Looking in to Drupal 7


Last week was tiring and stressful. I had two classes being released at work. I was pushing myself rather hard to get as much in as I could before the deadline. On top of that, it was the end of the quarter on the day my classes were supposed to be released. 

I had ordered a new Drupal 7 book with the hope that by the time the weekend arrived, I'd have time to dig in. While I did get some reading in, it wasn't nearly as much as I had wanted. I did, however, read enough to make me think about how deninet should be moving forward with this new version. 

With the massive changes in store with Drupal 7, and the new Creations system I had written about in A Decision: Addendum, I'm beginning to wonder if I should reboot the site. Basically, I want to start with a clean install, and then import content from the old site. I'd be able to fix a few of the problems and mistakes I made when I was new to the content manager. I could also dump some old content and some cruft in the database. 

There is a downside, of course. Reorganizing the site in such a matter would mean that content would no longer have the same node IDs, and thus, bookmarks and some external links would be broken. I might be able to fix  the links on Blog entry links through some clever scripting. I'd have to talk to both Pazi and Trice to make sure that their okay with this before I seriously consider it.

I had a new idea today for channels.

Pazi had suggested that we start a new website dedicated to reviewing all the terrible movies we've watched. While I'm not opposed to the idea, making it a completely separate site gave me pause. One, I'd have to set up a content manager for it and then maintain it for the live of the site. I suggested that instead, a channel be created for the movie reviews so that the main content could remain on deninet. Pazi pointed out several very good points that made me see what I had wanted out of channels, but have completely failed to do so.

Channels were intended to be subsites. While they shared the same user pool, and features as deninet as whole, they were meant to be compartmentalized sub-sites that could be easily deployed. Members that aren't deninet admins could be the admin of a channel or channels. Channels could be fully private, locked down, or open to all. Organic Groups -- the module that powers our current channel mechanism -- fulfills some of these needs, but not all of them. It has complexities of it's own that can be confusing. Drupal has the ability to handle multiple websites from the same installation. I ruled out this option as overkill before, but perhaps it needs additional consideration. It's also possible that other modules (such as Spaces), or even new code would be required to make this work.

One of the problems Pazi had pointed out was that the current deninet theme simply doesn't feel right for a subsite configuration. I can understand why. It would be a good question why a winged schoolgirl is staring you down when you're looking for reviews of terrible movies. A more generic theme could be created that would serve as the base theme for the site. Color and background customization would then be provided to all channels in a similar matter to twitter's original site design. 

It's hard to be sure without more thought and more discussion on the matter. It may be that channels are simply a broken concept that cannot be saved, and I'm desperately grasping at straws to save them.