CMS Expo: Social Drupal

CMS Expo in Chicago last week gave me a great opportunity to learn about a variety of content management systems. I spent most of my time at the conference getting out of my comfort zone by visiting with those companies and open source projects that I knew the least about their products and services. Unfortunately, this strategy also prevented me from visiting with my personal favorite CMS, Drupal. By the end of the conference, I felt I needed to treat myself by attending one of the final sessions in the Drupal track, "Social Drupal".

What key activities should you integrate? In what scenarios might you be smarter to leave the heavy lifting to an outsourced solution?  What elements are critically important right now when building your social relevance in the market?  Find this out and more at this practical advice session on how you can be using Drupal to capture the Social Media audience which awaits.

My hope for the session was that it would give me good pointers for how to connect my Drupal sites better to the social web. Lullabot's Blake Hall led this information packed session. Blake began the session by pushing his vision that this session should not just be called "Social Drupal" but also "Community Plumbing (without the crack)". The proposed rewriting of the title for this session is a reminder to the audience that Drupal has always been social.

Blake started the session reminding that one needs to take a look at the bigger picture by taking a look as your site's Social Media Strategy. This strategy would include the following elements:

  • Authentic Story
  • Honest Dialogue
  • Engage your audience
  • Activate the social media

While the big picture is always nice consider it's the details that help determine whether your site is going to succeed. From this point forward Blake focused on specifics and I feverishly did my best to keep up. Some of the notable remarks from Blake that caught my attention:

  • First step is to take a look at your business goals and the resources you have available when building/supporting your site. Blake of course sees Drupal as being able to address both ends of this equation.
  • Some of the social modules for Drupal he recommends include Feeds, Flag, Twitter, Dashboard, Fivestar, Messaging, Radioactivity (gotta check this one out!), and Organic Groups.
  • Speaking of organic groups, take a look at groups.drupal.org: especially Social Networking Sites group to tap into Drupal community's expertise on social publishing.
List of Fake Content Management Stories from April Fools Day 2011 Bryan Ruby Thu, 03/31/2011 - 15:48

For the blogger, the most difficult day of the year has to be April Fools' Day. This is the day where jokes are played and stories are made  up. Computer geeks and CMS junkies easily get into the spirit of this celebrated day by pulling all kinds of online pranks. One of my fondest April Fools memories is from 2007 when the official Japanese and Russian Drupal sites migrated for a day from the Drupal CMS over to Joomla!. Good times, good times. The folks over at ocProducts have gotten into the 2011 April Fools spirit by announcing ocPortal 7 with HTML6.

I need your help! Please help me keep track of all the CMS related April Fools' stories that you find online.  Please feel free to add to my list by of content management pranks via a comment below or through Twitter. If you prefer to tweet the story instead I suggest we start using the Twitter hashtag: #aprilfoolscms.

List of Fake Content Management Stories on April Fools Day 2011

  1. ocPortal - ocProducts announces ocPortal 7 with HTML6
  2. Drupal - Announcing CertifiedToSUCK.com
  3. TYPO3 - New paradigm for TYPO3 4.6 development
  4. Drupal - Announcing the Drupal Retail Store
  5. Joomla - Joomla Templates from YOOtheme
  6. Real Story Group  - No more content management
  7. Sharpened.net - The End of the Keyboard and Mouse
  8. IBM developerWorks - Scrum Alliance 2.0
  9. CMS Made Simple - Intuit Announces Acquisition of CMS Made Simple
  10. Enano - Enano merges with Joomla!
  11. EpiServer - EPiFAX 1.0 Released
  12. Plone - Plone Announces New Release Naming Scheme Effective April 1

Review of Drupal's Building Blocks

A couple weeks ago my family spent some vacation time at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you have ever been to a Disney theme park then you know full well that it takes a lot of work in those parks just to have fun. Some of the most popular rides in these parks have waiting periods of up to two hours due to the long lines of people wanting to get on board. Luckily, my wife brought a Disney tourist guidebook that gave our family the helpful hints, recommendations, and information we needed to beat those long lines.  In the end, we ended up with a very enjoyable trip (so enjoyable that we got to ride Space Mountain twice!). That travel guide was a valuable asset to my family's vacation. 

Mastering Drupal is very similar to visiting a theme park as it takes some effort on your part to ensure you get rewarded for your effort. If Drupal is the amusement park then consider Drupal's modules as the park's attractions you're wanting to ride. With this line of thinking, I easily recommend that you let Earl and Lynette Miles' book, Drupal's Building Blocks, be your valuable tourist guide into the wonderful world of Drupal. I only review a few books each year and this is a book I gladly invested my time reading.

Drupal's Building Blocks is a tutorial, reference, and cookbook for some of Drupal's most valuable modules including CCK (Content Construction Kit), Views, and Panels. The primary purpose of this book is to give you the quickest route to mastering the modules as quickly as you can in order to help you create more powerful, flexible, usable, and manageable Web sites. The audience for this book isn't only for Web developers or designers, but also site administrators, content architects, and consultants. There is some code in this book, but what is there isn't the scary code you often find in a developer's library.

Although I've worked with Drupal for more than half a decade, I am still among the newbies who struggle with how best to use Drupal's contributed modules. I've built several sites using CCK and Views but I've always ran into hurdles that keep me from fully discovering what these modules can do for me and my sites. This book will provide you the information you need to realize the full potential of these modules. Anybody who has seen Drupal, CCK, Views, and Panels mature over the years can't help but read this book and enjoy not only the author's technical expertise but also the author's cultural and historical understanding for how the module came to be in Drupal. 

In the first chapter of the book, "Introducing CCK and Nodes", there is a section titled "Quest for the Grail: How CCK Was Born". This section alone reads like an adventure story that starts by talking about the challenges site administrators originally had with Drupal needing to acquire development skills just to control the form content would take in Drupal. The story continues with Drupal 4.4 and how a contributed module named Flexinode gave non-developers the ability to create new content types yet limitations remained. I was reminded that with Drupal 4.7 CCK became Flexinode's replacement and with each successive release of Drupal the module continues to improve. For someone like me who started with Drupal 4.6 and watched Drupal 5, 6, and now 7 evolve this book spoke to my inner geek. I simply found this book to be good bridge to the more technical aspects of CCK, Views and Panels.

SubHub Lite – A New Drupal 7 Based Web CMS

UK-based website publishing company, SubHub, has launched SubHub Lite, a new Drupal 7 powered web CMS which opened its doors on November 1st in beta and which now already has a few thousand users.
SubHub Lite has been built around the concept of outstanding ease of use.
With the majority of content management systems making the assumption that their users will have a certain level of technical expertise, a lot of people who would like to build and manage their own website are left out in the cold. Why?

Drupal 7 has been officially released

After three years of open source development, Drupal 7 has finally been released to the public. As Ric Shreves previously mentioned in his article, there are literally hundreds of changes in Drupal 7. I've included below a list of the more significant changes from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. I've also included a nice Drupal 7 marketing video via Jeff Robbins at the bottom of this post. Also there is always official Drupal 7 announcement for additional information on this latest version of Drupal.

Get started with Drupal 7Barring any unforseen changes to how I manage this site, I expect we will be upgrading CMSReport.com from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 within the next few months. I've been playing with Drupal 7 off and on this past year, but I must confess I haven't been as aggressive in my testing of this version of Drupal as I was with Drupal 6.

Some of the more significant changes in Drupal 7 since the release of Drupal 6 include:

1. Overhaul of the User Interface

Work has been done to improve the user experience and administration interface. The new administration theme "Seven", the overlay module, the dashboard and the configurable shortcut bar, all lead to a much more user-friendly interface.

2. Custom Fields

Drupal 7 bundles in the ability to add custom fields, similar in functionality to the Content Construction Kit (CCK) module. However, fields are no longer limited only to content types; they can be added to users, taxonomy terms, and other entities. Fields also have support for translations.

3. Image Handling

Drupal 7 brings native image handling to core. Image fields may be added to content, and have image styles applied to them, such as scaling, cropping, and other effects.

A First Look and Review of Drupal 7

Editor's Note: The following aritlce is authored by Ric Shreves and first appeared online at  Open Source CMS Pro. Permission has been granted to repost the article here at CMSReport.com.

Now that Drupal 7 has gone through a couple of Release Candidates, we feel confident that what we can see on the screen today represents very closely what everyone can expect in the final Drupal 7 production release. So, with some certainty at our backs and the release date just around the corner (we hope!), we thought it was time for us to present a Drupal 7 “first look,” that is, an overview of what everyone can expect from the new Drupal 7.

There are literally hundreds of changes in Drupal 7. Many of those changes are “minor” in the eyes of most users, indeed, they are essentially invisible. This doesn’t mean those small changes aren’t important, simply that they aren’t on the radar for the average user. In this article we are going to focus on just the highlights, in three key areas:

  • Changes visible on the surface
  • Extensions of the Admin functionality
  • Enhancements to the technical infrastructure

On the Surface

The first thing you notice when you fire up Drupal 7 is a new look and feel. For the first time in years, the release includes new themes. The only holdover from previous releases is the Garland theme, which has been updated to be Drupal 7 compatible. The new themes include:

  • Bartik: The new default theme. Shown in the screenshot on the left.
  • Seven: The new admin theme, seen in several of the screenshots, below.
  • Stark: A new starter theme, intended for jumpstarting theme creation efforts via sub-themes.

Of the four themes (three new ones + Garland), only Garland and Bartik are ready to use on the front end of the site. Stark is purely a base theme, barren of all styling excepting only the default system styles. Garland remains, well, Garland; it's basic and offers not a lot. Bartik is a big improvement with more than a dozen regions (module positions) available. Still, visually, Garland and Bartik are not worlds apart. Some additional variety would have been nice. (We note that the theme Corolla, which was included in earlier Drupal 7 beta releases did not make the final cut, sadly.)

The inclusion of a base theme (Stark) is a nice move -- giving themers who don't want to use Zen (or other external starter themes) an easy way to build their own themes via sub-theme creation. One of the most welcome changes in Drupal 7 is the revision of the administration interface. This is not a minor tweak – this is a complete revision of both the interface and the information architecture. Long overdue, I think we all can agree…

The new look of the Drupal 7 admin system The new admin interface includes not only its own dedicated theme (Seven), but also a new overlay, toolbar and shortcuts menu, as shown in the screenshot, at right. The overlay gives you a light box approach to the admin layer, preserving in the background the front-end theme. Having a dedicated theme for the admin system is a huge improvement in usability for the system and that alone would be reason to celebrate, but changes don’t stop there.

The new toolbar is anchored to the top of the browser window, reminiscent of the popular Admin Menu module many of us used in the past. There is also a configurable shortcuts menu present on the bottom edge of the toolbar; you can add your own favorites to the shortcut menu. A related improvement in look and feel is the inclusion of the Vertical Tabs functionality in the core. The functionality improves usability and reduces admin system clutter.

The Drupal team has also taken a fresh look at the admin system’s labels and information architecture. They’ve cleaned things up, eliminated redundancies and clarified labels. All in all, the admin system changes finally bring Drupal into a state of usability that will make the system much more accessible for many non-technical users.

The final area I want to highlight is a set of minor changes that will be meaningful to old Drupal users. Drupal 7 has “cleaned house” and done away from some of the legacy features that, frankly, weren’t of much utility. Gone in Drupal 7 are the Mission Statement functionality and the Footer Message. The site Search is now simply a block, instead of having two different versions of the same functionality. Also gone is the Theme Switcher option for users. Again, changes that clean things up, reduce complexity, and improve usability of the system as a whole.

CMS Report's Top Ten Content Management Stories of 2010

What a great year 2010 was for content management. Open source CMS projects seemed to have grown up this year while proprietary systems appeared to continue in their evolution. While social publishing systems may not have conquered the traditional content management system, the CMS definitely took notice by integrating as many social media features developers could come up with.

Below are the top ten stories of 2010 that were posted here at CMSReport.com. The stories in this list were ranked by the number of views per month since the articles first appeared at CMS Report. 

Top Ten Content Management Stories of 2010

  1. Someone does another Drupal vs Joomla comparison
  2. Open Source versus the Enterprise Solution
  3. Ten Content Migration Tools to SharePoint Platform
  4. Drupal themes go nuclear with Fusion
  5. SilverStripe CMS becomes the first Microsoft Certified open source web app
  6. Denial of Service on an Apache server
  7. Guidelight Business Solutions video of DrupalConSF 2010
  8. Sharepoint 2010 vs WCM Platforms
  9. We Hear You: Our spam filtering needs to be improved
  10. The MODx Revolution 2.0 Interviev

As you can see, stories on Drupal, Joomla!, Sharepoint, SilverStripe, and MODx brought a lot of visitors to the site. Not all the stories listed above would have been one of the ten I would have personally picked, but I'll respect the numbers behind their ranking. I personally, don't like "versus" articles yet readers seemed to flock those articles. Unfortunately quality of writing doesn't appear to always matter as there were some very well written articles we posted in 2010 that didn't make this list.

The year 2011 will undoubtedly bring change and new stories to the world of content management systems. I think the year will also be a year of decision for the direction we take CMSReport.com. I feel as if this site of ours is stuck somewhere between our roots as a niche blog and a potentially popular CMS news site. I'm hoping we make some changes in the new year that all our readers can appreciate and value.

Finalists in Packt's 2010 Open Source Awards announced

Packt Publishing recently announced the finalists in each of the categories for their 2010 Open Awards. While award categories for content management systems are still included, this year Packt is also adding additional flavors of open source projects to be judged. The new award categories include awards for most promising open source project, e-commerce applications, graphics software, and JavaScript libraries.

DrupalCon Copenhagen August 23-27 2010

A few weeks ago, CMS Report was asked to become a media sponsor for this month's DrupalCon in Copenhagen. Between the late invitation and my decrease in Internet activity this month, I have some doubts there is much time to "complete the deal". Promoting last Spring's San Francisco DrupalCon was a lot of fun and is an example of how less involved folks like me can help give back to the Drupal community. So, regardless, of whether this site is a media sponsor or not for this conference, I still want to do my part in helping promote DrupalCon Copenhagen.

DrupalCon CopenHagenDrupalCon is the twice-yearly gathering of Drupal developers and users to learn about, discuss, and contribute to Drupal, networking with other Drupal community members in the process. At almost every DrupalCon, you will have the opportunity to meet Drupal community leaders, top developers, your favorite module maintainers, dojo trainers, members of the Drupal Association, potential business partners, and future employees. If you attend a DrupalCon, I promise you that there is plenty to do and see at the conference.

Keynote speakers for DrupalCon Copenhagen include Dries Buytaert (Drupal Project Lead), Rasmus Lerdorf (PHP Project Founder), and Jeremy Keith (Author of "HTML5 For Web Designers"). What's interesting is you'll find an appreciation for the keynote speakers that are not fully embedded in the Drupal community. As much as I enjoyed Dries' "The State of Drupal" speech at DrupalConSF, the awesome talks given by Tim O'Reilly, David H. Cole, and and Andrew Hoppin still whispers in my head today. Attending a DrupalCon just doesn't improve your game with Drupal but DrupalCon can also help improve yourself as a well-rounded IT professional.

If you're in Europe this August and have a chance to stop by Copenhagen, it would be one foolish move on your part to not attend DrupalCon Copenhagen. It's definitely not too late to buy your tickets for DrupalCon CPH. You better hurry though, because all indication are that those ticket prices are going to go up on August 16th.

Someone does another Drupal vs Joomla comparison

It has been an extremely long time since I've done any type of comparision between Drupal and Joomla!. While I like to keep a close eye on both of these open source content management systems...I just haven't felt the need to compare the two applications with each other. The rhythm of each of the two CMS are so different that I honestly don't know what I would write in the Drupal vs Joomla post. Comparing Drupal and Joomla with each other is like comparing Country music and Jazz with each genre not really capable of diminishing the importance of the other.

This isn't to say such comparisons can't be interesting and useful. I definitely know how popular Drupal vs. Joomla! articles can be and the number of visitors such articles will bring to a site.  If you're interested in reading a new Drupal vs Joomla article, you can find such an article at Achieve Internet.

Some of the comparisons are out of date or lack sufficient technical detail to fully support their conclusions. Furthermore, both Joomla! and the Drupal CMS are on the verge of releasing new versions, Joomla! 1.6 and Drupal 7, that will move both products in a positive direction.

This series of articles attempts to address where the technologies stand now, with a keen eye on the fact that both are moving targets as they approach new releases. The focus will be on using the web design software to build enterprise level websites, including those for large businesses, government agencies, and sizable non-profits, as this is the focus of Achieve Internet, based in San Diego, CA. We will examine the following topics from a technical perspective: baseline content management system (CMS) functionality, back-end appearance and functionality, and coding & customization.

If you're interested in hearing more from Achieve Internet, the article you'll want to read is Joomla! vs. Drupal for enterprise web development, Part 1.