Diving into Lift with updated Lift in Action project (chapter 2)

Here’s what I did to get the Lift in Action tutorial auction application dev’ed up and running with Lift 2.5 and sbt 0.12.1:

[Edit: Since I started on this over the last couple of days, my work has been made considerably easier by the timely publication of Instant Lift Web Applications by Torsten Uhlmann. Congratulations on this up-to-date and pithy masterpiece! In any case I want to persevere on this front too.]

Scala powered Lift web framework – Eclipse, Scala IDE, latest versions of everything Jan 2013

I’m searching for a rock solid, performant and scalable framework for my new venture Linguathon, as I said in my last article. Hey, instead of server side javascript, why not server side Java? Or Scala? Wicket? Why not Lift?

Why not indeed! Considering that I spent many years working with the Spring framework (plain old Java objects) on desktop apps years ago, as a lightweight alternative to Enterprise Java, things might start looking quite powerful and familiar, and yet streamlined and better. Things might calm down a little and I might get a productive, solid environment to rock on!

So I’m documenting how I got up and running now with the latest versions of Lift and the Scala IDE for Eclipse, etc., on a souped up MacBook Air, it’s pretty sui generis but it might help someone, certainly myself if I come back to things after a stint at something else.

Wandering in the desert of plenty: An architect in search of an application architecture

I need to adopt a javascript dev and deploy stack as framework for my new venture Linguathon. I’m delighted about this project because it brings together language teaching and web app worlds, something I’ve postponed for decades. So I need to adopt a javascript MV* framework to give me a solid, sound, yet flexible foundation. I have been studying Addy Osmani’s Developing Backbone.js Applications (also see the fascinating work in progress mirror http://addyosmani.github.com/backbone-fundamentals/ ), and “What we know now” (as Steve Blank is fond of saying… BTW I’m taking his free online lean startup course and reading his book; don’t want to make all the same mistakes all over again 🙂 ) is that I at least don’t have the time or even the stupidity to build everything from scratch using a bare bones, self-made, untried and tested by the community dev and deploy stack.

Learning CoffeeScript (no, for historical reasons)

The task on Pivotal Tracker (love using it) says “Learn CoffeeScript”. The project this chore forms a part of is really important to me, and while several important projects I am working on still deserve to be based on Drupal, others deserve a new kind of architecture, something wildly new and at the same time something going back to my roots (learning C with Kernighan and Ritchie’s The C Programming Language enthralled with the hiding of detail overload prevalent in the Z80 and 8086 assembler languages I had been using) in the eighties (Turbo C…).

Why I recommend Drupal User’s Guide all the time

Here is my workspace these days:

And if I had just been delivered a site, or were setting out to roll my own with Drupal that little book there is just what I would have by my side:


Drupal User’s Guide – Building and Administering a Successful Drupal-powered web site. By Emma Jane Hogbin.

Why do I recommend it to clients all the time? Because it totally lives up to what it says in the dedication page:

“For my mother, Maryann, who asked for the manual to her Web site.”

That’s just what it is, the manual to your website. It tells you how to install Drupal, it is a permanent guided tour of Drupal’s administration interface, it teaches you that yes, you can build your own site based on (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) site goals. It shows you where to find your stuff, how to choose and enable different Drupal themes, how to build functionality like community site features, discussion areas, even a whole business directory. It is there when you need to add a form, take advantage of the Views module to list your stuff in many different ways, extend the functionality of your site with modules. And it is there when you need to do SEO work on your site, and even learn advanced techniques to improve the usability experience for site visitors.

I always recommend this book if any of the following apply:

  • If you’re just starting out building your website in Drupal
  • You’re not just starting out but you need that extra push
  • If you’ve just been delivered a site by a Drupal site builder and you want to take charge
  • If you need one great reference book to have on your desk as you work on your site

AWebFactory the making of (Part 2) Getting started with process, methods and tools

In my book Leveraging Drupal I set out to wed what have always been my career basing best software development process practices with Drupal site building and development. Chapter 1 (possibly the only part of the book not immediately obsolete the moment it was published in February, 2009), entitled “Keeping it Simple”, describes the process you can practice in order to squarely face the varied responsibilities of getting a web app up and running. It names the steps you can follow towards fulfilling that goal. It is still freely downloadable as an example chapter. We will use it to gear ourselves towards implementing a properly prioritized backlog of stories in order to revamp AWebFactory.com .

Now, we could just say, as is increasingly the fashion, “we use scrum”, or “we use agile” and even provide the obligatory life-cycle diagrams. But how do we actually get to that? In what context are we even operating? The only fair starting point for any target app is: Why build it at all?

AWebFactory.com revamp: the making of (Part 1) – Setting up an Eclipse IDE development environment for your Pantheon Project

This is the first of a series of articles which will log the revamping of the AWebFactory company website and its migration to Pantheon, the “Cloud Platform for Drupal”, which will not only be host to live deployment, but which will also serve as a development platform.

Signing up

So I signed up for an account on Pantheon, a free developer account to begin with. I went to https://www.getpantheon.com/ and clicked on Create Free Account. Filled out the details, received a confirmation account (curiously, even with GMail, which is pretty discerning about those things, it arrived in the Spam folder, so do check that when you create your account), and after validating my site when I was logged in (https://dashboard.getpantheon.com/login ) there was a sign on my dashboard offering a link to Create a site now.

Responsive web design off the shelf with Panopoly

I’ve recently blogged enthusiastically about Panopoly in the context of a simpler, lower cost and more “share the wealth” democratic path to powerhouse Drupal web app development emerging from the recent Denver DrupalCon 2012. And I’ve promised to write a series of articles on “using Panopoly as a starter kit for the rest of us” in the context of a responsive process and the creation of a responsive user experience. Well, with the recent release of Panopoly 7.x-1.0-beta3, there’s no time like the present to write the kick-off article.

So together with my fellow AWebFactory web developer compañero martindido (Martín Di Doménico) we installed the new beta3 version and here share our findings:

CTools modal form kickstart

After Drupalcon Denver 2012, it’s patently obvious that it’s certainly time to start using Drupal 7 as your mainstay for production sites, since the pros now outweight the cons even for conservative working stiffs like me. So the question often arises, when you go to do something you are thoroughly used to doing in Drupal 6, you say “where are my old friends from Drupal 6?” and cringe.

So we have to help each other out, one such example is, say, how do I put a form into a modal window (i.e. popup) in Drupal 7? Sometimes, once you see a simple example, then it’s straightforward to apply all the juicy info from the advanced help modules and documentation you can find on d.o. and around the web. The problem is often how to break the ice, how to get started.