Session Questions Answered

Your Questions Answered

We had several excellent questions at the end of the presentation and I'd like to add the details from the answered provided by the team.

Q: Can faculty use it?
A: Yes, but ATS offers a WordPress service specifically designed for faculty use, geared toward presenting personal information and research. If a faculty member would like to request a SiteFarm site we'll do a quick review of the type of content the site will contain to make sure that concerns like intellectual property copyrights and branding are considered.

Q: Can users request modules? Or create their own?
A: We invite you to submit your function and feature requests to us at; we want to hear your ideas and suggestions! If you have developers in your department who want to use Drupal modules that aren't part of the official SiteFarm offering or want to develop their own, we strongly recommend contacting us to talk about our other service tiers that will give you greater freedom for creative control.

Q: With particularly large sites (example: 6000 pages) is there a way to preserve its structure once it's migrated into SiteFarm?
A: Thanks to this question, we'll look at the migration script with the goal of attempting to retain the link, menu and content structure of your sites if we can.

Q: Will site managers be able to restrict their users to specific areas of the site?
A: Eventually groups and permissions structures will be introduced into SiteFarm. Presently, for the beta release, the access strucutre will be the default setting: you either have access or you don't. When this option is added, site managers will have greater control to assign users by categories and tags. This is a feature that is presently under construction by the Drupal community and further updates on its status will follow.

Q: How does the folder structure work?
A: Actually, Drupal's content structure doesn't use folders. Instead, you'll tell the system what pages should be on your main menu and then assign other pages to those menu parent links. It's going to be a different way of thinking about your content and how everything is inter-related. Obviously training, documentation, and screencaps will be provided to help you understand the process until it's second nature for you.

Q: What is the process if you have many sites with a large amount of content?
A: Right now this answer is vague as we're still in the process of building the migration script. As best as we can we plan to try to match page content to pages, block content to blocks, and carry over document and image files you've been using in Cascade. Please be aware that regardless of how smooth the migration turns out to be, you're likely going to have to tweak a few things to make it look just right. We're trying for "apples to apples" but it might be more like "gala apple to Granny Smith apple". The same, but different, so some adjustments will need to be made. 

From a process perspective, I'd recommend starting with your smallest, simplest site. This will give you a general idea of how much work will be involved in adjusting your content in SiteFarm. Remember: Cascade will be maintained for another few years, so you can focus on one site at a time and not feel rushed to push everything over all at once. 

Q: What is the process for doing stuff in parallel, i.e. keeping Cascade and SiteFarm up-to-date concurrently?
A: If your site is small-ish, consider picking a time when news and updates are in a slow phase for your office and suspend updates while you work on your SiteFarm version. If your site is large, consider the 'slow period' option. If that's not really possible, you may need to replicate the work in both platforms for a time until you can launch your new site.

Q: What is PatternLab and how can we use it?
A: PatternLab is a collection of tools designed to help programmers and developers create design systems. Already from that you can tell it's complicated, right? PatternLab is intended as both a style guide and a component and pattern library for use in structuring an styling things like web applications your department sites might be using so they look like they belong to your sites. As we get past the beta release we can begin looking at how we might hold a session discussing how developers can utilize this tool if they aren't already familiar with it.

Q: Can we have a Cascade site and a SiteFarm site at the same time?
A: Yes. If you want to try out the SiteFarm beta to see what the first release is like while continuing to maintain your active site, you're welcome to do so. If you find that the beta version contains everything you need, you can even begin working on your transition though migration services will not be available until the full release in 2017.

Q: What is the difference between blocks and modules?
A: In some instances they are the same, and in others they are different. Modules are self-contained pieces of programming that can be added to Drupal core, the actual application anyone can download from Some modules add back-end functionality to a Drupal instance, which content editors will never see. In other cases, modules add programming that also includes a user interface for content editors to configure and add content. In this latter example, the interface may come in the form of a block, similar to what you're familiar with inside of Cascade.

Part of the transition from Cascade to SiteFarm will include some necessary training to help you follow the jargon and definitions of certain terms used by the Drupal product. For the first while it may be confusing since both applications might use the same word--like 'block'--but define and use it differently. We can see about including a "Cascade-to-SiteFarm" translation page to help you with the glossary of terms.

Q: Service tiers were mentioned during the presentation. What are these?
A: Only a brief explanation will be provided here as we'll be refining these offerings as we get closer to the official wide release for SiteFarm. Here is a very early outline which is subject to revision:

  1. SiteFarm
    1. out-of-the-box offering
    2. free to use
    3. includes hosting on the Aquia hosting service
    4. theme customization permitted within branding restrictions
  2. SiteFarm Plus
    1. for offices wishing to customize the out-of-the-box offering
    2. fees will apply for hosting on the Pantheon hosting service
    3. code layer is exposed for customized development
  3. Custom Solutions
    1. fees will be applied based on the type of work requested when building your site
    2. contact the SiteFarm team for more details