We've now completed the template site to which we can replicate in order to migrate our 70 affiliate sites into a single codebase, mult-site installation of Drupal (as per this page). Next is to create test sites for our beta testers - 7 of our 70 site webmasters volunteered to be early testers of the system.
Here's what we've done, in a nutshell:
- We have approx. 70 existing, affiliate sites to our flagship site. We needed to give them an easier and more stable way to manage their individual sites. Cue: Drupal.
- We've recreated our home-built, proprietary website builder in Drupal using the infrastructure mentioned above (multi-site install, single codebase).
- We've employed several modules to meet our needs, including:
- Menu item access (Provides flexible menu item access control. Something we needed to control what our webmasters can and can't see in the menus area - we only wanted them to see their site's menu, no admin menus)
- Google Search Appliance integration (self-explanatory - we own a Google Mini Search Appliance that is fully-configured. We want to contintue to use it in conjunction with Drupal Search)
- Menu Translation (also, self-explanatory)
- AddToAny (social bookmarking tool)
- IMCEmkdir (allows users to manage directories via IMCE)
- Region Manager (super cool module that lets users control block visibility/configuration per page)
- among others...
- Also, we did have to write a few custom modules (only 4 so far) including one that pulls content (a la SSIs) from a non-Drupal site.
Now, we plan to use this basic template site and replicate it to re-create our affiliate sites. Each site will be given a test URL for learning Drupal and evaluating the system. Shouldn't be too difficult for them as we've highly controlled the interface. They only see this:
"System pages" aren't active actually. We're trying to figure out a way to hide that option. So, they can create the three types of content seen above, manage that content (edit, delete, etc.), modify how items appear in their menu and control which feeds are aggregated on their site. That's about it. Highly-controlled environment but that's how we'll use Drupal for now. The previous, proprietary system was extremely limiting. Drupal's WYSIWYG editing is a dream compared to the old system!
After the 7 early, beta testers have had their go at testing the system, we'll tweak it even further and correct and bugs/errors/oddities. Then, we'll migrate the other 60-odd sites to their own Drupal sites. One huge hurdle that we haven't yet figured out is how to enable/disbale modules across all 70 sites without having to go in one-by-one and tick boxes on all sites. The way we have our multi-site installation set up, this is what is required at the moment. So, we want to get the basic template as final as possible, before we create 70 websites from it!
Switching topics, I'm sure everyone has heard this news so far but whitehouse.gov is using Drupal - see Dries post. This is, indeed, something for the Drupal Community, of which I am barely 6 months a member, to be VERY proud of. Drupal's flexibility and modularity are some of the main reasons we chose to use it for managing our sites. Congratulations to Dries, Drupal and to the US Govt. for picking such a great system for managing their sites!
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