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Why Publishers Should Care About Drupal

Acquia has published a white paper — Enterprise-Grade Web Publishing with Drupal — that focuses on the needs of professional publishers. While I’m the author and lead analyst, I crafted this report with help from many people in the Drupal community, particularly at Phase2 Technology, Palantir, and Acquia.

For those of us who’ve tracked the rise of the web over the past decade, it comes as no surprise that the publishing industry is in an uproar. Publishing is now a democratic activity — anybody with a browser can publish on the web. Firms that traditionally built their business by creating, organizing, and distributing content now face an uphill challenge: how best to engage their readers with relevant, high value content wherever they may be located, and then monetize the results.

This is where Drupal comes in. With targeted distributions such as OpenPublish, Drupal makes it easy for professional publishers to digitize and distribute great content. (Be sure to check out a recent Acquia webinar to see how Ned Desmond is hooking bass anglers at BassMaster.Com.) Editors can easily tag and publish their articles and news stories without involving producers or web masters.

But publishing is not only about getting the content ‘out there.’ It is also about making it useful, usable, and findable, relying either on web browser or mobile devices. This is Drupal’s secret sauce – its seamless publishing environment for managing metadata in the context of creating and editing content.

Specifically, Drupal includes core taxonomy management capabilities (based on content types and parts of the Content Construction Kit module that are now incorporated into the D7 core), and integrates with auto-categorization services such as OpenCalais. As a result, publishers can easily enrich their content with semantic terms and categories during various steps of their publishing processes.

With semantic markup embedded in the content stream, a Drupal-powered publishing environment can optimize search results, organize content for faceted navigation, and make information “more intelligent” for access and distribution. Third party search engines, syndication services, social sites, information aggregators, and other content-aware web applications can recognize the metadata tags and use them as signals within their own environments to filter information for their particular audiences. Mobile web apps and native mobile apps (including ebook readers) can easily render the Drupal managed content.

In short, it’s all about semantic signaling. By adopting Drupal, professional publishers go beyond producing content on their own web sites. By enriching their information with semantic metadata, publishers can further distribute their content across the web and to mobile devices, and easily reach a much larger audience.

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