Doing Drupal: Quick Start Deployments via Distributions


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With its extensive range of contributed modules, Drupal is a highly adaptable content management system. From huge mass-media publishing gateways such as and open data repositories such as to a broad range of university websites and countless blog, community-building, and social networking projects, Drupal has proven itself capable of supporting diverse business and user requirements.

Recently some useful Drupal distributions have pre-packaged leading-edge modules to facilitate creation of highly advanced, customisable websites. These distributions harness the power of Drupal's extensible modular framework, with the ease of 'famous 5 minute installation'.

In this computer-lab-based session, participants review and explore newly released Drupal distributions, with focus on a distribution providing automated content and data aggregation, tagging, mapping, and trend visualisation. Learning objectives include: understanding how Drupal distributions can simplify CMS set-up and deployment; appraising use cases; evaluating institutional benefits and challenges.

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Doing Drupal: Quick Start Deployments via Distributions

  1. 1. UKOLN is supported by: Doing Drupal: Quick Start Deployments via Distributions Thom Bunting, Web Manager IWMW 2011, University of Reading 27 July 2011
  2. 2. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>Like many possibilities of (5890+)* Lego pieces </li></ul>Photos source: * Number of contributed modules in Drupal version 6: July 2011
  3. 3. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>And versatility of a Swiss army knife </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>Fundamentally modular in design (and getting more so), Drupal can adapt to a wide range of use cases and interface with diverse systems: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>university websites </li></ul><ul><li> high-profile sites in many categories </li></ul><ul><li>(And it does blogs well too.) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>Versatility adaptable to new contexts </li></ul>Drupal data-driven website: <ul><li>Drupal is significantly extending capacities for consuming and producing dynamic data sets / data-driven content </li></ul><ul><li>Range of managed 'content' is expanding: large-scale aggregation / analysis of data is becoming a first-class citizen in CMS universe </li></ul><ul><li>Recent developments increase scope for managing and presenting large / disparate / previously hidden datasets </li></ul>
  5. 5. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>High versatility suits web-scale dynamics </li></ul>Graphic source: <ul><li>Drupal community actively developing highly modular framework as best approach long-term </li></ul><ul><li>A typical view: </li></ul><ul><li>Site Unseen: Shopping a CMS? Consider what you haven't seen, not what's hot now </li></ul>
  6. 6. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>Versatility risks complexity </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>With so much going on, how to make everything manageable? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Drupal: framework / CMS <ul><li>Paradox of modularity </li></ul>Cartoon source: <ul><li>Adrian Rollett and Adam Jensen from University of North Texas (where Drupal was selected as “official campus CMS”) consider how highly modular systems present the age-old Gestalt paradox: </li></ul><ul><li>the whole > sum of parts </li></ul><ul><li>how to maintain integrity of the whole (vis-à-vis disparate pieces)? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Drupal: a crucial challenge <ul><li>Managing integrity of highly modular systems </li></ul>Illustration source: <ul><li>For those technically inclined, Rollett and Jensen’s presentation offers concise, helpful guidance on ‘rolling your own’ </li></ul><ul><li>Rollett and Jensen explain how developers can manage automated deployments of Drupal sites using drush-make , installation profiles , and features </li></ul>
  9. 9. Drupal: a crucial challenge <ul><li>Three configuration tools can help: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>drush-make (command-line tool) extending drush command-line tool into utility that can create a ready-to-use Drupal site, pulling sources from various locations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>features (automated configuration sets) providing UI and API for taking different site building components from modules with exportables and bundling them together into a single ‘features’ configuration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>installation profiles (pre-configured installation packages) providing site features and functions for a specific type of site as a single download containing Drupal core, contributed modules, themes, and pre-defined configuration </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Drupal: a crucial challenge <ul><li>Who can use configuration tools? </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>Techies </li></ul><ul><li>Configuration management normally requires considerable technical expertise </li></ul>
  11. 11. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distributions moving beyond high-tech silos </li></ul>Photo source:
  12. 12. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Advanced technology, packaged with care </li></ul><ul><li> discusses state-of-play in the Drupal distributions: “ Something we seem to utterly lack is an easy way to find a list of Drupal distributions. For vocabulary purposes (since this is how average people think of these terms), distributions are polished &quot;products&quot; with Drupal under the hood, like: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> [Conference Organization Distribution, events platform] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [Open Atrium, team collaboration platform] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [Open Publish, on-line media publishing platform] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [Acquia Commons, open social business platform] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [Videola, enterprise-level video management / delivery platform] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ The target end-user for these distributions is often someone without any Drupal experience at all; a lot of the rough edges are smoothed over, and lots of care is given to user experience.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distributions as a primary download option? </li></ul><ul><li> discusses ‘distributions’ vs. ‘installation profiles’: “ Installation profiles (which we do have a list of), on the other hand, are ‘Drupal with some other stuff bundled in and pre-configured for convenience.’ This is useful, too. For example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> [Drupal Commerce base configuration] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [replication of for testing purposes] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [base site for setting up local translations] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [quick install of Drupal 7 media project modules] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> [jump start for Planet-style news aggregator] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ But these two things [installation profiles and distributions] are not remotely the same. And everywhere we talk about them, we seem to treat them as they're the same. Heck, the group that's focused on this is even called Distribution Profiles. Ugh.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think there's a lot of value in creating a listing of distributions that's separate from a list of installation profiles, and promoting this as a primary download type. Because for people for whom Drupal is too hard, distributions [are] a lot of times what they need.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distributions easy to use, even for newbies </li></ul>Photo source:
  15. 15. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distribution benefits if you are Drupal newbie </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>Highly advanced ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality, installed within (~5) minutes </li></ul><ul><li>Admin / user-interfaces well developed and tested </li></ul><ul><li>Helpful support / documentation sets </li></ul>
  16. 16. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distribution benefits if you are technical guru </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>Fully developed examples of best practice from which to learn (typically at ‘cutting edge’) </li></ul><ul><li>Extensible via ‘contrib modules’ installed via drush or ‘features server’ add-ons </li></ul>
  17. 17. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Distribution challenges for everyone </li></ul>Photo source: <ul><li>How closely does a distribution fit your specific requirements? </li></ul><ul><li>How easily can you tweak a distribution? </li></ul><ul><li>Is a distribution well maintained with functionality and security updates? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Session activities: exploring distributions </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Open Atrium’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li> (private demo site for IWMW conference session participants) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Drupal: the crucial challenge <ul><li>Session activities: exploring distributions </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Managing News’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li> (demo site for IWMW conference session participants) See also: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Wrap-up discussion Photo source:
  21. 21. References: Drupal & distributions <ul><li>Basic information </li></ul><ul><li>Drupal FAQ </li></ul><ul><li>Drupal Distro Watch </li></ul><ul><li>Open Atrium </li></ul><ul><li>Managing News </li></ul><ul><li>More technical information </li></ul><ul><li>Quick install for developers (command line) </li></ul><ul><li>Drush Make: Drupal Distributions Packaging Automation Tool </li></ul><ul><li>Drupal Distributions with Drush Make </li></ul>
  22. 22. Contact details Dr. Thom Bunting UKOLN University of Bath Bath BA2 7AY Email: [email_address] Tel: +44 (0)1225 386 066
  23. 23. More information about UKOLN Web: Email: [email_address]