Niccolò Gros-Pietro
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how to leverage the Message Stack to build an activity stream

DrupalDay 2014 A few weeks after DrupalCon in Amsterdam, on 14 and 15 November in Milan the Drupal Day 2014 has been held, a national event dedicated to the people who use Drupal as a framework to build websites and web applications.

Sixeleven attended the conference, this time as speaker: Drupal Day has been an opportunity to talk about our experience with specific technical solutions which have been extensively exploited in one of our latest projects.

For the World Food Programme we just built a platform, for internal use, dedicated to the WFP staff of the IT department: it is a community platform created with the goal of improving communication among the 800 people who are part of the division, but that are distributed across the globe in all the areas covered by the WFP. A Facebook for a small world? Something similar. It is a tool that allows, for example, all operators to become aware of the news about a specific service provided in different ways in the many local offices, but also a space for discussion and collaboration where users can find answers to questions that other colleagues in other parts of the world have had to face.

To improve communication among the multitude of users it was necessary to develop a system to let people immediately be aware about new activity around the specific topics they are interested in, for example:

  • a new question on a topic of interest
  • a new member in my department
  • the answer to a question I’ve posted a long time ago
  • a new important communication from the management

Basically we had to develop a real activity streams / news feeds, similar to what is a common feature on the most popular social networking platform. But to further increase the interaction among the users, the system had also to send notifications by e-mail about specific events, letting the people choose whether enabling or disabling notifications on specific topics.

To accomplish this on Drupal, we leveraged the Message Stack, a suite of modules developed with the objective to generate messages when certain events occur and to notify users that they are in some way related to the subject the message. Our Drupal Day talk aims to tell our experience and explain, with the aid of a planned demo, how to implement the basic functionality with the Message Stack modules. Public participation has been very active, a sign that these features are sought after by the developers.

Drupal is an open source platform that advocates the idea of contributing back, giving instruments and support in return of other instruments easily obtainable. We feel so pleased to have contributed a little bit to the growth of the community with this training session.

You can browse the slides of our presentation at the Drupal Day 2014.

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