Course Data Project

Why Drupal?

21 March, 2012 by Project Team

We looked at a number of options for a website CMS before eventually deciding on Drupal. Our main criteria for selection were:

  • Ease of use. Registry staff need to be able to add raw course data with little to no technical ability.
  • Automatic XCRI-CAP feed creation. The XCRI-CAP feed must be generated automatically from raw course data
  • Style. A system that can replicate the current style and design of our website so that it doesn’t look any different from sections that will not be run by the CMS
  • A competitive development community. As there are no in-house web developers, we need to be assured that a community of freelance experts can always be found when additional work is required
  • Open Source to avoid software fees and to allow our module development to be shared with the sector

Many other projects taking part in this JISC programme are using Tribal SITS to create their XCRI-CAP feed. At the moment that system is just not an option for us. We use a basic SITS package as a Student Record System, but at the moment don’t use it to collect course data. The additional plugins that the University would have to purchase wouldn’t be cost effective in the long run, so we decided to try and find an alternative.

One of the other systems that we considered was Squiz CMS. Squiz CMS is an open source content management system with a highly usable interface which makes it easy to create, publish and maintain engaging websites. The CMS includes a highly usable interface, true inline editing, context sensitive help, powerful collaboration features, and support for multi-lingual & device specific content.

Squiz have a significant portfolio of clients in the arts and education sector, including the V&A MuseumWestminster Abbey, the University of Oxford, and University College London. For each of these clients they’ve worked on small annexed sections of the website to deliver bespoke adaptations to their open source system.

However, the main disadvantage that we foresaw with Squiz is that it has a relatively small development community. Whilst the basic software is open source, there just aren’t enough developers working with it at the moment to assure its long term sustainability. Drupal on the other hand has a huge developmental community in London alone with support and maintenance always on hand.

With the help of the Drupal Association, UK-based Drupal consultant Steve Purkiss commissioned a short film to be created explaining a little bit about how the community working with Drupal makes it attractive.

So we chose Drupal.

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