Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First Impressions: Drupal

Working for a small business (I hate the term start-up) I am, understandably, often asked to wear multiple hats. My title is Art Director, but I am asked to do much more than direct art. One of the things I've been working with my colleague Chris on is finding a suitable intranet/wiki/cms system for us to use. I have spent a resonable amount of time searching the interweb for a cheap (preferably open source) solution that we can implement without having a PhD. I may have found a strong contender in Drupal.

I could tell from perusing the Drupal site that it would probably meet most of our needs. My only concern was the setup. Neither Chris nor myself have gobs of time to devote to a project like this. I decided to give it a try over the weekend. Much to my surprise it wasn't very difficult at all.

First, I must disclose that drupal required Apache, a database backend (MySQL, etc.) and PHP. Fortunately for me, XAMPP did all of that heavy lifting for me. I could do a whole post on XAMPP, but just know it's all of the backend stuff you'll need to run a server in a simple installer package. Definitely check it out if you're thinking about running your own server.

On to Drupal. Setup was fairly straight forward. I followed the instruction found on the drupal site. It was quite painless, actually. I was up and running in about 10 minutes. One of the great things about Drupal is the modular plug-in system they've implemented. I was able to download and install several useful plug-ins (I believe they're referred to as modules) very easily and in very little time. Visual themes are similar in nature; very easy and quick to install. Now, I have not yet put Drupal through its paces to really ascertain its viability for us, but, if first impressions are an indicator, we've got a winner on our hands.

Based off of my limited exposure to Drupal, I would still recommend it to anyone in the market for an intranet/wiki/CMS. Of course, I'd love to hear from people who may have had better experiences with another package or didn't find Drupal useful at all. Leave a comment and let me know what you've found.

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