Drupal Talk

Aaron's Project Plans in June

This list is partly to inform interested others of my personal Drupal plans this month, partly to get feedback, and partly as a reminder for myself when I see my blog. The order is roughly in order of priority for me. We'll see how it actually pans out...

  • Finish writing Drupal Multimedia! (I've finished 10 of 12 chapters, so I'm on the home stretch...)
  • Upgrade Embedded Media Field to Drupal 6. (There are several folks working on this, who have been instrumental in current progress.)
  • Write the engine for 5 Second Game. (Morbus Iff has jumped on board as a co-developer, helping to ensure the highest quality for this fun project!)
  • Expand GetID3 functionality. (Thanks to Rob Loach for his ideas and push to get that going. The next stage of development for this is to create an API to better handle Metatag storage.)
  • Make a tutorial for XSPF Playlist + Views recipe. (I just finished writing an awesome tutorial for this in the book, but want to make a video tutorial available, probably for Drupal Dojo.)

There are other projects on the back-burner I'd like to get to as well, such as upgrading some of the other modules I work on, creating official releases, etc. I plan to revise this list next month, and see where things are.

5 Second Game (Concept)

The engine for 5 Second Game is built on a Rock-Scissors-Paper concept. There are three stats, corresponding to that, and everything modifies that: character classes, skills, combat, etc. It is meant to be a fast paced, easy to grasp, infinitely extensible game.

The game is designed to be fit into an embeddable widget, so that users may post the game in a blog or other page, allowing others to quickly and easily play the game. A widget may highlight that user's character, challenging all takers.

The game lends itself well to guilds and the like as well, which are also built into the system. Characters may belong to one or more guilds, which govern themselves as desired by their players. The system honors the guilds' wishes, so that characters belonging to a specific user-formed guild might gain certain bonuses (or suffer penalties) according to the guild charters.

Additionally, servers may choose to allow characters to migrate between certain other servers. The character may be "translated" during migration, so that world/genre integrity is maintained (if desired). However, the simplicity of the system lends itself easily to that, if an administrator doesn't mind a gun-toting sheriff to arrive at the scene of a medieval tournament, or conversely if the player of a high elf wizard doesn't mind being translated to a nanobotic engineer on a space station.

You can play the game at http://5secondgame.com to see it in action (once it's built...)

Drupal Next Year...

...will be on mobile phones...

EVERY MINUTE 1,000 people around the world sign up for a cellphone.

EVERY MINUTE 1,000 people around the world sign up for a cellphone. (Found at the NY Times)

Embedded Expression Engine in the Works

You want to support a provider not included automatically with Embedded Media Field? Just can't wait for the maintainers of the module to write a new include file for FrenchBlingVideoMashup.TV? But you don't know RegEx parsing from red beets and parsnips?

Fret no more.

Soon, you will be able to build your own provider parser, with little more than the cut-and-paste you're already familiar with.

I am in the middle of creating Embedded Expression Engine (emexgine), which will compare the URLs and Embed codes from a third party content provider and turn them into a new option for your video, image, or audio fields.

Read on to find out more! (With cool, full-size, preview screenshots!)

I am Singularity?


I just learned about Singularity, an online web developer's conference schedule for October. Not to be confused with the Singularity, our potential post-human future.

This conference will feature many renowned speakers, such as Tim O'Reilly and developers from CERN, Yahoo, EA, Linden Lab (SL), and other influential organizations.

A quick search on the site for Drupal doesn't show anything. With its focus on a vision of the future of the Web, I think it's important that Drupal be represented there. Any chance we could get Dries to offer to speak? If not him, who else would be a good candidate? Robert Douglass? One of the Lullabots?

Or maybe we could swarm the conference. Drupal is, after all, the future of the Web...

Map a Video Feed!

Sean Effel from drupaltherapy.com recently created an excellent Feed API + Emfield Recipe video tutorial.

He shows you step-by-step how to take a video feed from Blip.TV (or any other provider supported by Embedded Media Field) and aggregate it on your own site, videos, thumbnails, and all, automatically turning the remote videos into nodes on your site, ready for theming, comments, and anything else you want.

See the Video!

RPG Achievements

So I have recently implemented and committed RPG Achieve in the RPG module series for Drupal. This allows games to record achievements of players, such as "You have slain 14 dragons", or "You were the first to summit Ploggers Peak". Next in that progression will be RPG Quest, which will allow achievements to be grouped together.

I've begun implementing achievements in Spindowners, an upcoming sci-fi RPG being built with the RPG module. The game's shaping up nicely, and is currently in a closed Alpha. It's nearly ready for an open Alpha, with one character class at least.

Achievements may be defined in the administration pages, or through rulesets. Once defined, you only need to call rpg_achieve_set("achievement_1", $pc) to set the achievement. Each achievement has fine-tuned permissions, so that they may be visible to the player or not, and whether or not a message of achievement is sent, for instance. Obviously, each player character has their own achievements. Once Views 2 is out and RPG is ported to d6, I'll also hook it into the upcoming RPG Views.

Other new changes: I've ripped out the definitions from Rulesets into their own .inc files, for automatic inclusion on import, since those will only be called once. It's easy to limit character classes for user roles, etc., now, with hook_rpg_pc_types. I'm also in the middle of defining a few more useful core objects in Drudge, such as "Shuffled Event Lists" (which spout out occasional messages when appropriate, such as "A hawk cries in the distance," or "A meteor shoots across the night sky"). Along these lines, I've introduced rpg_trigger_all('event_name'), which will call rpg_trigger for all objects in scope.

Scope is another new thing, necessary for events to work properly. Now, when each event is called, the $rpg['scope'] array will hold all objects in scope for that event. By default, that will be the pc, the pc's containing room, and any objects invoked during an action. Other objects may be added or removed manually, but that should be sufficient in most cases.

Next on my plate: the holy grail: a single game page that never reloads, instead reloading just the blocks as needed. This allows for the creation of neato game UI's, battle music, and the ever-popular ad block from hell...

IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, make a character at Drupal RPG. It's fun! Pointless right now, but you can see what all the fuss is about. Make sure to check out the snowbank for fun things to do...

Aaron Winborn
AaronWinborn.com (my blog)
Drupal RPG (home for the RPG module)
Spindowners (an upcoming sci-fi game built with the RPG module, currently in closed alpha)
Advomatic (my day job, a really cool place to work)

Embedded Media Field gets Thickbox Support!

The good folks at Zivtech (Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg and Jody Hamilton) have been plugging away at Embedded Media Field while I was away. It has bling now!

Check out their Drupal Video page. Click on a thumbnail, go ahead.


Here's a screenshot, just in case you didn't do that yet:

It's in the latest dev version, so you should go grab that right now and spice up your site! (You'll need to have the Thickbox module installed as well.

Alex is promising a write-up tutorial soon, so watch out for it!

jQuery Media Release

I made an official release for the jQuery Media module. This is a wrapper for the jQuery Media plugin. I have made this a full featured module, an aid for developers and themers. We are using it for the audio clips of Air America Radio.

From its help page:

The jQuery Media plugin will turn links to media into their embedded media equivalents, or into a modal overlay embedding the media when the link is clicked. Installing and configuring the module is only the first step: you must also manually theme the output of links in order to enjoy the benefits of this plugin.

Theming is outside of the scope of this help page. You might look at Drupal's Theme Developer's Guide for more information. However, once you are ready to theme your elements, you only need to add a class and invoke this plugin. For instance, if you have a File Field with a video, simply use something like the following:

l($node->title, $node->field_file_field[0]['filepath'], array('class' => 'media'));

You may override the global defaults of this plugin when configuring. Additionally, you may override a global default on a case-by-case basis by including the override in an options array when invoking the plugin. For instance, you might override the background color of players on a specific page with

('jquery_media', array('bgcolor' => '#33FF00'));

This will override the defaults of the plugin for every media link on that page, which may in turn override those individually (more on that later).

The full array of global overrides are as follows:

  • 'flvplayer' => The path to the Flash Video Player to be used, such as the JW FLV Player or Wimpy Rave.
  • 'mp3player' => The path to the MP3 Audio Player to be used, such as the JW FLV Player or Wimpy MP3 Player.
  • 'boxtitle' => When using the MediaBox option (the modal overlay), this will be the title displayed on that box after clicking the link.
  • 'loadingimage' => When using the MediaBox option, the path to this image will be displayed while loading the media after clicking the link.
  • 'media width' => The width the media will be displayed as.
  • 'media height' => The height the media will be displayed as.
  • 'mediabox width' => The width the MediaBox will be displayed as.
  • 'mediabox height' => The height the MediaBox will be displayed as.
  • 'autoplay' => If TRUE, then play the media as soon as loading it.
  • 'bgcolor' => This will be the background color for the media player, in hexidecimal code (#RRGGBB).
  • 'invoke media' => If TRUE, then cause all links with the 'media class' to automatically be turned into embedded media when invoking the plugin.
  • 'invoke mediabox' => If TRUE, then cause all links with the 'mediabox class' to automatically display a modal overlay box when clicked.
  • 'media class' => The class that will be turned into embedded media on invocation. It uses jQuery CSS notation, so should be something like 'a.media' for links.
  • 'mediabox class' => The class that will display a modal overlay box when clicked on invocation. It uses jQuery CSS notation, so should be something like 'a.mediabox' for links.

Finally, you may override a global setting on an individual basis. The customizations here are extensive, and rather than repeating that here, you are directed to the jQuery Media homepage for more information. As an example, you might set the size of a specific file with the following, while leaving any other jquery media links on the page at their default. (Note that we change the class away from the default 'media' in this example. It also assumes we've already invoked it as above.):

print l($node->title, $node->field_audio_file, array('class' => 'media-audio')); drupal_add_js("$('a.media-audio').media( { width: 200, height: 15, autoplay: true } )", 'inline');

Note that by default, the module will add its default overrides inline. However, you may set it to output them to a dynamic javascript file, and may additionally wish to set the defaults to a static js file, once development is complete. You can alter those settings when configuring the module.

Plans for jQuery Media and jMedia Support

I've just created the jQuery Media and jMedia wrapper modules for those two jQuery plugins. I am excited about both of them, which are similar. I'm already using jQuery Media for the audio player for Air America Radio (to be launched next week), and found out about jMedia today while researching other uses for the plugin.

Basically, these plugins will replace links or other text with Multimedia, automatically compatible with the browser. They both support audio and video, and come packed with cool features that I haven't even finished exploring yet.

I'll show you how it works next week after Air America's launch. But I'll let you know, it's really, really cool. Makes developing multimedia intensive sites super easy. And I'll definitely have to put it in Drupal Multimedia, my book that should be published this summer.

I plan to support one or both of them in Embedded Media Field as well, as it should make theming that easier than it currently is. They both already support jQ out of the box, for easier administration.

And that's just the beginning...

Syndicate content

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.