Collaborating with the Community

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This is a presentation that a UD colleague and I did at Villanova on March 30, 2009. We were asked to share our strategies and challenges in implementing Drupal as a campus-wide IT-hosted service.

This is a presentation that a UD colleague and I did at Villanova on March 30, 2009. We were asked to share our strategies and challenges in implementing Drupal as a campus-wide IT-hosted service.

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  • 1. How the University of Delaware is Deploying Drupal March 30, 2009 Tina Callahan tina.callahan@udel.edu Richard Gordon richard@udel.edu
  • 2. Outline  Selection of Drupal at UD  Basic design of UD Drupal services  Challenges and Opportunities  Possible next steps
  • 3. In the beginning…  Size and diversity of population  20,000+ students  4,000+ faculty/staff  Various web development efforts  Majority in Dreamweaver templates  Keeping websites fresh was a challenge  Varied skill of developers  Central web server and distributed web servers  Time and money vs. effectiveness of site
  • 4. And, then there was change  New Administration  Budget Woes  Branding exercise  Need for… Efficient workflow  Consistent and branded appearance  Dynamic content  Embedded media files  Additional tools and services (SEO, RSS feeds, calendars)  Flexibility
  • 5. A CMS can help!  Database driven  Separation of design and content (Template adoption)  Uses cascading style sheets (CSS) for layout and design  Accessible from anywhere  Managed through the web site interface  Content publishing can be managed  No HTML knowledge is necessary (content providers)  Saves times (especially with multiple editors)  Content is search engine friendly  Content is syndicated (by default)
  • 6. Selecting Drupal  Information Technologies (IT) chaired CMS committee  faculty and staff from UD colleges  administrative staff  IT staff  staff from UD Office of Communication and Marketing (OCM).  Looked at…  Other Universities  Commercial CMS products  Open-source CMS products.  After a series of focus group meetings, Drupal was selected!
  • 7. What is Drupal? Drupal is…  A database-driven web application written in PHP.  An open-source Content Management System (CMS) freely available under the GPL.  A community building platform.  A web development framework. Use Drupal as a platform to build a broad range of web applications. -Source: Drupal For Education and E-Learning, Author: Bill Fitzgerald
  • 8. What is Drupal? Drupal supports… Drupal permits you…  websites  to define access rules for registered users. (This  secure or public blogging helps to define what the  forum discussions user can do on your site.)  polls  change the look (A.K.A.  stories and books theme) of your site without  syndication of content touching the content.  Web2.0 applications (social bookmarking, etc.)
  • 9. What is Drupal? • Started in 2000 by Dries Buytaert in his college dormitory • Began as a personal project to communicate and share information with friends • “Dorpje” = Dutch word for village • Typo when searching for available domain names resulted in Drop.org • “Druppel” = Dutch word for drop • Official Release in 2001 History of Drupal: http://drupal.org/node/297669
  • 10. Drupal is Free Free as in “freedom” Free as in “free beer”
  • 11. What is Drupal?  Drupal now used by a wide variety of commercial and educational institutions.  Meteoric growth reported at DrupalConDC earlier this month:  1.5 million unique logins/month to drupal.org  200,000 downloads of the Drupal core per month (last year)  Over 4,000 user-contributed modules  Last year, 100% growth.  “Hundreds of thousands of sites; thousands of developers.” - Dries Buytaert, March 13, 2009
  • 12. Drupal is a CMS
  • 13. Drupal is a Framework Robust & Extensible!!
  • 14. Drupal is a Community Anyone can submit patches, documentation, modules, and themes. Frequent release cycle of core. Regular security audits from security team and 3rd party members.
  • 15. Basic Design of UD Drupal Services  3 web servers  Sun Fire X2200 M2  Dual 2.3 GHZ AMD Opteron Quad Core Processor  8 Gigabytes RAM  1 Terabyte Mirrored Hard Disk  Running Solaris 10 X86 Kernel Patch 138889-02
  • 16. Basic Design of UD Drupal Services  Apache 2.2.6  PHP 5.2.5  MySQL 5.0.67  Drupal 6.10  Modules selected by Drupal Steering and vetted by IT  All modules at full version release only – no beta modules permitted  One Drupal code-base with “vetted modules” = UD core  Multi-site installation; easier patching and upgrades
  • 17. User perspective of Drupal services Drupal-prod Drupal-dev • Limited File • No file system system access access • Backup nightly • Backup nightly • DB • DB • File System • File System • User performs • Content editing, development and modification Drupal-test • Implementation of testing • No user access • Initial content tested functionalities • Backup nightly creation (Major • DB • File System upgrades) • IT “sandbox” – testing versions, updates
  • 18. Online Resources IT – User Ed Workshops Webdev Community & Consultations UD Drupal Documentation Training & Support Drupal Workouts Opportunities IT Help Center Mini-workshops
  • 19. The Community at Work!  Drupal Steering Committee created.  Comprised of Drupal developers on campus  Mission: to drive IT towards hosting a desirable web development package that is well-suited for the entire UD campus.
  • 20. The Community at Work!  Drupal Steering Committee in action:  Stay current on new Drupal developments and on UD campus desire for new functionality.  Funnel campus requests for new functionality in “UD core Drupal.”  Advise IT on the usefulness of requested modules.  Encourage IT to grow Drupal services with the current community-wide demand.
  • 21. Timeline for IT Drupal Services  Drupal Selected: February 2008  Preparation: February – November 2008  Hire Tina: December 2008  “Alpha” Development: December ‘08 – January ’09  Steering Committee Formed: February 2009  “Beta” Development: February – March 2009  First live site: April 2009  Basic Support: Summer 2009  Full Support: Fall 2009
  • 22. Challenges & Opportunities  Security vs. Flexibility  Drupal is modular  IT-hosted vs. locally hosted - user must decide  Support  Strength of the Web Developer community  Volunteer-based  Drupal is new to IT staff; learning curve
  • 23. Challenges & Opportunities  Timeline  Web refresh  RBB – departments are accountable for recruitment and publicized signs of excellence  Building a robust package for generic use  Automation  Maintenance of possible 300+ sites  Server loads  Module adoption, deprecation, core upgrades  Update.php
  • 24. Next Steps: Automation  Current requests for Drupal sites are handled manually and each site is configured manually by the site admin.  The process can be automated so that a user can submit a form that generates a site with theme, modules, and user roles pre-activated.
  • 25. Next Steps: Virtualization  Virtualization fits in with one of our campus-wide “Green Initiatives.”  Like an ISP, we could offer virtualization on a central system rather than departments owning their own servers for Drupal and other applications.  Would offer more flexibility in how each Drupal site is configured.
  • 26. Next Steps: UD-Drupal Bundles  Remember: UD environment includes central Drupal service and a robust community of departmental Drupal servers—real and virtual.  Bundle UD Core Drupal, modules, and documentation for download to departmental servers.  Departments will be able to use or modify UD Core as suits their needs.
  • 27. Next Steps: Leveraging Drupal’s Power  Current Focus: Developers and Site Admins  Drupal’s Power: We can configure roles and modules to allow content providers with minimal computing experience to take control of their content.  Separation of Content and Presentation: “End User” can concentrate on content; “Site Admin” (or IT) on presentation.
  • 28. Questions and Discussion  Tina Callahan Project Lead, Drupal Office of Information Technologies University of Delaware tina.callahan@udel.edu  Richard Gordon Acting Manager, IT Communication Group Office of Information Technologies University of Delaware richard@udel.edu