Epublish and Interwiki Updates


I haven't been blogging here much lately, and there's a reason: I've been busy with some other projects. Most recently, I've just finished updating the Epublish and Interwiki modules so that they new run on the latest version of Drupal.

For those who haven't head of it, Drupal is a free, open-source, web-based content management system that can be very useful for nonprofit organizations that want to set up their own websites. During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the Howard Dean campaign used a version of Drupal (which they called "DeanSpace") to power their network of pro-Dean websites. Considering that Dean was a virtual unknown at the national level when they began, they were very successful, even though Dean failed to win the Democratic nomination. After the Dean campaign closed up shop, some of the DeanSpace developers renamed it CivicSpace and are continuing to add new features.

We began using Drupal/Civicspace to power this website (prwatch.org) in late 2005, and overall we're very happy with it. It provides an interactive, web-based system that lets everyone on our staff contribute blog postings and other content to our site, and it has a number of other features that many nongovernmental organizations would find useful: modules that help with recruiting volunteers, contact relationship management (the NGO equivalent of customer relationship management), fundraising, event organizing and so forth. There's a bit of a learning curve involved in using Drupal, and to actually build a new website from scratch, it helps to be comfortable with SQL databases and the PHP programming language. Once you're familiar with it, however, it becomes possible to create a new website in under an hour (longer, of course, if you need to customize the way it looks and functions). In addition to PRWatch.org, I've used Drupal to create the website for the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua, as well as personal websites for myself, my brothers Dale and [http://www.kennyrampton.com], and Laura Miller (who worked until recently as the PR Watch editor).

One of the really nice things about Drupal is that it is very customizable, and you can add new functionality by writing your own code modules. We developed the Interwiki module to make it easy to link from PRWatch.org to articles on our other website, SourceWatch, and we developed the Epublish module to organize content from our quarterly newsletter.

Drupal encourages people who develop their own modules to add them to the contributions section of their website so that other people can download and use them. We've been happy to do that with the Interwiki and Epublish modules, and it has been nice to see that other people found them useful.