlinofchaos on drupal.org, and one of the very few to score "11" on CertifiedToRock.com), the creator of panels, has stuffed every conceivable option and an unbelieveable amount of flexibility into the Panels suite of modules. As with many things in the Drupal community, this makes for something very powerful, but also something very time-consuming to fully understand and use - both in theory and practice.

DrupalEasy Workshop and Session Proposals at DrupalCon San Francisco

Ryan Price and Mike Anello from DrupalEasy will be at DrupalCon San Francisco this April with a (hopefully) full agenda.

Workshop: Intro to Theme Development

DrupalEasy is proud to announce that we've been selected to present one of the official pre-conference workshops for DrupalCon SF on Sunday, April 18. We'll be teaching our beginner-level Intro to Theme Development workshop. In this course you'll learn the anatomy of a theme, basic XHTML/CSS/PHP, and basic template modifications. By the end of the day, you should be able to take a static HTML theme and turn it into a Drupal theme. The cost for the workshop is $350 and you can sign up on the official DrupalCon SF site.

10 Things That Make Front End Drupal a Must-Have Book

Several months ago Ryan Price interviewed Emma Jane Hogbin, one of the authors of Front End Drupal, for DrupalEasy Podcast 10. At the time I hadn't received a review copy of the book, so I made a mental note to check out the book based on the interview.
 Designing, Theming Scripting
Six months later, the folks at Prentice Hall were kind enough to send me a copy, and I was not disappointed.

Emma Jane Hogbin and Konstantin Kafer have written Front End Drupal in a way that makes it a valuble resource for virtually anyone who uses Drupal in one form or another. The strength of the book lies in the fact that it explains core concepts and best practices of how sites are built in Drupal, with an empahsis on theming.

Rather than writing a full-on review for a book that has already been reviewed more than a couple of times elsewhere, I thought that I'd provide a list of 10 things that this book covers really well.

Book Interview: Drupal 6 Site Blueprints

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few minutes on the phone with Timi Ogunjobi of websesame (@websesame twitter), author of Drupal 6 Site Blueprints from Packt Publishing. Originally, we planned to share the interview as a DrupalEasy Podcast, but a poor connection scuttled those plans (things like that happen when the interviewee is calling in from Africa.

Luckily, I had a backup plan (always have a backup): this article! What follows is some Q&A with Timi compiled from the pre-interview and selected quotes from the actual interview.

RDF in Drupal: The Future - RDF in Drupal 7

We've seen in the previous four articles that RDF has the potential to be a game-changer when it comes to linked data on the web. The fact that is it an open standard, easy to understand, and implementable on sites from those powered by the most complex web applications to simple hand-built web pages makes it easy to understand why so many people are starting to look at RDF as one of the future cornerstones of the web.

Luckily for the Drupal community, our fearless leader Dries Buytaert recognized this in 2008 and suggested that Drupal take the lead in implementing RDF among open source content management systems.

Since then, a number of individuals have stepped up and committed to working to get RDF functionality in Drupal 7. The Semantic Web group on Drupal.org is the focal point of the work that is going on in this effort. Earlier this year, they posted a video about what will be possible when RDF functionality is available. They showcased advanced search results and the ability to navigate the relationships that RDF triples provide with HTML documents.

DrupalCon DC: Wrapup

After a decompression-Sunday with some friends in the DC area, I made my way back to sunny Florida today ready to start taking advantage of some of my new-found Drupal knowledge. Once I dug out of my piled-up mail and dirty laundry, I decided to summarize the rest of the 'Con. So, here goes...

Mike's Top 5 DrupalCon DC Sessions to Check Out

As part of our second podcast (which may or may not have been posted yet), Ryan, Andrew, and I discussed which of the DrupalCon DC sessions each of us were most looking forward to. In the interest of time (and retaining listeners), we each only talked about a couple. Here's my full top 5:

1. Advanced Ubercart Usage - Friday, 3PM - Ryan Szrama - I've built a few Ubercart-based sites in the past, but they've always been very simple implementations. I'm really looking forward to seeing what else this module is capable of.

2. Drupal and the Geospatial Web - Wednesday, 1:45PM - Jeff Miccolis - Location-based services always perk my interest. I've been using the GMap module for quite some time, but it doesn't always fit my needs. The folks at Development Seed have done some really neat work in this area and I'm looking forward to learning more.

3. Why I Hate Drupal - Friday, 9AM - James Walker - I've never seen a James Walker session I didn't like. I'm looking forward to hearing what parts of Drupal he'd like to see improved.

4. The Next Decade - Friday, 4:45PM - Karoly Negyesi and David Strauss - chx, 'nuff said. One of Drupal's biggest brains, I'm looking forward to once again realizing how little I actually know.

5. Building a Frankenstein monster & how to maintain it - Thursday, 1:45PM - Morton (King of Parties) - Everyone who's built more than a couple of Drupal sites has seen a theme grow out-of-control. Any tips I can pick up to prevent it from happening in the future is worth an hour of my time.

I'm disappointed that there are no sessions involving the Rules or Workflow modules. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a BoF session or two...