Joyful Acceptance

For my gen­er­a­tion, HTML and sim­i­lar markup lan­guages are essen­tial to com­put­er use, things that we learned in ele­men­tary school. How­ev­er, few peo­ple, since the pass­ing of van­i­ty pages host­ed on the likes of Geoc­i­ties and Angelfire, use sta­t­ic HTML pages for even the small­est web­sites. Dynam­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed con­tent now dom­i­nate, and devel­op­ments such CSS and con­tent man­age­ment web con­tent to be kept sep­a­rate from design.

I always thought a CMS would be good only for blogs. How­ev­er, after installing Dru­pal on the site of my robot­ics team, I have dis­cov­er that it is quite nice for your entire web­site to be dynam­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed, if a bit slow on my shared host. CMS objects like Drupal's “nodes” can be sub­tly recon­fig­ured to serve a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent needs. A node can be a blog post with a com­ment sys­tem, a wiki page with a his­to­ry of changes, a sta­t­ic page, or a forum post with replies.

The best part of all, in my opin­ion, was that the method of cre­at­ing con­tent with­in each one was always the same: go to the node type, and then type the con­tent into a box. It was then stored, and served to users so that it looked the same as the rest of the site. In oth­er words, once it was set up, you have only to wor­ry about your con­tent, and not the appear­ance or lay­out of your site. In addi­tion, it was all kept sep­a­rate, so that you can change one with­out affect­ing the oth­er. Final­ly, nodes all share many ele­ments, like themes, tags, and such, so changes to the com­mon ele­ments are glob­al and do not have to applied to each indi­vid­u­al node.

Now, I am at best an elec­tron­ics hob­by­ist, focus­ing pri­mar­i­ly on embed­ded sys­tems and low-pow­er micro­con­trollers. I can hard­ly ever be said to be “good at the web stuff.” Yet, I was able to set up a full fea­tured web­site for my team that can present infor­ma­tion to vis­i­tors and team mem­bers alike, while offer­ing tools like an inte­grat­ed mail­ing list sys­tem and project planning/division tool. Dru­pal also pow­ers this, which is at the moment my per­son­al web­site. How­ev­er, I plan to expand it to fit its orig­i­nal pur­pose (of which the name sug­gests at sub­tly), and I feel that my choice offers me the flex­i­bil­i­ty to do so.

So, it is my hum­ble opin­ion that a CMS such as Dru­pal is a valu­able choice to have for con­struct­ing a web­site (even a small one!), and leaves many options to admins for expan­sion. Of course, this is what every­body already knows, so this web log post has real­ly been an excer­cise in rhetoric for me—literally; I was prac­tic­ing my rather appalling essay-writ­ing skills. 😀