Choosing an open-source CMS, part 1: Why we use Drupal

Two companies decide that Drupal, a powerful but complex content management system, works best for them.

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According to Raffel, the company looked at other options, but in the end, "we were really drawn to Drupal because of the idea that it was an open source platform.... We heard complaints that Drupal would be hard to work with, but by finding the right partner to build out our site, we were able to construct a CMS that was similar to what we had prior but that worked better for us."

Fearnet's site, with 15 different content types to manage and huge amounts of continuously updated video and other content, presented a challenge for Metal Toad Media, which Raffel hired to dismember the old site and rebuild it from the ground up. (Although just coming up with a template structure helped to speed up the site creation and publishing process.)

Content types include marquee images, rotating slides, movies, clips, episodes, characters, blogs, forum topics, articles and so on. It took Metal Toad three months to design the new site and lay out the taxonomies and another three to launch it on the Drupal 7 platform using three full-time developers and two to three part-time contributors.

"The data structure was one of the most complex we've built because all of the content can relate to all of the other content," says Adam Edgarton, director of project management at Metal Toad Media. Drupal helps with this, because its content types include individual content items, which the Drupal community calls nodes. Edgarton's team used the CMS' ability to create node references to, for example, associate a movie with a video clip or character.

In one part of the project they built a module that inputs XML-formatted TV schedule updates and automatically assigns content types to each part of the schedule. "If a movie appears multiple times per month, the CMS links each of the references in the schedule with the appropriate nodes for that movie, including such things as artwork," Edgarton says.

Metal Toad Media also develops WordPress sites, but turned to Drupal this time around. "Once we get into the 200-hour-and-up range, it starts to make sense to go with Drupal," Edgarton says. For this project, which was three times the size of a typical engagement, he adds, Drupal was a perfect fit for the task.

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