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Using Drupal For Company Intranet; What To Expect?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the triplets-and-an-irs-audit dept.

Software 20

jjbliss writes "I am in the beginning stages of setting-up our company intranet. I have done some research and think that Drupal is the right CMS to use for this as it is very rich-featured, free and open-source yet well-supported, has a broad user and development community, and seems to be customizable to the degree that I need it to be. My question for Slashdot is who out there is using Drupal for this purpose? What have been your biggest issues in getting up and running? What should I know going into it? I am fairly proficient with HTML, CSS, Javascript, LAMP, etc. What sort of learning curve will there be in developing within Drupal? Are there any experts out there that we could bring in when I hit a problem that is over my head to fix? Where do you recommend finding them?"

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20 comments

Not many responses here (1)

JSG (82708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081642)

I suspect if you had asked "I am looking into a CMS" etc you would have had loads of answers and once you had sifted through all the usual /. bollocks you might have got some useful stuff out of it.

The fatal error was mentioning your own opinion!

The only advice I can suggest is to try it out and see what happens. In any design/eval exercise you should do your research, pick three and give them some time.

I suggest looking at Joomla as well and spending some time at say http://freshmeat.net./ [freshmeat.net.] For a laugh, throw in SharePoint as well for comparison.

Don't discount a Wiki either - something like MediaWiki or whatever may do the job nicely for you. That one at least seems to be quite scalable, apparently.

Re:Not many responses here (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30081766)

Best thing is probably to decide a shortlist of CMS packages that fit what you want to do and install them on a spare server. Try each one out for a few hours, read some more reviews and guides as you go, and by the end of a week you'll know which one you want to use.

I'd use Drupal any day over Joomla! though. Apart from the annoying exclamation mark in their name, I just couldn't do what I wanted with Joomla! Drupal seems more friendly (and lacks any arrogant and annoying exclamation marks in the name), but in the end I still write all my code by hand and gave up on using a CMS at all. Drupal should certainly be on your shortlist though.

Q: Thoughts on Plone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30082140)

I am in the same situation, currently leaning somewhat towards betting on Plone/ Zope. It seems to fit preliminary requirements (not fully discussed yet) quite well. I have a programming background, but unlike OP I have little web development knowledge.

I'm interested in the same questions: What learning curve will I have to expect from Plone (also in comparison to Drupal), will experts be easy to find or rather sparse and extra-expensive?

OpenAtrium (1)

Mr. Jax (686488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30084348)

There is a Drupal distribution built specifically for that purpose: http://openatrium.com/ [openatrium.com] There's a lengthy article about it in the December issue of Linux magazine: http://developmentseed.org/blog/2009/nov/09/open-atrium-featured-linux-magazine [developmentseed.org] which should help you get started.

It features groups, calenders, blogs, documentation and an issue/task tracker right out of the box.

Re:OpenAtrium (1)

jjbliss (1677448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30089132)

Thanks Mr. Jax. I actually looked at Open Atrium, but it seems like it's a little too specific in it's functionality out-of-the-box. I would have to pare down some of the modules, as well as add several. Also, it seems more cumbersome than a standard Drupal installation to customize / theme. Though the default Atrium skin is pretty chic, we are going to have to create a custom look-and-feel for our project, and it seems more transparent how to do this for standard Drupal. I'm going to install them both separately and give 'em a try, though.

Drupal.Org has lots of information (1)

tom_eric (1677966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30086992)

There are potentially thousands of companies using Drupal for intranets (we can't track them due to the free download / no login required). They include small and large companies from BMW to Intel to Pfizer. Much more detail can be found on drupal.org. Here is a link to one post http://drupal.org/node/588636 [drupal.org] If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us at Acquia www.acquia.com

Re:Drupal.Org has lots of information (1)

jjbliss (1677448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30090496)

Thanks. I will definitely keep Acquia in mind if (when) I run up against any issues.

Expect it to work (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30089204)

We use it for our intranet and everyone seems to like it. As far as developing for it: what exactly are you wanting to do? There are a bazillion pre-made modules [drupal.org] for just about every task you can imagine, and you're probably better of finding something close to what you need and making minor adjustments as necessary.

Honestly, I can't think of anything bad about it. If nothing else, why not install it on your own machine and play with it until you get everything working the way you like it, then move your settings.php file onto a production server. It's not like you have to buy licenses for multiple installations.

Re:Expect it to work (1)

jjbliss (1677448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30090280)

That's great to hear that you've had success with this. We aren't 100% decided on features yet, but what I do know we want for sure are the following:

Integration with LDAP
A support ticketing system
Wiki-like content pages (with wysiwyg editing)
Document Management
Video Blog
News Feed for important announcements

Re:Expect it to work (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30090394)

I can think of pre-made modules (or builtin features) for every single one of those. I can personally vouch for the LDAP module, which we use to authenticate against Active Directory instead of maintaining a separate, parallel password database.

Why open source? (1)

RighteousRaven (998592) | more than 4 years ago | (#30090844)

This may not be a popular opinion here, but why did you decide to go with open source solutions? If you aren't already familiar with drupal and are an expert at designing corporate intranets, you're probably going to spend several months of the next year building and maintaining your site. I won't try to guess your salary, but there are a lot of good solutions in the $5-10k range (some that use drupal) that could be more cost effective and give you access to people who do this every day. Drupal is an amazing product when it's in the right hands, but you shouldnt allow your corporate intranet distract you from your core business. Full disclosure: I'm a developer at IGLOO Software [igloosoftware.com]

Re:Why open source? (1)

DiademBedfordshire (1662223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30132580)

I would have to agree. I am a PHP developer for a small Design Company and I work on these types of sites on a daily basis. Out of all the sites I have created I have only used one CMS, Wordpress, and it was a nightmare to train the end user. There were a ton of menus and the majority of options she never used. Granted Wordpress is significantly more robust but in the end do you want your $tech_inept_end_user mucking about so much. My clients love the products I develop because I make it as simple and user proof as possible. I would keep that in mind when looking at open source cms.

How about Google sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30105728)

Have you looked at Google Sites? As a non-developer, I have used both Drupal and Google sites where I need to modify content. Drupal is powerful but not intuitive for a novice user. Google has done an excellent job of being intuitive for the end user. If it has the flexibility you need for customization, I would say that you will have easier training, less support and more wide-spread adoption with Google Sites than with Drupal. 2 cents.

Not hard (1)

paxswill (934322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30113732)

While not in the same league of usage as you (just a simple page for an organization I'm a part of), I've found developing for Drupal very easy. I knew no PHP going in, but between picking that up and the extensive documentation on their site, it's been a breeze filling in the cracks of what I need that available modules don't fill.

Wrong question (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30114134)

The better question is which FREE CMS you want to use. I've been using Drupal for a while, and it sucks. But, much like Democracy, it sucks less than the other (free) alternatives. Unless you're a PHP coder, you won't be able to do much with the software. And if you are a PHP coder, then why are you using an off-the-shelf solution when you could make your own?

Don't reinvent the wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30196260)

Definately do not write your own.... There's no need to reinvent the wheel.

Choose an open source CMS writen in a language you're familiar with, with a reputation for extensibility and with an active community and lots of documentation.

Once you have a shortlist, consider your intranet and list the functionality you want or may want in the future. Do your contenders include modules or have 3rd party extentions available to do these things?

Keep your own programming to a minimum. Remember that you will have to support it in the future.

A few points (1)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30131928)

At my current and previous job, we used Drupal for public-facing websites. Although you're asking more about internal sites, and my experience is as a sysadmin (not a developer), I thought I'd chip in with my two cents.

First off, as someone above mentioned, there are modules for everything. That's great -- but when you upgrade, that means you're (potentially) upgrading every module as you go. This has caused us a few problems when, say, you need the very latest 2.x-dev version of something to go with the 6.x series in Drupal (have they fixed that bug you tripped over last time? is Drupal correctly detecting the change in module version?). Or when you're trying to find a module that does what you want, and you're choosing between three different implementations, each of which lacks some feature that you'd like.

Second -- and this is almost certainly my own ignorance -- we've had problems when staging changes to the site; specifically, what happens when you need to merge changes that were made on the current site with what you've been doing on the new & improved site? This was a small problem, but annoying; next time I'll probably take the Big Giant Lock approach and just say "no changes 'til the developer's finished." But there's bound to be a better solution out there, so feel free to correct me.

Third, Drupal is very very flexible in how you arrange it -- which can end up causing problems when you want to toss the thing over to (say) the secretary to maintain or add content to. This was particularly problematic for me because I'd only look at Drupal every three months or so, and promptly forget (say) how to add an item to the menu bar on the top, or the left, or how to add a sub-menu, or whatever. A similar problem was caused by the plugins we were using for image management, which turned images into nodes -- which ended up getting published to the front page because they were new. Once I figured out what was going wrong, it was relatively simple to track down the setting and turn it off...but it is confusing for someone who's not familiar w/Drupal.

Fourth, Drupal permissions are very very granular, and again this can be confusing. Often it seems simpler to just make people an editor rather than try to track down exactly what permission they lack on what particular class of nodes. And yes, that's wrong -- but it's tempting.

Now the disclaimers:

  • IANADD (I Am Not A Drupal Developer)
  • Lots of people seem very happy with it
  • Web development is really not my bag
  • I don't have a better suggestion

But I think these are things to keep in mind when considering any CMS.

HTH...

Takes some getting used to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30160476)

Drupal will take some getting used to, especially if it's your first time using a CMS. Drupal 6 is much easier to use than Drupal 5 was, but you'll find yourself scratching your head on some things. Fortunately, their forums have a good amount of helpful people, and there are many modules (plugins for Drupal) to do many things with it. The Views module is very powerful, but a bit confusing at first.

I'd also suggest you pickup a book about using Drupal. Do a search on Amazon and you'll find some good ones.

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