Sanctified, spiritualised and Drupalised

Drupal behind the scenes

Yesterday the Te Ara site moved to the open-source Drupal content management platform and made a number of relatively minor changes to the site navigation.

Of course quite a few things went wrong yesterday morning, but the site is now (mostly) performing better than it used to and it offers us so many possibilities that, though a tad exhausted at this point, we’re looking happily towards the future. Kudos to HeadFirst, our developers, who not only migrated the entire 30,000 pages but also gave us a new authoring system and some Easter Eggs too. Hallelujah! And to have a search engine that actually returns relevant results in a logical order is almost a religious experience for some, including the General Editor. It’s faster and more accurate than our old one. (For them as wants to know, the engine is Sphinx, also open-source.)

The site is mostly as it was (if it ain’t broke …) but here are some of the differences that you might notice:

URLs to pages have been simplified and now appear in the form

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/story-name (or /mi/ for the Māori interface)

A comprehensive redirection is in place and any bookmarks shouldn’t break, but please update them. Links deeper than a story (entry) page may not be resolved correctly but our error page gives a number of helpful suggestions.

Other changes include:

  • You can now browse Te Ara’s contents (groupled (ha ha) in a variety of ways) on any page by clicking on the ‘Browse Te Ara’ command at the very top every page.
  • The Short Story icon and link has been consistently positioned on all pages, to the right of the title.
  • The Short Story has a new ‘lightbox‘ treatment.
  • Biography links (to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography website) appear at the foot of the story pages, and the Biographies Gallery has been removed.
  • To move to the text from an image or other media item, click the ‘Back to story’ button.
  • Images or media which are grouped together have improved internal navigation (thumbnails appear above the main image).
  • Further Sources pages have been placed within the story navigation.
  • Related Stories are now managed through an automated process based on key words on the page. This is still subject to refinement, and we’ve signalled the lack of human intervention in the process by labelling the feature ‘You may be interested in…’ No guarantees, but there may be a serendipity…

If any of the navigation is unclear, try reading through our ‘How to use Te Ara’ page.

There have also been a number of small cosmetic changes to improve the look of the site. We’d be pleased to have your reactions to the changes. Leave a comment below.

2 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by Gadfium || August 22nd, 2009

    I was worried when I first noticed that your urls had changed, as Wikipedia uses Te Ara as a reference quite extensively. If you have redirects from the old pages, then this will not be an issue for us.

    I see that there are some redirects for the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand entries, but they are not working. For example, the old url of http://www.teara.govt.nz/1966/L/LawsonRobertArthur/LawsonRobertArthur/en is being redirected to http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/lawson-robert-arthur/1, but the entry has become http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/lawson-robert-arthur/1; ie there is a /1966 in the entry but not in the redirect.

  2. Comment made by Ross Somerville || August 24th, 2009

    Thanks, we’ll try and get the 1966 redirects as soon as possible.

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