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Tilt 3D - Drupal DOM Visualization


The following is a guest post by Mitchel Xavier

One of the challenges of developing with Drupal is to understand Drupal’s structure. Until now, when working with the DOM structure, the DOM inspector has been the best tool for viewing the structure. A new tool has been created to make the visualization of the DOM structure much easier to interpret. It is a Firefox add-on and is called Tilt 3D. It creates 3 dimensional interactive representation of the DOM elements as a layered visual image.

A requirement to use Tilt 3D is that your browser supports WebGL. WebGL is a Javascript software library which allows for the creation of 3D graphics very quickly and without the requirement for additional plugins. Currently Firefox is the only browser to support this tool. Firefox has supported WebGL since version 4. The other requirement for Tilt 3D is that it is supported with a capable graphics card.

Eating one's own dogfood -vs- dining out


The importance of project management tools is almost never fully appreciated. I am shocked at how common it is for a group of developers to go working without version control, ticket tracking, development documentation and so on. The very first thing I do when working with a new client is to make sure that they get these tools in place if they haven't already.

Those who are used to working without a complete set of project management tools never fail to appreciate the benefits of them once they are introduced. I consider it next to impossible for a team to work together without managing code and tasks in an efficient and highly organized way.[img_assist|nid=155|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=156]

Hopefully you do not need to be sold on this idea and are using CVS or SVN to manage your project already. You likely have some sort of ticket system. It is a little less likely that you have both of these components integrated with each other.

When it comes to choosing a solution for project management software, a die-hard Drupal user has a dilemna. On one hand, Drupal seems as though it should be the perfect solution. It's fully customizable, has lots of nifty project management related modules and, most importantly, it's Drupal! Why would you not use it? "Eating your own dogfood" is the way to go, right? Meh...

Doing Drupal development effectively


Clients seem to come in sets. A couple months back, I had several clients who had hired cheap off-shore companies 12 time zones away whose developers were curiously unavailable by phone, email or carrier pigeon. You probably already know the rest of the story: client needed to spend more money to have someone else go in and try to make it all work. (BTW, always use the term "refactored" rather than "threw out" when referring to the busted up stuff the client paid for).  

Lately the theme has been clients who hired a 'Drupal developer' to do custom development and ended up with hacked up Drupal core, semi-working custom functionality and lots of odd behavior in different parts of the system. As an intelligent, hip, effective web entrepreneur, you should not strive for this.

Gumby -vs- Pet Rock

Gumby, Damnit!The typical LAMP application is made up of a tightly coupled set of code that all works in unison. While you may be able to configure this type of application, you cannot easily create or remove core functionality yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach if you're developing a closed system designed to be maintained by a relatively small group of developers and whose feature set is pretty easy to anticipate and can be built in from the ground up. But this approach is not a good one for something like a CMS.

Why, you ask? Well, this is quite a coincidence as I was just preparing to answer that very question. Unlike more specialized applications (think phpbb, phpmyadmin, photo galleries, etc...), a good CMS is something that you should be able to extend, possibly in ways never imagined by the authors of the software. This type of extensibility separates applications like Google Maps from MapQuest. Like Gumby, Google Maps can be made to do any number of things never thought of by Google (from a developers perspective). And like a pet rock (did I just give away my age?), MapQuest pretty much does what it does, and if you want it to make it do something else, that's too bad, you should be using Google Maps, fool!

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