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Drupal: vote up or down

Doug <dougsweetser at> wrote:
> I've got a web site, and it needs a gallery for pictures of animated
> quaternions.  It would be good to have some blogs to go along with
> these, to explain what these images might mean.  It would be good if
> people could rant (politely).

Coincidentally, a friend of mine got me into a Drupal project just this
weekend.  He had me set up a get-out-the-vote database for one of the prop
2-1/2 override initiatives this spring.  (His only reason for choosing Drupal
was because of this particular add-on, something called CiviCRM.)

So now I've got experience with three of the CMS tools:  Mambo, TWiki, and
CiviCRM.  I ran into TWiki at a BBLISA meeting this winter, and used it to
build a personal website for managing a games-night group, and then launching
a blog of my recent vacation.

My opinions on these, limited as my experience has been:

- My experience with Mambo was a while ago.  It was too cumbersome to post
content and I quickly gave up on it, though it was integrated nicely with a
photo gallery called Coppermine.

- TWiki has been surprisingly useful because *anyone* can simply hit the edit
button and fix the page directly.  (Drupal is like this too.)  It doesn't take
two steps to update a page, it's really instant.  And there are a wide variety
of add-ons to make it do what I wanted.  One of the neat things for novice
users is that it accepts simplified special characters to render rich-text;
example, you can type *bold* instead of <b>bold</b>, or you can
[[][include a link]] instead of <a href=> blah blah.  I also
like how it stores and display file revisions (using rcs, a tool that I've
always used).

But the blogger addon for TWiki sucks.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I
hadn't somehow botched the installation but even so, it's something I wouldn't
wish on my friends.

- Drupal was the easiest for me to get running out of the box.  It does
require MySQL - TWiki doesn't.  If it has the ability to track file revisions,
it's something you have to activate--I haven't tried to set that up.  I've
found that, at least with the CiviCRM addon enabled (not sure if that
matters), this software has a disconcerting tendency to add/drop whole
sections of left-bar / right-bar / top-bar navigational content depending on
what page you click on in the administrative sections.  So I find myself lost
a lot of the time; that shouldn't be a problem for an end user navigating a
site you design with it.

Both Drupal and TWiki have pretty fine-granularity access permissions that you
can attach to pages.  The model for TWiki is based on ACLs (access control
lists) that you can define on a systemwide, group or topic (page) basis, and
you can define them to do whatever you want; Drupal requires you to set up a
set of rules using a grid layout within the administrative section.  TWiki's
method is more powerful but its user interface needs pulldowns instead of your
having to manually type in all the ACL info.


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