[drupal-devel] RFC, Help: Drupal for ambitious Campus-Wide Blogging project

Leonard Lin lhl at usc.edu
Tue Apr 26 23:40:14 UTC 2005

Hi, I've been working on a plan for campus-wide blogging at USC using 
Drupal and am hoping to get some feedback, especially on the technical 
implementation side.

Plan, documentation: https://w3.usc.edu/display/blogs/Home
Clickable partial wires: http://w3.usc.edu/blogs/site/

I'm working from the latest Drupal 4.6.0 release (am keeping a separate 
svn vendor branch, as I think some core modifications will be 

The focus for the blogging functionality are:
* formal and ad-hoc group forming - I think this will be done primarily 
through the organic groups module
* fine-grained, layered, per-entry privacy control - throwing an 
interface on top of the by-node privacy
* emergent taxonomies (freetags) - looking at Julian's Folksonomy as 
well as the new 4.6 Folksonomy module

I'm not sure how roles plays with all this yet, I think since a lot of 
the control I'm looking at is group-based rather than traditional 
roles, I may just skip that entirely?

Here are the issues I'm encountering so far that I'm hoping to get 
suggestions on:

* webserver_auth - I'm kicking the wheels on the webserver_auth module 
(http://drupal.org/project/webserver_auth) right now (we use Shibboleth 
for our WebISO/SSO, but it's basically a form of Apache 
authentication).  There seems to be an issue with how it processes the 
REMOTE_USER though.  Can someone point me to docs or explain how the 
authmap works w/ the external user calls?  I don't mind just hacking in 
there, but if possible, I'd like to do things the 'right way'.

* first-login - is there a first-login module? basically, we need to 
create a step-by-step process for when users first sign-in: 

* theming - this is perhaps a biggie.  Drupal currently seems to work 
on a per-user basis for theme selection.  We're looking to allow users 
to choose their own themes for their own blogs, that will apply on a 
per blog/space basis (and in the future customize w/ coloring, images): 
http://w3.usc.edu/blogs/site/My%20Blog.html   Any suggestions?  Are we 
going to have to write (adapt) our own theme engine?

* friends view - one of the other big pieces is a creating a personal 
aggregator view (http://w3.usc.edu/blogs/site/My%20Favorites.html), 
sort of like a mega-livejournal/y!360 friends view.  Is there anything 
out there that does this?

* blog view - I've seen some earlier posts about adapting the 'blog' 
view to handle all types of content types.  We're definitely interested 
in doing that.  Any thoughts beyond the hacks that people have done 

* aggregation - one of the things we're trying to do is have a graceful 
way of handling users who already have their own blogs.  I'm looking 
into the idea of using the rss aggregation solely for importing a 
user's external blogs into nodes for a user (see blog view for 
displaying all content types by a user)

* major changes to input forms - I don't think there's any other 
options besides hacking away at the node and filter modules?

* Dashboard - the main page view, once logged in and first-logged in'd, 
is for a Dashboard - does something like this exist?  in the past, I've 
hacked things directly into the theme templates, but the 'right' way to 
do it is through a module (and then change the front-page setting from 
node to dashboard?)

A lot of functionality is there, I think a fair bit of this is wrapping 
my head around the best way to implement within Drupal.  As mentioned, 
any feedback, suggestions, pointers would be appreciated.

(should I also post to the forums, or is that redundant?)


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