Ivan Melnikov

Watching your course on Lynda, “Writing Articles” — amazing. Thank you!

Nan Frost

I loved your Freelancing Fundamentals course. It gave me exactly the information I was seeking to move forward if this is the path I decide to take.

Geoff Bonina

I was just a plain-old PHP, JS, HTML designer-developer, until I was introduced to Drupal 7 from your videos. They got me up and running quickly, and so I thank you for that!

Neil Padgett

Drupal was a complete mystery to me before I watched your Lynda courses. Everything I know about Drupal was gained through watching your courses, which enabled me to build several Drupal websites.

Drupal 8 Essentials 2: Building Out Your Website

Screenshot of the course's title card

Your Drupal site is built. Now what? Web design doesn’t stop once the website is launched. Learn how to build out your Drupal site to better fit your visitors’ needs.

In these tutorials, Tom Geller helps new Drupal designers change the layout and design elements of their sites, control visitor interactions (including comments), arrange content in user-friendly “views,” and expand the site’s capabilities beyond what’s available in core Drupal with Drupal modules. In all the steps you’ll learn best practices to ensure your sites remain streamlined, secure, and up to date.

Topics include:

  • Grouping content into categories
  • Managing comments
  • Adding discussion groups
  • Customizing fields and image styles
  • Adjusting menus and navigation to help users
  • Adding new features with Drupal modules

Drupal 8 Essentials 1: Getting Started

Screenshot of the course's title card

Drupal 8 Essentials is designed to help anyone create a simple website using Drupal, the free web design software that powers personal blogs as well as the sites of some of the world’s largest corporations.

This course is the first of the series. No prerequisites are required beyond basic computer skills! These easy-to-follow tutorials show how to install Drupal and other necessary components on a Windows or Mac computer, navigate Drupal’s web-based interface, configure the settings of a new Drupal site, create content, and move the site to a server. Every step includes best practices to ensure your website remains streamlined, secure, and up-to-date.

Topics include:

  • Comparing Drupal to other software
  • Getting help with Drupal
  • Installing Acquia Dev Desktop on Mac and Windows
  • Installing the Drupal database, modules, and themes
  • Creating basic content
  • Establishing your site’s look and feel
  • Adjusting security settings
  • Adding images and metadata
  • Adding a sidebar
  • Moving your Drupal website to a server
  • Backing up a Drupal site

Moving on from Drupal

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 lynda.com 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 lynda.com 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 Drupal.org; 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 drupal.org (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.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/moving-from-drupal-tom-geller

Munish Sharma

Your tutorials on lynda.com were really helpful, they make it really easy for non-programmers.

Anthony Robertson

I just finished your Drupal 7 Essential Training on lynda.com. It was very informative. I also bought your Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide book from Amazon. I’m about half-way through it. I know there is overlap in the information, but I find that watching the videos and reading the book helps it stick. I have a MODX and WP background, so your training really helped me with absorbing Drupal. Thank you.

Drupal in Context column: Handrails for Everybody

Front cover of the print edition in which this article appeared

A column for Volume 4, Issue 1 of “Drupal Watchdog”, the print magazine distributed at the semi-annual DrupalCon. It discusses the importance of an “easy entry” to technology, and the struggles Drupal has experienced in that regard.

Shawn Wilson, Fishing’s Future

I sense your sincerity and desire to actually give of your knowledge. Your desire to help others is a very worthy character trait (a gift actually!). It’s appreciated by many.

Drupal in Context column: Does Coding Matter?

Front cover of the print edition in which this article appeared

A column for Volume 3, Issue 2 of “Drupal Watchdog”, the print magazine distributed at the semi-annual DrupalCon. This one describes how to get Drupal to do what you want, despite having no knowledge of Drupal’s main languages, PHP and JavaScript.

Sarah Davis

I just wanted to say thank you for your lynda.com tutorials. I’ve been a content/project manager for the past four-plus years and I’ve always worked with Drupal — but only recently I have had the opportunity to be on the admin level. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know these new privileges through your approachable tutorials.

Dan Stay

Your videos are the main source of my Drupal education and they are well presented, informative, and example-filled to allow me to get content out and new sites built very quickly. Thank you for all of your work and I look forward to more videos as Drupal continues to develop.

Deborah Weisman

Just wanted to say that so far I am finding your Lynda courses delightful!

Sina Ahmadpour

I watched your Drupal 7 Essential Training and fell in love with Drupal. Now I want to take Drupal seriously and find it as my feature career. I just want to thank you for your awesome tutorial at lynda.com.

Fabien Schiettecatte

I just wanted to say thank you for your easy-on-the-ears videos on lynda.com about Drupal. I watched them over year ago and am now making a lot of Drupal sites, and am also passing on my knowledge to my classroom and employees. Today I was wondering, how did I get here? And I remembered, it was you and your damn videos. 🙂

Nan Rivers

I can’t say enough how impressed I am with your and the other lynda.com tutorials that I have watched. I am a former math teacher, so I’m a pretty tough critic when it comes to teaching techniques. I have recommended the course to others in our company who are using it too.

Keynote from DrupalCamp Western NY

Still frame from Buffalo presentation

Keynote presentation from the inaugural two-day event, “DrupalCamp Western NY” in Buffalo, 14 October 2011. The event’s theme was “Hello, Universe”, so I riffed on how the Drupal community is growing (beyond the more common “Hello, World”), and how its culture will inevitably change as a result. Video by Stephen Rosenthal, http://caramaxstudio.com. Appearance sponsored by Acquia; at the time I was that company’s Content and Communications Director.

Stanford University Tech Briefing: lynda.com and Drupal

Screenshot of my slides from the talk

A “Stanford University Tech Briefing” about Drupal, given mostly to people who were already using it for departmental websites. Sponsored by lynda.com. Published description: “lynda.com and Drupal — Tom Geller, lynda.com. Do you have lingering questions about your Drupal web site? In this session, lynda.com trainer Tom Geller answers some of the most often-asked questions about entering and managing content in Drupal. He’ll show you the fastest ways to get images on the page, how to attach files, and how to enable hidden features of Stanford’s Drupal installation that let you extend content beyond Pages and Stories. He’ll also take your questions; give you a peek at what’s coming in Drupal 7, due for release in the next few months. Finally, Tom Geller and lynda.com representatives will help you get the most out of training videos on lynda.com, with a particular focus on Drupal and Drupal-related courses.”

Christine Savadel

I’ve been working through your Drupal videos on Lynda, and just wanted to take a second to say they’re great! Most learning/tutorial videos I watch get annoying pretty quickly, but yours have made learning Drupal a lot easier and exciting. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Dennis Triplett

Just a shout out to say I enjoyed your tutorials on Drupal 7 on Lynda.com. You were very informative and you helped me get a grasp on a very steep learning curve for Drupal.

Sam Cathcart

Your Drupal courses have changed how I work and build sites. Thanks for making the content easy to understand and fun. Keep up the good work.

Rachel Boehm

I’m relieved the site was launched within my 1-month self-imposed deadline. Meeting that deadline is a testament to your [Drupal] teaching skills.

Leo Singh

I love your videos. They are so clear and easy to follow, making the most difficult of concepts understandable. Please keep up the great work!

Dave Bish

I learned Drupal entirely from your videos. Last week I got my first contract role as a Drupal developer and it’s great. I’m working for a bunch of highly intelligent guys, yet even they have been blown away with what I’ve been able to do in such a short time with Drupal and what you taught me. Seriously, mate, thank you. I think the fact that your videos are so easy to watch and enjoy made a huge difference.

Frank Leone

Tom, your style is perfect. You explain things concisely and perfectly, and I never get bored watching anything you create.

Diana Li

As a long time WordPress user, your tutorials are amazing and incredibly helpful to a novice.

Matthew McLeod

A HUGE thank you for your training products. I’ve followed a couple of your lynda.com courses and have found your talent in explaining new concepts with such clarity a huge help — I’ve managed to save many weeks (perhaps months) of my life!

Make “Views in Core” happen!

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 Drupal.org.

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.

Drupal 7 Advanced Training

Screenshot of intro to Drupal 7 Advanced Training

This course teaches web site designers how to take their sites to the next level with a few advanced techniques and the free and open-source Drupal software. Author Tom Geller shows how to configure the most popular add-on modules; use *nix commands and an FTP program to manage a Drupal site on a web server; change its visual appearance using the latest graphical tools; automate and speed through common tasks with Drush; integrate with social media sites; and see how “supermodules” like Panels, Context, Rules, and Features open up new worlds of code-free development.

Drupal 7 Advanced Training was designed as a follow-up to Drupal 7 Essential Training and it also dovetails nicely with our other Drupal courses, such as Drupal 7 Reporting and Visualizing Data and Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce.

Topics include:

  • Moving a site from the development environment to production
  • Hosting a Drupal site
  • Moving databases with phpMyAdmin and Unix commands
  • Making site administration more efficient with Drush
  • Backing up site data
  • Moderating comments
  • Migrating from previous versions of Drupal
  • Working with themes
  • Creating variable layouts
  • Enabling social features
  • Creating an online store with Drupal Commerce

New lynda.com video course: Drupal 7 Advanced Training

Screenshot of intro to 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 lynda.com: 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:


Regina Ryder

I’ve looked at other Drupal training, but have remained loyal to yours. Simply put, it’s THE BEST! Your style is both respectful and comprehensive: It gets me through the tougher parts without diluting the content. It’s a great value.

Alyn Murray

Drupal 7 Essential Training is a game changer for me: I could not have asked for more or better. Anyone learning Drupal should buy this DVD. Just get it.

Dmitry Kostygov

I want to thank you for your job for lynda.com. Your trainings are just perfect and you definitely have a strong talent to train. Keep going on!

Keynote from DrupalCamp WNY: “Hello Universe”

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!)

Randy Fay

I watched the entire Commerce video on Lynda.com and thought it was stupendous. What an incredible contribution to the Drupal Commerce community. You nailed it. I wish everybody would watch that. Should be a prerequisite. I’ve been promoting it every way I know how.

New lynda.com video courses about Drupal Commerce and Views 3

Screenshot of intro to Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce

I said that two new lynda.com video courses would be coming out soon, and here they are:

There are a few free videos for each course at the above links, and a free 7-day pass gives you access to both full courses, along with hundreds of other from lynda.com.

Here’s the intro video from the Drupal Commerce course:

…and the one from “Drupal 7: Reporting and Visualizing Data”.


Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce

Screenshot of Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce

Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce shows how to build an online store using Drupal Commerce, a set of modules that extend Drupal. The course demonstrates the basics of configuring a store, processing a payment, and charging for shipping and taxes, as well as creating, displaying, and categorizing products. The course also explains how to integrate a store into a Drupal site, customize a store’s appearance, and increase site traffic using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Exercise files accompany the course.
Topics include:

  • Surveying the store-building process
  • Installing Drupal Commerce using Commerce Kickstart
  • Accepting PayPal payments
  • Processing orders
  • Understanding rules and line items
  • Listing and importing products
  • Managing inventory, orders, and customer profiles
  • Streamlining the checkout process
  • Launching a store
  • Offering product discounts
  • Analyzing site traffic with Google Analytics

Drupal 7: Reporting and Visualizing Data

Screenshot of intro to Drupal 7: Reporting and Visualizing Data

This course demonstrates how to use the Views module and other add-ons in Drupal to present dynamic, data-rich content. The course examines several real-world examples of effective data visualization and describes the Drupal data-storage model. The course also shows how to create, format, and style views; control access to data; improve data administration with Views Bulk Operations; and display content as custom maps and slide shows. Exercise files accompany the course.
Topics include:

  • Planning the data structure of a site
  • Creating record templates with custom field types
  • Connecting fields using references
  • Sorting and filtering data
  • Varying how a view appears in different displays
  • Formatting views with grid, list, table, and jump
  • Creating multi-part views using attachments
  • Importing and exporting views
  • Extending views with relationships
  • Understanding and using location data
  • Exporting data

How to create Drupal exercise files that work every time

Screen shot of some files in a Drupal installation

lynda.com has now released five of my Drupal courses (which you can watch for free, by the way), and there are two more coming soon. Part of the company’s model is to include exercise files for each course, so that students can (a) follow along with the same assets the instructor uses, and (b) jump in at any point.

For Drupal courses, the first criterion is easy to solve: We just include the same graphics and text I use to create the model site, and instruct students to add them as they go. But Drupal doesn’t have a good way to let students jump into the course in the middle. Such a packaging system needs to:

  • Populate a complete site;
  • Be easy for non-technical students to use. It must use a familiar interface, and not require them to touch the command line;
  • Be reliable;
  • Require no monkeying with the settings.php file; and
  • Take as few steps as possible.

Those are the challenges. On the other hand, we can make some assumptions that make the job easier:

  • All students use Acquia Dev Desktop as their AMP stack;
  • The resulting sites won’t be made public: We can freeze the Drupal version without fear of security holes.

I tried several solutions, even attempting to commission an all-in-one solution. Previous courses used varying methods, with varying degrees of success — and they usually required too much explanation. Here’s what I finally settled on:

  1. Provide one copy of the base Drupal distribution, without the /sites folder. Yes, that means that students will be installing an out-of-date copy of Drupal. But again, these sites will be locally hosted, and not exposed to the internet. (We also direct them to instructions on how to update the site to the latest version if they want.)
  2. Give instructions on how to import that base copy of Drupal into Acquia Dev Desktop. This sets up the stack, and puts predictable values into the settings.php file.
  3. For each video, provide two files:
    • a .zip of the /sites folder, which includes all assets and modules installed up to that point in the course; and
    • a .zip or .gz of the database. Compression is important because Acquia Dev Desktop imposes a 2MB upload limit in a crucial place. We’ve manually removed the “CREATE DATABASE” line from the database before compressing it.
    1. To start at any point in the course, instruct students to:
      • Replace the current /sites folder with that video’s /sites folder; and
      • Import the database via phpMyAdmin (which is included with Acquia Dev Desktop).

    How would you solve this problem?

Carla Briceno

You are by far the best Drupal trainer I have had the pleasure of learning from.

Gregory West

Thank you for an excellent, easy-to-follow course. You give out the feeling of ease in a somewhat difficult subject.