Where have we got to?

We are now well into the planning process. We have drafts of the requirements documents, including the long outline of 'Functional Requirements'. The next stage is to prepare the 'use cases' which detail exactly what users need to achieve through the steps they go through on our sites. I am getting started on this, and it may take between now and Christmas to get these all ready.

Meanwhile, Pavel and Vitalie are researching solutions for our multiple-sites-and-groups needs. This is the biggest issue we need to crack, as we are attempting a complex configuration, with many sites and groups and languages all working off one codebase and one database. There are no ready-made solutions yet in Drupal which meet our needs, but there is a new module 'Domain Access' which, together with its extension modules, might take us a long way - even if we end up having to programme our own module(s) to get all the way there.

John is deep into planning the process of data migration which is a huge and complex task. Fortunately, a Drupal expert who gave us some training ten days ago, shared a brilliant way of migrating data. Instead of mapping old database fields to new database fields, you use the Drupal form API as an intermediary. Thus we do not have to understand the Drupal database structure entirely, so long as our old fields are correctly mapped to the right fields in Drupal forms - and the Drupal execute function writes the data to the new db structure.

It is far too early to say, yet, exactly when we will be able to roll out the new system. We envisage a Phase One release next summer or autumn...

At times I get discouraged, as the planning takes so much time. But I think it is wise to plan carefully. It will save time in the long run. And we must remember that we are building an infrastructure which we hope will serve the needs of IofC for many years to come.