The making of a Yle Drupal Distro (YDD)

From the start of the project (Swedish Yle’s New Drupal (SYND)) we had a goal to build it as a distro. What is better than that someone else can use the same code base? 🙂 With YDD we reached the internal distro milestone, an important step if we also some day want to be able to make it a public distro.

During January we spent two weeks making our own code more abstract (for some reason there is always something that gets hard coded), making new features that were wanted for the PoC (Proof of concept) of FYND (Finnish Yle’s New Drupal), setting up a new dev environment and splitting up the install profiles to support YDD, SYND and FYND.

The structure we decided to use is as follows: YDD contains the basic functionality that all sites should have. SYND and FYND each contain their separate modifications. Example; recipes, maktbasen and some Svenska Yle specific styling is found only in SYND. The themes in fynd_themes and synd_themes are subthemes of the theme in yle_themes.

The GIT structure and install profile logic:

FYND

YDD

SYND
fynd_modules
fynd_features
fynd_themes
fynd_profile
yle_modules
yle_features
yle_themes
synd_modules
synd_features
synd_themes
synd_profile

With this structure we are able to use a common core, and if needed add more functionality, translations or styling per site. Issues we ran into include views that were created when the system was in Swedish. It does not work to then switch the system to English before exporting, the view will be in Swedish.

Another issue was that a view that limited content based on a taxonomy was exported with the VID, and not the machine name of the taxonomy. Solved by changing the view so that the machine name was used in the filter.

We also had some displacements of fields and taxonomies. They had been placed in the wrong feature, so they were not available when some features needed by SYND were not enabled in FYND.

Moving theming to the features and modules was also something that we now needed to do. Not all the views that had styling was going to be used in both SYND and FYND.

The RSS feed generated by Views is one open question. It would be good to share them between the install profiles, but settings like Site name and headlines are hard coded in the view.

Being more thorough in with what is placed where and making sure that the language always was English would have made the process even smoother.

One thing we should have done in the early phase is to change the name on the live production install profile. That we tried to do it at the same time as we had moved some of the modules from yle_modules to synd_modules caused problems when migrating the production database.

The process itself turned out to be a good way to also do a review of the code. Even though we have had two external reviews (thanks Bala, @dasphere) it sometimes takes deep knowledge of a site to realize that something has unnecessary overhead. Having to split the site forces you to look at parts of the code that otherwise does not get looked at that often. We ended up merging and/or removing four features/modules.

Working with Jari Lana who does Drupal for Ylex, Oppiminen & co was also a good way to get a fourth review, from someone who also could make improvements directly in the code.

Even if FYND is never launched, the work will not go to waste. SYND has reached a new abstraction level, got new features and improvements. If the need arises, a new site can be up and running in no time.

Currently svenska.yle.fi is running on the new YDD + SYND setup.

Författare: Mårten Seiplax

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