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CODE4LIB  May 2014

CODE4LIB May 2014

Subject:

Re: Very frustrated with Drupal

From:

Joshua Welker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 15 May 2014 12:39:58 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (328 lines)

That sounds like just what I'm looking for! I will check it out. Thanks.

Josh Welker

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ian
Walls
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:09 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Very frustrated with Drupal

Josh,


I'd like to take this opportunity to hock SilverStripe
[http://www.silverstripe.org/], a PHP-based MVC framework and CMS.  I'm
using it for my library's website redesign, and it's proving very capable.
This redesign includes not only migrating our pages, but also integrating
our database list and our building hours tools, which had previously been
independent home-brew systems.

Building new data models does happen at the PHP level, rather than in the
GUI via an abstraction layer.  This gives very nice access to inheritance,
extension and interface implementation

There are modules for core things like Blogs, Events Calendars, and tons
more, but as this is a somewhat non-standard CMS, the community isn't as
robust as you get with Drupal.  But, I feel the ease of use and
understanding of the code offsets the availability of packaged modules.  I
can just build what I need and then post it to GitHub in the time it'd take
me to find, install and configure someone else's not-quite-what-I-needed
module (not to mention time spent maintaining down the road).

I don't have any experience yet with handing a SilverStripe site off to
someone else for maintenance, but talk to me again in a year, and I should.

Cheers,

-Ian Walls
Web Services & Emerging Technologies Librarian UMass Amherst Libraries


-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Joshua Welker
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:47 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Very frustrated with Drupal

Thank you all for the responses. I hope my original email did not come off
as too abrasive.

The issue for me is that I am having a hard time figuring out what exactly
is the use case for Drupal. Do you want a dead-simple website? Use
Wordpress. Do you want to add some complex custom apps? Use a framework. Do
you want the worst of both worlds? Use Drupal. Getting a non-trivial Drupal
site up and running requires as much work as learning a full-fledged
framework like Rails, Laravel, or Django. And the experience you gain using
Drupal is not going to carry over at all into any future non-Drupal
endeavors because the Drupal platform is completely unique and doesn't seem
to follow any basic paradigms like MVC. When doing something like basic data
manipulation requires overriding core functions using custom PHP functions
in my theme, the entire point of using a CMS in the first place has just
been defeated. If I get hit by a bus, not only will someone have to relearn
Drupal and all its modules, but they will also have to wade through my
spaghetti-code efforts at patching!
  functionality into Drupal.

What I would love is a CMS based on plain SQL tables, ActiveRecord, and
simple CRUD controls instead of abstract "entities" and "fields" that try to
be everything to everyone (and fail to be anything for anyone). But I don't
think such a thing exists, so I am interested in rolling my own with a
framework.

Right now, my framework choices are narrowed down to Ruby on Rails, Laravel
(PHP), Django (Python), and Flask (Python). For anyone who has used these,
do you have any insight into how maintainable your projects are and how
easily they are managed/inherited by others?

Josh


On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM, Jason Bengtson
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> When I came into this position I inherited some work the former tech
> manager had done in installing and experimenting with Drupal as a tool
> to replace our current CMS-less ColdFusion environment. I also quickly
> grew unhappy with it. I've been experimenting with MODX, which I like
> so far. If you're a PHP developer, MODX will be of particular interest
> (and PHP is a pretty common server-side technology if you worry about
> the bus factor). I haven't had as much time to mess with it as I'd
> like, but I've built some wireframes with it and so far I like it.
>
> I second the low quality of most of the commercial, enterprise stuff.
> We used Cascade Server at UNM and it was absolutely wretched. It's
> been a long time, but when I last built a WordPress site I remember
> that as being easy to use and I think it's gotten more
> flexible/powerful. I've got a fiend who's really sold on it and HAM/TMC
> uses it for their website.
>
> Best regards,
>
>
>
> *Jason Bengtson, MLIS, MA*
>
> Head of Library Computing and Information Systems
>
> Assistant Professor, Graduate College
>
> Department of Health Sciences Library and Information Management
>
> University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
>
> 405-271-2285, opt. 5
>
> 405-271-3297 (fax)
>
> *[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>*
>
> *http://library.ouhsc.edu <http://library.ouhsc.edu/>*
>
> *www.jasonbengtson.com <http://www.jasonbengtson.com/>*
>
>
>
> NOTICE:
> This e-mail is intended solely for the use of the individual to whom
> it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged,
> confidential or otherwise exempt from disclosure. If the reader of
> this e-mail is not the intended recipient or the employee or agent
> responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you
> are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying
> of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received
> this communication in error, please immediately notify us by replying
> to the original message at the listed email address. Thank You.
> <[log in to unmask]>
>
>
> On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 8:47 AM, Jason Sherman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > Joshua,
> >
> > From my perspective, the module ecosystem is the greatest strength
> > that Drupal has.  Modularity is one of the central design goals of
> > the system, so if you if you want to avoid all third-party modules,
> > you aren't going
> to
> > get any real advantage over something like wordpress.  Having said
> > that, I've experienced module dependency hell with Drupal, and it
> > can be frustrating.
> >
> > I tend to take a hybrid approach.  I try to limit myself to just a
> > few modules with any site.  Things like Views, cck, chaos tools, and
> > entity reference are modules I use for almost any site.  For
> > functionality that
> is
> > specific to the site, I usually create a local module to store code
> > and configuration. I find that this kind of setup gives me the most
> > of the advantages of the modules, while limiting the potential for
> > update problems.
> >
> > Another option that a lot of people use is drupal distributions.
> > These
> come
> > with quite a bit of customization for specific use cases ready out
> > of the box.  I haven't used a distribution, so I can't speak to
> > their
> usefulness.
> >  I'm sure that their quality can vary just as much as modules and
> > themes.
> >
> > Now for something completely different. Depending on what your
> requirements
> > are, you may have better luck using a narrower-purpose tool for the job.
> > Have you considered something like SubjectPlus?
> > http://www.subjectsplus.com/
> >
> >
> >
> > On Wed, May 14, 2014 at 8:35 PM, Joshua Welker <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > > Warning: incoming wall of text.
> > >
> > > I've been working for the past several months on building a
> > > library
> > website
> > > with Drupal. This is my second try building a website with Drupal.
> > > I
> > chose
> > > Drupal for two main reasons: CCK/content types, and its ubiquity
> > > in the library community.
> > >
> > > Theme development was going relatively well, if a little overly
> > > complicated. But once I started trying to do anything beyond
> > > developing static pages, I have become more and more frustrated with
> > > Drupal.
> > >
> > > Drupal supports custom content types out-of-the-box, which is
> > > great,
> but
> > if
> > > you want to actually do anything with that custom content other
> > > than
> have
> > > it function as a plain page, you have to use the Views module.
> > > Views is great, but views can easily become very complicated, with
> > > custom
> > rewrites,
> > > grouping, relations, contextual filters, etc. Plus, a lot of
> > functionality
> > > in Views requires more modules (for instance, basic data
> > > manipulation).
> > > This is to build rather run-of-the-mill list features like a
> > > database
> > list
> > > or a list of events. And a lot of the advanced features in Views
> require
> > a
> > > solid understanding of SQL (groups, distinct, joins, etc), which
> > > kind
> of
> > > defeats the notion that it is easy for non-developers to administer.
> > >
> > > Now, at this point, I have modules extending my modules. And those
> > modules
> > > have multiple dependencies on other modules. I am getting worried now.
> It
> > > feels like my website is a house of cards. I've run into several
> > instances
> > > already where one of these plugins is updated and breaks
> > > compatibility
> > with
> > > the whole stack, and there is nothing to do in this case but open
> > > an
> > issue
> > > on the project tracker and pray for the best. I have looked into
> building
> > > my own modules, but the umpteen APIs and hooks required to do
> > > something simple as perform some regex on field data completely
> > > overwhelmed me
> > (and I
> > > am fairly experience with web app development).
> > >
> > > It's not just Views, either. Anything more complicated than static
> pages
> > > and navigation menus requires relying on the module ecosystem.
> > >
> > > Not only is the whole thing quite precarious, but it defeats one
> > > of the
> > two
> > > main purposes of a CMS: ease of administration. I want to know
> > > that if
> I
> > > get hit by a bus tomorrow, someone will be able to come in and
> > > take
> over
> > > without too much difficulty. But when I go back and look at my
> > > views, I
> > can
> > > sometimes barely understand the work I did a week ago. It is very
> > difficult
> > > to keep straight which functions are coming from which modules,
> > > and all those modules have separate (often poor) documentation.
> > >
> > > At this point, I am seriously contemplating dumping Drupal and
> > > moving
> to
> > a
> > > full-fledged framework like Django, Flask, or Laravel and adding
> > > some WYSIWYG CRUD controls for pseudo-CMS functionality.
> > > ActiveRecord-like systems are much easier to use IMO than fiddling
> > > for hours with Views,
> > and
> > > I have full control of what is happening. I honestly think it
> > > would be
> > just
> > > as easy for someone to inherit a custom-built framework app as it
> > > would
> > be
> > > to inherit my already-convoluted Drupal site. At least the
> > > framework is well-documented and should allow my app to be
> > > understandable to anyone
> > with
> > > some programming experience.
> > >
> > > Does anyone want to talk me off the ledge here? I know a lot of
> > > you are using Drupal for your websites. What are the killer
> > > features that keep
> > you
> > > using Drupal? If any of you have experience building websites
> > > using frameworks, what are your experiences? I really want to like
> > > Drupal,
> but
> > it
> > > seems to be more trouble than it's worth.
> > >
> > > --
> > > Josh Welker
> > > Information Technology Librarian
> > > James C. Kirkpatrick Library
> > > University of Central Missouri
> > > Warrensburg, MO 64093
> > > JCKL 2260
> > > 660.543.8022
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Jason Sherman
> > Systems Librarian
> > University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
> > 405.574.1340
> >
>



--
Josh Welker
Information Technology Librarian
James C. Kirkpatrick Library
University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
JCKL 2260
660.543.8022

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