Pro Drupal Development book in the mail

Pro Drupal DevelopmentI received my signed copy of Pro Drupal Development around an hour ago from John K. VanDyk, and immediately rushed to the 18th chapter (on localization), to see how it shaped up at the end. I was helping out with reading the manuscripts of that chapter to help readers get the most realistic view of how locale module helps their life, what are the culprits, possibly bad routes to avoid, as well as side effects of some settings. It was a pleasure to help out on the book, and (as a result) a long time waiting for the book arriving at my house.

I thought I can beat Dries with posting Dries-style photos of the book (evil grin), but just found that he published his usual photo shoot pieces earlier today. Anyway, my photos are up on Flickr for more sharing pleasure.

Being a visual type, I would ensure you that the visuals (flow charts, figures) in the book are very informative, and help a great deal in understanding how things work in Drupal 5. This is a must have book for aspiring professional Drupal developers! To quote Dries' foreword: "... there is nothing that stops you from becoming the best Drupal developer in the world. The only limitation is your willingness to learn."

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Busy months ahead for me

Well, back in 2003 when I joined the Drupal developer community (got my welcome mail from the drupal-devel list on September 15, 2003), I haven't thought I will be that involved with the system a few years down the road. It was (and is) a rather cool tool for a big Hungarian web development community website I was migrating from some ugly CMS... Now I do so many things around Drupal that it is not easy to track:

More friendly translators guide with Gliffy

On the heels of my recent announcement that thanks to Raimund Bauer stepping in, the translation template extractor is now a separate project, I decided to look into where does this change need to get propagated into the Drupal Handbooks. To be honest, I have not really been around in this part of the handbooks before (although I am a lead member of the Drupal Hungarian translation project), and what I found was not actually pleasing. The Translator's guide seemed to be intimidating for newcomers, basic questions are sprinkled all around the guide's pages. The start page was in the first paragraph talking about what is *not* documented there, instead of trying to help people grasp how things work here.

So I decided we need a little rewrite, and I should put my keyboard and mouse where my mouth is (pun intended). While writing up the new introduction page, it turned out that a figure would show a lot more than what can be described in a reasonably short introduction (so people will actually read it). I tried to come up with a figure showing how Drupal core and contrib translations work, how translation templates are generated, tried to emphasize that existing work should be reused, where should translators put these files, and in what package these files will end up in. This resulted in a seemingly complex figure, but with using some hopefully sensible colors and text, I managed to simplify it as much as I was able to. The most important for me was to provide an overview and to communicate the tasks of a translator, and it' connection to the packaging system.

Drupal translation processes

Doing the actual figure was easy, given a great tool to visualize my thoughts. Gliffy is an incredibly fun tool, and it does a lot! It is a complex Flash application, so desktop like I always right-clicked (and got the Flash context menu which did not help in creating the figure). It is a free and easy to use online tool to create figures such as the one shown above. And it is not a closed tool, as far as exporting as SVG, PNG and JPEG goes. Unfortunately it does not export in a diagram format, so you cannot reuse your figures in Dia for example, but that was perfectly acceptable in this case.

3N.cz sells Drupal under "3N CMS" brand

At Drupal.hu, we host a list of Hungarian Drupal sites, into which submission is open. But publishing is moderated, partly because screenshots should be taken somehow, and we often get false submissions. The Visegrad.info Internet Magazine seemed to be a false positive too, it's footer saying that it runs on 3N CMS. But looking at the source code, obvious snippets like @import "/misc/drupal.css"; showed that 3N CMS is actually Drupal.

Yahoo! Pipes Wizardry for Drupal translation teams

The Hungarian Drupal interface translation team used to use a private Subversion repository to store translations. Our reason for that was that we initially had many people contributing, and it seemed to be difficult to apply for CVS accounts for each of them. It also happened that we had some of our own tools developed and used. Now there is not that many contributors and many of our tools are already migrated to Drupal.org (and the others can be migrated too), so we are moving to Drupal.org. This will most importantly be better for our users, so they can find Hungarian translations in the tarballs downloaded from Drupal.org, without browsing through our own translation repository.

The 'problem' with moving to Drupal.org is that it is quite hard to have an overview of what is happening with Hungarian translations. Although there is a Hungarian translation project, that only hosts the Drupal core files. Module and theme translations are under those module and theme projects. Although there is a move to have these module translations as their own projects (which would result in an explosion of projects there), until that is done, we would still need an overview of what is happening around Hungarian translations.

Yahoo! Pipes to the rescue! We need to watch CVS commit messages, but these commit messages are from all kinds of projects, so we need to watch the general CVS commit page. The patterns we need to watch for are translations/$language, /$language.po and .$language.po. Note, that the last two are delimited at the start so that substring matches are not possible.

Yahoo! Pipes editing screen

I needed to formulate these into Yahoo! Pipes objects and publish the pipe. The language code needed to be a user specified value, so that any translation team can use this pipe. The search strings needed to be built dynamically as a result of this, and the CVS RSS feed was filtered with these patterns. The result is the Drupal translation commits for a given language code pipe.

Finally the only problem with this pipe is that this works 'live' on the given feed, and historical information is not kept. To have an overview of what happened in the past, I have added the resulting RSS feed to the aggregator at drupal.hu, which stores historical data of our commits. A possible problem here is that the refresh interval can only be set as short as 15 minutes, which could be too long, given the frequency of commits at drupal.org. If commits run out of the ten commits long window showed in the RSS feed, we don't see them in Yahoo! Pipes and as a result, we don't aggregate them at drupal.hu. Thankfully aggregator.module can be form_alter()-ed, so we can set a shorter interval if need be.

For now however, we monitor how our new pipe works, and encourage other translation teams to get an overview of their work this way (unless they know something better in which we would be interested too).