Getting started on the Drupal project

At its AGM in August 2007, IofC's International Association agreed to increase the 2008 web budget to make possible a one-year project to move IofC's web infrastructure into the Drupal framework. Nevertheless, the available budget was small for a project of this size: around $US30,000 plus 60% of the project leaders time.

To understand the scale of what was being attempted, you need to review where we stood at mid 2007:

  • 15 or so 'public' websites, all sharing a codebase and and run off the same two mysql databases, and grouped into
  • One 'private' site for IofC activists (the 'Extranet'), with its own codebase and database - though a good deal content shared with the public sites.
  • Integrated email lists running off the main Extranet contact database (one email address per person, kept up to date!) synchronised with the Mailman mailing application for multiple lists.
  • Full CMS system for management of content on all sites.
  • Etc etc

Reconstructing all this - and adding desired new functionality too! - in Drupal was going to be a big task. And we soon realised that the learning curve for Drupal is very steep.

John Freebury began the autumn in Moldova, where he had been based for half a year, but moved to Oxford in late September to work more closely with Edward. We were fortunate, meanwhile, to find a systems analyst in Moldova, Pavel Capcanari, who was able to commit up to 20 or so hours per week to work on the project with us. He brought to the team some important skills which others of us lacked, and we began to design the project.

Having spent five years previously developing a web application with little advance planning or documentation - working things out as went along - we were determined to do it differently this time. We recognised that the first months would need to be spent in careful preparation.