Drupal for newbies!
As a young man (fascinated by internet in generally) I came across the Drupal CMS system in my search for a publishing platform. At the time I quickly moved on searching for new CMS platforms since Drupal looked complicated and I landed on WordPress as many others. Today, as a master student at University in Oslo I meet with Drupal again, and discover its true nature and the reason why I found it hard to understand – by reading the article written by Quinn Dombrowski “Drupal and other content management system”.
So, what is Drupal and why didn’t I understand it (or, as a better way of saying it: why didn’t I bother to understand it)? Simply explained, Drupal is an CMS (content management system) that lets you create, form and manage web sites. What made Drupal different from other CMS (like WordPress) is the structure which is made to look like LEGO blocks and for which the user only gets the basic ones in the start package. Then they need to build it up themselves by adding other blocks according to the user’s project needs. The good thing is that the license is open – so everybody can create his or her own LEGO-like blocks for their project needs and in that manner, also contribute to Drupal community. Other CMS systems can be used by researchers, too, but are more compact and build in the way of a dollhouse where the user can move furniture around but can’t make the basic CMS package bigger or smaller, like, for example, WordPress. In that way, Drupal is a more scholar oriented CMS than WordPress, and it makes it more suitable for bigger projects.
There are few other crucial things that make Drupal different from other CMS systems. While other CMS come with pre-defined web based forms, Drupal has only basic ones. This way it becomes easy to add extensions (modules) to Drupal so that researchers can share their own forms while keeping a small base. Extensions are also used to add data in an easy way and to view content in the way the researcher finds most relevant for the project. One advantage for DH (Digital Humanities) and TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) is, that existing extensions allow easy sharing and exporting of data by adding an export button.
It will be interesting to try out Drupal in praxis after having read the article by Dombrowski on the subject and finally understood it!