Drupal‎ > ‎

Challenges

 
Drupal shops, as with many web development shops, as with many consulting shops in general, go through boom & bust cycles. What do people do during the bust cycles? Keep sharp, that's what.
 

Since Drupal is a complicated content management system at the best of times, and adding different modules to the mix and different ways to create similar sites just adds. Maybe site builders, in the sense of people who are competent enough to install modules if maybe not develop them, at least not from scratch, could use downtime to sharpen tools. One of the ways they can sharpen tools is to try a new process, and another way to keep sharp is to try creating different types of sites.

Processes

Maybe small teams, during stretches of free time, might find themselves looking to streamline their development processes. Examples: 
 
  • the team has been using Subversion for quite some time but Git has ascended. This would mean conceiving of their development workflow differently, since Subversion emphasizes a single, central repository approach where Git emphasizes decentralized, multiple remote and local repositories.

Site Types

Some example sites I have in mind, without a real project to latch onto: 
  • site with a workflow involving a content creator (what we used to call a writer or artist), editor, and publisher. The challenge for the individual is to find two other people to fill two of the roles, unless that individual would like to have an identity crisis. (Or maybe they're just like regular people and they're different depending on the context?) Finding other individuals, and even better, finding other individuals to work on an eventually go-live project, would add the human element in the mix, so that the site creator can offer feedback.
  • e-commerce site, though I guess we've either dropped the 'e-' completely, or replaced it with other letters, like 'm-' for mobile. Individuals creating sites for clients might not typically have the need for themselves to create a site. Maybe they don't have anything to sell? Maybe they don't have the resources to partner up with a payment provider or some other supply chain agent. On the other hand, if they want to give away some books, and would like to experiment with real, physical resources, then setting a low price per item might make sense if they can cover costs that way.
  • a mobile edition of a website. Drupal accommodates many methods of creating a mobile edition of a website, which is typically either stripped down in terms of content or layout, or simply looks different than an edition geared to other types of screens and readers.

Challenge structure


Worries

 
The Drupal community is well-known for its propensity to give back in the form of code they've developed on behalf of clients, as well as make writeups about the sites they've built. They've also displayed certain tendencies towards writing tutorials on how to create features for sites. Some people have written detailed, step-by-step tutorials, for example, James Tombs excellent tutorial on creating a simple workflow in Drupal, which I later made into an install profile/distribution. My latter effort was an excuse to learn how to make a distribution and refine my installation profile skills. But what if his tutorial were listed as a 'challenge'. That is, follow the instructions listed at the site and then have someone come in and verity the work done.

 
Some worries come into play in this example. The first worry people developing curriculum for teaching and learning Drupal might feel derailed. As part of any curriculum will be hands-on work, and doing the work in a decentralized way might dissuade more centralized efforts. Why duplicate effort? The other side of the coin is licensing: if the tutorials are freely available to incorporate into new lessons, then the point is moot. Another worry comes as we automate away the hard work of going through the motions of configuration. True of any industry, we "lose something" when we make something appear quickly at the push of a button. The dominant paradigm of democratic capitalism has largely accepted this as progress, however, so there is not much room to argue there. But we can still offer both the instructions and the resulting packaged install profile/distribution if people are ready to go now. And possibly even include the blueprints, i.e. the manual steps that first went into creating the site, with the code. A further worry is that setting out requirements for a challenge may unduly influence requirements in the 'real world'.