Quick mixed media prints
In my print making work I make a relatively clear distinction between fast & experimental versus slow & … hmm, not necessarily traditional. But more like a conclusion or answer to the questions uncovered in the experiments.
The fast technique is usually monoprinting, but yesterday it was dry needle. A very rough and direct approximation of etching. Which was nice change, because that allows me to draw with lines instead of the more painterly or graphic shapes used in monoprints.
Another seldom seen ingredient: color. Spraypaint and some quick letterpress. All in all, a small but potentially rich mixed media exploration. I’m curious to find out which kind of conclusion this leads to.
See you in the followups
We have the outline of potentially useful new features directly in core now. Now, to not only run off and add only more new goodies.
There’s the job of validating and improving what we added already as well. I remember discussin with Alex Pott in New Orleans. Making it in as an experimental module is a “not no” kind of answer. To get to a real “yes”, lots of work left still.
Really Simple Syndication
I only use a feed reader on my phone, so that solves the syncing issue. Still love the format. Current subscriptions:
Sketch before prototype
Quick expansion on an earlier “iterate” tweet. Had to create a comparison type tool. Nothing too earth shattering, I was going to steal most of it from a competitor’s site but still had to figure out how to map my set of elements to that basic structure to see where the structure itself needed to change.
You’ve heard this one before. Start with pen and paper.
Looking back at the sketches I made before drawing the digital version of the wireframe you see that I basically explored 5 times before committing to a particular solution. Even those first couple of super simple, quickly abandoned options count. Just by starting to draw an initial structure you can already find out whether it will work or not.
Very low resolution and low friction makes it easy to discard and try again. Allow yourself a little room to explore multiple options, it’ll benefit the solution you come up with. Use a pen, not a pencil. Pencil has undo, pen has not. When making a mistake or changing your mind this forces you to start over and create a new, seperate idea. At this point this is a good thing: more material to compare and weigh your options.
New process, new results
We’re probably misusing the term MVP when we try to frame what we would like to see make it into core. But the actual mode of working we use there is quite an achievement. We used to grind it out endlessly, where proposed changes could be discussed endlessly, with a high risk of not committing anything at all in the end. What we’re doing now is: agree up front that it’s a good idea to improve feature X or rework interface Y. And then focus on keeping the scope as small as possible.
Yes, I, J and K are also good ideas, but we’re trying to do X here and while these are all related ideas and together would like make for a nicer whole, we should really focus on shipping X, and X alone, before turning our attention to I, J and K. If at all, because while shiny, interface Y actually presents people with more problems, so maybe we should focus on that. Though it’s never that strongly a case of either/or, and we should definately not stop iterating after the initial commit.
This is a very new and different way of working. Deliberately lowering our standards for the goal of introducing change. This is uncomfortable at times, but even that is good, because it means we’re stretching ourselves, which means we’re doing and learning new things. I’m excited and proud to see this happen. More like this.
Doing it like this means that Drupal 8.2:
- Has content moderation tools (draft! review! publish! etc.)
- Provides a new way to add new elements (blocks) to the page you’re on, without having to go to some far away corner in the admin section
- Those elements (blocks! menus! logo & site name! etc.) can then also be configured in the context of the user facing page. A side tray will show up and expose the relevant settings.
Looking forward to learn how these additions will be received and how we can improve them. In the mean time, lets add more useful and usable things to 8.3 (sample content! media handling! better dates! etc).
Beide kinders sinds afgelopen zaterdag op kamp
En gewoon geen SMS'je terug sturen hè!
UX meeting recap
Two meetings every week since end of march this year. Safe to say we’ve found a consistent rhythm.
And it’s working. It’s become a useful way to check in on current priorities, review patches while screensharing (visuals, transitions, flows!), decide on next steps and generally discuss hard problems without having to type so much.
The agenda for today was
- Roadmap – The core roadmap was updated to current state of things. Use this page to get a bird’s eye view on where Drupal core is moving towards.
- Ideation process – The first part of going from idea to plan got positive feedback and helpful questions and suggestions. Maybe a few words from actual maintainers and then we can make it so.
- Status page – We have a beautiful new design that now needs review and more code to create a complete patch. If you know your core markup and CSS, go have a look!
- Block place design update – An issue that iterates the design of an initial commit. We quickly discussed what the feedback should be and I added a comment to that effect right then and there. It’s an example of managing scope, pushing to focus on the actual fix first, and defer new, potentially good ideas to a followup discussion.
- Sample content – Kevin shared his initial thoughts and ideas for adding sample content, structure and configuration to core. More questions then answers but that’s just where we’re at for now. You are welcome to add your questions and ideas, please do.
Content workflow initiative, the concept map
Mapping out the moving parts of the content workflow initiative we arrived at this high level grouping of related activities:
- Create content
- Review & approve content
- Publish content
- Manage the creation, review and publishing process
- Configure the tools that enable all of the above
For either single items of content or a set of multiple items, bundled in a workspace.
Everything related to creating new, editing existing content in the first place.
- Copy writer
- Photo/image editor
Tasks & activities
- Review assignments
- Create content
- Format content
- Preview content
- Request review
- Edit content based on feedback
- Review other people’s content
- Review existing, live content
Review & approve content
All the things that need to happen to get new content ready for publication. Here’s a more elaborate example of a moderation workflow using a workspace.
- Marketing associate
Tasks & activities
- Review content, give feedback
- Edit content
- Preview content
- Get notified of content conflicts
- Adapt content for different channels
- Analyse impact of content changes
- Review existing content
- Recover content
Actual publication of content and managing its life cycle from then on.
- Section editor
Tasks & activities
- Define/specify content packages
- Review content (packages)
- Audit (legal, compliance)
- Preview content
- Approve revivisions
- (un)publish content items
- (un)publish content packages
- Schedule (un)publishing of content
- Archive/delete content
Manage content workflow
Set the strategic agenda, coordinate with other business units, oversee all of the above.
- Managing editor
- Marketing executive
- Support & maintenance
Tasks & activities
- Define content strategy
- Content planning
- Coordinate with the business
- Coordinate with IT
- Coordinate content delivery
- Define content assignments
- Schedule content production
- Monitor progress
- Review audit trail
Configure content workflow tools
Providing the tools and processes to enable all of the above.
Tasks & activities
- Configure workflows for content moderation
- Configure content workspaces
- CMS configuration: content types, roles & permissions, notification settings…
- Technical development
Hope this helps clarify the main concepts, activities and relationships in the workflow initiative.
Getting something in the box
First impressions matter. The first glance has a lot if impact on further expectations. Drupal core doesn’t do well there. As webchick points out, after installation the opening line is “you have no content”.
This empty canvas makes Drupal appear very limited in functionality. Which is the exact opposite of how Drupal is advertised (flexible, extensible, there’s a module for that!)
This is not news. The issue for adding sample content is over 10 years old. The image I posted earlier is from a core conversation 6 years ago. Eaton and moi presented on Snowman in Prague 3 years ago.
But now we do have Drupal 8, with essential features available right out of the box. We have a new release schedule that encourages shipping new features and improvements every 6 months. And we’re settling on a better process for figuring out the part from initial idea to fleshed out plan first, before implementing that plan.
So lets work together and come up with a plan for sample content in core. Which means answering product focussed questions like:
- Audience: who do we make this for?
- Goals: what do these people want to achieve?
- Features: which tools (features) to provide to make that possible?
- Priorities: which of those tools are essential, which are nice to haves?
But purpose first: audience and goals.
We’re always balancing product specifics with framework generics in what core provides. Pretty sure we can do something more opiniated than our current default “Article” and “Page” content types without painting ourselves in a corner.
Priority, not priorities
Was reminded today that there really has to be one backlog where the single top most item is the one with the highest priority that should be worked on next.
Vetting Drupal product ideas
We’ve made big strides since Drupalcon New Orleans in how we add new features to Drupal core. The concept of experimental modules has already helped us introduce features like a new way to add blocks to a page, content moderation and workflow tools and a whole new approach for editing all the things on a page while staying at that page.
In New Orleans we started to define the process for making these kinds of big changes. Probably the most important and defining aspect of it is that we’re (finally!) enabling a clearer separation between vetting ideas first, implementation second.
True to form we specified and detailed the latter part first :-)
So, on to that first part, vetting Drupal product ideas. In my core conversation I outlined the need for making bigger UX changes, faster and suggested possible approaches for how to design and develop those, borrowing heavily from the Lean UX method
Since then, we’ve been reminded that we really do need a clearly defined space to discuss the strategic value of proposed new features. A place to decide if a given idea is desirable and viable as an addition to core.
The point being: core product manager with help from Drupal UX team members wrote up a proposal for how to propose core product ideas and what’s needed to turn a good idea into an actionable plan.
It needs your feedback. Please read and share your thoughts.
Bridging the gap
The marcom people think I'm a developer.
The developers think I'm a designer.
This may be a good thing.
Podcasts are great. Lots of fun, useful, interesting things to find out about. But not every episode of a show is as interesting. What if you could create your own handy playlist with individual podcast episodes?
With Huffduffer you can. A free service provided by Jeremy Keith. Create an account and you can add any linked mp3 on the internet to your own podcast feed. Subcribe to that feed in your podcast player and there you have it, your own curated list of episodes. Here’s mine
Be sure to install the Huffduffer plugin for your browser of choice. Right-click a podcast link to add it to your feed.
Create, ship, reflect (+admin)
Spent some time today trying to bring some related strands together on productivity and creative work and scheduling my work day.
- John Cleese on How to be Creative, where he makes between two modes for creative work: open and closed.
- Austin Kleon on < a href="https://www.thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/austin-kleon">creative work in the morning, admin in the afternoon
- Similar daily scheduling thoughts by Garrick van Buren
And applying that to GTD contexts because tools like smart phones make @phone, @email, @online useless distinctions. Maybe better to use contexts to create these more high level distinctions between types of work.
For now I arrived at Create (open), Create (closed), Admin and Reflect. In that order. Hence, publishing blog posts in the evening so far!