Thursday, 3 May 2012

Drupal or Google Sites

At the moment, we're testing out Google Sites for creating and maintaining the CSLLD website, and we'll compare that experience with the Drupal site that we currently use for the site.


Drupal on Samsung

Drupal site
We like the Drupal site, and the support we get from the host is pretty good, but there are a few issues.

  1. Firstly, the WYSIWIG editor in Drupal is pretty limited. More often than we'd like, we have to revert back to the HTML editor and hand code the page! Not a pleasant experience, especially when it doesn't maintain line breaks and spaces that help us know where in the page we need to edit. 
  2. On more than a few occasions, we have lost large amounts of work when accidently clicking outside the edit box, which closes it, and all work is lost. 
  3. The template used to present the Drupal site has been custom built by Captovate, to a brief given them for another purpose - a site that presents well on iPad. Originally the brief was to create an iPad app, but Captovate quite rightly advised to simply create a Pad ready site. Unfortunately Pad ready is all, smart phones not. Adjusting the template so the site presents well on phones, pads, and larger screens, will cost, because we don't have the know how to do it internally.


It seems that the Google Site solves most of these issues.

  1. Editing the site is easy, because Google Sites is VERY simple (which could be a limiting factor).
  2. It auto saves.
  3. It has ready made Mobile templates.

We haven't really hit any significant limitations in simplicity of the Google Site's functionality as yet, but we're still testing. So far, so good.

An issue to be mindful of is lock in.. so far, we're not sure that we can export the site for backup or migration. Google's other service, Blogger, does give XML export, and it does work into Wordpress as a possible platform to migrate to if necessary.


Program site on Blogger
Blogger on Samsung
On the side, we've been trying out Blogger to create websites for each of the courses and programs. It is working out quite well. We have full access to the HTML and CSS, and can back the site up to an XML file for migration out to other blog based platforms such as Wordpress. We can customise the template easily, as well as the mobile version. And it comes with a number of valuable features that aid our communication channelling out - such as subscribe by email or RSS, including RSS on each category. We've been having fun creating banner images too.

We could use Blogger as the home site for CSLLD.. but only if Drupal and Sites can't satisfy what we need.


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