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Drupal themes and modules to support following project

Posted on 2012-04-09
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Last Modified: 2012-04-16
The Project:
A site for kids to write their stories on line. The home page would have a new writing tip each week and a link to login to be be directed to a work area where only they have write access. There they can make their own background, write their stories with pictures and text and/or upload PDFs, pictures, and teasers for stories they want to sell, etc. E.G. it needs to be easy. They could send e-mails with links to family and friends with links to their story. They must be able to assign their stories to pre-defined categories so people could browse the site by category, author, etc.

What I need:
Watching several of the tutorials, it became obvious that the efficiencies of Drupal are derived from the themes and modules you install. What I need is advice as to which version, themes, modules, and strategy to use to support this first project that will help me to learn how to learn Drupal. Thanks!
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Question by:IT_Architect
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by:junipllc
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Hello,

That is a difficult decision, but I think for this project I'd definitely recommend Drupal 7. Many of the modules that exist for Drupal 6 have not yet been ported over to D7; however, all of the ideas above can be accomplished with the modules that are.

First and foremost, you won't need an external (contributed, also called "contrib") module for the categories. That's built into Drupal and it's called Taxonomy. Each user account would also be handled by the core of Drupal, although if you wanted to add snazzy profiles then there are some really great modules that can accomplish that with minimal effort (search Drupal.org http://drupal.org/ for modules...there are thousands!)

Theme-wise you have a huge number of choices. If you already have a design for the site, for example in Photoshop or coded in HTML, then you can use a "starter" theme such as Zen or Omega or any of the other amazing kits out there. Since this is your first real foray into Drupal I'd highly recommend you use a theme that supports the Skinr module.

I just realized that I dropped back into Drupal 6 mentally there for a moment but the above should still be true. When you create the editing area for the children you can use a WYSIWYG editor, and there are ways to customize them so only certain tools can be used, such as bold, italics, justification, insertion of images, and so on. You can also restrict or eliminate the possibility for them to insert malicious content (yes, it does happen, even with the best of intentions -- JavaScript can be dangerous if left to the user).

That idea sounds absolutely amazing. I think Drupal will be the perfect fit for it, especially Drupal 7 since it is much, much easier to use.

I'm just rambling on since it's super late at night...but I'll check back to see how you're doing if I have a chance in the next day or two.

Good luck, and let us know if you need anything!

Mike

P.S. You might want to use the Request Attention feature to ask for this question to be placed into the Drupal zone. It exists, but the moderators of the site have decided to keep it out of the initial area where you chose "Content Management" until there is more interest in Drupal. You can probably get even more feedback if it's posted in there.
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by:IT_Architect
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P.S. You might want to use the Request Attention feature to ask for this question to be placed into the Drupal zone. It exists, but the moderators of the site have decided to keep it out of the initial area where you chose "Content Management" until there is more interest in Drupal. You can probably get even more feedback if it's posted in there.
Got it!  I looked high and low for a Drupal category.  29% of sites use CMS of some form or another.  Of those, 54% are WordPress, and Drupal is 6.6%.  Since Drupal 7 came out in Jan. 2011, even while being initially handicapped waiting for modules to be ported from 6, it has been the ONLY major CMS gaining market share in a market where every other major CMS player has been losing.  This trend has held steady month after month for more than a year.  At some point Experts-Exchange may need to review their position to make sure it hasn't evolved into, "The reason we don't stock bananas is because we haven't sold any."
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by:junipllc
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Ha! Awesome. Yes, I've petitioned as well but that is their position as of this point. There is no way to post a new question into the Drupal zone itself. Drupal is very specialized, so perhaps if we show enough interest they will reconsider. I see people in the other Content Management categories try to answer a Drupal question using the knowledge they have of other CMSes or even just straight PHP. Not a good thing considering you've got to use the Drupal API and the "Drupal Way" if you're going to create anything maintainable and secure.

Actually, I've been told they will reconsider if there is enough interest.

It's not my site, I just volunteer here, so I'm not rocking any boats, haha.

Welcome to the Drupal world. Enjoy your stay. It's a comfortable, wonderful place.
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by:IT_Architect
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Welcome to the Drupal world. Enjoy your stay. It's a comfortable, wonderful place.
It's always difficult to know which to go with.  I posted my requirements, and the guys who responded normally favored WordPress, but these were their comments:

"Best CMS for your situation is Drupal.  It's very flexible, wysiwyg content management, easy file upload, etc."
"Given your requirements I would also lean towards Drupal over Wordpress even though I primarily use Wordpress for most jobs.  "
"I don't hesitate to recommend Wordpress for probably 95% of what I'm asked to do.  But Drupal is an excellent, if dense, platform and can do things that Wordpress has a little trouble with."

"My web site is Wordpress.  It's more straightforward.  With Wordpress, the back end looks like the front end.  It's easier to pass off to a client, or someone less technical, and he will 'get it'.  It's easier for me because things are consistent across sites.  However, if the site needs to be built around a community, Drupal is far better.  Pretty much anything else, I would argue for Wordpress.  It's not just users and permissions, there are so many other parts just built for that type of environment that you really don't even think about until you need them, and they are already there and coordinated.  The database is probably done more 'right', but you won't have two sites alike, so maintenance and upgrades won't be as easy.  Drupal is for when simple becomes an obstacle you must continually work around, and the realization that there is going to have to be somebody involved,  with at least some technical skill, to oversee it."

 I know Wordpress has the greater demand in the market, but not one argued for Wordpress.  That also fit with my research, sooo I'll wade in I guess.  The install of Drupal 7 was one mouse click in WampDeveloper.  What next is the question.  I've seen in some tutorials what a huge difference installing the right modules makes.  I've found one site that lists modules that make a lot of sense for what I'm doing:   Great Drupal CMS Modules for Building a College Community Website  Starting with the right modules would help a lot, but learning the fastest way to wrap my head around Drupal would also be huge.
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junipllc earned 500 total points
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Hmmm, you know that's pretty interesting. I typically see the "Drupal vs. WordPress" discussions turning almost into fanboy wars much like the Mac vs. PC debate. I'm biased, I love Drupal. I also like WordPress for what it's good for.

However, Drupal has a "way" of doing things (which, coincidentally, is called "The Drupal Way" officially). It takes a little getting used to but once you are the power of the CMS/framework comes out to play.

That's the other part of the difference between the heavyweights: WP is a CMS. Drupal is both a CMS and a framework.

In your situation you could conceivably go both ways. If you plan to add onto the system down the road then Drupal might be worth learning. Books that are essential: The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, Pro Drupal Development (second edition for Drupal 6), and/or Pro Drupal 7 Development. All are published by Apress.

I would also go to the module lists on http://drupal.org/ and jump through the categories. By default, each listing is sorted by the popularity (a.k.a. the number of installs of that particular module). That's typically a good indication that it's a good one to test out. Some of them might surprise you. One checkbox may open up a world of possibilities. :)

I just wanted to check in to see how you're doing. If I come across any good material for you to take a look at I'll let you know.

Cheers!

Mike
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by:IT_Architect
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Hmmm, you know that's pretty interesting. I typically see the "Drupal vs. WordPress" discussions turning almost into fanboy wars much like the Mac vs. PC debate.
You've go that right.  I had very low expectations when I posted that.  I still haven't recovered.  I think it's safe to say that I lucked out.

It takes a little getting used to but once you are the power of the CMS/framework comes out to play.  That's the other part of the difference between the heavyweights: WP is a CMS. Drupal is both a CMS and a framework.
I don't understand what you mean by this.

Other:

I just spent a week of 12 hour days experimenting with and evaluating Drupal. I couldn't imagine using D6 now that I see the differences.  I've used Drupal 7 to implement Barkik, Garland, Stark, Zen, making sub-themes, drupal menus, nice_mennus, quicktabs, Views, Contextual Filters, location, panels, webform, Taxonomy, pathautto, User Profiles, context, Blog, Book, Contact, Captcha, Comments, Form, wysiwyg w/ckeditor & IMCE, RSS, Aggregator, Flickr, jquery.cycle, Tweet, Facebook, Amazon. I've gotten the authoring tools I need to work, connections kids would want, etc. At the moment, all I have is pieces connected to menus.  

The problem that remains is knowing how to stitch it all together.  I assumed a theme was the appearance.  It's way more than that, it's a structure that is a lot less flexible than I'm accustomed to working in.  To play along, I need ot keep the header, footer, and side panels the same for every screen.  I can get around that with Context.  I can circumvent the columns, and do drag-and-drop layout by using Panels.  I see is a lot of work going into working around the design.  I spent about 3 hours with Wordpress and learned it works the same way, just different names.  It's like they copy each other.  Simply going from one page to another, switching between 0,1,2, and 3 column layouts turns into a major strategy session.  With a little time, I'm sure I will find ways to minimize these obstacles.

Without having ever built anything in a CMS, this is what I see.  CMSs bring a lot of plugins and incredible power than you could not afford to put into a 1-off site.  It comes at the expense of being able to design pages as you want, or the expense of working around the structure.  Having both an Article and Basic Page makes no sense to me.  Their structures are the same.  The only thing different is the Article has more features.  On the SEO side of things, I love the friendly and clean URLs being done for me instead of me having to do it manually.  The code it inserts in the top of the page is horrendous, and from the look of it, a lot of it isn't cacheable.  I was going to say that the environment doesn't have a lucid way of working with the meta tags, but I thought I'd better check first because it has had a module for everything else I've wanted to do, and sure enough, there is one.

I have my own CSS layouts that I developed and use.  I would have to say that if the customer is not fussy about the exact look, a CMS is good.  If he is, I can beat the stars out any CMS, and a lot quicker.  In a tough market, I can easily make my pages be found ahead of these.  Where you can't beat a CMS is when the customer needs to maintain it, or he needs functionality that would be impractical to implement in a 1-off situation.  In this situation, the only question was which, not if I should use a CMS.

Thanks for your help.  It doesn't look like anybody else is going to chime in on modules, so I'll call this good.
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