Drupal and Inconstancy

Arguably, Drupal is an excellent CMS; it’s used by “hundreds of thousands of projects” (from professional to proprietary to educational); it’s the platform I selected for my most recent DH project; and it’s one I’d recommend to others (it’s learnable; teachable; extensible). But I would by no means necessarily advocate Drupal over any other CMS.

In a previous post I very briefly sketched how my most recent TEI project exemplifies an instance of Drupal-TEI integration, and I pointed out that this was made possible via the XML Content module, which carries some significant advantages in that it offers editors crucial levels of flexibility and granularity in determining which Drupal node types are to be written in XML.

While via this module Drupal indeed met one of my essential CMS selection criteria: XML capability (in addition to criteria such as open source, journal capability, media capability, and so on), it isn’t the only CMS which does so.

Prior to settling on Drupal, among other options, I considered:

And it doesn’t require too much sleuthing to discover that Drupal is not the only open source CMS which supports the authoring of content in XML.

But I should be even more explicit: I’m a historical linguist – not a programmer – so I don’t take CMS selection decisions lightly and I don’t make them in isolation. For serious projects, I bring in serious heads, and in choosing a CMS, I sat down with an experienced programmer more than a few times to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each. I outlined my project needs, content and technical as well as short term and long term, and in our discussions, the programmer and I used my own critical and desirable features lists to adjudicate between the various CMSs. Drupal was simply the best match for my criteria.

Even still, although my ‘marriage’ to Drupal has already taken place, I confess that I’ve been anything but constant. In recent months, long after selecting Drupal, purely as a matter of academic interest and project scrutiny habit, I’ve continued to check out all kinds of CMSs. Most recently, I took a close look at TYPO3, the platform adopted for the DH 2010 conference site. The conference site, as I reviewed it, was well-designed and features-rich, and the site’s developers created a very useful set of view options for the conference program and abstracts, including (TEI)XML as well as HTML and PDF. Having explored this notable implementation and having reviewed the TYPO3 documentation, if I were starting from scratch today, TYPO3 would make my short list.

While I do expect to walk hand in hand with Drupal for the foreseeable future, I admit that I have a roving eye (I should really qualify here so that I don’t get into any trouble: that is – I have a ‘roving eye’ where technical matters are concerned), and the next time I am starting from scratch, if something better comes along, I’m prepared to be seduced.