I’ve spent far too much time since last Monday trying to figure out how to install drupal on my Macintosh computer in my office. I’m interested in working with some kind of CMS for departmental things– to make some documents easily available, maybe even to be the “front end” fo the writing program web site. Drupal seemed like it might be a good idea.
I of course realize that I could use Drupal for tons of other things, but I’m not interested in changing my ways too much. WordPress works just fine for me in terms of a blog (and, as I’ll get to in a moment, it might end up being my choice for a CMS too), and I plan on continuing to use some combination of ol’ fashion web sites and eCollege for my teaching. As I’ve said before, eCollege isn’t perfect, it isn’t nearly as customizable as any open source/do-it-yourself product, and I think the interface is kind of ugly. On the other hand, eCollege is the system supported by Continuing Ed at EMU (and it is quite well supported, too), which means that the technical stuff is someone else’s problem. And this last issue is way important.
Anyway, I found some instructions at a sight called Mac Zealots for installing drupal on a Mac. BTW, a great site, and, as far as I can tell, it’s written and run by a couple of undergrads at Purdue. Now, no fault to the Mac Zealot guys, I had two basic problems following these directions for drupal. First, I am a “Mac guy” specifically to avoid opening “Terminal” and typing a lot of crap like this:
Second, in order to install drupal (or any of these other open source content management systems), you really have to install and vaguely understand MySQL and PHP. This is a level of computer geekdom I have not yet reached.
Now, when I’ve raised some of these issues with people who know better than me, and their general response is “you should talk with your local system adminstrator.” Well, here’s the problem: when I mention things like “Content Management Systems” (and to be perfectly honest, even stuff like “Open Source”) to the local system adminstrator types, they clearly have no clue as to what I’m talking about. There is a way to work with MySQL on the university’s main web server, but I think they are very stingy about access to this and when you ask for access (which I have– haven’t heard back yet), they make it clear that you’re basically on your own.
In short, when it comes to this sort of thing (e.g., anything that ICT doesn’t already understand, even if it is something that they should understand), I am the local system administrator.
Anyway, I figured out the other day that I had installed the wrong version of MySQL before Thanksgiving break and didn’t really figure that out until yesterday. An easy mistake, IMO, because there are about 100 different versions of MySQL and the “right” version for things like drupal and WordPress is kind of old. So I had to go through the process of un-installing MySQL, a somewhat scary step since it again involved the dreaded Terminal function and the script I found for uninstalling MySQL comes with warnings like “make sure you know what you’re doing or you’ll have to reinstall everything on your computer.” And basically, I think that I did get this version of MySQL to work.
So, everything’s great? Not quite.
I tried to get drupal to run with no success. Then I tried to install WordPress, and, after a few minor glitches, I got it to run, as you can see here (though there really isn’t anything there yet). I would still like to get drupal to work, and maybe I’ll try to monkey around with it when I get a bit more free time in the office. But for the time-being, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- While WordPress might not be nearly as powerful as drupal, it’s a hell of a lot easier to configure and use. At least to me. And a CMS in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.
- I feel like I am approaching the place where I’m going to have to buy one of those books I see in the computer section that suggests it can teach me MySQL and PHP basics in a week.
- Finally, Apple– or somebody else developing software for the Mac– needs to come up with a CMS/blogging software that is all icon/menu-driven. I want this to be an icon I click on, and, as long as I have Personal Web Sharing set up on my Mac desktop (which can be set up with a few clicks, btw), then, I want this to work too. I want ti to have a lot of features along the lines of what I would expect in a word processor or a good HTML editor. And I want it bundled with the operating system– maybe OS 10.5? If I were in charge, I’d call it iBlog.
Interestingly enough, there is a software that does a lot of this stuff called iBlog. I haven’t used it, but the reviews are pretty mixed.