CWDO Website Changes

by Jeffrey Stark

November 23rd, 2009

Executive Summary

 

Moving to an open source content management system such as Drupal would allow more capability, quicker page updates, multiple authors, multiple revisions, better integration with social media such as twitter, and a more standard compliant site.

 

 

Current Situation

 

Currently the CWDO.org web pages are manually entered using a Microsoft web design tool. Only one person can enter the material, upload it to the site and make changes.

 

Content Management System

 

By implementing a web based content management system; CWDO can have as complex or simple of a system as is appropriate. Having one or more people sharing any of the following roles:

  • Creator – responsible for creating and editing content.
  • Editor – responsible for tuning the content message and the style of delivery, including translation and localization.
  • Publisher – responsible for releasing the content for use.
  • Administrator – responsible for managing access permissions to folders and files, usually accomplished by assigning access rights to user groups or roles. Admins may also assist and support users in various ways.

A critical aspect of content management is the ability to manage versions of content as it evolves. Authors and editors often need to restore older versions of edited products due to a process failure or an undesirable series of edits.

Another equally important aspect of content management involves the creation, maintenance, and application of review standards. Each member of the content creation and review process has a unique role and set of responsibilities in the development and/or publication of the content. Each review team member requires clear and concise review standards which must be maintained on an ongoing basis to ensure the long-term consistency and health of the knowledge base.

 

A content management system is a set of automated processes that supports the following features:

  • Identification of all key users and their roles.
  • The ability to assign roles and responsibilities to different instances of content categories or types.
  • Definition of workflow tasks often coupled with messaging so that content managers are alerted to changes in content.
  • The ability to track and manage multiple versions of a single instance of content.
  • The ability to publish the content to a repository to support access to the content. Increasingly, the repository is an inherent part of the system, and incorporates enterprise search and retrieval.

 

For more information on what a content management system is, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_management

 

 

For more information on the options of content management solutions see: http://www.idealware.org/articles/joomla_drupal_plone.php

 

Recommendations

 

Drupal

 

(pronounced /ˈdruːpəl/) is a free and open source Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. It is used as a back-end system for many different types of websites, ranging from small personal blogs to Enterprise 2.0 collaboration and knowledge management uses to large corporate and political sites.[4] High-traffic Drupal-based websites include ubuntu.com and seobook.com.[5] In October 2009, the administration of U.S. president Barack Obama adopted Drupal for the official Whitehouse.gov website.[6][7][8]

 

The standard release of Drupal, known as Drupal core, contains basic features common to most CMSs. These include the ability to register and maintain individual user accounts within a flexible and rich permission / privilege system, create and manage menus, RSS-feeds, customize page layout, perform logging, and administer the system. As installed, Drupal provides options to create a classic brochureware website, a single- or multi-user blog, an Internet forum, or a community website providing for User-generated content.

 

Drupal was also designed to allow new features and custom behavior to be added to extend Drupal’s core capabilities. This is done via installation of plug-in modules (known as contrib modules) created and contributed to the project by open source community members. For this reason, Drupal is sometimes described as a content management framework.[2]

 

Although Drupal offers a sophisticated programming interface for developers, no programming skills are required for basic website installation and administration.[9]

 

Drupal can run on any computing platform that supports both a web server capable of running PHP version 4.3.5+ (including Apache, IIS, Lighttpd, and nginx) and a database (such as MySQL or PostgreSQL) to store content and settings.[3]

 

Criticism of Drupal

Usability: Some aspects of Drupal’s administration interface can be confusing and intimidating, particularly for new administrators.[41] According to the Interaction Design and Information Architecture program at the University of Baltimore, Drupal lacks an intuitive, easy administration user interface.[42][43][44] The administration area is regarded as clunky and cryptic with Drupal version 5 and 6, but improved ease of use is planned with the upcoming version 7. According to Dries Buytaert, Drupal 7 won’t be released until 90% of the problems identified by the University of Minnesota[45][46] and the University of Baltimore[44] are solved. Usability will be one of the main improvements in Drupal 7 that will close the gap with easier CMSs.

Learning curve: Some users have described Drupal as having a fairly steep learning curve. [41][47][48]

Backward Compatibility (for software development): Drupal’s designers have decided that, in terms of programming, backward compatibility may be sacrificed with each major revision.[49] As a result, sometimes a new version’s code is not compatible with a previous version. This means that contrib module and theme developers may be required to re-work some or all of their previous code to ensure compatibility with the latest version of Drupal. However, the policy enforced for Drupal core development is that Drupal may change an API, but it will not change how it uses your data. This means that while code may need changing between major releases, data from previous versions will still be usable without the need to alter the data itself in the new release.[50][51]

Performance / Scalability: In 2006, performance tests between Drupal 4.x and Joomla 1.x branch demonstrated that Drupal’s Web pages were delivered 44% slower compared with Joomla. To improve performance, Drupal offers caching to store static pages, the use of which resulted in a 508% improvement. Static pages are typically delivered to only anonymous visitors who have not logged in; contributed modules must be installed to allow page caching for authenticated users.[52] Thus, dramatic performance improvements from caching may not reflect real-world usage of a Drupal site.[53] Like performance, scalability, or the ability for a Web site to handle a growing number of concurrent visitors, can become a concern on large interactive sites. Scalability is typically improved by optimizations of the code.[citation needed] Particularly, SQL query caching can help offset the load to the database server caused by Drupal’s high query rate.[54][55] Since version 6, Drupal caches database schema as well as elements such as blocks, forms and menus.[56] Development versions of Drupal 7 increase performance in database queries with simultaneous performance decreases in PHP code usage

 

The down side

  • All content will need to be moved over to the new site (time consuming)
  • The current site’s “look” might need to be changed
    • Or someone may need to be hired to develop a template in Drupal that matches the CWDO site
  • Each person in a content creation, publishing, editing, moderation or administration role will require training on Drupal
  • New processes and procedures will need to be developed for CM workflow

 

Conclusion

 

With limited resources, volunteers and a need for information in a timely fashion, a Content Management System approach is necessary. This would allow more people to get involved in managing and maintaining the website. Drupal, while not the only content management system, has no cost in it’s usage and provides a wealth of features.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 4, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Great article, again. These informations are especially useful …

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

  • (your email will not be published)