Matt's Blog

Content management systems

Sun Oct 15 19:39:42 EST 2006

It looks like it may be time to bid a fond farewell to my homebrew blogging software, at least in its current incarnation. It was a good programming exercise to write a program that read a plain text file and constructed a set of interlinked webpages with the dated entries separated into the appropriate categories. This turned out to be fairly simple in the functional programming style, and I'm tempted to go a bit further in introducing a higher degree of data abstraction (now that I have a better idea of how the Ocaml module system works).

But recently I have been playing around with the Drupal content management system (somehow volunteering to update the group website became constructing the group interactive online community. This mission creep tends to happen when I get a dull computery job to do :) ). The nice thing about this system compared to other content management systems is its extensibility. The architecture consists of a backend database tied to a CSS-based frontent with PHP, via hooks that can be extended through writing new PHP code to manipulate the database abstraction layer. Apart from having to use PHP this is ideal (although there is a bit of a sharp learning curve initially). In principle I could rewrite LambdaMOO using this system - well, if my programming skill were a lot better. But possible in principle. Plus there are a range of available user-contributed modules that do things such as set up a forum, write a wiki, etc.

So the next step is to check whether the setup on my webhost is compatible with Drupal. It should be, requirements are just PHP and MySQL plus a couple of configuration tweaks of the database access and the php.ini file. Watch this space - online community coming here soon!

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