Our first Drupal on Rye meeting was held on Wednesday, February 17th. It was a successful meeting with 19 people in attendance. There were representatives from all over campus, including: Center for Writing & Learning, Geosciences, Honors College, Extension, College of Ag, TSS, MBI, WebComm, Library, International Programs, and CWS.
Goals for Drupal on Rye
Our goals for Drupal on Rye are to build a community of Drupal users. There are issues faced by site builders on a daily basis regarding structuring content and other issues. Community members often have more insight into these issues than CWS does, because they face the same issues every day. This forum, in addition to the Drupal support list, will provide a way for people to share their knowledge.
We would like to see “best practice” style examples of modules and techniques in use on your sites. It’s one more way to share knowledge.
The forum also provides an opportunity for CWS and the community to interact. We want to use this forum to gather feedback from you about features we currently provide and things you would like to see us provide. There will also be opportunities for us to show you previews of what’s coming in upcoming releases of Drupal.
CWS Drupal Module Evaluation Criteria
For anyone who wasn’t familiar with the process, we provided a copy of the CWS Drupal Module Evaluation Criteria. We then discussed our philosophy behind our evaluation criteria.
As of the date of the meeting, CWS hosted and maintains approximately 700 Drupal sites, when including development, production and training websites. Having a standard list of modules allows us to update Drupal and the modules, test and ensure that the OSU Drupal installation is stable and working for everyone. If modules could be customized for each site, the upgrade process would become incredibly complex. We wouldn’t be able to test each site’s individual combination of modules before upgrade, and batch updates to all sites could cause issues for individual sites.
We welcome requests for modules to include in the OSU Drupal installation. You can request a module by filling out a CWS help ticket request.
A brief overview of the Bibliography Module was presented. This module allows for the management and display of publications. CWS is currently working on incorporating this module into OSU Drupal. There is not a defined timeline for implementing this module, but we are currently targeting April. There will be a training course available for this module when it is relased.
There was an open discussion about the Webform Module. CWS has had several requests to evaluate this, and we wanted to bring it up for discussion. Based upon our evaluation, we saw limited use for this module. Some of the drawbacks are:
- Limited data extraction – always have to download all data and there are limited output formats
- Limited form validation – most form validation requires the writing of php validations. If you can write this, why would you need the module?
- No authenticated form submissions unless the person is a user on your Drupal site
- Once forms are created, there are no changes to fields or field settings
- Data must be stored in your Drupal database. Since we do not allow direct database access to OSU Drupal databases for security purposes, alternative data extraction methods are not readily available
Once we presented this information, we opened up the floor. The feedback from the community was that there needs to be a way to allow users with no HTML or PHP skills to create simple forms for collecting information. Many of these forms may not require any kind of validation. Most users, however, agreed with some of the shortcomings of the Webform Module.
The discussion lead to the identification of a need to have a tool that can be used by users as a form builder. It should allow options for storing data from the form in a database, sent to email, or both. The generated form could be integrated easily into websites. There should be advanced options for extracting the data, such as limiting results viewing or download by a date range.
CWS agreed to continue to investigate solutions for this issue.
Drupal 5 Support
Drupal 5 officially loses support from drupal.org when Drupal 7 is released. This means that Drupal 5 will no longer receive security patches or updates.
CWS, however, has not currently set an end of life date for Drupal 5. We are working with site owners to sent the date. All OSU Drupal 5 users will receive significant advance notice of the OSU Drupal 5 shutdown date.
As of the date of the meeting, there were 98 production and 39 development Drupal 5 sites remaining.
Drupal 7 timeline
Drupal 7 does not have a defined release date. The timeline is announced as “when all critical bugs are closed”. There are approximately 150 critical bugs remaining.
Even though Drupal 7 will likely be released some time this year, CWS will not upgrade the OSU Drupal installation right away. For us to upgrade, the following needs to be complete:
- All Drupal community modules need to be upgraded to Drupal 7. While many modules have a pledge to be ready when Drupal 7 is ready, not all of the maintainers of our installed modules have made this pledge.
- OSU Modules for search, single sign on, upgrades, etc. need to be updated.
- OSU Core Themes need to be updated.
- Basic Training core needs to be developed.
- CWS needs to complete testing on the whole installation to ensure everything works properly.
CWS did not release OSU Drupal 6 until Drupal version 6.10. It was almost a year after the initial release of OSU Drupal. The primary reason for the delay was the status of our installed modules.
There are a few things we know already about the upcoming Drupal 7:
- There will not be a Drupal 5 to Drupal 7 upgrade path. All OSU Drupal 5 sites will need to upgrade to Drupal 6 before they can be upgraded to Drupal 7.
- The CCK module is going away and will become part of the core Drupal installation, and it will be called Fields. We are unsure at this point what impact this has on the upgrade process.
- There is a completely new administration built for Drupal 7.
We will try to keep you apprised of developments with Drupal 7 through Drupal on Rye sessions and through this blog.
We agreed that we would meet on a monthly basis. Our next will take place:
- Wednesday, March 17th 11:30am-1:00pm in Willamette West, Rm 3622, 3rd Floor Valley Library
- Monday, April 12th 11:30am-1:00pm in Willamette West, Rm 3622, 3rd Floor Valley Library
Registration for these sessions is optional, but can be done in the Professional Development application.
That wraps it up. It was a great meeting and I think Drupal on Rye will be a valuable resource for the Drupal community at OSU. We hope to see you at our next Drupal on Rye meeting.