Early dooce® v6 Nerd FAQ

This will be a quick post, as we’re still watching the server and making sure things are working. Bear with us while we make the transition. I hope to answer some questions about the new dooce® redesign that we’re getting from readers from the geek side of things.

Why Drupal?
The site needed a robust framework that could handle a diverse and changing set of criteria. We could have gone any number of ways, but making the switch from a primarily static page site to a dynamic one steered us quickly towards Drupal. It’s open source and has the flexibility we were looking for. There are a lot of great platforms out there, but I had been watching a handful up close, including Drupal, for several years. It seems that in the last couple of years, Drupal has had a ton of work done on it, to it and with it. The development community around it solves similar problems to those we have in terms of server nerdery with dooce.com. Again, any number of solutions would have worked, Drupal seemed the best fit after a few years of watching different systems morph, rise and fall.

Did you have help?
Oh yes we did. Heather did the design comps, I did the first rounds of CSS and slicing and added a couple of small touches that Heather art directed and we hired some awesome developers. We needed help with theming in Drupal (it’s notorious for being cranky) and after seeing Merlin Mann launch 43folders on Drupal, we used a couple of the same folks because we were tackling similar issues; database migration, theming and caching. I can’t speak highly enough of the 43folders redesign and how inspirational it was in the decision to migrate platforms.

On the theming front, we hired RoopleTheme who steered us through some challenges (new content types and templates for Daily Chuck, Daily Photo and Daily Style) as well as did the backbreaking work of taking my HTML/CSS work and getting it to function inside of Drupal. Bill from Roople also had some tricks up his sleeve with using Drupal’s blocks and modules. Really tasty. The second need was to migrate our Movable Type MySQL database into something Drupal could use as well as set up a testing server and move stuff from there to the live site. We also needed some help with caching and some custom module work for functionality and found a great help in Ben Durbin, who made last night’s launch the easiest ever. There’s no way Heather and I could have pulled this off without these guys. Ben is one of those maddeningly awesome people who can answer obtuse questions from weird people with ease. I am not sure I possess either the technical knowledge or the verbal prowess to describe the tech mastery he pulled off, but if I was really rich I’d pay him loads of money to make stuff every day. Hire both of these people immediately.

Have you noticed huge issues moving from static pages to dynamic?
Drupal’s caching mechanisms as well as server setup have yielded a slightly bigger bump in server usage, but nothing like I thought we’d see. Opening comments will be the real test.

Where’s the feed?
Working on it. Will likely be live tonight. You can re-subscribe if you want, but we’ll be doing a redirect later that should keep your subscription intact. Just be patient.

Where are the Next/Previous links?
Coming. Heather and I had to have a talk about how people use them. There was discussion about moving through categories versus moving through content. Given the work that was done to aggregate all of the old content and blog settings, we were unclear about how they should function. Your emails have helped us decide the direction to go. I’d love to have them live tonight, but not sure if it’s something we can get to given some other issues that need addressing. Hold tight for them, they are coming.

You should have used [insert favorite CMS]
Perhaps. Perhaps. So far, so good. Very happy with our choice and wish no other vendors anything but success. Keep on making great software. People are always looking for better, easier and faster. The Onion uses Drupal as does Avril Lavigne. What really matters is making Heather’s awesome content easier to read and easier to find and read.

I am now going to explode.