Training and Development for Drupal

Making the vocabulary of Drupal friendlier

I've been thinking why concepts within Drupal are named with such mystifying words. I led an all day Drupal training for the researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts and I saw some students having trouble "getting it" because of our choice of vocabulary in naming it.

My favorite example is "user". This is possibly the most dehumanizing word we can give to a real person. User. The word strips them of their real world-ness even when they're using our social networking sites to build intricate pages that describe how cool, funny, educated, and charismatic they really are in real life.

It's neat how vocabulary evolves slower than practice. User. I know this is a term from an age of technology used to describe accounts held by entities in a world where its important to know who owns files on an operating system. Users in the computer environment could have been any number of things including real people, other computers, other servers, software operations and more.

But the overwhelming majority of users on the web are real people! Maybe its time to talk about vocab that is more representative and personifying. Wouldn't it be neat if we could make the change from "users" to "people"?

We call one module "upload" but it really handles file transfers in both directions. A "content construction kit" suggests it can make content but its actually for making blank fields, so why not call it the "field" module. What the heck does "node" mean, anyway?

I understand the vocab but there are tons of soon to be Drupal people out there who don't. Once you teach a few hours of class in front of WHOI people who spend their days performing autopsies on dead whales its easy to notice how difficult our Drupal vocabulary is. It certainly would make these ideas easier to teach, if only because the names of the ideas make more sense to a broader base of people. I realize changing a naming convention is not something that you do overnight, but we did change "avatar" to "picture" and the world is a better place for it.


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anyone reading this article should read the follow-up discussion also:

ps: thanks for allowing comments on your drupal blog

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