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I'm thinking about creating a process manual for an intranet. Most (all?) of the processes have a very clear order, although the actual order may change from time to time. The plan is to have the subject matter experts, probably a half-dozen or so, enter and update the process pages. The users of the site need to be able to quickly review the processes while interacting with customers, often face-to-face.

Here's the options I've thought of:

  • Train the authors to use ordered lists. Pro: easiest for me. Con: relies on training non-technical people, could be hard to style for readability.
  • Organize each process into a book. Pro: uses something that's already there. Con: harder to enter, complicated to read.
  • Create a content type with a "step" field that could be entered unlimited times, and theme so as to show the order number. Pro: easy to see that each step is independent, can be reordered easily (?) Con: more work for me (I feel like there something else in this option that I'm missing, but I can't put my finger on it!)
  • Custom module, something like the Recipe module but w/out ingredients. At least I'm assuming the Recipe module has step-by-step directions. Pro: most customization for entry, learning experience. Con: a LOT more work for me, kinda out of my expertise.

From your experience, is there a clear winner among these options?

Is there an option I'm missing? (is there a module out there that already does this, for example? Googling this concept was a nightmare.)

Am I over-thinking this?

I don't know yet whether this project will be Drupal 6 or 7.

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I agree with Craig Hyatt but I thought I'd expand a bit more.

Train the authors to use ordered lists - Like you said it's more effort for you to train users. Your times better spent developing the final product in my opinion.

Organize each process into a book - Why re-invent the wheel? It provides you with the basics of your requirements out of the box. Using this will give you the extra time spent developing something to work on the cons of using this, or better put you get to spend more time adding helpful stuff than building it from the ground up.

Create a content type with a "step" field - You mention that this could be more work for you but it's not a huge amount, using CCK and nodereference this could give you a bit more flexibility compared to the book route.

Custom module - There's no need to do this, the above two points will give you enough freedom to code around drupals inbuilt options.

The clear winner for me would be to create a content type and build around that. You can actually set up a content type to use book functionality as well which is what I'm currently doing for a large project. So in this case you get the best of both worlds.

  • I don't think I realized you could set up other content types to use book functionality. That's fantastic! – epersonae Mar 4 '11 at 21:31
  • epersonae, can you detail on it? – Kwinto Mar 5 '11 at 15:02
  • It looks like it's just a fieldgroup on any (?) node's entry form. – epersonae Mar 7 '11 at 16:53
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I think your instinct to use the Book module was right on. Editing book pages would be no more difficult than multiple nodes via a custom content type.

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Why not use a CCK field group? The node could have a title, and no body. Then the node has a bunch of CCK field groups. The group might have two fields, such as "step title" then "step instructions". Then you could add as many title/instructions combinations as you like to the same node.

This has the advantage that it's really simple to input, and everything is contained on one node. The actual display of this content would be down to you, too, so you could have all the steps on one page, or have a javascript tab-based system for showing each step, or some other combination.

  • How do you achieve this in d7? I am looking to do the same thing- not sure how to group the fields in the Content Type area. – user800507 Jul 14 '11 at 20:00
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I would create a content-type called Step and make each step in your processes a node. Then, you can use Views to build lists of steps however you choose.

You'll need to find a way to link the steps to the proper parent "process", perhaps with Taxonomy.

Each step gets a title, body, a weight/order field and then whatever else you need to add.

The version of Drupal you choose won't matter. You'll use CCK for 6 and Core Fields for 7.

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Another option maybe to use the pagination module - this module allows you as content creators to insert breaks in the content to make it more manageable. Current methods you can use to paginate content:

  1. Content is paginated by a selectable "words per page" count.
  2. Content is paginated by manual breaks, inserted by the content creator.
  3. Content is paginated by manual breaks, based on tags.

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