Drupal - The behind the scenes look at the new Darkscribes

From the first FrontPage created and wordHTML riddled pages on DS 1.0, to the last implementation prior to being booted from all support from ol' Tom, DS has always been built up by an individual on the nuts and bolts side. No real input from the community was ever considered most of the time, only the feature interests of myself and the whims of the designer. With the lose of support from our last web monkey I had to start from scratch and figure out a way to handle everything. There are several options out there, but I wasn't too happy with many of them. would have done what we needed for story archiving, but it was really just limited to story archiving. was a great setup for articles and things like this piece of thought you are reading now, but it didn't really handle hierarchies of content like you need with a story of any kind.

I started laying around with and quickly decided this was the best I was going to find. It allowed for a single point of login, a built in forum module that was themeable along with the rest of the site for uniformity, was easy to create both single setup articles like this and multi-chapter stories thanks to the built in book module. Frankly I think it handles things rather beautifully even if uploading a file to be turned into a node is not possible at this time, if ever.

Drupal has a vast community and excellent open support. By moving to an open, community developed CMS we take out the need for constant security updates as well as feature stress due to the large selection of modules provided. With only a couple of modules I was able to create everything related to the articles and stories sections of the new sites without any extras. Granted, there are about 160+ modules active at this time in order to provide galleries, FAQ's, profile pages, and other features. However in order to create the basic archive all that was needed was the views module and it's dependencies. After taking the time to learn how to create views and such we end up with the story archive pages you see today. Granted, there are ways to improve these, but we have to do what we can do I suppose.

Also, with development of Drupal 8 on going there is a clear upgrade path in the future that will allow us to continue to progress as time goes along, without the pain in the ass of maintaining lines of php code ourselves. features created for Darkscribes can be modules, which can then be given back to the greater Drupal community. I also recommend Drupal for any project you may need that requires a feature rich community environment. Though your needs may necessitate another CMS, the right tool for the right job as it were.

Now, I know we no longer have it as easy to get an entire chapter up on the site, and I know the process has some extra steps added in now, but it allows a more fine grained control then what we would have had and in fact have every had. THis also allows us to easily implement requested features into the site, while also allowing us to find good usable modules to provide them if they exist.

The switch to an open community driven CMS project will allow us to continue to progress as a community and to easily grow to accommodate the ever changing world. Administration and moderation of the site becomes easier, and anti-spam efforts can be improved as time goes along. It's just a question of how and who did it already so we don't have to be as in trouble as the last time.