Media Technology News
Drupal.org, the home of the Drupal community, has grown organically for many years. At some point it grew so large that a clear decision making structure became a necessity. The Drupal Association staff was not in the place to provide it at that time: our entire technology team for Drupal.org, including all its sub-sites and services, consisted of only two people, myself and Neil Drumm—so we turned to community for help.
In the summer of 2013, the three Drupal.org Working Groups were announced. Governance committees, consisting of community members and staff, created to act as a collective 'product owner' for the website. In the following two and a half years, with their guidance and feedback, we implemented many new features, performed user research, developed content strategy, and drastically improved the infrastructure behind Drupal.org.
At the same time the Drupal Association staff kept growing. We hired our first full-time infrastructure staff member, brought in the CTO and customer service coordinator a few months later, then a developer and two more infrastructure team members. And finally, we hired a project manager, a web designer, and one more Drupal developer. Our communications team grew, too: over the last two years, the Drupal Association brought in a content strategist and a dedicated writer. Overall, our capacity increased and a lot of gaps in skills and experience were filled.
Having skilled staff working full-time on Drupal.org, we were finally able to provide product direction, set a roadmap, and execute on it. We adopted Scrum as our project management methodology, with a new sprint starting every two weeks. This encourages iteration and pivoting based on the situation, instead of working against a 'set in stone' year long plan. As our staffing situation changed, we started to realize that the valuable time of dedicated community volunteers can be spent more efficiently than making them sit in countless planning and update meetings with staff.
At the end of last year, the Drupal Association Board, with the input of several Working Group members, made a decision that it is time for staff to work on Drupal.org improvements directly with the community. This means that the Drupal.org Working Groups will transition into an advisory group, with former Drupal.org Working Groups members available as advisors to provide feedback and input on specific initiatives the team is working on, relevant to their own skills and expertise.
The only requirement the Board and Drupal.org Working Groups themselves put out before the transition could happen is this: they asked that the Association staff create a clear process for community members to be able to suggest items on the Drupal.org roadmap, and provide a path for those community members to volunteer to help with implementation. With the input from the Working Groups and the Board, we created such a process. It was
launched last week.
As we reach the end of an era, I'd like to personally thank each member who served at various times on Drupal.org Working Groups over the past three years. Your time, skills, and experience you shared with us has been invaluable.
Gerhard Killesreiter / killes
Narayan Newton / nnewton
Melissa Anderson / eliza411
Angela Byron / webchick
Kim Pepper / kim.pepper
George DeMet / gdemet
Jeff Eaton / eaton
Roy Scholten / yoroy
David Hernandez / davidhernandez
Cathy Theys / YesCT
Thank you! It's been a pleasure to share all those moments, conversations, ideas, debates, and workshops.
While the role of these wonderful people is shifting to a less formal advisory one, we will still be calling on their expertise and help as we continue our work on making Drupal.org a better place.
Image by Roy Scholten.
This looks delicious :) Master Volden writes: Hi everyone. This is my latest sketch, I spent 4 or 5 hours on it, from idea to postwork. Sculpting, particles, texture painting, everything actually - Blender 2.76 (Lucas Stockner build) Rendering - Cycles render. Rendering itself took 8 hours in CPU mode, my 2 Gb graphics card [...]
Jared Webber writes: This tutorial covers topics and guidelines specific to lighting, shading and texturing workflows, while giving a look at general best practices and the physically based rendering model within Blender. With the workflow presented here, you can start creating realistic/hyper-realistic scenes in Blender in under 30 minutes. Subscribe for weekly uploads, and check [...]
The post Realistic Lighting, Shading and Texturing Workflows appeared first on BlenderNation.
Fluid Designer is now not only focusing on interior design anymore, but has added 3D printed jewellery to its functionality! Paul Summers writes: Fluid Designer is the parametric easy to use interface developed by the people at Microvellum. We have taken this drag-and-drop interface and applied it to the world of 3D Printing by creating [...]
Beyond Jupiter, beyond Saturn, communications take four hours to travel to and from Earth. In the impenetrable radio silence, utterly inexplicable and alone, an impossible thing softly calls. Ben Jewer writes: I recently finished work on this three-minute short film for the Into Film: Into Space competition, the theme for which was Space & Exploration. [...]
Felicia Day collaborated with Blender artist Melissa Ng on an awesome 3D printed fantasy armor. aloyr writes: In a Geek & Sundry post about custom cosplay armor, the one and only Felicia Day talks about how a fan got inspired by Codex, a character played by Day in the show The Guild, to start creating 3D [...]
Blend4Web offers up to $500 in cash for the most photorealistic real-time smartphones on the web. Blend4Web Team writes: Hello everyone! Glad to see you all here. The first competition was a blast, and without further ado let us announce the beginning of the second competition: Smartphone Presentation! The rules are mostly the same, however, [...]
There has been a lot of discussion around the future of the Drupal front end both on Drupal.org (#2645250, #2645666, #2651660, #2655556) and on my blog posts about the future of decoupled Drupal, why a standard framework in core is a good idea, and the process of evaluating frameworks. These all relate to my concept of "progressive decoupling", in which some portions of the page are handed over to client-side logic after Drupal renders the initial page (not to be confused with "full decoupling").
My blog posts have drawn a variety of reactions. Members of the Drupal community, including Lewis Nyman, Théodore Biadala and Campbell Vertesi, have written blog posts with their opinions, as well as Ed Faulkner of the Ember community. Last but not least, in response to my last blog post, Google changed Angular 2's license from Apache to MIT for better compatibility with Drupal. I read all the posts and comments with great interest and wanted to thank everyone for all the feedback; the open discussion around this is nothing short of amazing. This is exactly what I hoped for: community members from around the world brainstorming about the proposal based on their experience, because only with the combined constructive criticism will we arrive at the best solution possible.
Improving Drupal's user experience is a topic near and dear to my heart. Drupal's user experience challenges led to my invitation to Mark Boulton to redesign Drupal 7, the creation of the Spark initiative to improve the authoring experience for Drupal 8, and continued support for usability-related initiatives. In fact, the impetus behind progressive decoupling and adopting a client-side framework is the need to improve Drupal's user experience.
To date, much of our UX improvements have been based on an iterative process, meaning it converges on a more refined end state by removing problems in the current state. However, we also require disruptive thinking, which is about introducing entirely new ideas, for true innovation to happen. It's essentially removing all constraints and imagining what an ideal result would look like.
I think we need to recognize that while some of the documented usability problems coming out of the Drupal 8 usability study can be addressed by making incremental changes to Drupal's user experience (e.g. our terminology), other well-known usability problems most likely require a more disruptive approach (e.g. our complex mental model). I also believe that we must acknowledge that disruptive improvements are possibly more impactful in keeping Drupal relevant and widening Drupal's adoption.
At this point, to get ahead and lead, I believe we have to do both. We have to iterate and disrupt.From inside-out to outside-in
Let's forget about Drupal for a second and observe the world around us. Think of all the web applications you use on a regular basis, and consider the interaction patterns you find in them. In popular applications like Slack, the user can perform any number of operations to edit preferences (such as color scheme) and modify content (such as in-place editing) without incurring a single full page refresh. Many elements of the page can be changed without the user's flow being interrupted. Another example is Trello, in which users can create new lists on the fly and then add cards to them without ever having to wait for a server response.
Contrast this with Drupal's approach, where any complex operation requires the user to have detailed prior knowledge about the system. In our current mental model, everything begins in the administration layer at the most granular level and requires an unmapped process of bottom-up assembly. A user has to make a content type, add fields, create some content, configure a view mode, build a view, and possibly make the view the front page. If each individual step is already this involved, consider how much more difficult it becomes to traverse them in the right order to finally see an end result. While very powerful, the problem is that Drupal's current model is "inside-out". This is why it would be disruptive to move Drupal towards an "outside-in" mental model. In this model, I should be able to start entering content, click anything on the page, seamlessly edit any aspect of its configuration in-place, and see the change take effect immediately.
Drupal 8's in-place editing feature is actually a good start at this; it enables the user to edit what they see without an interrupted workflow, with faster previews and without needing to find what thing it is before they can start editing.Making it real with content modeling
Eight years ago in 2007, I wrote about a database product called DabbleDB. I shared my belief that it was important to move CCK and Views into Drupal's core and learn from DabbleDB's integrated approach. DabbleDB was acquired by Twitter in 2010 but you can still find an eight-year-old demo video on YouTube. While the focus of DabbleDB is different, and the UX is obsolete, there is still a lot we can learn from it today: (1) it shows a more integrated experience between content creation, content modeling, and creating views of content, (2) it takes more of an outside-in approach, (3) it uses a lot less intimidating terminology while offering very powerful capabilities, and (4) it uses a lot of in-place editing. At a minimum, DabbleDB could give us some inspiration for what a better, integrated content modeling experience could look like, with the caveat that the UX should be as effortless as possible to match modern standards.
This sort of vision was not possible in 2007 when CCK was a contributed module for Drupal 6. It still wasn't possible in Drupal 7 when Views existed as a separate contributed module. But now that both CCK and Views are in Drupal 8 core, we can finally start to think about how we can more deeply integrate the two. This kind of integration would be nontrivial but could dramatically simplify Drupal's UX. This should be really exciting because so many people are attracted to Drupal exactly because of features like CCK and Views. Taking an integrated approach like DabbleDB, paired with a seamless and easy-to-use experience like Slack, Trello and Backand, is exactly the kind of disruptive thinking we should do.
We shouldn't limit ourselves to this one example, as there are a multitude of Drupal interfaces that could all benefit from both big and small changes. We all want to improve Drupal's user experience — and we have to. To do so, we have to constantly iterate and disrupt. I hope we can all collaborate on figuring out what that looks like.Drupal NewsDrupal version: Drupal 8.x
Greg Zaal presents his new commercial HDRI repository. Say hello to HDRI Haven! A new and affordable resource of extremely high resolution, high quality HDRIs that contain the full dynamic range possible in each shot, giving you accurate and beautiful lighting from the real world. "These are the highest quality HDRs I've seen online." - [...]
Zacharias Reinhardt rounds up a successful month of sculpting practices. Hi everyone! Sculpt January 2016 is over! It was a huge success, we started with over 150 participants and at least 33 people managed to do all 31 sculptings. The challenge was sponsored by Allegorithmic (allegorithmic.com). It was very stressful but also a great learning [...]
'Pixar in a Box' is a partnership between the Khan Academy and Pixar. When it was first released last August, the program focused on the mathematics of computer graphics. With this week's release they add a focus on animation. This new series of behind-the-scenes introductory videos and online exercises introduces computer science fundamentals by taking [...]
Diego Gangl writes: Grunge Attack! is a pack of procedural textures for Cycles. This pack expands on the basic procedurals with 5 new nodes designed to help you create that worn and torn look with minimal effort. All nodes are throughly documented and GPU-friendly! Includes: Rust Dust Scratches Drips Chipped Paint
Cédric Lepiller's 'Asset Management' addon looks like a powerful tool. It'll store models and light setups and comes with a free set of screws and bolts :) cedric writes: The Asset Management is available !!!!! !!! Special Offer !!! Only for 24 hours until Wednesday 10 am, Paris Hour , 10€ instead of 15€ !!! [...]
Andrew Price has updated his Pro-Lighting:Skies pack with Space skies! Pro-Lighting: Skies v1.2 comes with 14 new skies for scifi renders :) 10 Deep space Nebulas, galaxies and star patterns + 4 new night skies. As always, it's a free update for existing purchasers!
Fantastic VFX breakdowns in this VFX reel by Sergey Metelskiy. Hi! Here's my humble reel with some shots i've worked on in 2015. In almost every shot here Blender took part for 3D graphics and some VFX. Software used: After Effects CC, Mocha CC, Blender, Photoshop, Premiere, Inkscape, Nuke Thanks for watching ;)
A clear step by step tutorial for Blender beginners. Senad Korjenić writes: Hey guys, I'm starting with to make some tutorials for my web site PlanetBlender.com. This is the first one, I'm starting with some easy stuff so this is useful for beginners.