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Choosing an open-source CMS, part 1: Why we use Drupal

February 13, 2013 06:00 AM ET

IDT: More and better search options

Andrew Luchsinger, technical marketing manager at electronic component manufacturer Integrated Device Technology (IDT), knew he had to do something about an aging ColdFusion platform when he realized that it was becoming difficult for customers to find the business' growing array of products online.

IDT's product portfolio includes more than 25,000 integrated circuits and other electronic components, each offered in dozens of variations based on the electrical specifications each customer requires. Luchsinger wanted a tool that would let people easily search, filter and display the configurations they needed -- something they couldn't do easily in the firm's homegrown ColdFusion implementation. The new "parametric" search tool needed to be custom built, and the project required building many custom content types in order to manage everything.

"We needed to start from scratch," he says.

IDT did consider rewriting the site with Microsoft SharePoint -- which IDT was already using as its document repository -- and WordPress. But cost was a big concern: IDT's budget was $200,000, and the quote for using SharePoint came in at double the cost of using the open source Drupal or WordPress CMSs, mostly due to extra software licensing fees. "We couldn't justify paying double the cost for a similar result," Luchsinger says.

In addition, IDT's IT organization recommended going with an open-source CMS running on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) infrastructure because the company already had PHP programming experts in-house. So Luchsinger focused on WordPress and Drupal -- and came away undecided until IT broke the tie by recommending Drupal. "They said Drupal had a better security rating," he says.

Drupal
IDT needed a tool that would let people easily search, filter and display the configurations they needed -- something they couldn't do easily in the firm's homegrown ColdFusion implementation.

Luchsinger admits that he didn't check any further as to whether WordPress' security would have been adequate. "We needed to make a decision quickly, so we just went with [Drupal]," he says.

Because IDT didn't have any in-house Drupal developers at the time -- a situation it has since rectified -- the firm turned to Mediacurrent, a Web development and design company. (Luchsinger chose the Alpharetta, Ga.-based firm instead of the offshore talent IDT had used in the past.) Mediacurrent brought in Apache Solr as the core search engine, built a related software module and tied everything together using JavaScript.

"Drupal has good supporting modules that let us put pretty much anything we want into Solr," says Andrew Riley, Medicurrent's director of Drupal development, who served as lead developer on the project.

Drupal
IDT's product portfolio includes more than 25,000 integrated circuits and other electronic components, each offered in dozens of variations based on the electrical specifications each customer requires.

Drupal also supports the creation of multiple content types, each with hundreds of attributes (fields). "The flexibility over how those fields are organized and presented to the user, both in how the data is input and how it's displayed, are the heart of Drupal's power," says Jeff Diecks, Mediacurrent's vice president of professional services. "Drupal does not limit you in terms of how you can capture, organize and present data for a wide range of applications."

So far, everyone's pretty happy with the call to use Drupal. The new site, launched in January 2012, is faster than the company's previous website, has achieved 100% uptime so far, and lets IDT's new Drupal developer, Brendon Mosher, add features more quickly than did the previous system.

Mosher, who joined IDT as its Drupal project was nearing completion, comes from a Joomla background. He started working with Drupal after a project required him to set permissions for users in a way that Joomla could not support at the time. "Joomla's administration interface is a bit easier to use, but Drupal's community, features and documentation outweigh those benefits," he says.



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