Learning Drupal

Drupal LogoI am in the process of creating a website for the JSPCA. To do that, after researching a bunch of different options, I decided to go with Drupal. Drupal is a very powerful tool for creating CMSs (Content Management Systems) and there are a ton of existing modules you can add to it to get the functionality that you need to make a great site.

In some ways its a lot easier than MediaWiki. There is a very simple interface for turning on and off modules. You don’t need to do a stitch of programming to get a pretty powerful site up quickly.

TheĀ  main reason that I chose Drupal was its extensive permissions system. With MediaWiki you can have group-based permissions for the site. In Drupal you can set permissions down to the page level. The site that I am in the process of creating is not a wiki site. It is a content site where some people can add articles, others can add new animals for adoptions, and others can read and comment on existing content. Did I mention that it also needs to have the ability to be trilingual (Hebrew, English and Russian)?

What I’ve been finding frustrating is the number of dependencies that you are expected to know about. I keep installing new modules, think that I finally found the one that will solve my problems, only to find that there are other modules that the ones I have to install to get it to work properly.

Drupal seems to be more powerful than MediaWiki, but it also seems to be a lot heavier. Since it’s a CMS, which includes Wikis, Blogs, Forums, Pages and user-created content types, you can mold it to do what you like.

Documentation is really hit-or-miss with the different modules. I am currently trying to figure out how to use date-range faceted search, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it. I want to be able to allow people to select the search results for the animals by age, but I’ll be darned if I know how to get it working. This is just one example, but I seem to go on a lot of fishing trips. I’m sure that I’ll figure it out eventually.