Monday, March 17, 2008

DrupalCon Boston 2008

It's been a few weeks now since I attended DrupalCon Boston, and there's is a lot of exciting news to report. Lots of cutting edge technology, and more Mac laptops than I've ever seen in one place!

For those of you wondering what Drupal is, it is a Content Management System (CMS) or platform. What is does is allow you to build a website using a wide array of tools, and manage all its content so it can be updated dynamically without having to use HTML or PHP. Drupal is extremely useful for building community websites. More at

Here is a brief list of some of the things I learned about:

Theming techniques - this is how you get your Drupal website to look the way you want it. There are many ready made themes available, but they tend to look standard when you're looking for a unique look. A lot can be done by editing CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). When it comes to organizing content that will not look the same over every page, you use a thing called panels. These function a lot like tables in HTML. So basically you just have one big content block and fill it up any way you like with panels.

Integrating Flash into Drupal
- I saw a demonstration where an animated Flash banner was updated using Drupal, by changing the background image, text and other elements, all with Drupal forms!

SWF Address - this is an open source script that allows you to create custom URLs for sections of an all flash site. A Flash website is one big file, as opposed to a conventional website that is many files linked together. This makes it impossible to user browser features such as bookmarks and the "back" button. With SWF address, you can create a unique url for each section of the site, enabling the user to bookmark pages and use the forward/back buttons, history, etc. Very exciting! Soon we will have websites that are entirely Flash and powered by Drupal!

- Flex is a code only application for creating SWF files (the same format Flash exports) Best part is version 2 is open source!

Open Laslo
- this is an open source application with it's own coding language that enables developer to create pages that "gracefully degrade". This is achieved by exporting SWF files and DHTML (dynamic html) from the same content! By having both versions, users that don't have the flash player can experience similar rich web experience as those that do.

One highlight of the week was a session led by Dimetri, a an extremely talented 12 year old web developer! It was amazing to see such a young person speak with such authority and have a room of 200 adults hanging on his every word! Video of this and other session will be available on the web soon.

I will leave you all with that...and here come the links:

DrupalCon Home
Website Showcase