Thursday, June 21, 2007


In the course of my current work, I stumbled upon Drupal. I've heard of Drupal in the past -it's the open source content management system (CMS, for short) that powers thousands of web sites. Some of the biggies use it, like slashdot. The beauty of a CMS is that it takes the drudgery of building a website out of your hands. Content creation, categorization and relationships are baked into the product. Additionally, and most importantly Drupal has a large and vibrant ecosystem of users and developers that contribute to the project and user community. Drupal is written on top of the so-called AMP stack (Apache webserver, MySQL relational database, PHP programming language) -commonly referred to as LAMP (Add Linux at the front.) Its architecture is one of the reasons that historically I've not paid much attention to it. I've only recently caved and started to develop in PHP in response to some new clients' needs. While my gripes about the encapsulation and interoperability of this development toolset remain, I can't help but be impressed by the massive amount of "plain 'ole it just works" products out there that have been developed with this stuff. It's not an exaggeration to say that possibly the largest single chunk of web faff out there is deployed using LAMP.

But I digress. Drupal is what has me jizzed at the moment. All three new clients I've taken on have unique requirements that can be relatively easily met with Drupal and some additional modules. My favorite module  so far has been the Audio module, which snapped in to a Drupal installation like a dream and provided instant podcasting support for my local synagogue. The most powerful and far-reaching modules I've encountered so far are the view module, which provides custom and themeable views and the CCK module, which is a powerful extension for adding custom fields to Drupal content types, or nodes, in Drupal parlance. Yes, they have a parlance. The user community is rabid in its devotion to this. I've been immersed in Drupal for almost two weeks now and have learned a lot from two podcasts in particular. The Geeks & God podcast on Podcasting with Drupal pointed me to the solution I'm using at one site. The Lullabot podcast is pretty much the bees knees on Drupal podcasting, AFAIK. It seems that the Lullabot crew are also quite definitive in all their Drupal work. I've been having trouble setting up a proper Drupal development including remote debugging, but this tutorial on the IBM website (of all places!) may address that problem. To paraphrase the Sony exec interviewed in Lullabot podcast 39: "It seemed like the Drupal community was a cult. My experience has been that with technology cults are a good thing." So there you have it, I've joined a cult! Feel the Love. Peace Out.

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