April 21, 2016

Part 2: A Better Way to Administrate Drupal
Beginning Throes

As with many community-centric projects involving multiple parties, it’s always difficult to juggle free time between teammates. Torn between client-centric activities and community-focused endeavors, we finally found a way to make bring all interested parties together. A group of us are all actively involved and eager to make waves in the Drupal administration game.

The first official meeting targeted project discovery. We asked a few important questions to come to a general understanding of where we our efforts would be aimed, and what kind of outcome that effort would have.

It's generally accepted that the Drupal administrative experience is bearable for site builders, themers, developers and generally anyone who has been in the Drupal world for a measurable time. 

Is it, however, ignoring one of the most important users: the average content author.

In fact, a peculiar side-effect you could surmise from Drupal’s AX shortcomings is that Drupalites are usually indoctrinated vicariously into our community when trying to address problems, learn concepts and generally figure out how to work the blasted thing. If they “get a grip” and are generally happy with the outcome, they might stick around. Otherwise, they scoot along to a system that is more easily understood.

It was agreed that because Drupal is lacking in the AX, we would be exploring concepts, desires, expectations and comprehension for the non-Drupal author.

Who Does it Right?

It's no secret that Drupal's competitors nail the AX - that's one of the reasons we still have such prominent competitors. We've been looking outward at our competitors, alternatives, not-so-competitors, and generally any system that also nails AX. What we found is that there are some really "low hanging fruit" items we can knock out fairly easily. This discovery prompted more questions:

  • "What about existing themes? Existing modules?"
  • "How much customization do we want to offer?"
  • "What's the end-game for this project?"
  • "Is this solely a theme? Perhaps modules?"
  • "What sort of dependencies are we incurring?"

We want to provide Drupal with clearly usable, a non-intrusive, non-assuming authoring experience for new users and experienced users alike.

Enter Minister

The project was impulsively dubbed "Minister". While we currently are exploring the idea of creating an administrative theme and a minor suite of modules to address and accomplish the shortcomings of the AX for the average content author, we're also exploring more experimental options like integrating React components into the AX.

At the present moment, we have a private repo with some of this explorative content in it, but nothing too substantial.

Unlike most custom modules, or base themes, the experiment's roadmap is laden with many more facets of work required: continued discovery, strategy, design, development, refinement, testing and feedback just to name a few. For this reason, our most common challenge will be executing with persistent effort.

Luckily, we have skilled and impassioned team members from all levels of expertise. We want to make something grand.