Blogs

JavaScript Theming, a Paradigm Shift

Oleg Terenchuk (litwol) is now developing the JavaScript Theming module. The five second elevator spiel: this will move theming from the server to the client.

The longer explanation is a bit more exciting. This module plans to abstract the core of Drupal theming into a javascript layer. This will allow a JSON feed to pass raw data to a browser to be formatted on the fly for display.

The implications are astounding, and I'm still wrapping my brain around the possibilities. For one, it could mean super fast in place load times, because Drupal doesn't have to mess around with passing everything around the theming system. An AJAX request could just ask for the data, Drupal sends it, and jQuery will format your list, table, teaser, or what have you. In its second day of life, it already works with messages (and item lists, I believe).

A potential problem I see might be that slower computers would see slower rendering times. But this is already happening with some jQuery-heavy sites anyway. The benefit would be most seen with faster hardware, but this is always true with cutting-edge technology. Everyone else will catch up soon enough.

In any case, I have a feeling that by this time next year, I'll be blogging about the killer combo that changed the world of Drupal and is sending ripples through the Internet: Embed Widgets + JavaScript Theming...

PS Come to DrupalCampNYC next month to find out more!

Built a New Widget!

Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 (at MAPLight.org)Center for Responsive PoliticsMedicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 (at MAPLight.org)

Neil Drumm and I just launched a new widget with Advomatic, over at MapLight.

This widget is fully customizable, and returns a dynamic image with data created on the fly. I did the image part of things.

I'll do a write up someday soon. I promise! Busy with book editing and work this week...

Edit: I forgot to link to the production version earlier. Sorry... Should be working now...

Magic Local Video Recipe!

If you haven't already, make sure to check out Sean Effel's latest Filefield + jQuery Media screencast! As was his earlier Feed API + Emfield video tutorial, this is a joy to watch: he does things in thirteen minutes that took developers hours or more to do even a few short months ago, and that's with a running commentary! By the end of the video, you will have learned a simple way to upload a video (using the light-weight File Field module) and have it properly displayed without any messy configurations or external libraries. Plus, as the recipe uses the jQuery Media plug-in wrapper module, the display will be cross-browser compliant and accessible.

Next on my plate for jQuery Media is to have it be easily added to nodes on an individual basis, so that a media clip could be linked inline and automatically turned into an embedded display. Additionally, I would like to make it an option for Views as well, perhaps as an additional setting. (Although even without that, my upcoming book Drupal Multimedia, to be published in September, goes into some detail about how this can already be done, to create powerful video and audio playlists.)

Drupal Multimedia Book Announcement at Drupal.org

So I just made a formal announcement of the pending publication of Drupal Multimedia to Drupal.org, which was promoted to the front page of d.o!

What a fun and nerve-wracking task that was. Trying to distill several months of work into a small list. Tweaking every word to make sure it's right. Then even in the end, realizing I'd made the post in third person, but left my signature in first.

But this is nothing compared to the book! We've just started the editing process, and it's really great, seeing the words from the first chapter I wrote months ago, and having to face the reality of their obsolescence. I knew taking on the project that I wanted to write the book for Drupal 6, which didn't even exist at the time. So the first half of the book was speculative in a very real sense; few of us knew in October what merlinofchaos had planned for Views 2!

That's what the editing process is for though. We're making sure the book is relevant for Drupal 6. (And I'm trying to keep in the necessary parts to ensure it's still useful for those still using Drupal 5, even if those are relegated to hint and tip boxes.)

It's amazing how far Drupal has come over the years. That we can devote an entire book to integrating multimedia into Drupal is a testament to that. When the book is finally in your hands, I hope reading it will be as helpful for your continued learning as writing it has been for mine.

Though my next book might simply be a blog...

Wii Couldn't Help it...

So Lullabot just bragged on Drupal, rightfully so. I was thinking, "Well of course, they can handle 20k comments in 24hrs... Drupal is scalable!" Still, it's nice to see that in action.

DrupalWii

Of course, as my family and I finally broke down and got a Wii this summer, the first video gaming experience my wife has finally admitted to liking, I had to go and enter the contest for a Wii Fit.

Of particular interest to me, although admittedly off on a tangent for this example, is that I've just finished writing the last chapter to Drupal Multimedia (available in September!), where I pontificate a bit about the future of multimedia handling in Drupal. And I just had to bring the Wii into the fray.

I believe that just around the corner, we'll see tactile media become of interest to the Web. And of course, once something's available for the Web, there will quickly be a dozen related modules making use of it for DrupalWii. Second Life is already showing the way to 3D navigation; once we have touch, for which the Wii is an early adopter with its control stick "rumbling", we'll be on the fast track to virtual reality on the web.

I already now have an excuse to do some occasional QA on the Wii, or Second Life for that matter, even without that, since they both use the Opera browser...

And sorry about the pun, wii couldn't help it... ;)

Embedded Media Field a Media Essential

Embedded Media Field has grown exponentially in the last year since I've begun developing it. From its humble beginnings as a brainstorming session at DrupalCampNYC last spring, it has grown from a quirky method of make embedding YouTube videos easier for editors to a full-featured suite of modules allowing for drag-and-drop placement of third party videos, images, and audio clips.

Used on a wide range of sites, such as Air America, NRDC, and Drupal Dojo, the module is a flexible and powerful solution for embedding multimedia.

Read on for its strengths and weaknesses...

Playlist Sorting at Air America Radio

Advomatic just launched a new feature for Air America's player. Users are able to create their own play lists of favorite audio and video clips, and sort them in their preferred order.

To see this functionality in action, you'll need to go to the Air America site, and create a user account. After doing so, launch their player, by pressing on the big Listen Live button on the top left of every page.

Add two or three audio clips by pressing the "+" next to a clip, then go to the video tab and do the same thing.

Finally, go to the Playlist tab. Here, you can click and drag clips to sort them as desired. Go ahead. It's all saved, which you can confirm by going to another tab, logging out, logging back in, etc.

Site recipe follows!

YouTube API Sneak Peek!

As referred to in YouTube API for Drupal on the Way, beeradb has now opened the YouTube API module for development. He and I have been working to polish it up and make it ready for release.

You can take a look at the YouTube search on this site if you want to try it out! You can currently search YouTube for tags or users from the form, and see the results right here.

Obviously, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are some cool things planned for it in the near term, such as integration with Media Mover, Embedded Media Field, and yes, Rob, I haven't forgotten about Annotation Field...

And of course, the holy grail of single site integration of a YouTube video upload from your browser...

YouTube API for Drupal on the Way!

I blogged briefly recently about YouTube's new and improved API. Soon thereafter, there was a flurry of discussion about creating a Google Summer of Code project to integrate it with Drupal, including a proposal that wasn't accepted, but I believe nothing further happened from that point.

Until now.

Brad Bowman (beeradb) has stepped up to the plate and created a YouTube API wrapper. He hasn't released it yet, though he indicated that he plans to early next week. I have had the honor of an early review, and it is nice to work with.

I set it up on a test server, and was able to upload a video to its file directory and have it also uploaded to YouTube, showing up in my user account almost immediately. The API also let me view my YouTube video user feed, so I could verify the results without leaving my site.

Additionally, when retrieving videos, you have access to everything stored at YouTube with that video, including video duration (as shown in the screen shot), description, and user comments.

Read on, anxious reader...

Future of Drupal FTP

On IRC, Károly Négyesi (better known as chx) asked me about the status of the Drupal FTP project. He was concerned that it stores FTP usernames and passwords, which could open up the possibility for security holes and malware if extended or used improperly. Additionally, one of its stated goals was as a possible means to automatically download and install modules on one's site, which is also a stated goal for the Plugin Manager Summer of Code project.

At first, I said that I would remove the project entirely, as I hadn't worked on it in over a year, and had no intention of continuing development in the near future. Even at that time, although I saw the possibility for using it to install modules on your site, I wasn't really that interested in pursuing that aspect, as I really didn't want to get into the security issues involved.

However, I decided to post to the Developer's list first, to get further feedback before removing the project. I had had a few queries regarding the project over the past year, and suspected that there might be some developers actually using it. Additionally, I wanted to find out if there were any compelling reasons to actually keep the module in the project repository.

Turns out to have been a good thing, it looks like. Not only are there a few people actually using the module, I was reminded of other efforts to use FTP with Drupal, most notably Media Mover and, of course, the upcoming Plugin Manager module.

Read on...

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The Society for Venturism has chosen me as the recipient of its charity for this year, to hopefully offer me cryonic preservation when the time comes. And this month, Longecity, an excellent forum for the discussion of issues related to extending the lifespan of humans, has offered up a matching grant of up to a thousand dollars to help out! So help out! Please.