Drupal Learning Curve
There is an interesting post over at ALA Techsource about whether or not Drupal has too steep a learning curve for libraries. The post was prompted by a letter from Kyle Jones in Decemberâ€™s American Libraries in which he said that Drupal has a “steep learning curve”. As someone who has been working with Drupal and whose library has a homegrown CMS because of that steep learning curve, I’d like to comment. First, yes Drupal has a steep learning curve but I think that it is important to keep two things in mind.
- All CMS have a pretty steep learning curve. I’ve used Joomla, Drupal, and Plone none of them have a UI that is up to snuff in my opinion. This is one of the reasons we built our CMS at UH. In fact, several people have commented to me that it was “the best CMS interface” they’d ever seen. One reason I think we get these kinds of comments is because we really wanted to make it dead easy to use. It isn’t as easy as we or the librarians would like, but it is world’s better than Drupal (a lesson some folks at our library are learning as we implement our Drupal-backed intranet).
- Drupal is getting better, and better with each version upgrade. The interface for simple pages, once you add a WYSIWYG module is quite good. The Panels module in particular is getting closer to the type of functionality we’d like to see in a CMS because it allows you to deal with different sections of a give page in context and allows you to easily put different things into them. Drupal is on the right track but it is going to take some time to get there. The Drupal folks ought to take a page from the WordPress UI redesign which I personally think is great. Maybe libraries should think about helping to make the UI better by either contributing code or features requests.
Second, for people who want to learn Drupal there are lots of good resources out there. I’ve posted about a few of them here before. Personally I love Packt’s book on Drupal. I’ve never learned so much or been so enthused after reading a tech book. For those folks who want real world experience, the drupal4lib camp taking place in February is full but look for streamed content as well as stuff posted afterwards. Also, check out the slides from my Open Source CMS preconference. There is stuff here on WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. I also can say that there is going to be a chapter on Drupal in a book I’m working on. As a result, I’m likely to be creating some tutorial videos and you’ll see more Drupal posts here for sure.