Artscientific Drupal Websites
Drupal and the open source community allow us to leverage thousands of hours of development time that has gone into the modules, code, and toolkits that make up the core of our site. We can then apply, distill and customize all this effort into our own goals in a way that would be prohibitively expensive, difficult, and time consuming to accomplish any other way. If we had tried to create this same site just a few years ago, it would have taken a team of 10 people a full year to complete.
The sites we create are literally made up of hundreds of modules, dozens of code libraries, and several programming languages.
The cornerstones of technology used in our site are far and away the most prevalent on the internet. This provides nearly inexhaustible resources to draw upon both in code and in development.
The opensource community is a massive resource, but in some cases you get what you pay for. For example some modules are poorly written, this becomes most apparent when they interfere with other modules or break the entire site. However there is (almost) always an available alternative that IS well written and/or customizable to suit the task. Regardless of all of this, any module can be rewritten to achieve the desired functionality.
The site is fueled by a robust back end that enables easy addition of new content for casual contributors yet has the depth and power to allow advanced users to easily make site wide, fundamental, and rule based additions. The main site architecture is very flexible and provides for the addition of new content and/or features into any area without breaking neighboring/other parts of the site or requiring advanced knowledge of html to allow for new additions. This future-proofs our solution and will enable us to take advantage of new technologies and incorporate them quickly.
Our sites have been designed as a versatile base site that can evolve/shift as the focus and purpose of the site changes - This functional liquidity has already allowed us to not only easily accept high volume visitor contributions with multiple forms of media but also to add a workflow that allows in house staff to contribute, edit and publish content in a powerful and versatile way. We strive to think ahead and anticipate how the site may be used in the future and options such as real-time user contributions can be added with relative ease.
The functional site is made up of a few basic components:
Modules (modules add functionality to the core of the site), databases, images & videos, various html, php, css, and scripts.
Generally, sites are laid out into a few basic area types:
Flash header, Search bar/Navigation, Main Content, Right Sidebar, and Footer. All of these are active areas that change dynamically based on where the user is in the site, who the user is, and the user’s role (permissions and settings).
Workflow within the site provides for many levels of approval and editing before content goes live. Beyond a static website, our sites are fully functional content management systems in the truest sense. It allows for easy cataloging, editing, organization, and distribution of many forms of media and copy/articles. Its ability to classify diverse forms of information can be extended at any time by adding new forms of classification and content types to its current core groups of articles, videos, glossary terms, pages, homepage feature, and user nodes (a user’s account page).
Images and galleries are integral to any site and we provide everything from simple single image uploads (for user pictures/avatars) to automated gallery creation with animated transition effects.
The site also features multiple level access: visitors, contributors, admins, each with different capabilities and the site itself changes for each user type that is logged in.
Currently, contributors submit an article which then needs to be approved by an admin and only admins can create pages or glossary terms.
Users can submit content for review anonymously, or credit will be given under their user name if they are logged in to the site.
We have the capability of assigning different levels of permissions for different user types. This allows us to assign roles to user types. For example, a user who has gone through a screening process and is someone we trust to provide accurate and appropriate content may have permissions set to post to the site without going through the standard review by the sites administrators. Another role may be granted permissions to post comments without review, but full articles and/or videos must go through the proper screening process.
In the future we have the option of allowing anyone to post content freely, in real time, without formal review. “Flagging” of inappropriate content by other visitors who frequent the site has been an effective censor for other social sites and this is available in ours as well. Loyal contributors will feel a responsibility to provide accurate information and we can provide the functionality of immediate removal of flagged content until further review.
Currently there are two main content/upload types that can be created by contributors: articles, and videos. These provide a simple foundation for content on the site but more can be added at any time.
The site also has Pages which are used for individual and unique content for example, About Us, or any mostly static informational or topical pages.
Each site starts with two main page templates that produce its pages, one for the homepage and one for all the remaining or "inside" pages. This allows us to have two completely different page layouts that flow and function independently.
The site can automatically detect the format and file type of movie uploaded, we currently only use Flash, but the site is capable of displaying all the major video formats. Video carousel on the home page is unique to our sites. We have the only site as far as we could find on the Internet with the functionality that we have with the video playing WITHIN the carousel – not even YouTube.
Each of the videos can be viewed in the thumbnail player as seen on the Videos page. By clicking the full screen icon (the middle round blue icon with the white square) the movie will fill the screen of the user’s monitor. Also, clicking the title will take the user to that video’s dedicated page.
New and approved content will be pulled from the database and automatically presented in the Articles pages. As more users’ ratings are averaged, the Top Articles and Best Rated sections will become populated according to these rankings.
We offer many social networking features including customizable user pages where users can create a space of their own, upload a photo (aka Avatar), post a bio, story or other information. Users also have the ability invite their friends through the site and track their invitations. Users are also awarded points for posting constructive comments, submitting articles and/or videos, sending invitations, and contributing to the site. The point system allows users to compete in a constructive way that simultaneously engages visitors while promoting and building the site.
The site has two glossaries:
When you click on Glossary it takes you to the glossary.module
The glossary.module is required for us to have the definition hovertips, the highlighted terms in articles and content, returns results faster and has a better interface for site visitors. It also supports images if/when we would like to add those down the line.
The g2 glossary is primarily used for S.E.O. (Search engine optimization) and the site Search among other things. The G2 glossary also powers the local site search enabling glossary nodes/terms to show in search results, creates separate nodes (or pages) for each glossary term (which is a critical advantage for Search Engine Optimization), and can handle massive databases (10k plus terms with no slowdown). This allows the site to have significantly more results in search engines like Yahoo and Google, and contributes to our site being recognized as an “authority” on its relevant topics. These advantages further improve search engine ranking and the end result is more visitors find our site and benefit from the knowledge, consultation, and community available at our sites.
Copyright © 2009 Peter Ochabski