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I am way behind in blogging about DrupalCon Boston 2008, which was truly a blast. It was the biggest and best organized Drupal conference so far, and was put together in record time. I was happy to come early to Boston and stay a bit more with people who had their flights cancelled, and others who simply live in Boston to tourist around the city as well.

The conference provided lots of opportunities to be productive on-site in the BoFs and on the code sprint which followed the conference. Honestly, I intended to work on some of my core modifications for filters which (unfortunately) are still not in patch form, but without network connection for a considerable time, I needed to look into what I have on my computer, and figured I should work on the top priority contrib issue in my projects, as identified at the BoFs. Read on to find out more.

FOSDEM 2008 was great!

I just arrived back home yesterday, and could happily report that this year's FOSDEM was a great experience for me. I have last been there three years ago, at the first Drupal conference (which was at FOSDEM and also in Antwerp in a hotel basement). Lots of stuff changed. FOSDEM grew much bigger, there was a huge interest in sessions going on the Drupal room, as well as other rooms I visited to check out some sessions. Some topics were not as well covered as I expected them, like the Mozilla Prism session going about what's planned, and completely without any working demo. That was not much more then what we already knew.

Staying with the Krimson guys turned out to be the best I could do. They were not only welcoming, having perfect coffee and great wines at home, we got along very well. Jo and Heidi also helped me out a great deal to medicate the flu I seemingly got on Saturday. (I sincerely hope I did not pass on that to any of them). Looking forward to meet up with you in Boston again!

I made a few photos myself, which still need to be processed (not before DrupalCon Boston I think) and our session slides (and video as far as I have heard) is also coming up later.

(Photo by Kris Buytaert).

DrupalCon Boston session and BoFs

It looks like the list of sessions for DrupalCon Boston is finalized, so I am happy to announce, that we are going to have a Multilanguage Drupal: a status report and a discussion session, which is going to cover the current state of Drupal 6 and a short overview of contributed modules, and should end up in a vibrant discussion on where Drupal 7 is headed as far as language support goes. There is a huge interest in multilingual support with around 20 modules hosted on already. Come and discuss where Drupal is heading, Drupal 7 is in need of hands to advance in this area.

While most of what Drupal core lacks is user entered content translation and localization, and the above session will focus on this, I also added a BoF suggestion which deals with (built-in) interface localization exclusively. Localization tools for Drupal teams and users is expected to focus on tools like l10n_client and l10n_server and related technologies.

In my working hours, I am busy with better support for WYSIWYG editors in Drupal 7 these days, so I am co-hosting a working group BoF with Doug Green titled WYSIWYG Working Group for 7.x core which should be a discussion of proposals on fixing current WYSIWYG integration problems and weaknesses.

At last but not least, Kristof Van Tomme is proposing Szeged, Hungary for DrupalCon Europe 2008, and he intends to hold a discussion BoF on this. The Drupal Association also intends to have a discussion meeting (not open for the public) on the next DrupalCon, so whether this BoF happens is still to be seen. In any case, I am one of the firm supporters of a DrupalCon in Szeged, and I am confident Kristof would be able to lead effectively to get it done in good quality. The easily digestable version of the proposal is up at Proposing Szeged, Hungary for Drupalcon Europe 2008 (look for the attached PDF).

And, well, honestly this is all just peanuts to what all DrupalCon Boston has to offer. So if you are still wondering, whether to go or not to go, make sure you reserve your place! It's a must.

Reviewing "Drupal 5 Themes"

Drupal 5 Themes Earlier this month, I got a copy of "Drupal 5 Themes" for some reading pleasure. I just arrived to the end, and after submitting a bunch of non-major errata entries, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts with you.

A lot of people wondered in the thread whether such a book is any valuable now that Drupal 6 is out. Well, after reading it through, I can state as well that it certainly has value for people interested in a comprehensive Drupal theming introduction. Book publishing is not a quick process, the CSS reference of the book was updated for Drupal 5.2 (admittedly not much changed in later versions as far as CSS goes, if anything), and the author mentions writing parts of the book while Drupal 5 was just briefly out. Implementing ground-breaking changes is not much easier however, so Drupal 6's new theme flexibilities and features does not require unlearning Drupal 5 knowledge. People familiar with Drupal 5 theming will be able to pick up the new stuff in Drupal 6 much more easily.

Back to the contents of the book, the various chapters definitely provide a decent introduction to Drupal 5 theming. While I don't agree with some approaches (like the chapter on starting a theme from scratch really starting from empty files instead of copying default PHPTemplate files over), the book gives lots of tips which are hard to pick and gather from the Drupal forums. The author also takes liberty of reiterating some basic points multiple times, so it is easy to jump into relevant chapters (eg. modifying an existing theme) without reading all the others. This might feel like a bit too much repetition for people reading from start to end however.

The pages include lots of reference material, like the last chapter with a listing of major forms to theme or chapter 4 completely filled with a list of themeable functions. I think these would have been better put to the appendix as reference chapters, but they are findable where they are nonetheless.

The book does not delve into advanced style sheets and layouts, so the examples provided are of the really basic looks. Those looking for creating top-notch themes still need their own creativity, but this should not be much of news for anyone. The book strives to provide a picture on how HTML and CSS attach to Drupal not how one does things like Sliding doors (a CSS technique) or SIFR (Flash text replacement) work. The author also skips advanced Drupal topics like how to use color module in your themes, although this does not feel like missing since color module would only be used in contributed (reused) themes most of the time, definitely not in purpose-built site themes. The themes produced in the book examples will not compete with Garland regarding their looks either.

Even a site building recipe is included, with things like block visibility settings, custom blocks and some essential blocks explained; showing off that building a site theme is not a generic task most of the time, but it needs to consider site specific needs including blocks, menus and settings even.

So all-in-all I'd recommend this book to all, who are new to Drupal theming, and would like to get a head start on integrating their HTML and CSS techniques to Drupal.

#translatable, the new contender in the Drupal multilanguage space

I just noticed the new #translatable module popping up via a note in a Drupal issue. Historically there was i18n module, which provided the de-facto way to build multilanguage sites. Then through some smaller modules, competition and somewhat different thinking came in with localizer module.