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Participating in Lullabot's Project Management Podcast

Yesterday I took part in a Lullabot podcast on Project Management. The Bots are well known for their excellent courses and dialogue - it is my hope that we don't disappoint. Addison Berry of Lullabot did a great job of herding the herders keeping us on track. So, who participated?

Seth Brown - Lullabot's Director of Operations, Jerad Bitner - a Lullabot Technical Project Manager, Drew Harteveld - Martha Stewart's VP of Digital Operations, and Me. The conversation showed a large degree of consensus on methodologies, tactics, and tools.

DrupalCamp Austin and the Business of Drupal

I've been working with custom PHP MySQL apps for quite a few years. Early on I was building grant systems for nonprofit and State Arts Agencies in the United States. About 4 years ago, I fell into Drupal quite by accident at a little think tank that my then employer, The Western States Arts Federation, had organized in Vancouver. Several of the participants were employees of Bryght. I began to drink the cool aid.

Magic Command Invocation with Drush

(This is content originally posted at http://jcfiala.net/blog/2010/07/28/magic-command-invocation-drush.)

I've recently been digging into the Aegir Hosting System, both because we're starting to use it at my current NREL gig, and because I've proposed to do a session on it at DrupalCamp LA. In short, Aegir allows you to easily administer a number of Drupal sites from a common site, itself built on Drupal. It's really slick, and a lot of the functionality is built on Drush. (Also see http://drupal.org/project/drush .)

Setting Up a Software CO-OP

The Idea

A number of months back, a group of us had the idea to create a software co-operative. There were several tenets that we decided to follow:

  • The company wouldn't have any employees -- everybody involved would be have 1099 status and would be an independent contractor
  • The company would be formed as an Limited Liability Company - we chose the state of Delaware
  • The company would seek to have a $0 cash and asset value at the end of each year
  • The company would be virtual to keep costs low
  • We would focus on working with open sourced projects like Drupal

The Setup

We set the company up using Instacorp. The benefit was the speed at which we could set up the company with an automatic legal presence in Delaware. The people at Instacorp made the process incredibly simple, asking a few questions. Within days the legal documents were delivered. That, in itself, really didn't make the company real.

After receiving the legal documents, it was necessary to obtain an FEIN for tax purposes. This is a simple process on the IRS site - it just takes a few minutes and you get the documentation electronically.

Salumeria Italiana

salumeriaA few weeks back I received the happy news that the first job that Vintage Digital did as a team had been made live. We were approached, through Twitter, about helping with the AJAXy bits and pieces of a site that had been largely developed, designed, and themed.

There was a need to create customized product page with related food items on the page. Product lists show a teaser. When you click on the link it opens up a shortened view of the product at the top of the page while leaving the list intact below. If you click to see more, you come to a full node view that includes related products, email a friend, and recipe links. We did this work through Dan Morgan of Morgan Graphics who did the majority of the development work.

Congratulations to the folks at Salumeria Italiana on a new Drupal-based online store. We hope you success in this stage of your business and we are thrilled that in some small measure we were able to help bring the store online.

Project Team:
Project Management: Matthew Saunders
Development: Andy Lasda
Theming: Zach Meyer

How to Add Multicurrency Support to Ubercart

Recently I had the privilege of working on the conversion of Novus Biological's website to Drupal 6, selling scientific supplies using Ubercart. I did this as a freelancer for the talented folks at SpireMedia, working with them as well as with fellow Vintage Digital member Ben Jeavons. It was a fantastically intense experience.

Ubercart's a great system out of the box, but there were a number of features on the site which made this implementation difficult.

  1. There were about 70,000 products, which is probably two or three orders of magnitude greater than the usual Ubercart site.
  2. The site needed to work with three currencies, and four prices, depending on the user's location or selection. Ubercart doesn't handle this well.
  3. The site needed to have two kinds of discounts - ones available to most any user, and ones only available to users who had bought the discount with userpoints.

I'll probably write about all of these in time, but at the moment I want to comment on that second item.

A close-up of the novusbio website, showing the region-change text
If you take a look at www.novusbio.com, or the image above, you'll see a bit of text in the upper right hand corner which says something like 'US site', or 'Europe Site', or 'Great Britain site', or 'World Site', with a little arrow next to it letting you change your region. We would start by pre-selecting a region for the user based on which IP they were browsing from, and then users could change it. If you go to a product page on Novus' site, you'll see different prices based on which of these are currently selected, as well as different currency signs. Since doing something like this is what some people would like to be able to do, I wanted to take a little time to go over how we did this.

Vintage Digital -- An Introduction

Noun 1. co-op - a jointly owned commercial enterprise (usually organized by farmers or consumers) that produces and distributes goods and services and is run for the benefit of its owners

Vintage Digital LLC is a software co-operative in the true sense of the word. I rather like the idea of our being a sort of group of farmers sowing open source seeds. Our group is made of developers, themers, information architects, designers, project managers, and technical architects.

It was founded as a company of independent contractors. The company structure is completely flat with each member having an equal say in how the company is run. Each of the company members have their own projects and clients. The company itself has a central group of clients which are collectively provided software services.

Drupal Development With A Distributed Team

Most Drupal shops are highly distributed or scattered. This fragmentation poses interesting challenges. In my most recent job I was lucky to work in an environment that was almost entirely not distributed. This made collaborations with developers, themers, and project managers much simpler.

My life recently transitioned as I moved from being an employee to being a freelancer. In addition, I helped found a company called Vintage Digital (I'll write more about that in the future.) We're engaged in custom software development largely focused on Web applications. Mostly we're working with open source systems like Drupal. We'll be launching a little interim Website in the next few days, nothing special - just a place for us to blog until we have built a proper presence.

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