MultiUser Weblogs (again)

I’ve been going through the various options, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Drupal may well be the best solution for what we’d need for a campus weblogging service. It doesn’t have per-blog themes, but that’s coming in Drupal 4.6. The rest of the package is rock solid, and the LDAP integration means every @ucalgary.ca could hit the ground running, as Drupal creates weblogs and forums on the fly as users enter the system. That makes administration much simpler for me, and makes the system more flexible for the users.

The first thing I’ve done is install the SpreadFirefox theme, which looks amazing, but has some quirks with CSS and clear so that some things display only after a LOT of vertical whitespace.

I’m slowly putting together a User Manual, using the Book feature of Drupal. It makes a book into some freakish hybrid of weblog and wiki, with a hierarchical organization of pages and an automatically generated table of contents.

I’m meeting with Paul tomorrow, and we just might decide to roll this out for a limited test period. I’m teaching a class on Friday, to a group of Anthropology grad students interested in new technologies and strategies for teaching and learning. Could be a good fit… 🙂

10 Comments

  1. James Farmer

    Interesting choice D’Arcy, can I proble a little further…

    Are you planning on grouping users by, say, faculty within Drupal (I presume you’re talking about a single installation)?

    Are you thinking about a social / general implementation here or something that people can use in class?

    Cheers, James

  2. I’m assuming that we may have both formal (faculty, department) and informal (class, research group) groups. Groups in Drupal can be self-assembling, so there isn’t much admin. overhead, and users who want/need to be in a group are able to do so.

    At the moment, a single installation (not going to post the link yet, to prevent The Goog from ingesting it until it goes live). Although Drupal 4.5 doesn’t have per-blog themes, that’s coming in 4.6, so much of the benefit of MovableType will be available in Drupal.

    I’m hoping it will be used in class, or by students/faculty/staff for their personal blogs, or for something else that I haven’t thought of. No idea if it will even take off, but there’s only one way to find out…

  3. Regarding WordPress on the above link. Probably the biggest userbase is at wordpress.com which apparently is getting 1000 new members *a day*.

    Also regarding scalability, this thread suggests that it is scalable:

    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/842#post-4497

    Is Drupal truly ‘multi’ in the same way that mu.wordpress is? For example, with wordpress, you can set up too totally independent sites on the same domain *on the fly*.

    jogging.wordpress.com
    movies.wordpress.com

    and both have different level of users and are essentially two independent sites. Is this possible with Drupal? Or is Drupal multiuser in the way, regular wordpress is. ie. you have one site, but there are levels of users.

  4. Drupal is multiuser in that each user can have their own “area” within Drupal, or commingle to varying degrees in shared or public areas. WP (and WPMU) creates more standalone blogs, rather than communal ones. I don’t think Drupal supports wildcard DNS mapping to individual blogs – that’s one of the cooler features of WPMU.

    So, Drupal gives you one “site” (or you can host multiple unrelated sites from the same installation) and lets users co-publish stuff or maintain their own stuff, whatever they’re comfortable with.

    Personally, I think WP and WPMU are awesome for individual blogging (and having a lot of people blogging) but Drupal is better at “communal” blogging, for projects etc… But, either one could be convinced to do just about anything…

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