Getting off the fence

I have known this would be coming for a long time.

I’m the web server admin for a relatively large state university system.  Not for the campus websites (thank God), but for the system-wide administrative and policy pages.

I’m also responsible for how our staff publishes their web content.

In the decade or so that I’ve been here, that content has gotten increasingly disorganized and unmanageable, and our websites have become gradually less useful as a result.

So I’ve known for several years that one day I would need to deal with the whole “Content Management System” thing.

I’ve known for at least a couple years that my best bet was to find an open-source, PHP-based CMS.  (I’ll get in to that some other time.)

And I’ve known for about a year that the decision really came down to MODx vs. Drupal.  (Again, much more on this topic in the future.)

Truth be told, I pretty much knew all along that I’d inevitably choose MODx.  (Later, I’ll explain it all later, ok?)

But there were the Drupal people.  In my office.

(They’re everywhere, aren’t they, those Drupal people?)

They persistently made their case.

I listened and tried to keep an open mind.

They believed in their product, and in the personal investment they had made in it. They wanted me to just give it a chance.

I dragged my feet and refused to commit.

This went on for months.  During this time, I should have been doing an exhaustive comparative analysis.  I should have been doing requirements gathering.  I should have immersed myself in books,  installed both packages on test servers and  flogged them senseless.  I should have done the hard work of gathering the hard data to either support or refute my initial instinct to go with MODx over Drupal.

But I didn’t.

And then push came to shove, and there was NO MORE TIME.  There were timeframes and deadlines, and I had to pull the trigger on a CMS RIGHT NOW.

So I did what I knew I was likely to do all along – I chose MODx.

Needless to say, the Drupal People were Very Concerned.

They voiced their concerns.

I lamented all of the Formal Documented Objective Comparative Analysis that I hadn’t done. I needed some data, some justification for how I had arrived at this Big Decision. What if the MODx project was a spectacular failure?  How would my decision look then, especially in light of the Concerns of the Drupal People?

(Actually, no one but myself was requiring much in the way of a justification of the decision.  But I am my biggest critic, after all, so I needed to make sure that my concerns about my decision were sufficiently addressed by me and for me. Me, me, me. I made the right decision… didn’t I?)

As I thought about it, I realized that my reasons for choosing MODx over Drupal, be they right or wrong reasons, were a pretty intriguing topic.  I was seeing lots of archetypal patterns packed in there. Elegance vs. robustness.  Simplicity vs. utility.  Popularity and familiarity vs. obscurity and non-conformity.

David vs. Goliath.

Good vs. Evil.

(just kidding.)

(sort of.)

(No, really, I’m just kidding.)

Anyway, the point being that even though I had already MADE the decision, and was firmly in the MODx camp (and just-as-firmly NOT in the Drupal camp), I still found myself looking back at that fork in the road and thinking about the why of it all.  It seemed like a really, really important thing to think about, to understand.  Not just for *me*, but for those who might come along after me.

Therein lies the blog.


6 responses to this post.

  1. That was really entertaining =)

    And yes, those Drupal people ARE everywhere.

    Good luck with the project. The most important thing in the end is having a tool you’re comfortable with. No doubt Drupal could have been the one, but I’m sure MODx is great, too.



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