The all-new Leeds College of Art Intranet Portal was launched in September 2010, built from the ground up in Drupal with custom PHP and Ajax.
Originally, the College Intranet consisted of two Silverstripe CMS websites – one for staff, one for students. Keeping both sites up to date was time consuming, and the CMS itself is not very user friendly. Designing themes for Silverstripe was also proving difficult as the code and CSS syntax was non-standard.
I did some intensive research on the web to find a suitable alternative CMS, eventually narrowing it down to Moodle or Drupal. Moodle (abbreviation for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free and open-source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). However, Moodle is not designed to be used as a CMS system, it would haver taken a lot more development time to get it into a state where it would be suitable, add to that the file upload and document repository is non-existent as is site-wide search.
It was decided that Drupal would be more suitable.
Drupal is an open-source content management system. It is a widely used back-end system for websites worldwide, ranging from small personal blogs to large corporate and political sites, including whitehouse.gov and data.gov.uk. It is also used for knowledge management and business collaboration.
The standard release of Drupal, known as Drupal core, contains basic features common to most CMSs. These include the ability to register and maintain individual user accounts within a role-based permission / privilege system, create and manage menus, RSS-feeds, customize page layout, perform logging, and administer the system. As installed, Drupal provides options to create a websites ranging from simple to complex multi-user websites.
Drupal is extremely developer friendly, at first it was a very steep learning curve to set it up but once all the relevant plug-ins, extensions and themes were installed, I‘ve found the end-user experience to be very rewarding, with plenty of scope for further customisation.
The site was launched in September and has been met with fantastic praise. I am providing CMS training and am finding that users feel that the system is far more intuitive than SilverStripe. Furthermore there is no longer any confusion as to whether content is on the student site or the staff site!