Using workflow to create site update ticklers in Drupal?

Charles Belov's picture

I recently posted a thread in the group Web Managers/Content Editors Creating site update ticklers in Drupal?. Someone suggested Workflow might do the trick. Hopefully, this would serve as a use case.

We have some content which, depending on which page it appears on, would be worded slightly differently. In any case, it would be incorporated into the body text.

I would like to create a workflow called, for instance, Permanent Route Change, which would remind me to check three particular existing nodes to see whether they need to be changed and track whether they have been updated or else approved not to need updating, as well as let me create an article announcing the change.

That, to me, is a workflow, but as it is not defined in terms of roles, I'm not sure whether the Workflow module would handle it.

Similarly, I might want one page to watch another page for changes. Stated in terms of a workflow, the workflow would be that whenever I changed a page, Drupal would check whether any other pages were watching it (or perhaps it would be a mutual watch) so that if node 132 or node 123 were changed, the workflow would automatically take me to the other to review whether that page needed changes either.

Of course, the ideal would be that prose content was not duplicated with minor variations across the website, but the reality is that we get such requests for duplication and near-duplication with some neccessary variation.

Anyway, is this something Workflow would or could handle?


Yes, but you also need Rules

Encarte's picture

You would need a module like Rules to detect changes on the node and to detect which nodes are connected to that node (you could do the connection with nodereferences, or taxonomy or views). Then you would have to make Rules change the workflow state of the connected nodes to a state like «Needs review» or something. You could then manually change the node workflow state to «Updated» or «Doesn't need update» or whatever. Rules (working with Messaging and Notification modules or not) can also send email warnings when the workflow state changes or some time after the state changes.

If you use Tokens module and Rules you could also define a field for the part of the text that is equal in all nodes and fields for the parts that can be changed. Then Rules, using tokens, would build a field with the results (fixed part plus variable parts). That would allow you to change a field wit a variable part just once (in just one of the nodes) and have Rules copy it to all the nodes you want. You would need the WorkflowFields module (D6 only yet) to hide all the fields except the resulting field.

Watch server performance closely if you try something like this. Almost-duplicates like this can also have a negative SEO impact (you could solve it with Views, merging several nodes into a single page or with robots.txt or a xml sitemap).

Charles Belov's picture

nodereference would seem to be the closest to what I am talking about rather than token or views. I see by the References page it is about to be deprecated, presumably when either Relation or Entity Reference goes out of beta for 7.0, but really they all appear to be similar choices that might do the trick.

In terms of performance issues, this could run as a nightly batch rather than in real time, so that I (or whover owns the content) gets an email in their inbox in the morning to go look at these other pages. Not sure if Drupal supports this.

One issue with the Rules setting "Needs review" is whether it provides a context. That is, if I just get a message that page A needs review, that's not very informative. If I get a message that page A needs review because page B was changed, that's helpful. If I get a message that page A needs review because page B was changed, and here's a link to see what the change was, that's extra-helpful. (Obviously, to get the last, Drupal would have to be set to track versions of pages.)

There's still the issue of how to set ticklers to go back and check for tense changes or whether a planned completion has actually been completed, since those are dependent on page content, not on changes to other pages.

But it's starting to sound like tools are out there, thanks!

Charles Belov
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)


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