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. 😀