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Monday, October 23, 2006

Learning Drupal

Wow, I spent the whole day in front of my computer!

I had been reading up on Drupal (a Web-based content management system) for a while now. I had been giving some serious thought to moving ECO Singapore's website to it, because it's pointless to develop a custom-built CMS when there's already a good one for free. For a long time, I hadn't thought much about it, until I realised that The Onion website is based on it! And that website looks fantastic!

Today, I installed it on my website and gave it a spin. I had to learn a lot of new things, particularly how the menu system worked (it's not just about making aliases to Web page content) and how to use categories/taxonomies (among other things, to build a home page for a section). And then I had to learn about and install plug-ins/modules to make an event calendar, customise the view of a page, enable rich text editing (instead of dealing with HTML), etc.

The most time-consuming part was the menu system. I had to read three tutorials and watch a video demo before I figured out how it worked! Categories/taxonomies also left me scratching my head, until I hit upon a eureka moment.

Now, I just need to learn how to design a custom theme so that the new site looks like the old site.

All in all, it looks like Drupal makes it relatively painless to maintain a website, after the steep initial learning curve. Even then, the curve doesn't plateau, it just eases off gradually. Once I have everything figured out and working the way I want it to, I'll move it over to ECO's site. Hopefully, that'll make updating the website easier for everyone involved. Because, in the end, it's all about whether the end users know how to use a system that determines how useful it is.

And that's how I spent my company off day today.


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