OverviewThese are the most important parts of the site:
- Personal profiles for each researcher and professor
- A general list of publications and individual listings for each researcher
- Information pages for courses
- A news section
With respect to the previous version, we made several big changes:
- We went back to a single language. Previous versions were in English and in Spanish (as we're located in Spain) but we decided to go English-only as this is the language of research. That removed the hassle of having to update profiles in two languages. We still have Spanish-only pages for the courses though, but we are not using the internationalization system anymore.
- We removed any anonymous user input. There is still a contact form, but we removed the guestbook and comments on announcements.
- Previously we used a custom-made publication management system. We now changed to the Drupal module Biblio. Biblio has some great out-of-the-box features like publication listings per author and several types of sorting.
- We made more use of the views module and added some tighter interaction between the different content types on the site. We now have
- news pages and news blocks showing up in several parts of the site;
- a page for research projects, with links to related Biblio publications on each project and vice-versa;
- an area dedicated to reproducible research / open science in which we post code to reproduce experiments from our papers (with links back from the paper pages) and several tools we are building.
Here's a short rundown of how we built the site.
ModulesThe non-core module footprint was relatively small, since Drupal 7 comes standard with many features. The major non-core extensions we used are the following:
- Ajax markup for our custom scripting
- Better formats to force formatting per content type
- Biblio for our publication management
- BUEditor for text markup. So much better than wysiwyg.
- Content Access for private contents
- Crumbs for url-based breadcrumbs
- Flag for marking selected publications
- Profile2 for fancy user profiles
- Real name
- Secure login
CustomizationsApart from configuring the modules, there has been some getting our hands dirty in 3 areas:
- We had to hack the Biblio module as it doesn't allow for hooking / theming properly. Mainly, this was for sorting the publications by type with a custom order (not alphabetic) and some aesthetic aspects.
- The theme is a zen subtheme. The user profiles are built with Profile2 and some additional fields, and on top of that they have some CSS but no theming templates.
- Some of the views are using complex combinations of contextual filters and relationships, e.g. to show selected publications in our member profiles.
Drupal 7 was a good choice for our research group web site:
- The core of this web site is content management, and our content management requirements which were nicely met by Drupal.
- We kept the back-end clean and simple, and we didn't bother with any additional graphics or fancy buttons. For instance, text markup is done code-like with BUEditor which is perfect for us technical people.
- Drupal has some great extensibility in whatever direction, which meant that we could find almost any component we needed as a contributed module. It also came in handy for linking external services and doing experimental stuff.
The development took a few months, as this is something we did besides our normal research tasks, but we're very glad with the results. Now let's see if it lasts another 5 years.