For the recent month and a half, I have been placed in charge of all things webby for this new youth organization in Massachusetts. We’re called Youth A.C.T., a group for empowering youth and getting them involved in their community. We’re still in the process of getting up and running but already have some events and projects going on. From my technical point of view, this has presented me with an interesting problem of how to run this website.
Basically the whole website infrastructure came down to what kind of CMS do I want to run. I had tested out various ones like Joomla! and whatever random ones my hosting provider had. They weren’t too impressive and didn’t fit our needs (read: mine). I had previously worked a little bit with Drupal 4.7 while I was working at the University of Maryland, and that was the first CMS that sprung to my mind. The other was WordPress which I’ve also had experience with (since it’s what I use to run my blog).
Drupal has incredible community support. There are so many themes and modules so readily available. Basically what attracted me to Drupal (for the purposes of the Youth A.C.T. website) was the Event Manager module. This was perfect since we needed something for online user registration for an upcoming event. I got this up and running within minutes, and since then I have just steadily been putting other useful things together in Drupal.
However, there are some things about Drupal that irk me. While the administrative configuration is very comprehensive, it is also quite cumbersome and feels convoluted at times. For some time, I had shrugged it off and learned what I needed to do as I went along. Then there is the case for my other users — the various people (teenagers, young adults, older adults) who would come and also help administrate. Even though I have given them enough privileges to administer what they need to on the site, they are still confused. It is kind of a shock when you grow up in a such a technological age, but there are still lots of people who have no idea how their computer works let alone writing simple HTML code. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Doing a Gallery 2 integration with Drupal was a pain in the ass. Gallery 2 is just very bloated and feels difficult work with to the point where I had considered abandoning it for WordPress. I understand WordPress much more, and it may be better for the clueless user. The administrative navigation is a lot simpler and more straightforward (yay for version 2.5!) in my opinion. I bet my marbles WYSIWYG helps out a lot too. The other reason why I would move to WordPress is because of laziness. I do not have much time outside of work, tai chi, kung fu, and other various activities. I also like to maintain a healthy sleep schedule as well. I understand how WordPress works (to a degree, enough for me to carry on). While the Drupal documentation is extensive, comprehensive, and everything I’ve always wanted when I look for documentation, I just don’t have the time or patience presently to go through it all and learn it.
If I did move to WordPress, I would just have to find replacements for the various modules I used in Drupal. There isn’t any built-in event management in WordPress nor could I find an existing plugin for it, but there is always various tricks I can use to get around its shortcomings. Google Docs is wonderful for creating simple forms and surveys, and our organization (read: I) have already registered a Google Account for e-mail and document sharing (and people are still clueless on how to use Google Docs). While I’ve seen various gallery plugins for WordPress, there isn’t anything stopping me from using Flickr (and even combining it with a plugin that uses its API). In the meantime, I’m still going to press forward with Drupal and try another album/gallery module. If it doesn’t work out, then I most likely will move to WordPress. I could even potentially leverage volunteers to create themes (for either Drupal or WordPress) since I have no artistic eye.
In the time that I spent writing this post, I could have been working on the website. And now I have to go to sleep for work tomorrow.