Archives For Drupal

Someone asks:

Hi just curious if you were to choose a CMS and technologies for launching a local community digital only community news site, which is mobile and tablet friendly, and easy for community editors to use to publish articles, what platforms, CMS and tech would you recommend?

If you are asking me, you probably already know a little bit about my work. What you are describing is similar to what we have at Oakland Local, as well as the recently launched Young Oakland.

I personally work primarily with WordPress, but I didn’t start there, nor did I stay once I found it. I compulsively use new self-hosted software, and have used just about every FOSS CMS/blog/forum/gallery/status/repo/IM project out there. The first version of Oakland Local was in Drupal. But eventually we migrated even that site to WordPress.

The theming layer, user system, custom post-types and plugins make it a very versatile platform. I build sites for a variety of companies and individuals, and most of them I also host on a single multi-network WordPress instance, which shares users, plugins and themes, so the overhead for keeping it updated isn’t affected very much by each new site I add. This configuration is possible because the core of WordPress allows for thousands of developers to build on it, so you have 10 years of development and millions of human hours working on the design patterns to use for your site.

Okay, so of course I suggest WordPress. But there are 29,000 plugins, probably more themes, and building any site is difficult. Where does one start? Well, here are some specific suggestions on starting a local community-driven news site, at various levels of abstraction.

Plugins

Edit Flow makes it easy to manage a lot of folks working on different content at the same time. I think one should probably be familiar with the WordPress post edit screen first, but even with the slight learning curve, a small team of editors can handle a lot of content easily, once they grok this plugin. A couple training sessions for editorial workflows will go far for a community site.

Pods allows drag-and-drop creation of custom post types and taxonomies. I prefer this plugin to other methods because the interface is easy to use, and allows for easy export/import, so creations can be shared without having to code. There is a learning curve to do things beyond the basics, but it is a good starting place to customizing WordPress post types. An example of using Pods is on Moon Handbooks; we use it to create the book pages, which have structured data.

Gravity Forms is a premium plugin that creates forms. It doesn’t sound too exciting, but it is amazing what you can do with it. At Young Oakland, students can submit their art work, and contributors to the RailsBridge Blog can create posts without having an account on the site (which means the bottleneck isn’t administering users on a blog). There are a lot of contact forms, but GF has a drag-and-drop interface, and other plugins that greatly increase what the forms can do, like passing data to a CRM or a custom post type.

WP-Piwik is the plugin that makes it easy for WordPress to use Piwik, a free and open source analytics project. Knowing how folks use your site can be useful, and on a community site it is one tool in creating value for its members. Piwik can be configured to respect folks’ privacy as well, and I run an open, public instance at AnalyticsX. If you would like to track your site there, get in touch.

While I don’t use them personally, BuddyPress (social networking) and bbPress (forums) are worth mentioning. I don’t use them for various reasons, the primary being I don’t have a need for those particular setups. But I keep an eye on them, because they are definitely useful to the right group.

The (Indie)Web we weave

December 27, 2013 — 3 Comments

I am making a note here, so when we take for granted how awesome our information streams are, we can look back at this snapshot and see how we did it in the ol’ days. Bonus humor, if you catch how meta the topic is.

  1. Mike makes a post about, among other things, blogging and the IndieWeb.
  2. Matthew leaves a considerate and detailed comment on Mike’s post.
  3. Matthew decides to document the sentiment on eir own site (correctly, I think).
  4. Mike employs a snarky editorial method and posts an excerpt on identi.ca.
  5. That gets me thinking, and I reply, both to that particular line and the observation of how RSS is used on the web.
  6. To ensure that my reply is part of a conversation, I post a link in reply to Mike’s identi.ca post.
  7. Mike points out my reply in further commentary, on the original blog post.
  8. Since I am not participating in the conversation on the original post, and other reasons, Mike then replies with the link to this new comment in the identi.ca thread.

The hosted software involved in this conversation includes one or more email stacks, WordPress, Drupal and pump.io, and content was published on no less than five websites (not including the federation in pump.io for non-participants).

Not our DRYest moment. ^_^

The important lesson here is that Mike, Matthew and I are obviously comfortable with all the software involved, and the additional cognitive expense in posting in multiple places is mitigated by other factors that include dopamine and connectedness. The same things that bring people back to Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t fair, but fighting to stop the exploitation of human nature was never going to be a fair fight.

Due to a misunderstanding of which Amtrak stop is the Santa Clara station (Santa Clara: Great America is what the conductors think if you don’t emphasize just Santa Clara), I ended up traveling about twice as much as I had planned to reach my destination yesterday (and included a car pickup from Diridon Station…). I came home starving and exhausted, but I think I got about 10 hours of light sleep in. Interestingly, Clover woke both Susan and I at almost exactly 5AM but clearly speaking in eir sleep, “Papa… Moma…”. ^_^

My trip was to set up the project for the last Drupal to WordPress migration I will be doing this year (which could be a lie if someone has lots of money to throw at that problem). This is happy news, because after the thing I am working on in the Oakland Local network, and then the migration, I will finally have some breathing room. I will of course fill my time with any number of backlogged tasks I have, but they aren’t as intense, and leave me a lot more time to wax poetical about all the neat stuff I’ve been working on, which is good for you folks, but great for me, since if I don’t blog it, it didn’t happen.

Oh, my home situation is really odd, but I am dealing with it the best I can; not much to report on that end.

Ah, Oakland Local.
From Drupal to WordPress, ne?
Okay, time to crash.

Ah, Oakland Local

ownCloud + large backups

February 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

I am using ownCloud as a means to get large backups to my clients.

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changelog

December 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Been trying to document the work I am doing, and I haven’t been blogging about anything else, so here is a changelog for let’s say, the last week. ^_^

Notes on how I got a Views-based RSS feed to create the autodiscovery link in Drupal.

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@michielbdejong@identi.ca Could you change the # planned step for a gender field. Your example at http://useraddress.net/ list male and female, which presumes a gender binary (also, I doubt an example is warranted). For more information, please see http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Gender_binary. Also, refer to major projects like # and #, where the developers adopted textfields for gender. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. ^_^

Drafted, 2007

June 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

Clearing out my old drafts. Check out 2007!

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One wiki

May 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

I am collapsing all my wikae into a single MediaWiki instance. Awesome.

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