Having Fun with Adobe Flex

Screen Cap of Flex.orgOver the last few weeks I've been focusing on some personal and professional development. Part of that has included finally take a serious look at Adobe Flex.

In a nutshell Flex is a framework for developing applications with actionscript that run in Flash Player or Air.

Adobe uses the buzzword "RIA" or Rich Internet Applications when describing the nature of the applications you build with Flex. I'm not crazy about buzzwords, but I appreciate where this one comes from. I've been developing web-based applications for nearly eight years (that's over and above the time spent tinkering with web pages since the dawn of the web). The only limitation of web-based applications has been building exceptional (extraordinary) user interfaces for those applications that are on par with the user experience of desktop applications. Don't get me wrong, its been getting much easier to build those interfaces because of the ubiquity of faster processors, broadband and amazing javascript frameworks like jQuery. But even so, there are times when you bump into some technical or practical limitation of XHTML and javascript.

January 28th 2009 2AM
By: andre
File Under:


SVN Externals and SVN Vendor Branches

The folks over at IMAGEX MEDIA just posted one of the better/straightforward descriptions of how to use SVN vendor branches.


When managing several Drupal projects you must have a way to manage the code for each individual project in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of errors when updating or upgrading. It doesn't hurt that the same code management strategy also reduces the work required to do upgrades.

I personally use a strategy where Drupal (core), contributed modules and individual projects all have their own repositories. A project repository in most cases will only contain the 'sites' folder. And that sites folder will only actually contains settings files and custom modules, themes and theme assets. Everything else (Drupal and contributed modules) is brought into projects via SVN externals.

But the use of vendor branches and Externals are not mutually exclusive. Even in my configuration vendor branches can still be used to manage the core Drupal repository and the contributed modules themselves (particularly patched versions of contributed modules).

January 17th 2009 10AM
By: andre


When to Roll Your Own Module (or not)

Today I added a tiny new feature to this website. Basically, I wanted a way to add a 'tweet this' link to posts of certain content types like blogs or maybe articles.

I did some searching and found that a module called 'tweet' exists. (Be Circle Rule 12 of Drupal states that if you have an idea for a module that module has already been written**). Tweet seemed to do everything I wanted, but on closer inspection I discovered it did a bit too much. The module does what it advertises, and appears to work, but it's just not for me.

What do you do in theses situations?

January 16th 2009 7PM
By: andre


How to Upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 - Steps 3 and 4: Actual Upgrade and Testing

latest drupal release graphicToday I finish up the series of articles about upgrading from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6. Earlier posts in the series included: Finally Time to Upgrade to Drupal 6, How to upgrade Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 - Step 1: Planning and Step 2: Getting Drupal 5 Upgrade Ready

The first few posts were all about getting you to the stage where you can actually go ahead and upgrade your Drupal installation. In 25 words or less, do rigorous planning and take several actions to prepare your Drupal 5 site for upgrade before upgrading to Drupal 6.

In this post I finally tackle the actual Drupal upgrade process and include some final thoughts on testing your success.

January 15th 2009 12PM
By: andre


How to Upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 - Step 2: Getting Drupal 5 Upgrade Ready

Last week I started a series of posts about upgrading to Drupal 6. Starting with Finally Time to Upgrade to Drupal 6 followed by How to upgrade Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 - Step 1: Planning.

If you are planning an upgrade to Drupal 6, you might want to read those posts before reading this one. In the last post I suggested making an upgrade plan and doing some legwork before you jumped into the act of upgrading. Part of that plan is to prepare your Drupal 5 site for upgrade. In other words, do everything you have to do to your Drupal 5 site ready before you finally start moving it to Drupal 6. Depending on your site and how up to date you like to keep it, this may be at least as time consuming as the actual move from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6.

January 12th 2009 2AM
By: andre


How to Upgrade from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 - Step 1: Planning

mindmap of drupal 5 upgrade Yesterday I posted an article about why you should upgrade to Drupal 6. Today I'm writing the first of a series of posts on how to upgrade, in an effort to make sure you have no excuses not to.

When you download Drupal it comes with an 79 line document called UPGRADE.txt. UPGRADE.txt is essential reading when going through an upgrade. So important in fact that you should go and read it now and come back.

Done? Very good. As you can see, the document only covers the mechanics of an upgrade. Important information indeed, but it doesn't include any of the dozens of things you may need to do even before you get started. You should not open the document and start executing the steps without planning ahead. If you jump right in you may get to step 9 (Re-install contributed modules) and find that there isn't an upgrade path for one of the contributed modules you use.

So as you may have guessed, the first thing you should do is start formulating your plan. The plan I created for the upgrade of this site had 4 basic phases:

  1. The "before you do anything" phase which includes:
    • module inventory
    • research module upgrades
    • documenting the plan
  2. The "getting Drupal 5 'upgrade ready'" phase. i.e. Actually doing things to your Drupal 5 site before you are ready to start the upgrade
  3. The "actually upgrading to Drupal 6" phase
  4. The "testing and deployment" phase

Today, I'm only covering the first phase.

January 9th 2009 12AM
By: andre


Finally Time to Upgrade to Drupal 6

Go Drupal 6It's a week into the new year, and many of us are nearly finished breaking the last of our resolutions. However, there is one resolution you should not break if you're still running a Drupal 5 site. You've put it off long enough and it is finally time to upgrade to Drupal 6. If you're not convinced I'm going to tell you why you should.

First, a bit of background and a brief look to the future. It used to be that the world could expect a new Drupal release every 12 months or so. Drupal 5.0 was released about a year after Drupal 4.7. Drupal 6.0 was released February 13, 2008, 13 months after Drupal 5. And, you may have noticed that it is now January 2009 so you might expect that there is a Drupal 7 release on the horizon.

I wouldn't blame you for thinking this, but a funny thing happened on the way to a Drupal 7 release.

January 8th 2009 12AM
By: andre


Upgrade in Progress

Even wonder what a site looks like during an upgrade?
Well this is it :)

Update January 5th

As you can see a new theme is in place after @24 hours of garland. And while I am happy enough with the theme to enable it, I still have a list of about 27 //@TODO items left to... ummm... do.

Update 2 January 5th

Maybe down to 20 //@TODO items after attempting to pretty up some navigation elements and fine tune some positioning. Big work is making comments and forms pretty. But that will have to be another day.

January 3rd 2009 9PM
By: andre
File Under:


Sun xVM Virtual Box - Ubuntu Screen Resolution

Virtual Box Screen Cap

If you're like me you've installed Ubuntu as a Virtual Machine inside of your day to day OS using Sun xVM VirtualBox (By far the Easiest to use freely available VM tool - it just works). And if you're like me you were perplexed that for all your efforts you couldn't easily adjust the screen resolution of the Ubuntu VM.

That is until you read either this post - or the post I link to: Installing Guest Additions for Ubuntu

I'm not going into all the specific details of this operation (the link provided does a good job). But, basically, once you've got Ubuntu running inside of Sun xVM Virtual Box you need to take one more step. If you click the menu item shown in the screen cap, Ubuntu will open its file browser exposing the location of the Guest Additions available to you. Once you know where they are, you pop open a terminal - cd to that location and run the Guest Addition .run file that matches your host OS.

After that you can reboot Ubuntu - and you will have the following:

November 1st 2008 3PM
By: andre


Drupal json_server.module to get some love

A while back I was looking to get someone a bit more involved in services module development to take a look at a patch I'd made for the json_server module. (Provide support for binary/file field handling in case you're interested and want to comment)

In doing so I got in touch with dmitrig01 on IRC and after a bit of chatting he said he'd love someone on board actively maintaining the json_server module. While I insisted that I am the poster boy for worst module maintainer hall of fame he added me as maintainer anyway after I helped out with some documentation. http://drupal.org/node/239796

That was in September. So in worst module maintainer fashion, I am now finally getting around to cleaning out the issue queue.

So in the near future you can expect:

  1. Support for services that expect file uploads
  2. Support for GET requests
  3. 5.x 1.1 and 6.x 1.0 Beta Releases
October 29th 2008 12AM
By: andre
File Under:

Syndicate content