IBM Taps Drupal For Dev Project Tutorial

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Part one of a new series at IBM developerWorks focuses on the choice of an open source content management platform for their closed community web site progress.

A new tutorial series has started at IBM. This one will take visitors through the process of designing, developing, and deploying a web site, using resources available from the open source community.

The collaborative website, for the fictional International Business Council, requires a variety of groupware-oriented services to satisfy the needs of the phantom client. A quick review of the requirements looks suspiciously similar to those of a product provided by a certain technology company in Redmond, Washington.

From IBM’s project page: “The new, customized Web site must have document storage, discussion groups, specialized workgroups, conference scheduling, schedule session descriptions, session expiration, and other tasks.”

From Microsoft SharePoint’s page: “Using the combined collaboration features of Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, users in your organization can easily create, manage, and build their own collaborative Web sites and make them available throughout the organization.”

IBM will educate its site visitors about developing this type of site throughout its tutorial. One facet of the initial setup involved finding a framework upon which to base the project.

After considering several open source options – Mambo, Typo3, Ruby on Rails, Movable Type, WordPress, and TextPattern – IBM’s project chose Drupal for its framework. (No mention of Joomla, oddly enough, but that’s probably because it’s a Mambo fork.)

Drupal is written in PHP, and powers the Spread Firefox website; also of interest is their summer training program they plan to conduct in India, our readers there may wish to note.

Drupal will serve as IBM’s test bed for construction of IBC’s new presence. IBM trio of tutorial taskmasters wrote of their rationale for selecting Drupal:

Drupal is a relative youngster compared to other content management systems (CMSs). However, we got the impression the framework was well written, robust, very extensible, and seemed to have a thriving development community that was generating a lot of adoption and support.

As with other CMSs, the framework was very extensible. Many of the features we needed were provided as modules that could easily be snapped into the core functions of our Web site.

Drupal is known for scalability, or ease of growing a Web site from a small set of users to an enterprise level. The framework also has the ability to ‘throttle’ areas of the site that could cause potential problems during heavy traffic situations.

There is still an apparent learning curve to the “Drupal Way” of creating sites, but significantly less compared with other CMSs. The ability to use PHP to move freely between the business logic layer and the presentation layer (using the PHP template engine) was also very appealing.

With the selection of the framework complete, the series will turn to design and other topics related to the completion of the progress. IBM’s reputation needs no embellishment here; developers holding an interest in constructing a collaborative portal with open source technology will benefit from IBM’s insights.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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