besser bier brauen

With increasing user counts, desire for more features grew constantly. Soon after brauherr.de’s first launch as a portal, it became clear that complex projects as this one need either good patronage  or far more volunteers. For a good-will project with, if at all, some educational benefit this leaves few alternatives to an open source system, ideally one with a vast contributing community.

In 2008, when first planning this migration, Drupal had just had its first big popularity boost. Due to its strongly community centered and highly modular concepts, the decision was easy. Most existing functionality would be easy to implement with already existing extensions („modules”) and the theming concept was unbeatably flexible. This made porting and enhancing the existing design pretty easy and and allowed for functional extensions at the same time.

A true challenge, once again, was integrating the literally historically grown forum system. The new platform (PHP replacing Perl) required a code rewrite anyway, so a fundamental revision was quite likely. Above all, no Drupal forum system available at that time offered at least the majority of the existing functionality. As a result, my so far unpublished PHP forum system „DHF” came to life. Other tasks, like automatted publishing and unpublishing of time-limited content or programmed evaluation of new users’ trustability, could be easily managed with existing Drupal solutions even at that time.

The first migration attempt made it quickly clear that neither performance nor setup of the existing server were to suit the load conditions of a productive site with some thousand visitors per day. Particularly regarding the increased demands of PHP based Drupal. Hence, a graceful rollback to the previous system soon took place. The second run, now on a dedicated server with various combined caching strategies, finally and after less than one hour of planned maintenance lead to a portal soundly serving user counts highly above-average for a service that specially interesting.

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Task

Time scope: 
2009 to 2013

Migrate „brauherr.de” from a custom CMS to Drupal and continue the service without operational breaks.

  • Migration scheduling and strategic planning
  • Migration test runs in pre-production environments
  • Set up parallel server environments, roll-back and failover plans
  • Backup and migrate some ten-thousand posts and articles
  • Sophisticatedly customize Drupal modules and components
  • Redesign the existing theme while keeping it fully fluid and accessible
  • Integrate the existing custom forum system seamlessly into Drupal