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Use Drupal to empower your OSS project community

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When I started my tenure as marketing lead for the Haiku project in 2006, my highest priority was to renovate the project's Web site. Haiku had been using a custom-coded site which was showing its shortcomings as the project and the community grew in size. The admins wanted a new site that was easy to add content to and maintain, preferably based on an open source content management system (CMS) with a proven track record. The Web team chose Drupal 4.7 for the task. After working with the web team and a few other contributors for a few months, I built Haiku a new Web site that included not only more content, but most importantly more participation from the community. A few months months ago, when I helped start a Haiku user group in the San Francisco Bay Area started, I set up the NORCAL-HUG Web site using Drupal 5.0. In both cases, I learned how to use Drupal as a tool to empower communities, so that they become more participative and engaged in your project.

Everything that you publish with Drupal is a node. Each node belongs to a content type, and each content type has associated with it a set of fields (e.g., title, body, author, etc.), settings (e.g., menu, path, comments on/off, etc.), and workflow (published, promoted to front page, etc.). The default content types are blog entry, page (for static pages), and story (for articles). You can enable more content types via modules that are installed by default, such as the Forum module for forum topics, or by installing and enabling additional modules (such as the Event module). You can also create your own content types, with custom fields, default settings, and workflow. For instance, you could create a FAQ content type with a Question, Answer field and Category fields to provide a Frequently Asked Questions page in your Web site (there is actually a FAQ module that facilitates this).

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