Wednesday Dec 14 '113 Modules to improve User Interfaces for Drupal Administration

Drupal out-of-the-box leaves a lot to be desired in terms of self-explanatory user interface.  This has been one of the project's major stumbling blocks in terms of being easily adopted by DiYers as well as commercial firms familiar with CMS' offering more candy-like administrative dashboards etc...

However, with a few simple modules you can positively affect the user experience of logged-in site members and clean up some of the clutter Drupal normally displays with ease.  Here are three modules we routinely use on client projects and suggest checking out:

  1. Administration Menu - this replaces Drupal's administrative functions from the main de facto navigation menu and horizontally lays out a clean top-positioned drop-down menu with groupings of tasks by configuration, building and content management.
  2. Better Messages - this takes Drupal's system and error messages out of the main content area of your theme and uses jqueryto generate Growl-like messages which float on top of content - fading in and out for a smooth, non-startling experience.
  3. Form Tips - normally Drupal forms (like node/add/page etc...) are quite visually cluttered - even though putting help text in next to each field aides administrators its unnecessarily displayed as always-on by default.  This module hides the help tips to only display when your mouse hovers over an icon next to relevant fields, again using jquery to display and then hide the help message.
(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Dec 5 '11Drupal in the Cloud - Presentation notes from the 2011 Toronto Drupal Business Summit

If you weren't able to attend last Friday's Drupal Business Summit in Toronto and missed my talk on Drupal in the Cloud, you can check out some notes I whipped into a microsite at: http://drupalinthecloud.designguru.org

The talk was brief and basically introduced trepidation developers have to working in the cloud, going on to relate our experience trying to get Drupal 7 to run on Microsoft's Azure platform - an experience which helped Microsoft develop a new method for getting Drupal into the cloud.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Thursday Nov 10 '11Speaking at the Toronto Drupal Business Summit on Dec 2, 2011

I will be speaking at 2pm with Mark Kuznicki from the Moment about how we worked with Microsoft's Azure platform for a digital solution to share 2011's GovCamp event with people around the world who couldn't attend the event in person.

* You can find out info about the event and register here:

http://drupalsummittoronto.drupalgardens.com

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Wednesday Oct 12 '11India's sub-$100 Android tablet

See video
See video
Students using the tablet in class

I caught a story last week which was overshadowed in the majority of tech news coverage by Steve Jobs' passing - a UK based company (Datawind) has achieved the lowest retail pricing to date (2999 INR = 62 CAD) on their Aakash tablet computer running Android 2.2 and is making the devices in Hydrabad India.  Like how the announcement of the One Laptop Per Child computer triggering demand for Netbooks a few years back, the release of this ultra-affordable tablet will have massive global repercussions across the digital hardware industry. Promoted in hand with IIT Rajasthan, Aakash has a social mission of enabling students and educators in India and the government is using the product to promote their 'Made in India' campaign to encourage the production and consumption of locally manufactured goods.

Asides from manufacturing and retail prices falling tremendously on tablets and handheld computers, I'm sure that as more portable online computers come to the hands of exponentially more people in Lesser Developed Countries, their productive use of the Internet is going to change international knowledge-sector/services industries.

This may sound like a grand statement but overall, the rate of economic shift away from MDCs will increase in-sync with means for self-education through devices like this and more accessible internet connectivity in countries where people have a craving for knowledge and true need to generate income. Additionally, entrepreneurship and trade have long been culturally understood as facets of life in many parts of the world outside of 'Western' MDCs - which will fuel technology based businesses seeking to operate on an international level. 

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Thursday Sep 15 '11Relaunching the Drupal Developers Network

the frontpage - http://www.drupaldevelopers.net

Back in 2007 we were fed up with looking for client work through conventional job boards and bloated employment platforms like monster.com and, in thinking that a lot of people working with Drupal would feel the same, created a site called the Drupal Developers Network.

The site was running just as we built it back in 2007 up until today - we've just flipped the switch on an entirely new version of the site (http://www.drupaldevelopers.net) running up-to-date code that will let us roll out some cool community features over the coming weeks.

Unfortunately in the upgrade we had to delete a ton of user profiles because there was so many spammy accounts in the system so we invite you to visit us at the new site and create a fresh profile.

The site has a member listing for both job/gig seekers and employers - as profiles get added we hope that this site will once again become a useful tool for the Drupal community and:

  • Easily put employers in touch with Drupal experts,
  • Foster professionalism,
  • Introduce Drupal professionals to each other,
  • Raise awareness about Drupal.
(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Tuesday Aug 30 '11Shopify is once-again running its amazing competition!

Last year I wrote a post about a competition Shopify was running to see how many people could start a new business selling through their service online, and who would do the best at it. 

This time round, there's more prizes totaling $500,000 in value and I can't wait to see what great innovation the competition spurns - last year it encouraged dodoCase to launch!

Check out all the info at shopify.com...

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Tuesday Aug 30 '11Drupal and Social Media

I just came across a fun mock-tube-map displaying some modules for Drupal which enable its 'social media' potential - its download-able from Acquia.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Aug 15 '11introduction.io - Creative Online Portfolios

introduction.io - Creative Online Portfolios

After years of pondering, months of planning and endless hours behind computers trying to make this happen, I'm glad to announce that our latest product, introduction.io is live!

What is it?

introduction.io makes is simple for anyone to have a website showcasing their creativity.

Our service lets you focus on presenting your creative work best – you don't have to worry about hosting, code, or anything complicated and we offer a suite of features which give you tons of flexibility.

The Back-Story

Being a creative individual usually involves an interest in different types of creative expression - for me personally this has meant starting a record label, whipping up interview videos with people I find interesting, constantly photographing and more.  For years I had been tiring of having all the media I create in various projects being stored all over the web and wanted a single place to showcase the best examples of it.

Towards 2010 I began working on this problem and in a couple of months I began seeing it as a platform for anyone to use - knowing that a ton of colleagues and friends would find having a site like mine useful.  Applying experience from client work involving bespoke media handling, intranets and project portfolio functionality, this Design Guru project has been in development full-swing for the past few months and we literally *just* went public!

What it Does

An Introduction is your own online portfolio website, comprising of Projects which contain images and video, located at your own custom URL!

There are many ways to create your portfolio online – from building your own website to signing up for any number of website creation tools. However, it can become time consuming and cumbersome to have to edit code and create an aesthetic reflective of the entire identity of your creative work. introduction.io reduces the stress involved in getting your portfolio online by taking all the hosting, code and design planning/implementation weight off your shoulders.

Try it out!

You can visit the site, choose a plan from http://www.introduction.io/pricing and sign up for free - all accounts come with a free trial month, so you won't be charged during your first month of use and can cancel whenever you'd like.

See an Example

Qasim's Introduction - http://qasim.introduction.io

Check out http://qasim.introduction.io to see a glimpse of what's possible - I'm still moving some media around and plan to make my Introduction a constant work-in-progress :)

Read through the main site at http://www.introduction.io and its support section for more information and please drop us an email to email@introduction.io if you have any questions or would like to say hello!

I'm sure you're going to have a ton of fun using the service and can't wait to see your Introduction! :)

Cheers,

Qasim - Principal at Design Guru

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Jul 18 '11First-glance Comparison of how Microsoft vs Apple markets their browsers

http://www.apple.com/safari
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/internet-explorer/products/ie/home

For some reason I just found myself on the main website for Internet Explorer and was shocked with how terrible its typography/spacing and overall product marketing was, then thought it might be interesting to take a glance at how Apple does things.

Funnily, even the URLS of the two websites is telling:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/internet-explorer/products/ie/home

http://www.apple.com/safari

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Friday Jun 17 '11The Stuxnet Worm & its relationship with Iran

This video is an info-graphic I just came across which was originally created by Patrick Clair for Austrailia's ABC1 - dissecting the nature and ramifications of Stuxnet, the first weapon made entirely out of code.

Its been nearly 1 year since the first discovery of the worm - next month I'll be posting more about it and how it has affected computing world-wide.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)
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