First release of Drupal progressive blogging platform

Last week I posted a prospective roadmap for a Drupal-based progressive community blogging platform.  I've begun working on that platform, and have a very rough draft of the platform ready to go.  If you are interested in helping out, email me at work (ssachs at lightbulbfirst dot com) or leave a note in the comments, and I can send you more details.  I'm not quite yet ready to post a link to the software itself, but I hope to be ready for that within a week or two.

Below, I've written some details about the functionality available to date, as well as some of the upcoming high-level technical challenges.  If you are a Drupal developer who'd like to lend your suggestions or expertise, or if you are a blog reader/writer and have some thoughts about how comment voting and recommendations can be improved, feel free to drop a note in the comments.  Finally, if you have some thoughts about a good name for this platform, I'm all ears!

In this first release, I've worked on pinning down the user model and the permissions available to each type of user.  There are four roles: administrator, owner, front pager, and member. Anyone who registers with the site automatically becomes a member, and is allowed to write blog posts and comments.  The administrator is an all-powerful user who has access to all functionality on the site; generally, this is someone who really knows Drupal very well, and is capable of working with all of its features.  The owner is the user whose job is to oversee operation of the site and who has power over all users and all content on the site, but might not be a Drupal expert. The owner can make other users front pagers, or can block or delete users at will; she may also promote or delete content at will.  Front pagers are normal users in every way except one - their blog posts automatically appear on the front page.  Blog posts which don't appear on the front page automatically will appear in a right hand sidebar called "Recent member posts".

In the near future I will work on making the user profiles a little bit more interesting.  That will include a signature line, an about me section and a URL for the user's home page.  I'm fairly comfortable with the technical work needed to accomplish that - for the Drupal developers in the room, I'll be using the Content Profile module, and I'll write some custom code to display comments in a separate tab on the user profile screen.

The other upcoming functional improvement is comment ratings.  I am somewhat familiar with the Voting API, but would be curious to hear from others whether there are superior ways to implement comment ratings.  If it's possible to implement recommended diaries at the same time, so much the better.

Once again, any comments on the technical implementation, or on planned improvements to the platform, are very welcome.  I'd also love to hear suggestions for the platform name!

Tags: Blogosphere, content management systems, Drupal, progressive technology (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Re: First release

How did you solve the 'front page poster' role? Is this going to be a module or something that I can plug in to an already running Drupal site?

This overall package sounds pretty awesome.

by rneal 2009-01-25 03:43AM | 0 recs
Re: First release

I developed a very simple module called Auto Promote which allows you to designate one or more roles as having permission to "write automatically promoted content".  You also specify which types of content are automatically promoted, so that if a front pager edits a page (for example), it doesn't need to get promoted.  I've submitted it as a contributed module, and hopefully it'll be accepted soon.  Look for it under the code "autopromote".

I've also seen a suggestion to write a view which filters for all blog posts written by users with the front pager role, and make that your site's home page.  That would work too, but I like the idea of using Drupal's native promote feature, since that's what it was meant for.  Also, this method allows you to bump posts written by non-front-pagers in the usual way, i.e. by ticking off the promote checkbox on a one-off basis.

by Shai Sachs 2009-01-25 04:04AM | 0 recs
Re: First release

Thanks, sounds excellent! Will keep an eye out for it.

(See some other comments re. this and voting at the other/original Drupal community platform thread.)

by rneal 2009-01-25 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: First release

P.S. We call the "front page poster" role "author" and it is implemented with a hack that I have to keep retrofitting for new releases.

by rneal 2009-01-25 03:46AM | 0 recs
I see a problem

You write:

"The administrator is an all-powerful user who has access to all functionality on the site; generally, this is someone who really knows Drupal very well, and is capable of working with all of its features."

If running this platform requires having a Drupal expert available, than this platform is not going to gain wide acceptance. One of the big advantages of running a Soapblox blog is you don't need to be a software expert - just have a little html experience.

Just something to keep in mind as you go forward with this worthy project.

by msn1 2009-01-25 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: I see a problem

Thanks for your comment.  I agree that ease of use is one of the most important aspects to a blogging platform, and is probably why Drupal has not made much headway in that sector.  I certainly do intend to add ease-of-use features to the software in time, probably in Stage 2 of the roadmap (I'm now early in Stage 1).

In any case, the administrative role here is actually a usability improvement - it allows the owner to get around the system and see only the administrative features that she needs, and nothing extraneous.  It's entirely possible that an owner could go weeks or months without needing to log in as the administrative user at all.

by Shai Sachs 2009-01-26 01:26AM | 0 recs
If an important goal is gaining wide acceptence

then you may need to leap-frog soapblox. Social networking capabilities is one area. Another would be polling that not only included both single vote and multi-vote polls that soapblox has now but also ranked voting polls like IRV and condorcet etc. Actually social networking is a kind of voting or polling process. These are probably stage 3 notions.

by Jeff Wegerson 2009-01-26 07:02AM | 0 recs
name suggestion

to pay homage to its forebearer, something catchy related to soap.  Like saponi or sabon.  Or something derived from one of the more pleasing sounding soap operas like Hollyoaks, Brookside, Coronation, Hyperion, Eden, Goenkale etc.  Or one of these.  Or maybe something about boxes, although that's harder and has less pleasing connotations.  It's really cool that you're doing this; I think it has the potential to be very good for the progressive blog community.

by semiquaver 2009-02-10 01:42AM | 0 recs

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