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How to shift a dynamic site to Drupal
Can this be done easy without redoing all pages?

 10:50 am on Jan 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Our non-profit has a few sites. Basically, the sites do not change much and our target groups are not found in the top of the line computer-savy people. Flashy content is not wanted, quick loading on older systems and slow connections is.

In the background, the sites are dynamic php sites pure CSS built. The index.php carries the header and side-bar with navigation, and through a script calles the body content files into the body-content area. The body content files are plain files without any coding with exception of an occasional style line (mostly letter size or color formatting). SEF urls are handled with rewrite_rule. No database included, no java; all pure php and css.

We want to include a forum and e-commerce on one of our sites. One option is to use Drupal as CSM for that one site.

Q1: is there an easy way how to import this dynamic site into Drupal without redoing every page hand by hand?

Q2: with less than 1000 visitors per month, is Drupal (with a few combined CSS files) too big a resource drain that can slow down a shared server or should 35 GB bandwith per month be enough.

Q3: does anyone has experience with drupal on an IRM site (www.eample.com is in reality www.mydomain.com/example), especially with SEF?

My laptop now has XAMPP - Drupal installed, the desktop runs Apache-PHP-MySQL-myphpAdmin as manually installed units without any CMS (this is where I do my normal website work).

To forstall remarks, I know that for our situation continuing with our hard-coded php sites and just add phpBB3 as forum program is a quicker solution and less of a resource drain. However, there are secondary reasons why to use Drupal; I need to get experience with it. So rather than just play around with trial sites, I thought I might try to run and maintain one of our real sites with it.

Any comment is welcome.



 6:41 pm on Jan 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Drupal can do both forums and, with the Ubercart module, e-commerce (just built my first Ubercart site and overall have been pleased with it).

Q1. Look into the NodeImport module for Drupal. Basically, you

1. design your drupal site
2. design a query that builds you a CSV file with the information from your existing site that you want to import
3. map the fields in your CSV to Drupal using the Node Import admin interface
4. Import.

Q2. I regularly serve 30,000 visitors per month off the cheapest shared hosting around. The site is a bit slower than a more expensive server, but mostly functions fine and I don't think it ever comes close to a GB per month, and there are a lot of large images and a couple of videos on the site.

Q3. Please define IRM and SEF.

>>Any comment is welcome.

Drupal is complex. You start to uncork it's real power when you start to understand the APIs and theming system. It's much more complex than Wordpress. I would suggest that it is worth it to buy a book or two. Pro Drupal Develop by John VanDyk is really good from understanding the core architecture. A book on theming would probably also save you a lot of time.


 12:15 pm on Jan 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the quick reply.

IRM. Internal rederecting / mapping. That means - at least with my hosting company - that you can have a second domain www.myotherdomain.com which on the surface functions like a full hosting package including email addresses etc, but in reality is Internally Redirected to a subdomain www.mydomain.com/myotherdomain.

SEF: Search Engine Friendly URL. In our case, an URL stating "www.mydomain.org/about-us" is a friendly form of the real URL "www.mydomain.org/index.php?act=23". The htaccess file has the friendly to real urls, the index file has a php function that for every ?act=# specifies the title, descriptions, keywords and actual file for that content page #.

So IRM and SEF together: the URL www.myotherdomain.com/about-us in reality links to www.mydomain.com/myotherdomain/index.php?act=23.
Rewrite rules are known to have problems with such rewriting into IRMs.

I just downloaded nodeimport and will look at it.

2. design a query that builds you a CSV file with the information from your existing site that you want to import

That is a complete new field for me. I know one is never too old to learn something new, although age may slow down the process.

Knowing how to hard-code websites, I did underestimate how confusing the first steps in a CMS like Drupal can be, and certainly if you want to shift an existing layout with custom navigation and header and sidebar images into it.


 10:25 pm on Jan 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sorry - blew by the comment "no database". In your case, you would need to do some regular expression text processing (use something like GREP or SED) and get the main page content extracted from the files and into a usable form (most likely meaning simply escaping any single quotes and wrapping everything in quotes). Might take a bit of work. How many pages are we talking about here?

Yes, it can be tough to get your head around something like Drupal. Wordpress would be an easier place to start. Something like Concrete5 might be even easier.

As for clean URLs, yes, that's out of the box with Drupal and wordpress.

As for IRM - that's really a hosting/mod_rewrite issue as far as I can tell. With the DB, drupal URLs are all site relative, so it doesn't really care how you get there, generally speaking.


 9:38 am on Jan 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

With no database, I ment that we do have mysql 5 on the remote host, but until now our sites don't use it.

The Drupal thing is simply that I am gettin involved in helping to administer a forum site using drupal with Vbulletin and mergin data from two sites. Before getting into that, I have to get more experience with Drupal.

Number of pages: our site has about 30 pages, so its doable by simple copying and pasting into Drupal and playing around a bit on the format. However, that would only work for a small site. I am trying to get a grip on the underlaying mechanics so I can not only get something showing but also understand the nuts and bolts doing that.

Our sites work with site-relative paths, to make uploading from local host to remote host simple.


 6:20 am on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

We want to include a forum and e-commerce on one of our sites. One option is to use Drupal as CSM for that one site.

Why? A smarter (to me) option is to graft/append forum and ecommerce solutions to the existing site. Too many good forum and ecommerce options out there and ZERO conversion of existing content required.

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

That said, if the site has expected growth which might read prodigious proportions, then Drupal might be reasonable, BUT ONLY IF you're looking a humongous pages/articles.

I personally don't PHP (HTML Static and PERL) but both are similar, both are expansive in bolt on options, and both are NOT locked into a development platform which, while presently semi-secure, is always under attack by hackers.


 1:39 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tangor, to reply to your - correct - remarks; initially that is what I was ging to do. However, see the last paragraph of the opening post and the second paragraph above: I NEED to learn Drupal anyway.

The site I will be testing Drupal on is one of our sites that is outdated and has to be restyled and improved anyway, so I though it would be an interesting exercise.


 2:22 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Krap. Why play with something when what you have already works? IE. give me a better reason for ignoring good advice. You NEED to learn Drupal WHY? Gimme that and I'll get out of your way. Long and short, NOBODY needs Drupal. Meanwhile, nothing wrong with my aging eyes... I run everything at 20pt min (which breaks most webistes, Drupal in particular)...

Think about it...


 8:14 pm on Jan 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

It depends on the level of integration/coordination you need. I would not say that Drupal is the solution, but since the OP said it was his preferred solution, that's what I went with.

But having sites that have this forum grafted to this e-commerce shop grafted to that gallery all combined with legacy content on a third platform drives me nuts at a certain point. If each one has a security upgrade every month and an API change every year, it feels like you're constantly running to keep up, especially if you want/need a single login, dynamic blocks in the store part that have recent info from the forum part and things like that.

I'll take a bespoke or an integrated solution when possible to keep the number of parts and APIs as low as possible.

>>I run everything at 20pt min

Ouch! My eyes hurt just thinking of that.


 9:12 am on Jan 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

1) For our current sites, DRUPAL is an unnessesary overkill resource drain...period.

2) I have been asked to, and can earn some desperately needed hard cash with helping to manage and maybe even take over management of another non-profit forum website. This forum website has around 20 000 sibscribers, average of 100+ each day online (the record is 250+ on-line at the same moment) with extensive resource pages (downloadable info files), subscriber photo albums, in-post thumbnails, random rotating subscriber pictures, etc etc etc.
Guess what: this site is running VBulletin under Drupal, nothing I can do about it. They started from scratch with this VBulletin-Drupal combo from over a year ago, but their webmanager unexpectedly got short on time to develop and integrate it further.

In the coming months, their old site, which still has a lot of the resource pages and photo albums etc, has to be integrated into the current site. THe new site works perfect, no way they are going away from VBulletin Drupal again at this time.

So if I want to be involved I NEED to learn Drupal....period.

Finally, I am now living in rural Czech Republic, but still do not speak that language properly. So I can't hop into the shop to buy a few English books on Drupal either. Internet shipping costs and takes time getting here, and which book to buy? Besides, I hate learning from books.

Having said that, I thought that working with a simple live site with low traffic would be a better learning experience than just play around with a fictional site on my local server.


 6:36 pm on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sounds like that example site was put together using duct tape. Sometimes good programmers have crappy admin abilities, and sometimes great programmers just have difficult clients-bosses.

Go ahead and do as always, build up a site for your research, it shouldn't take long. Drupal is not as hard as people use to say. It has many options to build everything together altought is not my fav, I built my own cms.

Anyway I agree with he above comments, there is much to hurt converting a site, besides the hidden "plus" Drupal adds (the extra css that is not really needed but still loaded), you can fix that yourself. The thing I hate the most is how one update can ruing what you have.

Now to the point:

How to shift a dynamic site to Drupal
Can this be done easy without redoing all pages?

I've done it in several ways for diff situations. I could share some solutions I tried, coded, built and etc but is just too boring when one easy answer for your case would be to ADD full RSS to your site.

You can do this with any language you want-can. You could make a script to crawl the site and build the rss, even cleaning the code and removing unnecesary tags. Most modern cms such as drupal and wodpress can import rss. I fixed several sites this way in a clic.

I don't remember the name but search for it: there is a website (and to this date there must be more than one out there) offering a free service where THEY create RSS from any website. I remember it was free, you can customize it. I see there are several solutions nowadays for that service that was new back in the days.

I don't precisely agree with the approach but sometimes you need a dirty-quick and simple solution.

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