AAT – Strategy and guidance

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I really like working with AAT.  They are open to ideas, are keen to collaborate and eager to be on the cutting edge.  That’s why I’m always ready to go back for more, recently I have been working with AAT delivering:

  • Agile mentoring for internal Project Managers, problem solving and Senior Management/Directorate Team Guidance on new and existing agile projects.  Including website rebuild and upgrade and CRM system upgrade.  Working with Microsoft Dynamics, Drupal and .Net platforms.
  • Strategic Planning for Professional, Education and Training and Marketing division business deliverables 2012/2013.  Including recruitment, contract negotiation, process creation and implementation, escrow agreements and conflict of interest statements.
  • Scope and creation of a new Product Development Team.  Setting delivery roadmaps and centralising product development within the business.
  • Scope and implementation of the Mobile Content strategy.
  • Scope, definition and implementation of workstreams in a Drupal environment including Drupal commerce and Drupal scorm elements.
  • Product development of CMS systems, e-commerce platforms, social forums, mobile applications and short courses.
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Drupal comments

You want people to talk to one another and to you right…then let them comment.

Comments are another type of content you can have on your site you just need to enable the core comment module.

Normally each comment is a small piece of content that a user submits.  The comment will be attached to a particular node. E.g.  Each piece of discussion attached to a particular forum topic node is a comment.

Drupal Taxonomy

Drupal_Logo_2You want people to find things on your site right…

Drupal has an in-built system for classifying content.  This is known as taxonomy.  Taxonomy is implemented in the core Taxonomy module.

As a business you can define your own vocabularies or groups of taxonomy terms.  You can then add terms to each vocabulary.

Vocabularies can be built in different ways, flat or hierarchical, with single or multiple selection.  You can also allow “free tagging”.  This means that when creating or editing content, you can add new terms on an ad hoc basis. Each vocabulary can then be attached to one or more content types.  By doing this the nodes on the website can be grouped into categories or tagged or classified in any way you like.

Drupal Layers

You can think about drupal layers as follows:

  1. Data, Nodes etc.  At the base of the system is the collection of nodes—a pool of data. Don’t forget, before anything can be displayed on the site, it must be input as data.
  2. Modules.  The next layer is where you should put the modules.  Modules are plugins that are either part of the core or they are built by programmers who are probably members of the drupal community.  Modules build on Drupal’s core functionality, allowing you to customise the fields on your node types, set up e-commerce, and more. There is a massive quantity of contributed modules that is growing everyday.
  3. Blocks and menus.  The next layer is for blocks and menus. Blocks often provide the output from a module or can be created to display whatever you want, and then can be placed in various spots in your template. You can configure blocks to show certain information to certain users or user groups on a given page.
  4. User permissions. Next are user permissions. This is where you can state user types and what the user types are allowed to see.  Permissions are also defined here.
  5. Templates. Next you will find the site theme or the skin. The skin is built mainly out of XHTML and CSS, with some PHP thrown in to sort out the location of the Drupal-generated content.  When you set up a theme you will also be able to override the standard function in the modules you are using to provide greater or complete control over the output of the given modules.  Don’t forget, templates can also be assigned ad hoc based on the given user permissions.

Drupal Nodes

Drupal treats most content types as variations on the same concept: a ‘node’. Static pages, blog posts, and news items and other types are all stored in the same way.

The site’s navigation structure is designed separately by editing menus, views, and blocks.

You will find the same kind of separation in web pages that adhere to W3C standards.  THe HTML/XHTML provides the structure of the information you see on the page and the CSS sorts out the look and feel.

With a Drupal website, the nodes hold all of the information attached to a blog post e.g. title, author, date, title.  The same can be said of a news item e.g. title, content, go-live date, take-down date. Or any other content type.  The menu system, as well as taxonomy (tagging of content) and views, create the information architecture.

The theme system, along with display modules like Panels, controls how all this looks to site visitors.

As the layers are separate, you can provide a completely different navigation and presentation of your content to different users or user groups based on their specific needs and roles.

Pages can be grouped differently, prioritized in a different order, and functions and content can be shown or hidden as needed.

To put it simply, at its most basic, a node is a set of related information. When a new piece of content is created, it is not only the body text that is being defined, but also its title, content, author link, creation date, taxonomy (tags), etc.