Advanced Drupal – Customized UANews.org website

Date: 
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
 
Announcements:
  • Next month: marketing research presentation in Highland Commons B113
  • Drupal can now run on web.arizona.edu


Presentation:

Advanced Drupal – Customized UANews.org website

Presenters:
 

  • Scott Fiddleke & Pila Martinez from External Relations
  • With assistance from Duffy Gillman & Jeremy Plitcha from Learning Technologies.


Tour of the new UANews.org website:
  • Daily featured story, can be selected for homepage; Includes Podcats & RSS feeds
  • Displayed admin menu; created a new story;
  • customized for tabs on top for menu options using stylesheets;
  • copy and pasted text from work using Rich text editor. (TinyMCE);
  • showed the image upload. Uses the add on modules "image attach" and "image cache". Image attached was modified to include additional files like copyright.

Questions:
  1. Does the html come out fairly cleanly? Yes, it strips out the stray stuff. There is a paste from Word option in TinyMCE. RTE can be turned by user.
  2. Can you control the RTE buttons by user? Different RTE profiles can be setup and set on a by user bases
  3. Is GD library loaded on w4? Tracey: the GD library is installed on w4.


Videos:
  • The upload of videos was down using the "Video" module. It was odified to tie the video upload into the custom node news story
  • Can add a thumbnail of the video and it will auto size it.
  • Allows other colleges to enter new stories and allow them to suggest a category.
  • Allows workflow -- choose an editor for a story and sends it to their cue. Created using several pieces; created a special handler for the workflow. Made up of a combination of several modules and one custom module. Actions module. wrote "form trigger" to process an even when a story is submitted.
  • Can look at revisions so you can view the changes side by side. Shows you the changes in red. Normally shows who make the change; Can revert if needed.
  • Story does not appear on the site until the "published" option is selected.
  • Anyone can sub a calendar item as long as the event is held on the UA campus or sponsored by the UA. Includes a "featured event" option to highlight an event.

Questions:
  • Does it download the video or display it on the page? It will display on the page like Utunes. Different roles and permissions set by user? So that you can assign access to specific pages? Drupal does not have permission per user by default. LTC is looking for a solution to allow permissions by user.
  • Are all the rss feeds selectable by event or news category. Yes. You can subscribe to all or specific rss feeds.
  • The uanews.org site is is hosted on with UITS


Comments about Drupal:
  • We found this to be very expandable. We wanted to view stats and were able to add a module -- google analytics.
  • We went from a stock drupal system to a highly customized live site in about 2-3 months. It could be done faster in the future. It was a learning experience.
  • How easy is drupal to pick up? modules are easy but documentation on some third party modules is not good. If you are a comfortable with php programming, you can go in a see what is going on
  • The drupal community does a really good job of keeping everything compartmentalized.
  • If we did this again, we would not build as many custom modules, we would look for existing modules that does the same thing. We found modules afterwards that could have been used.
  • Going with a stock open source package and then modifying it was a very good way to go. It gave us a big bang for our buck. It was inexpensive and quickly.


Questions:
  • Did you consider something like rails or packaged solution? One of the things that suggested a content management system was that a lot of the functionally was already there. Drupal CMS is closer to what was needed.
  • What sites are good for drupal and what sites might not be? Duffy: we have done other sides that were content management type apps and there are some projects that I wish were done in drupal.
  • Drupal is very bloggish. Geared towards blogs, publishing content. We were looking for a publishing environment as apposed to processing data. What about performance? we went down during the greenlee dorm incident. we worked with UITS system group to improve performance. How many hits made you go down? we got about 30% more hits than typical. For a large site, a separate machine for the database would help performance. Used a reverse proxy to improve performance. If using IIS, run in 64 bit mode with 4 cores
  • UITS can host the system. Zan(sp?) for development? It is a package system that bundles mysql, php, etc. It might not be meant for production environment. Duffy: I’d be cautious for security reasons.
  • The Caching module -- allows caching, no-caching. caching really helps to speed performance.
  • With greenlee incident, we were maxing out with more 150 simultaneous apache connections. Suggest no running mysql on open VSB. Moved to the UITS cluster to get better performance. How many hits on a typical day? probably about 4000 page views per day. High day maybe 5000; low of 3000. UANews has a greater requirement for performance since they have to be available in an emergency and during high news events. If we were a typical department, we would have been fine on a stand alone system. database? Depends on the site and the data. Performance when multiple sites running off of one installation and off of one. Drupal allows you to run different sites within the same code base with the same database, different domain names.
  • We have 6 instances of drupal on a server. We are having problems with the cron when it runs. There is a performances difference between the cgi version of cron and the command line cron.
  • Is there an issue with linking off to tools from within the drupal interface? Integrating different applications. It should not be a problem. You can use raw php as content. You can create a menu item, page, or node that is rendered as a block of php.
  • can you describe adding to the url to do a custom display? using clean url? You an integrate rss feed into view. The way it handles paths, you can add / plus arguments within the url. You can create a view and then alias it to whatever you want it to be.
  • There is an excel library that can be used and a survey module to add a survey; the survey module that allows export to excel.
  • Does drupal do RSS aggregation? We are looking at way to integrate calendar information from across campus. There is a aggregator module for drupal. I need smart filter.
  • Can you provide a syndicated atom feed? I image it is out there or it would not be too hard to write it



Resources:
  • There is a UA drupal listserv for drupal developers: drupal@listserv.arizona.edu
  • We have two themes with the UA banner available; we are looking for web
  • designers who will share their design and we will make a drupal theme out of it. Themes are available at: drupal.arizona.edu
  • Drupal installs on web.arizona.edu need a modified .htaccess file and the server admin needs to add options to the conf file for your account.
  • Drupal pro development book is available in pdf online through the library.