Foray into Drupal


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As most of you know, I have a special affinity for MovableType. When I began blogging consistently it was MT 2.64 that pried me away from Blogger. Because I had some familiarity with Perl scripts, and the fact that MT provided well written codebase which rarely provided attack vectors for nasty script kiddy vulnerabilities (save the comment script server load debacle), I have used it exclusively since 03'. I've heard too many horror stories about WordPress installs being compromised, I have no desire to fool around WP.

So why the Drupal exploration? Partly curiosity and the fact that Drupal has a colossal user/developer community. You really cannot ignore it. Actually, I would venture to guess the Drupal install base has doubled in the past year. Likely in large part to the evangelism of Acquia, but also from community groups (ie Lullabot, showmedo, Mustard Seeds) which provide incredibly helpful instructional videos and netcasts. Clearly MovableType could benefit from the same type of how-to documentation. Don't get me wrong, much of things I have learned about MT came from stubbing my knuckles and a great deal of reading. Nonetheless, a video or podcast archive makes less mundane tasks much easier to accomplish. Anil if you're reading this please take notes.

Another powerful aspect of both of these modern blogging publishing engines are modules (Drupal) and plugins (MovableType). I really enjoyed the large variety and uniformity of installation that Drupal afforded me. For instance, the basic path for installation is the
../sites/all/modules.. Very simple to unpack tarball or zip archive and copy them to path. Very clean indeed.

One constant annoyance in installing MT plugins, is that the path structure seems to be random depending upon when the plugin was written. Some of the older plugins require that you copy the payload of the tarball to /tmpl /lib /cms /extlib very irritating. I would suspect that as plugins become more 'centrally' controlled that this sort of problem will disappear.

I have two current MT projects that hang around around like an unpaid bill. Action Streams and similar entries. Action Streams will help me reclaim my content that is strewn about the many social networks that I frequent. Similar entries will help readers easily move between earlier entries that are related to some of the current content. I understand that I can create similar entries by creating a mySQL query. Cool very cool, but the technique isn't very well documented. This sort of complexity could be minimized by a simple video. Hell, in the spirit of Open Source, once I get it done, I'll make a screencast and share it with Six-Apart. Once again, don't misunderstand me, one of the allures of MT is that it is the proverbial "thinking persons" publishing engine. It forces you to understand the powerful template tags to offer a much more customizable experience. I'm still learning
template tags and widgets (new to MT4.0).

Although, Drupal is built atop PHP I have not really needed to know much PHP. I did run into a bit of a snafu with installing it via c-panel. I simply dropped down into the commandline and resolved all difficulties. The Schema module even allowed me to interact directly with mySQL database schema, very slick. I'm sure there is probably some sort of mySQL plugin available for mySQL interface, but its use probably isn't captured in a video. I'd likely have to Brad Choate's or Bryne Byrne Reese's blog. I believe MT could really grab more of the install base if they could harness and really foster a community of open source thinking developers, which could help usher in the idea of extensibility and backwards compatibility. Accomplishing this would cement MT as the "people's champion".. Right now I think Drupal has control of this mythical title. Methinks MT has made tremendous strides to embrace community led evangelism. Anil is living proof of this point. 6A just needs to go that last mile.. I'll have more thoughts on this later.

Last thought.. Now that I've compared albeit briefly my experiences with Drupal and MT.
I thought it would be cool to share the unofficial theme music for MT and official Drupal theme music (by Jeff Robbins)..

I think Anil's re-mix is a bit less folksy and it incorporates snippets of Asterisk;-)

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    This page contains a single entry by AG published on July 10, 2009 6:12 AM.

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