Discussion of the Open Database, its mission, how to recruit editors and contributors, any on-going problems, and any other matters relating to Starfleet Jedi's resident wiki.
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Post by 2046 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:22 am

The other day you'd mentioned that you might've gone wiki with the main site if you had it to do all over again, and I said:
My main issue with wiki stuff is the unique markup language, but I guess I could look for a fckeditor integration for wysiwyg (or similar).

I've built a few sites for other people or topics using various content management doodads like Joomla, but while some simple things are super easy there's inevitably some simple thing, easy as pie in HTML, that you can't do at all or without getting neck-deep dirty in PHP. That often defeats the purpose of a CMS anyway.

Another issue is conversion. I was planning on an ST-v-SW.Net 2.0 based on a CMS, but taking my existing stuff to it would've been a profound pain in the ass.

You might actually have an easier time of it, given that the main site is already set up in a database-y way.
Might I extend my remarks thusly:

I've been playing with Drupal for the past week or two (and ironically, WhiteHouse.gov just announced a switch to it). I like it. A lot.

Whereas most CMS software makes me cuss a lot because you rapidly hit a wall where you can't do anything without reprogramming the whole bloody thing (the aforementioned simple-in-HTML-but-now-I-have-to-recode-your-crappy-PHP), I have yet to hit a solid wall. Sure, I've had my goals massaged and modified some, but that's it.

Thus far, I've got a partial port of CanonWars (my guinea pig) and I'm playing with porting NoLettersHome.

One thing you might like is that there is a module (i.e. easily-added plugin) allowing integration with phpBB, as well as a module called wikitools which, in concert with some other modules, can allow either the main pages or a subsection a very strong wiki format, with the same login serving both. And yes, the existing phpBB forum can (supposedly) be integrated into a new Drupal installation, and I presume the wiki content could be moved as well (though you'd know better).

You can even do primary site webpages using phpBB markup . . . so if you had some post on here you thought was the mother of all bombs, you could cut and paste via the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor module and blammo, instant page . . . not even screwing with any HTML reworking.

And with the Views module, I'd bet you could even replicate the existing site navigation structure.

As for me, after educating myself by playing with CanonWars, I've pulled off a few tricks:

1. I have ported the Blogger blog (with comments, even!) to the onboard Drupal blog. This does mean I lose some of the potential Blogger toys like blogging-by-email, but I never used that anyway.

2. While I'll still have to add all the rest of the quotes, I've added about ten of them and rigged up a way to display them in sorted form automatically.

Pre-Drupal, for instance, I'd have to open up an HTML editor on my local machine, add the quote to the right spot in the rank section and apply various formatting (which I recently improved via CSS, but still). Then I'd have to copy it over to the chronology section. Then I'd have to open up an FTP program and move them over. It was just bleh.

Now I have it set so I add the quote in one place, and with the Views module I have a quote-by-chronology page, a quotes-by-Rank page, and even other sorted listing modes off of those, fairly easily generated.

As I've continued to learn stuff, I've found out that I actually probably need to re-work the setup, because I'm using inefficient methods. But still, I pulled it off without too much hassle, which is a lot more than I can say for some of that old Joomla stuff.

3. One thing that bugged the piss out of me with the ST-v-SW.Net Joomla attempt was that the bookmark anchors could not be made to work easily, meaning my handy-dandy quick-reference link lists that I'd so painstakingly created in HTML (e.g. here or my preferred versions at CanonWars like here) were suddenly useless.

Not only did I discover that those worked on the Drupal site, but I then discovered that someone had made an easy-to-use Table of Contents module that does the exact same thing as the CanonWars example (damn near identical output, but even better thanks to it being collapsible), but it does it automatically based on header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.). I thus totally sprang geek wood.

. . .

And so on. Yeah, I've had issues and a little bit of cursing, along with applied Google-Fu when I ran into occasional troubles, and it's taken a good bit of time to gain this know-how, but I'm pretty pleased with the results.

I'm also working on NoLettersHome, as I said . . . all I'm really trying to figure out right now is whether I want to use the wiki format for the tech info database or if I want to use Drupal's onboard tools. Either way I can let other contributors use wiki or phpBB markup when adding content, so it's just a matter of what I think will come out better.

And one day, eventually, maybe, I'll even start thinking I can even move ST-v-SW.Net to it. Frankly, I think I could start working on it now . . . it's no more complicated a structure than the CanonWars site, really, and probably less complicated than what I'm pondering for NoLettersHome. But it's still the Big Cahuna, as it were, and so I'm not even touching it right now.

My one source of despair is that there's not a really good site importer. Drupal has such a module, mind you, but it looks like it would be very complicated to set up and operate . . . by the time I figured out how to do it I could probably already have the 250 or so different pages cut-and-pasted and modified by hand as needed. So I'm kind of in that netherworld between a site so huge they need the importer and a site so tiny it would take less than an hour to copy and paste.

But in any case, that's what's on the horizon, and I figured I'd share that for you or anyone else interested in finding newer, better ways to break the tubes of the intarweb.

Jedi Master Spock
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Re: Drupal

Post by Jedi Master Spock » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:49 am

Interesting! Sounds very promising. As you can see, I still haven't gotten around to very much since then... I was expecting to have a little bit more free time than I turned out to actually have.

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