Drupal Mini-Case Study: Theatre Without Borders (pt 2)

[See this post for part 1]

Site “Design” Notes (functional design, not look and feel):

  • Theatre Without Borders is a completely volunteer organization – they don’t have an office, and have a vague selection of charter members, and then the rest of the people who volunteer to be a country contact.  While Drupal can be used very well by a cadre of volunteers, they aren’t there yet, so this site needed to be as basic as possible.  No custom coding.  Few contributed modules as possible.  Anything above and beyond adding content – i.e. setting up a view, creating a new taxonomy, even modifying blocks and menus – needed to be in a fairly locked-down framework, so I wasn’t required to make changes every week (or even month) when something new came up.
  • One major surprise – for myself – was dropping any and all internationalization (i18n).  I realized that the site would be complicated enough for a very basic user to manage; in addition, the role of TWB has primarily been a gateway to and from the U.S.  Meaning – U.S. artists looking to do work abroad, and overseas artists looking to do work in the U.S.  TWB had no real qualms about making the site overwhelmingly in English because of this dynamic.  While it pained me to see this potential functionality – given the site’s focus and name, dammit – go by the wayside, it was just another layer I couldn’t support given the scope of the project.

Profiles:  The main piece of Drupal knowledge I gained on this project was the fact that – as of Drupal 5 – you cannot manipulate user info the same way you can any other type of content node.  While Views can get you a lot of the way there, it’s not the same. 

Take my basic issue: I wanted to have one Country List that could be used across the board – users could select countries they “represented”, and we could use the same list to tag any article or resource.  However, if you create a taxonomy of countries, you cannot easily make it show up on a user profile (i.e. the same way you select the list of content types to include the taxonomy). Yes, there are workarounds – many of them.  There’s even a whole Drupal Group devoted to one of the solutions – Profiles as Nodes.  During the time I was working on this, all the documentation was being written and patches were being added – literally one day to the next .  In the end, I was putting an additional 6-10 modules on the site, and still needing to custom code some layouts for the taxonomy to show up on the same page as the My Account editing page. 

Forget it – I went back to a dual-list system: I had a complete country list as a regular taxonomy, and then using the Profile module, I created a parallel country list for users.  (Note:  Users as Nodes has come a long way since I made my decision – see my note about this in a previous post)

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