Tom Geller's nuggets o' joy

Posted 13 November 2016
The Netherlands' position highlighted within Europe

On 5 December I'll leave the U.S. to spend an undetermined period in what may become my new home in The Netherlands -- Rotterdam. I'll live in temporary housing until their immigration department finalizes my residency permit, which I hope will happen within a couple of months. I'll rent out my house in Oberlin, Ohio for short stays and will continue to serve my existing American clients. However, I also plan to focus Tom Geller Productions on European opportunities.

I've lived mostly in two places since graduating from college, and left both for the same reason: I felt I'd gotten what I wanted from the place and was itching for something different. (I wrote three years ago about my move from San Francisco to Oberlin, Ohio.) This time is no different. I moved to Oberlin almost nine years ago to do some "adulting" and to enjoy a quieter, more-easygoing place. Now it's time for me to be back in a city, and Rotterdam is a fun place that I know from two previous months-long visits.

I expect people to think I'm moving because of the current political climate in the U.S.. That's not among my top reasons. Like a thinking citizen of any country, I feel pains and joys about my own. This is a topic for another time.

I'll be back in the U.S. for a bit in April (and traveling in Europe sometimes before then.) For now, my Twitter account is probably the best way to keep up. More later.

Posted 24 June 2015
Kabe, an important figure in Esperanto history

In the Esperanto language there was a great writer and activist known as "Kabe". After creating magnificent translations and reaching a position of authority, he suddenly left Esperanto life, never to participate again. So notorious was his disappearance, the language gained the verb "Kabei" -- to vanish suddenly from a position of great visibility.

I'd be flattering myself to compare my position in the Drupal world to Kabe's in Esperantio -- the Esperanto world. But my courses and other writings about Drupal made me fairly well-recognized in Drupal circles.

I've been absent from those circles for the last couple of years, and feel the need to give closure to -- and recognize -- those I got to know there.

I got started in Drupal because I wanted to build a dynamic website to promote a book I'd written. It was a period of great growth for Drupal, and accepted my proposal to create a seven-hour "Essentials" video course. (I think they agreed because their first CMS course -- on WordPress -- was selling pretty well.) That led to seven more, a book, a magazine column, various presentations, and a lot of corporate work.

Was I a "Drupalista"? That's tough to say. I've sincerely enjoyed working with it: Although I've come to recommend WordPress for inexperienced site builders with minimal needs, I'm still thrilled with how much I can accomplish with Drupal and a free afternoon. As I (like most people) have come to live more and more online, Drupal has given me more control over my environment. For example, I'm not afraid that I'll lose a major chunk of my history as LiveJournal slips down the tubes: Through Drupal I made a local copy, privately linking commenters to their real-wold contact information. Those tools, those gifts of the Drupal community, are still with me.

We grew apart. Drupal ceded the mom-and-pop market to other platforms, focusing instead on enterprise needs. That's a fine match... but it's not what interests me, personally. Coding -- a skill I don't have -- eclipsed site-building, evidenced by the increasing percentage of Planet Drupal posts on the subject. And Drupal 8's unexpectedly long development time caused a major writing project to stall after I'd put in a month of work.

But oh! What a fine relationship we've had. I'm scared to list the people who have made my time in "Drupalio" so much fun -- I'm sure I'd miss many. But I want to recognize everybody who helped me on; those involved with Drupal companies I've worked with (Commerce Guys, Mediacurrent, Acquia, Phase2 Technology, DrupalEasy, Tag1 Publishing, TopNotchThemes); those who corresponded privately about Drupal matters; and those who continue to make Drupal great. I'd be very happy to hear from you directly, and will continue to check in on (where I'm tgeller) from time to time.

I've gone back to general technology journalism and communications. Lately I've been quite happy working in video, and have started a U.S.-based agency, Tom Geller Productions. Making a monthly video for The Association for Computing Machinery has put me in touch with people doing fundamental research. I intend to do for that community what I've tried to do for the Drupal community: to make their work clear and accessible to those without specialist knowledge.

Esperantio and "Drupalio" are quite different. But they're similar in an important way -- one that's shared by any international community of people gathered for a righteous cause. After a time, the cause changes and falls away, leaving intact relationships that linger. As Wavy Gravy said, "It's all done with people." Although I might kabei, look forward to seeing you people, wherever we meet.

Posted 28 July 2012
Screen shot of Views' administrative interface

Summary: Making Views part of Drupal "core" will make its future more secure, but will take substantial resources. Therefore, please donate 1/1,000th of your annual income ($50 if you make $50,000/year, for example) using this widget.

Now, the why.

Few Drupal sites could exist without Views, which lets site builders easily combine and display data. For example, let's say your site includes employees and store locations: Views lets you produce a list of employees, a map of what stores they work at, and a schedule of when they're working.

These are typical requirements, but without Views you'd have to know PHP and MySQL to make them happen. With Views, an intermediate-level site builder without programming experience -- like me -- can make truly professional sites.

Views is one of Drupal's strongest competitive advantages, and why I created a video training series about it. I've never heard of a working site built without Views.

So Views is important. But why should it be in core?

Maintainer Earl Miles' original post gives the details. In short:

  • It'll become better integrated with Drupal's core systems.
  • Site builders won't have to install (and maintain) extra bits for Views' functionality.
  • Responsibility for maintaining it can be better spread over a larger developer base.
  • Developers can do more, knowing that all site builders have Views installed.
  • We can simplify Drupal by getting rid of obsolete modules such as Poll and Blog.

There's a (reasonable) argument that Views would bloat a Drupal core that should remain small. I disagree. For discussion, see this thread on

O.K., O.K.! But why should I pay?

Simply put, it's the simplest way to contribute. As Earl wrote, the project will also put other resources to good use, and (as always) your help actually working on the project would be greatly appreciated.

But money is liquid. You can give any amount, at any time, without any other requirements. It's convertible to plane tickets, catering, hosting, and other things that project maintainers need. (Note that the money generally doesn't go to pay developers: They're either volunteering their valuable time, or being sponsored by companies such as Acquia.) I propose that you donate 1/1,000th of your annual income because if you work with Drupal, Views has probably earned you at least ten times that much.

From earlier initiatives, Earl and his team have proven that they use such money well. So do it: You'll feel better every time you work on your (Views-enabled) site.

Posted 26 June 2012
Screenshot: Drupal 7 Advanced Training,

It's been a busy few months since ending my time at Acquia last October. I've returned to freelancing, bettered by having worked with some of the best people in the business: It was a pleasure to see them at DrupalCon Denver, and I've been enjoying our continued (albeit changed) good relationship.

One result of leaving is that it gave me time to create a long-overdue course for Drupal 7 Advanced Training. My other courses aim to teach specific skills, such as creating a store with Drupal and using Drupal to display complex data. Drupal 7 Advanced Training is a general tutorial for those who already have basic Drupal skills.

It's intended as a follow-up to the course that's proven by far my most popular: Drupal 7 Essential Training. As usual, the new course gives away a few videos, while a free 7-day pass provides full access.

Here's the intro video:


Posted 3 January 2012
Photo of Tom Geller delivering the DrupalCamp WNY keynote

It was a great pleasure to deliver the keynote talk to the first-ever DrupalCamp Western New York, held in downtown Buffalo on October 14-15. The camp's theme was "Hello, Universe", which you probably know as an expansion of the programmer's meme, "Hello, World". The idea is that "the web is wider than you think" -- and that Drupal is expanding to fill the space.

I agree with the premise that Drupal is growing beyond its past uses, and used my time to examine how its spread will affect the culture of Drupal. This is a very personal matter for me, from having been part of other communities whose increase alienated their founders, eventually to their doom.

But I'm optimistic about the Drupal community; watch to see why, and how we can foster its growth beyond the world it now occupies.

(Many thanks to Stephen Rosenthal of Caramax Studio for the high-quality video!)

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