Information Services Division


Drupal features

The Drupal interface is clear and intuitive and we have added help-text and guidance where possible - we will keep adding when required. Back-end tasks like re-ordering pages and restructuring are simple and fast. Workflow, content scheduling, link checking and content review dates help you keep on top of website maintenance.

Content types

Detail pages (Drupal content)

  • Pages
  • News
  • Events
  • Case Studies
  • Research Projects
  • Publications
  • Policies

Detail pages (consuming UCL data)

  • Undergraduate programme pages
  • Postgraduate taught programme pages
  • Postgraduate research programme pages
  • Staff profiles (IRIS)

Landing pages

The main Drupal landing page template is extremely flexible and combines curated teasers (i.e. teasers where you control the content, feeds of Drupal and external content with standard web content to produce a wide variety of content display options. 

The landing page currently includes

  • Teasers (boxes) 
  • Vertical link list with teasers (list)
  • Combined teaser boxes with vertical teaser list (hybrid)
  • External RSS and Drupal content feeds
  • Optional sidebar
  • Optional left menu
  • Two- and three-column teaser box layout
  • Add and remove teasers in rows
  • Change layout without losing content
  • The full range of text editor functionality for certain fields (e.g. image carousels: see below.)

Tagging and feeds

Editors can display dynamic content on landing pages or detail pages based on combining content types with subject tags or organisational units. This allows for easy surfacing of content across the site or across a family of sites e.g. departments within a faculty. 

If required, users can also apply filters to further refine these feeds.

We’re working on further refining the use of feeds by making optional automated ‘latest’ feeds for the sidebars of e.g. news posts.

For more on tagging and feeds please see: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/drupal-support/tagging-and-feeds

As of May 2018 we can now provide instant updates to feeds.

Embed media from third-party sites

Editors can embed content within their web pages from the following third-party or UCL platforms:

  • Flickr
  • Google Calendars
  • Google Forms
  • Google Maps
  • Issuu
  • MailChimp newsletter sign up
  • Mixcloud
  • Opinio poll 
  • Research publications  (from RPS)
  • Slideshare
  • SoundCloud
  • Storify
  • Twitter
  • UCL MediaCentral
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube

For more information: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/drupal-support/creating-content/embed-third-party-content 

Design options

Standard Drupal sites all use UCL’s design pattern library Indigo, are fully responsive and accessible and embody the UCL online brand. 

Colour options: The full Indigo colour palette is now available in Drupal: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/indigo-demo/look-and-feel/colour-options

Navigation options: Drupal sites include as standard: horizontal menu/left menu with new and improved UX and clear visual indicators for parent section, current section and sibling sections. We are planning further improvements to the user experience of navigation by streamlining the menu so it displays only the parent and children pages within a section.

Text editor functionality

The Drupal text editor allow standard formatting as well as layout changes (columns, boxouts, accordions) plus embedded feeds and rich media including image galleries, carousels and third-party media. For a comprehensive list of text editor functionality see: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/drupal-support/editing-toolbar 

Back-end content publishing functionality

As well as the front-end functionality that creates web content, Drupal also contains useful back-end content management features including but not limited to:

  • Clear help text and labels
  • Well-structured and semantic content layouts to support SEO
  • Industry approved optimised meta tags for content sharing (OpenGraph, Twitter Cards and many more).
  • Content approvals and workflow
  • Content scheduling
  • Automatic 301 redirects when page titles or menus change
  • Automatic generation of clean, readable URLs
  • Easy moving and saving of pages
  • Bulk upload of media

Drupal roadmap

The primary aim for the first phase of Drupal development will be to replace Silva and all the features and functionality available currently.

We will continue to add functionality over the next 6 months as Silva sites are moved into Drupal.

You can request new functionality by emailing web-support@ucl.ac.uk with details and expected benefits.

Generally we will implement functionality:

  • It benefits a wide segment of our user base and can be rolled out to all/many areas
  • It doesn’t conflict with our technical strategy or with accessibility and best practice advice
  • As with all work, it will be prioritised according to our web prioritisation policy (find this on our Drupal page)

The current state of Drupal functionality will always be available on this page and we will communicate regularly with all editors on recently requested functionality and status (via our e-newsletter and blog). 

Coming soon

  • Instant updates to feeds (now live on ISD and being rolled out to all Drupal sites:June 2018)
  • UX improvements to feed pages and calendar (scheduled for release: June 2018)
  • Improvements to the Drupal event page (being delivered as part of our project to replace Columba with a Drupal-based event management system being delivered early July 2018)
  • New children-only navigation (demo navigation for customer feedback: July 2018)
What will load times be like in Drupal?

Both page load times and publishing times are very fast in Drupal.

Sharing between sites will be easier, can you share objects from one page to another such as tables? 

Not at the moment although it is possible to pull data from different sources onto Drupal pages including news, events, case studies.

Will infographics be available?

As infographics are a complex area of digital content and present particular challenges for mobile sites, we do not have any functionality for these in Drupal at the moment. However, it’s an interesting area and one which we will look into in future with other teams across UCL once we have completed the core functionality required for the majority of sites.

Will password protected areas be possible?

Areas of your site can be password protected for access by UCL staff and students only. For information security reasons we will no longer be supporting password-protected content that uses one password for use by non-UCL users. If this applies to you, we will review this in terms of the security risk and work with you to look at possible solutions or alternatives.

Why are we not able to use staff directory data?

We agree that good people information is vital for communicating UCL’s output, news and research impact but people data management is a complex issue involving teams in ISD , HR, Legal, Research etc. There is currently a major project underway within ISD to improve identity and access management, and we look forward to working with other teams at UCL in the future to enable the consumption of  people data by Drupal. 

Can we schedule publishing?

You can schedule publishing and deletion and you can also set content review dates which is an important part of good website maintenance.

Can we crop images, tag them and drag them into the Media Library?

Drupal resamples images depending on how and where they are used so we have been able to streamline image sizes down to two sizes: banner size (1400 pixels wide) and all other content display sizes (800 pixels wide).

Tagging images and dragging them into the media library is possible but not currently available. It will be considered in future.

Will the migration deal with images that are not the right size?

Once your site is in Indigo image sizes should be fine in Drupal. However moving from non-responsive to responsive inevitably involves some image resizing due to the fact that tablet views often use full-width images that are bigger than on desktop (where more images are on one row.)

Can you embed content from other sites or HTML? 

You will be able to add content from other sites to your pages. The full list of media embeds is listed above. You won't be able to add free HTML to the CMS because it may conflict with the core code and cause problems. If there is a need for a new feature to embed content from a third-party site, we will consider the request in line with our change request process outlined on this page.

Does Drupal have an API? 

Drupal does have an API but we will be using Funnelback our search engine as our restful API to allow the Drupal databases to retain performance.