development

Problems with Android's Back Button

Android's back button is a problem. A big problem.

Others have already identified this in a broad sense, but I wanted to give a few concrete examples of why I (as a guy who wants to simply port a couple apps from the iOS platform to Android) think the back button (especially) is a bad idea.

Disorientation

Mobile phones, and tablets especially, require a lot of UX work in the area of interface orientation. For my extremely-basic CNL app, I've spent hours tweaking little interface elements that change when the interface is rotated from portrait to landscape.

The tendency in iOS is to use a 'back' button with the label of the previous function/screen in a given app in a navigation bar at the top of the current screen. This allows a user to freely move about inside an app, and is pretty much consistent across all apps. Additionally, this 'universal back button' is always at the top left of the screen—just like a web browser.

Sanctifying Mobile Technology - #CNMC11

CNMC 2011 017
My best zen face. (Photo from Scott Maentz).

I just finished my workshop presentation at the Catholic New Media Celebration entitled "Sanctifying Mobile Technology." I talked about some ideas I have to help Catholic parishes and organizations spread their mission through iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices.

My full presentation was recorded, but I don't have the video yet. However, I do have all the slides, and tons of links, over on the presentation page here on Life is a Prayer.com.

You can view photos from CNMC '11 in the linked Flickr group.

Wrapper function for simple drupal_mail() sending in Drupal 7

Email is such a pain (I should know, as I'm currently working on a site that's sending 10-20,000 emails per day to 40,000+ users. Spam prevention, SPF records, bounce handling, abuse reports, deliverability, send rates, etc. are all huge hassles that must be dealt with when handling more than a few hundred emails a day.

For testing, I often like throwing in a quick bit of code to send me or someone else a simple email with a few bits of information when something happens on the site, or to test email addresses or formatting. Therefore I like having a quick one-line function call to send an email. In Drupal 6, there was a handy drupal_mail_send() function that would use some default settings and allow you to quickly shoot off a simple email (not translated, not pluggable, etc., but easy to implement).

All the Hubbub About Drupal 7

Drupal 7. Is it ready?

That seems to be the general question in the air over the past few weeks discussed by many in the community. There's a problem with this question, though... I think many people look at their particular use cases, determine Drupal 7 to not (yet) be a good fit, then declare all things Drupal 7 to be lacking.

Really, though, are things so bad? I've seen hundreds of sites on Drupal Gardens that are beautiful and functional. I've upgraded two of my simpler Drupal 6 sites to Drupal 7. I've built a total of fifteen Drupal 7 sites—some serving more than 10,000 visitors a day, others serving a hundred or two (and almost all on shared hosting!)—and am working on three others. So, for me, the question 'Is Drupal 7 ready for prime-time?' doesn't make sense. It's already there (I haven't started a new project on Drupal 6 for six months now).

Things: Opportunity Lost

Dear Things developers (Cultured Code),

I know you are perfectionists. I know you're purists. Your software is inspirational, in a way. It's clean, it's fast, and it's functional. You make beautiful software, and I'm glad you've had such great success in the past.

But I have to say, "Goodbye."

The one and only feature that I've been waiting for—OTA sync—is still not here.

You've made some pretty status indicators telling me nothing, but impressing me nonetheless. You've posted some great developer stories about this feature, but given no backbone to your words.

CNL - Catholic News Live iOS/Android Mobile App

Catholic News Live - CNL App IconThe second app developed by Midwestern Mac is Catholic News Live, or CNL for short. This app, which is the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad/Android interface for the content aggregated by the Catholic News Live website, showcases a simple list and map layout on mobile phones and tablets, as well as Drupal's great flexibility.

The Catholic News Live website uses the Drupal distribution Managing News, which allows the site administrator to add news feeds that are automatically imported on a set schedule from websites all around the world. Each story is geotagged with a location (if proper locational keywords exist in the article), and then stories have latitude and longitude values for map display.

Catholic News Live App on the App Store!

Catholic News Live AppA companion app to the Catholic News Live website, my new CNL app has been approved for sale on the iTunes App Store.

You can purchase the CNL app for $0.99 here, or read more about the app (and see some pretty screenshots) on the Catholic News Live website. Catholic News Live delivers the latest Catholic News to your computer and iPhone, and pulls in news from over 50 different Catholic sources, every five minutes.

The App's highlight features are the ability to view news on a world map, and to share news via whatever social media you use. It's a very simple, but very powerful little app that will help you stay in tune with what's going on with the Catholic Church.

Scaling the Drupal Community - Notes and Reflections

The sparsely-attended 'Scaling the Drupal Community' session, led by webchick and heyrocker, was one of the few sessions I've attended at DrupalCon Chicago that held my interest throughout. And, since a few people on IRC asked me to post my session notes, I thought I'd do so and put them up on the Planet.

If you, like me, thought there were too many awesome sessions during this timeslot that you decided to go to another one, then this post is for you—I believe that anyone invested in Drupal's future stands to gain something from reflecting on what webchick said at the session.

Now, on to the notes. I will give a summary of a statement by webchick, then my reflection (kind of a Q&A format):

On 'Drupal Answers' vs. a drupal.org solution for Drupal Support

Drupal Answers is a new Stack Exchange site for answering Drupal questions, and it's in public beta right now. The site is hosted off the 'drupal.org' family of sites, and has a few hundred users so far...

Webchick: Webchick basically stated that she's leaning towards what we already have (with slight adjustments). She mentioned that there's no good answer for the question of motivating people to help support drupal newbies without incentives (a karma or reputation system).

Also, she said that moving the support away from drupal.org is potentially very dangerous; this could lead the 'newbie' community away from the 'expert' community (which tends to discuss things in drupal.org issue queues. Right now, 'newbies' typically hang around in drupal.org forums, and 'experts' typically stick to their trackers and issue queues.

Archdiocese of St. Louis has a new App - Catholic STL

I'm happy to announce that my first iPhone App—Catholic STLhas been accepted by Apple for the iTunes App Store, and is available for free starting today!

Archstl Mobile App - Catholic STL Icon

The Archdiocese of St. Louis also announced the App this morning, and has a 'mobile app' section on the website with screenshots, an introductory video, and more information about the App. The App is free, so what are you waiting for? If you live in St. Louis, or are visiting, go ahead and download it now.

The App basically lets users find parishes and sacrament times/parish information in the first section, read news in the second section, and read and post prayer requests on the Archdiocesan website in the third section.

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