There is debate over the term 10x developer which is the idea that some developers are ten times as productive as other average programmers. This was popularized by some research which was subsequently refuted but the idea lives on. And if true, how can we all become "10x developers"? From the time I began taking programming classes in school, which is when I was first exposed to other people's programming abilities, I knew that skill level varied and varied greatly. In an arithmetics class, the best student might score 20 or 30 percent higher than the average. But there's no way to score 100 times the average as that level of ability isn't measured in class. But in a programming class, there will be a number of students who can't complete a working program in a given amount of time, and a student who is a slow coder but eventually gets something functioning is infinitely better than the student who doesn't. Those who can't typically don't go on to become career programmers, but they might need to pass the class for some IT-related business management degree and go on to become Excel wizards.

But among profressional programmers what is a good standard deviation in productivity levels?

Read the rest of this article...

Build your own FAQ in Drupal

Submitted by tomo on October 13, 2012 - 12:15pm

Websites, including Drupal sites, often need Frequently Asked Questions and answers to them. Drupal, as a content management system, should manage your question and answer content intelligently. With all the great modules contributed to Drupal's community you might think there are some good FAQ modules. In my experience, the Drupal FAQ module is too rigid, and therefore unusable for most of my sites. But we can build a FAQ system using basic Drupal building blocks.

What we need: taxonomy, blocks, views, a few lines of PHP (that can be stored in the database - no custom module required)

1. Content type: Create a new content type. CCK is optional here, as you can just use Title as Question and Body as Answer.

2. Vocabulary: Create a new vocabulary called FAQ. Add a few terms if only for testing.

3. Devel Generate: Optional - requires Devel module's devel_generate to generate some test nodes with test questions, answers, and topics. devel_generate can be run from the command line too if you have drush installed - just run "drush genc". Anyways, generate a few dozen nodes, as many nodes as questions you have. It'll be easier to mass edit the questions once the nodes have already been generated.

4. Views: You'll need two views although they can also be two displays of a single view, so let's do that.

a. Create a view, filtered by your FAQ content type (and published or published/admin).

You will add three node fields:
Node: Nid (Nid) [make this field hidden, but its value is used in the rewritten Question field below]
Node: Title (Question)
Node: Body (Answer)

For the Question, rewrite the output to:

<a name="q-[nid]"></a>

You'll have on argument, which is the Term (FAQ vocabulary topic) in the URL.

- Configure Argument Taxonomy: Term
-- Provide default argument
--- Default argument type: Taxonomy Term ID from URL
-- Validator: (Choose your FAQ vocabulary)
-- Argument type: Term name or synonym
-- (Optional) Transform spaces to dashes in URL

Now turn this default view into a page that's not overridden in any way. Set the URL to be something that's NOT your vocabulary name because your URL will conflict with the default taxonomy paths ("taxonomy/term/%" - which Taxonomy sets up path aliases for from each vocabulary with each term - but that page may also be being overridden by a view included by Views by default). So if you want your URLs to be like "/faq/return-policy" then name your Vocabulary like "FAQ Terms" instead of "FAQ".

At this point you should save your new view and be able to go to "/faq/troubleshooting" or whatever. It will give you a list of questions with answers. But usually a FAQ section will also list out all questions at the top with links to answers below. How can we accomplish that?

b. Let's create a new Display that's a Block. Now override the fields and remove the Answer field. Override the display of the Question to:

<a href="#q-[nid]">[title]</a>

Optionally, set a blank title for this field. Then we will have a block that is just a list of questions. But the argument won't work anymore since it's a block. So you need to override the argument "Taxonomy: Term".

- Default argument type:
-- PHP Code
--- return arg(1);

- Validator: Basic validation + Transform dashes in URL to spaces in term name arguments

This will find the term "charity" in the path "/faq/charity" and pass it on.

5. Now that the block is created, you need to make it display. We want to display it on the top of our first view!

This is assuming you have a region in your theme for blocks at the top of content in pages. You could choose another location but it should really appear as the first content you see. But you want this block to appear ONLY on this page! So in block admin, configure the block you just created, and under:

Page specific visibility settings
- Show block on specific pages:
-- [check] Show on only the listed pages.
- Type in "faq/*"

Save the block. Now your question list with links to answers further down the page should be appearing at the top of your FAQ pages!

7. Next, you need a list of your categories. Sadly, there's no easy way for Drupal to do this. Views has a view type for taxonomies which is unfortunately not very powerful and so we can't use it to get links to "/faq/[term]" as it doesn't allow us to rewrite our own links. It allows you to link to term pages but those pages are rendered by either the Taxonomy module or that default view I mentioned earlier. Trying to override those paths with our own view is a mess, probably due to weighting.

Anyways, we can easily create a list of topics with links with a tiny bit of PHP. Create a new block using the Block admin page. In the block body:

$tree = taxonomy_get_tree($vocabulary_id=YOUR_FAQ_VOCABULARY_ID_HERE);
$html = '<ul>';
if ($tree) {
    foreach ($tree as $term) 
        $html .= '<li>' . l($term->name, 'faq/' . str_replace(' ', '-', mb_strtolower($term->name))) . '</li>';
$html .= '</ul>';
return $html;

Again, set this block to only appear on "faq/*" pages. Then configure its location into a sidebar or somewhere and you will be displaying links to each of your FAQ topics and you're done!

Syndicate content
© 2010-2014 Saigonist.