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Choosing an Open Source CMS

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An overview of Drupal as a Content Management System presented at the Web Content Mavens in Washington, DC by Phase2 Technology Project Manager Joel Sackett.

An overview of Drupal as a Content Management System presented at the Web Content Mavens in Washington, DC by Phase2 Technology Project Manager Joel Sackett.

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  • \n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
  • \n
  • Source: Drupal.org\n
  • Source: Drupal.org\n
  • Source: Drupal.org\n
  • 1. At the core of the system is the big bucket of nodes—the data pool. Before anything can be displayed on the site, it must be input as data.\n 2. The next layer out from the center is where modules live. Modules are functional plug-ins that are either part of the Drupal core (they ship with Drupal) or they are contributed items that have been created by members of the Drupal community. Modules provide various functionality to expand your site’s capabilities to include things like the creation of custom data points (fields) for your nodes; event calendars; e-commerce; programmatic sorting and display of content (custom output keyed off of any number of configurable parameters that interrelate your content) and more. There are hundreds of different options within the fast growing repository of contributed Drupal modules. They represent the work of everyone from individuals to large corporations who use and rely on Drupal and are working to extend its power and usefulness.\n 3. At the next layer, we find blocks and menus. Blocks often provide the output from a module, and can be placed in various spots in your template (theme) layout. Blocks can be configured to output in various ways, as well as only showing on certain defined pages, or only for certain defined users.\n 4. Next are user permissions. This is where settings are configured to determine which things different user types have access to. Permissions are assigned to various roles, and in turn, users are associated with those various roles in order to grant them the associated permissions.\n 5. On the surface layer is the site template. This is made up predominately of XHTML and CSS, with some PHP tokens sprinkled throughout to insert content from the system into the correct spots. Also included with each template is a set of functions that can be used to override standard functions in the modules in order to provide complete control over how the modules generate their markup at output time. Templates can also be assigned on-the-fly based on user permissions.\n
  • Need Source\n
  • Open Publish slide deck\n
  • Open Publish slide deck\n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
  • http://drupal.org/getting-started/before/overview\n
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  • Transcript

    • 1. Choosing an Open Source CMSAn overview of Drupal as a Content Management System
    • 2. Introduction & What I’ll be covering• Who am I?• Overview of Drupal as a CMS• Pros & cons• Where is Drupal (and to some extent open source) headed...?• Some sites that use Drupal 2
    • 3. A little bit about me...• Joel Sackett• (Drupal) Project Manager w/ Phase2 Technology for three years – Phase2 designs, develops and supports high quality innovative web applications using open source technology. Learn more at www.phase2technology.com• I’ve managed approx. 15 medium to large Drupal site build-outs – I have also managed Wordpress projects (and used it for personal stuff) 3
    • 4. Understanding Drupal: The official explanation Drupal is an open source social publishing software that empowers individuals, teams, and communities to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. It offers flexibility through vetted systems and tools that empower users to leverage previous community successes through modules and create unlimited new functionalities with a flexible architecture. Drupal was also designed to allow third parties to create and customize new features and behaviors through APIs. The Drupal framework offers a sophisticated programming interface for developers, but few programming skills are required for basic website installation and administration. Drupal is written in PHP and can run on any platform that supports: • a web server capable of running PHP (version 4.3.5+), including Apache and IIS • OS: Linux, BSD, Solaris, Windows, and Mac OS X • a database, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL, to store content and settings. 4Source: Idealware report
    • 5. Understanding Drupal: The layman’s translation Drupal is an open source CMS with a social flare (read: web 2.0 pre-wired) It is flexible and lets you utilize contributions from thousands of developers. People can do some really amazing things with Drupal, as it has very few inherent limitations. Its hard if you want it to be, but you can keep it simple if you try. Plus, there is an incredible community of developers and consultants should you ever need help. 5Source: Idealware report
    • 6. Social Publishing Software Participation-Driven Websites users content blogs / workflow wikis forums / taxonomy Content Social Social comments Mgmt Publishing Software Systems Systems Tools ratings search tagging RSS social analytics networksSource:
    • 7. Key Drupal terms: Content Node: a primary unit of content. It has a unique URL given by the system. It can also be given a custom URL as well (an "alias,"). When people refer to "a node" all they mean is a piece of content stored within Drupal. A node could be a poll, a story, an image, a book page, etc. Nodes belong to a "content type." The "Page" and "Story" content types come set up in the default installation. Many more can be added. And with the help of the Content Construction Kit (CCK) you can extend the number and types of fields for each content type. Nodes can have taxonomy terms (categories) applied to it, files attached to it, and be extended in many ways.Source: Drupal.org
    • 8. Key Drupal terms: Code Module: software (code) that extends Drupal features and/or functionality. Core modules are those included with the main download of Drupal. Contributed (or "contrib") modules are available for separate download from the modules section of Drupal.org. Modules can be written to do just about anything in Drupal without modifying the core functionality.Source: Drupal.org
    • 9. Key Drupal terms: User interface Theme: is the way your site is displayed to the end-user. The graphic look, layout and colors of Drupal sites are defined by the themes. Block: a method for positioning data within a page. Blocks contains content, like a node, but is conceived of as lighter weight and is not as flexible as a node. Blocks are often positioned in the sidebars of a web site. Menu: a list of links. Menus become available as blocks after they are created. The look of menus are typically controlled by the theme. Views: A module which allows site developers a simple graphical interface for modifying the presentation of content.Views permits selection of specific fields and filters for what to display (ie. list, full nodes, teasers, etc.)Source: Drupal.org
    • 10. Drupal Layers: Architecture (or is it Marketecture?)Source: Drupal.org
    • 11. Idealware comparison chartSource: Idealware: Comparing Open Source CMS
    • 12. Why we (phase2) use Drupal Performance/Reliability: Dozens of major  Large Community Support: You publishers turn to Drupal and tens of thousands of need a community that is active, robust, high traffic sites because it is an enterprise class responsive and growing. We are involved platform. in the Drupal community and have an ear to the ground on features and changes that would affect your site. Ease/Expense of Implementation: development shops worldwide find they can be as  Easy Staff Training: The Drupal efficient as anyone on this platform and use is as CMS is intuitive and we are well versed their preferred technology. in training others to use it. To support training, there are numerous videos, online tutorials, local classes and even Evolving Technology Extensibility: You books on how it works. need something modular/extensible that allows you to add new features easily and it is all possible with Drupal.  Decreased Support Costs: Organizations find they can do a lot more themselves and when they do Easier Modular Enhancements: Drupals need help, the time is a fraction of what architecture is modular and integrates well a proprietary CMS would cost for without requiring customization to core similar changes. components that would make them difficult to maintain. 12
    • 13. Some potential cons (that can be over-come!) Accessibility: Out of the box, Drupal does not offer full-blown accessibility support (508 compliance, etc). But, it can be over-come (whitehouse.gov...) Perception that Open Source = cheap: While Drupal may be free, that does not mean that everyone who implements Drupal can do so on the cheap. There are a lot of services inherent to a complex site build that should be considered (project management, information architecture, design, etc) - providers of these services are not necessarily ‘cheaper’ just because they utilize Open Source/Drupal. Ongoing maintenance & support: Not necessarily a con, but something to consider. Drupal is not a magic panacea: Special project needs require extra due diligence. For example, if your organization is constantly targeted from a security perspective, simply switching to Drupal is not necessarily a cure-all. 13
    • 14. Understanding the open source landscape• OSS (Open Source Software) is only as good as the community that supports it: – Drupal community is very robust. – The Drupal community is very good at recognizing the contributions of others. – Open source is only the opposite of closed source. – The idea of “vendor-provided” and “open source” solutions are not opposites. • Distributions... 14
    • 15. What’s to like about open source?• Cost• Ease/expense of implementation• No vendor tie in• Control over destiny – Contributions – Openness• Community support• Modularity• Community innovation 15
    • 16. Sounds good, so what’s the catch?• You have to pick the right community• Where to start? – Lots of options that are hard to evaluate – You will probably need consulting help – Documentation/training may be limited• Maintenance & support should be taken seriously as an ongoing cost/activity• Staying up to date – Upgrades and patches – Knowledge of the community• Requires discipline to stick to the architecture model 16
    • 17. Things to consider...• Drupal has the potential to be a very complex platform. Because of this, it can solve really complex problems. There are a lot of options, settings and screens, and the flexibility of the system means it’s important to think before diving in. – Sometimes it is best to get an outside perspective - when you are too close to a legacy system, even ‘new solutions’ start to look a lot like the old ones. – Consider on-going development needs. If developed iteratively, without a lot of documentation along the way, it can be harder for a new developer to just jump in - Drupal or any other system can’t mitigate this problem. – Drupal by itself cannot get you past certain hurdles, such as scalability requirements, complex data relationships, etc. This often requires the help of seasoned professionals; again regardless of the system. 17
    • 18. Dispelling the myth of the ‘whatever module’• Because Drupal is powerful, flexible, and extensible, there seems to be the myth that you can just install the ‘whatever module’ and all of your problems will go away.• The truth is, modules tend to really only get you between 50% - 80% of the way there. There will always be the need for additional code, bug fixes, resolution of unexpected results, upgrade issues, etc. A module description is really only that - a description written by someone who installed it in a very specific environment. Module contributors cannot always take into account 100% of the use-cases that other users will come up with. 18
    • 19. What’s next for Drupal?• The latest release of Drupal was focused mainly around improving the administrative functions within Drupal admin.• As Drupal continues to gain traction as an enterprise level solution, distributions will become more and more prevalent.• Complex workflow, document management and on-demand theme additions are all areas of potential future improvement. 19
    • 20. Sites using Drupal• www.examiner.com• www.whitehouse.gov• www.garmin.com• www.bestbuymobile.com• www.commerce.gov• www.tnr.com• www.nation.com• www.savannahnow.com• www.economist.com• labs.reuters.com• www.house.gov 20