Replacing Drupal

I’ve read countless posts on migrating to or from Drupal. This isn’t one of them. What I need is to find replacements for all the things that Drupal can do well, and find alternatives that create a better deployment model.

A pattern that has emerged on the sites I build is that when we let folks use a feature they will, but if we try to control their access, we get hardly anyone participating. Drupal’s default permission model encourages intentional communities (like an intranet or membership site), while making it difficult to open up things to the public without jumping through loops.

The best example I can think of that demonstrates both of those points is commenting. It is no secret I am not a fan of how Drupal handles commenting, but I’ve seen it on every Drupal site I’ve worked on: comment moderation is beyond the capacity of the org, but there aren’t any reliable alternative methods that encourage visitor commenting.

Add more complexity, like mapping or collaboratively building a resource directory, and you can imagine how much of a site doesn’t get used. Then I learned about Semantic MediaWiki. Something clicked, and as I starting to apply what my challenges were to a wiki model, with structure built on top of it, I realized that have a root service like WordPress for controlled content, and a structured wiki with volunteer moderation was where I wanted to go.

So, what do I need SMW (or something) to do? Let’s see:

  • Calendaring
  • Mapping
  • Structured data entry (CCK) and templating (Views)
  • Group discussions (maybe, but that is a future post)

I am sure there are more things, but I can’t think right now; been a long day. I will be writing more on these as I figure out replacements, and how to piece it all together. My hope is that I can create a “stack” that can be easily deployed for community orgs to get started with, or to migrate to, with a minimum amount of fuss. Design patterns are key, as well as following the moving target of features that people expect, such as being able to access content on multiple devices in a sane manner.

What do you want to be easy on the web?