Open Source Boot Camp & a Drupal Deck



February 28, 2008

This fall we've gotten more involved with the Talent First Network and some of their initiatives to promote open source in Ottawa. We've got a part-time intern through them and are quite interested in the opportunities being generated by this team. Tonight Jonathan & I presented on Drupal/CiviCRM/CCK at the open source boot camp, a series of talks to introduce Carleton University students to other opportunities for employment. There was a good showing and we fortunately weren't the first presenters. Kamal lead a nice presentation on different open source licenses which ws good.

It seemed to me when preparing or this presentation that it wouldn't be right to just crack open a desktop application like OpenOffice's Presentation and write the presentation there. I figured that there had to be a way to do it through Drupal. In the end I ended up creating a very minimal theme that has a look/feel sorta like a power point presentation.

Now, other than the ability to say, hey it's possible, why would you bother to toss a presentation up on the web? Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • versioning (I get to see what changes were added/removed) over the life of the page
  • multi-person editing (I wanted the OpenConcept team to review and edit the changes directly.
  • more permanent record of the presentation (no need to print out copies of our work)

Now, as always we did have one or two glitches in the presentation. The biggest one was that for some reason we weren't able to access our main website from Carleton, a I found that out earlier when I dropped by to see OPIRG-Carleton. We had to access the site through a proxy site. Other than the ads, even this worked fairly well. Because we had to access our servers through an anonymous proxy site Jonathan wasn't able to demo a CCK/Views implementation, but he was able to describe it as effectively as possible verbally (with virtually no notice).

The presentation was implemented mostly through hacking up the page.tpl.php & node.tpl.php files. The main customization that I did was to modify the category module's wrapper for the book module so that the function theme_book_navigation() printed out less information and so that book_next() didn't spit out parent values. In my customized phptemplate_book_navigation() function I mostly removed the previous/up links and customized the next link so that it forced in the selected theme. I chose to use the switchtheme module mostly because we were already using it for our project management tool that Ron built for us back in January.

Oh yeah, not doing a lot of power point presentations, I'm not sure how relevant the term deck is. A number of my friends who work in government refer to them this way.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.