Promoting Drupal Dojo

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Promoting Drupal Dojo

It was suggested during chx's 2006-09-30 Dojo lesson that we might need to promote Drupal Dojo more, perhaps by posting something to drupal.org and Digging/SlashDotting it. I have only participated in a few live Dojo events myself, but have viewed some of the screencasts offline. This page is here to get some assistance writing up a draft for an article to post on drupal.org. I am providing a suggested document structure. Feel free to contribute or edit.

Drupal Dojo visibility

Perhaps it would be cool to have a Drupal Dojo badge people could use to link to the Drupal Dojo? If Drupal developers would put it on their blogs (for starters), then the visibility greatly increases, hopefully convincing more people to use (or at least try) Drupal as their website framework.

Article draft

(Here begins the draft of the document...)

Intro

Over the past few years, Drupal has proven itself as a robust platform for developing web applications. It has attracted a large community of users and developers, and matured into one of the best planned projects in its category. From version to version, new features are added, old features are refined, and the core API offers more and more useful features, not to mention all of the contributed modules and themes. However, Drupal can be very intimidating to the newcomer. By looking at the project's homepage bustling discussion forums, you would think that Drupal could only be tamed by master web designers or coding gurus. What about the "newbie?"

This is a legitimate concern. The power of Drupal is often touted over its ease of use. The advanced features can be overwhelming for those who just want to understand the basics. It's not just a problem for the newcomer. Once you learn that Drupal can be easy to use, it's sometimes difficult to know how to learn more about Drupal. This is especially true for web site developers, whose livelihood may depend on their ability to learn a content management framework. It is very reasonable for them to ask themselves if Drupal is the right choice, and if it will be worth the investment of time and resources. Some have had bad experiences in the past, adopting products which don't keep up with modern practices, or perhaps good products which didn't have a large following. Some may have inherited a web site which needs to expand. What makes Drupal special? The answer is the Drupal community.

As more developers seek to learn current Drupal best practices and techniques, they inevitably find their way to the Drupal Dojo. Using a very effective combination of media, Dojo participants collectively help each other learn and improve their skills. The Dojo serves as an excellent model for other projects, and has transformed into a fascinating way to see other programmers in action. Think of the Dojo as a show-and-tell session for knowledge. A few donate their time to teach, and everyone learns.

For many, learning involves more than just reading. There has to be an immersion into the process, and that's the kind of environment that the Drupal Dojo delivers. This is more like an online version of your local user group meetings. At first glance, the Drupal Dojo may appear to just be a forum for posts about learning Drupal, but the real magic happens during the interactive lessons. The lessons combine an IRC channel (#drupal-dojo at irc.freenode.net), remote screen capture, and voice broadcast using open source and other freely available technologies. The end result is a very interactive web conference, similar to WebEx or Live Meeting.

Dojo topics may cover the basics, such as installing Drupal, creating a basic site, and adding modules. They may also cover some topics for beginning PHP developers, such as how to use CVS and submit code patches. For the more-experienced developer, the sessions will dive into the details of Drupal's architecture, often showcasing a new feature, or improvements upon an old one. Every topic is fair game, as long as someone is willing to present. There are even lessons on how to teach a Dojo lesson.

There is nothing quite like the live experience. Students type their questions in on IRC, and the presenter often addresses it on the spot. Other attendees pitch in with help or links to examples and documentation. Often, the lesson will use the Drupal project itself as a code example. For example, during a lesson on debugging PHP, the presenter pulled an active bug out of the queue, loaded it, fixed the bug, and submitted the patch. At other times, the lesson may be diverted briefly as a bug is discovered and patched.

The Dojo's Mission

To create an open, supportive environment that fosters learning and sharing the skills, techniques, and practices to use and support the Drupal Content Management System.

The Dojo's Vision.

A student for every subject. A teacher for every student. A subject for every question.

The Dojo's Architecture

(these are the pieces that make up the dojo)

  • Forums
  • IRC
  • Audio simulcast

Session Archives

Almost one thousand people from across the world participate in the Drupal Dojo. These people have varying skill levels in Drupal. They also live in many parts of the world. As such, it is not always feasible for everyone to attend a session who would like to.

This is where screencast archives come into play. Most live sessions are recorded for later viewing, generally withing a few days of the event. IRC logs are posted, and sometimes transcripts of the speech are made by other volunteers. Each lesson has a node with links to supporting materials, such as code samples, documents, and slide presentation files. Links to torrent files are posted, and the lessons are quickly distributed around the world.

Let's face it, there is no good time to coordinate classes at a time that works for a majority of the core contributors and enthusiasts. It may be scheduled for Sunday afternoon for U.S. residents, late evening in Belgium, or 4:00 AM in Australia. Let's not forget the new developers, either. Perhaps you won't be ready for an upcoming advanced tutorial into the node API until you become more familiar with some of the basics of Drupal themes. This is where the magic of screencasts, recordings, and IRC logs come in to the equation. This converts the Dojo from a virtual conference center into a reference library for the whole Drupal community.

END OF ARTICLE

Questions and Answers

Questions and answers about the development of this article should go here...

How long should this document be?

This document and its outline should probably be edited for space. Something longer than a paragraph, but shorter than a thesis will work.

Where should we post it? Who should post it?

Aside from the Drupal website, where else should we post links? Does anyone already have an established voice in any of these forums? If so, post a suggested link, and if you would like to be the one to post it, put your name(s) down. Celebrity endorsements and cross-promotions are welcome (Dries? Linus? Drupal book authors? Mambo/Joomla friendlies?).
- [SlashDot.org][http://slashdot.org]
- [Digg.com][http://digg.com]
- Linux e-zines
- FLOSS advocacy web sites
- Podcasts (FLOSS Weekly, Lullabot.com)
- PHP communities
- Others?

Are we ready to promote it? When should we promote it?

With great power comes great responsibility. For time-sensitive areas, promoting it on the weekend before an upcoming lesson might be a good time. Posting it when the instructors are away on the Drupal Cruise might not be the best time. If there are any upcoming changes to the Drupal Dojo site, we might want to coordinate it with that, or the release of Drupal 6.

Should it be in 1st-person or 3rd person viewpoint?

1st-person may not be appropriate for an article developed by many. 3rd person may seem too technical. Opinions?

Links

What links should we include in the post? Screencasts about the Dojo are prime material.

Quotations

If you would like to have a quotation considered for inclusion in the article (if we go for a more personal feel), stick it here, preferably with a link back to yourself or a Drupal ID.

  • "Drupal Dojo is how I get to meet and learn from other PHP developers as they are working on real projects. These are the kinds of things that you just can't learn from a book." - ComputerWill
  • "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat." - Nero

Change Log

Please record your changes to the document. Since most of us can not view the changes to the wiki page, please do not directly delete text. Instead, use the <del> and </del> tags. DeLeTiNg WiKi TeXt Is FuN!

Don't forget to define a Markdown reference so that you can quickly add a link later within the change log, preferably to your drupal.org or groups.drupal.org account profile. For instance: [Your Name]: http://example.com/user/99999 "ALT text for Your Name goes here" allows you to use the shorthand [Your Name][] within the changelog entries. You may also use the expanded version of the link if you prefer a different appearance for your name: Updated by [Your Alternate Name][Your Name] would appear as Your Alternate Name.

* 2007-09-30 - computerwill: Started original document
* 2007-10-02 - trevortwining: Various contributions: filling in the mission, etc.
* 2007-10-02 - wimleers: requesting Dojo badge
* 2007-10-07 - computerwill: Fleshed out some paragraphs, created this Change Log section, probably left a sentence hanging somewhere.
* 2007-10-07 - trevortwining: taking appropriate blame to myself for previous edits.
* 2007-10-08 - computerwill: Added markdown link references for wimleers and trevortwining so that their names would appear correctly in the change log, and added instructions on how to do so in the future.

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