SCAtoday.net software upgrade and server migration

SCAtoday.net has upgraded to a new version of the Drupal content management system and migrated to a later-generation server. As a consequence, some features of the site have changed slightly.

The transition from Drupal 4.6.11 to Drupal 5.12 was a major upgrade, skipping several intermediate versions. SCAtoday.net has actually been running on an older server for the past few months because our old software version wouldn't work on the new server's later-generation operating system and infrastructure. (For the technically curious, see the Colophon link below to learn more about the software that runs this site.)

We've tried to keep most of the site consistent for now, but readers and story contributors will notice a few changes as a result of the upgrade. The most important of these are:

  • Contributed stories now have optional "related links". Under the old software, our contributors and reporters had to remember to contribute a "webstory" if they were linking to an article on another web site, or a "story" if there was no link. Our new software allows the "story" content type to have one or more optional related links as needed. We'll be enhancing our Contributor's Guides to explain how to use the new Related Links feature.
  • The subscription feature is more sophisticated. The "subscribe" link at the bottom of each article now allows you to subscribe to the article itself, to all content by the same author, to any or all of the topics under which the article is categorized, or combinations of topic and author. This feature is available only to registered users.
  • Event calendars have new features, including optional related links. Some of the calendar features are visible only to our editorial staff, but they are most welcome. Readers will notice that the new Related Links feature allows you to publish the web URL of your event's online flyer.
  • The News Archive feature is improved. There are now more search filtering options when you view the News Archive. You can filter by year, month, or individual day, and by the type of article (story vs. event).
  • Our search feature is improved. There is not much change to the user interface, but beneath the surface this new version of Drupal has a much smarter search feature that we think our readers will appreciate.

There are two "known bugs" in our new system that we didn't have time to correct yet: The Recipes are not currently working. Rest assured, the data is all still in the system, but for some reason the screen that lists the available recipes is broken. We're working on that problem, and in the meantime we apologize for any inconvenience. Book Reviews are also not yet supported in the new version, but they're coming soon.

Future Plans

Drupal 5.12 is actually an interim step -- the current production series is version 6.x. The upgrade from 4.x to 5.x is actually much more complicated than the next step to 6.x, so we hope to finish this in the next few weeks.

We deliberately kept the look-and-feel of the site as unchanged as possible in the current upgrade, to minimize disruption. In the next upgrade, however, we plan to offer a more sophisticated look-and-feel. Tentatively, we are planning to offer the current stripped-down (read: "fast and efficient") look-and-feel as a "classic" option for our registered users (no promises, but we'll try hard to make it so).

In Case of Trouble...

In spite of our testing, there may still be a few minor glitches with the new site. (For instance, as mentioned above we already know that Recipes and Book Reviews aren't working properly yet.) If you find a problem, please send an email to webmaster@scatoday.net to let us know. Thank you for your patience as we work out any unforseen glitches. It has been said that "programming is an art form that fights back!"

Acknowledgment

SCAtoday.net gratefully acknowledges the Open Source developers who create Drupal, Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL, and the other free software packages that make this site possible. To learn more about the Drupal content management system, see the link below.

"Original Article" link in older stories

Dame Alys from the Midrealm has kindly reminded me that older webstory articles that refer to the "original article" link no longer have such a link. Because of our new related links feature, the old "original article" link is now the first (or only) link under "related links."

I'll be doing a mass database update soon to update all the old content, but in the meantime just know that "original article" is now "related links".

—Justin