I haven’t posted here for a little while, and the main reason is that I’ve been swamped with getting the new DEN website ready to roll. I love the new website, and love it even more so because I’ll be able to add new features to it on a regular basis. However, know what I love best about it? It’s built primarily on Drupal, which is totally free!
I know, it sounds crazy, but I found that Drupal was one of the best platforms out there that we could use to develop our community website upon. Why? A few reasons…
Firstly, the code is open source. So when I said, "I really like this page, but I’d like THIS part of it to do THAT instead", our developers could peel back the hood and figure out how to make it happen. Heck, I could even to do a fair share of that stuff myself. I’m not a programmer, but I can follow the logic of programming languages enough to be semi-dangerous. So I could do my own tweaks at times without even asking for someone else’s help. Very empowering!
Speaking of empowering, Drupal is modular. There are hundreds of modules written by the community that are available to just plug into the site. We considered about 70 different modules to wind up with the list of winners that we launched with. While we don’t have every feature in the world on right now, we have the ability to expand with just a few clicks. Of course, testing it out to make sure everything works the way we want takes a little bit longer 🙂
Finally, Drupal has allowed us to do some pretty interesting mixing and mashing. We’ve been able to make it work seemlessly with the rest of Discovery Education’s backend tools, as well as with WordPress MU, the blog engine we’re moving to. When people ask me what’s a Drupal, I tell them it’s a content management system with the malleability of silly putty. You come up with an idea for how you want something to work, it can probably be done with Drupal. It may take some time, effort, and some ‘skillz’, but it can be done.