The Workbench Module: Managing Content Management

This is a live blog of the session “Workbench: Managing Content Management” by Ken Rickard and George DeMet at DrupalCon London.

This session should be one of the best so far. There is a general lack of workflow in Drupal (out of the box). One of my beefs with Drupal 7 is that it just isn’t that easy to edit your content, add images etc. The old phrase “there’s a module for that” doesn’t really cut it. So hopefully this module will put my beef in the pot and stew it … sorry, I’m thinking about the lamb chops last night for dinner, with real mint sauce. I really love eating in London 

The story…

Project #1: Barnard College

This was an enterprise level Drupal 7 implementation with complex needs:

  • Electronic communications
  • IT department
  • 50 academic departments
  • 30 section owners
  • 200 site editors

Project #2: Field Museum in Chicago

  • Hundred of scientists and researchers spread across dozens of departments
  • Massive amounts of content and digital assets
  • Small centralized web staff
  • “Content bottleneck”

Common Challenges

  • Access and permissions – by sections not just content types, and not just in the org. chart.
  • Extensible workflow states
  • Single repository for media management
  • Modify content without it going live immediately (workflow). Drupal only has 2 states – Published or not published. This answers that problem.

Some of the modules that were used for this kind of challenges are well known and do the job quite well. Workbench replaces 28 modules (!) that would have been used.

At this point the presenter began a demo:

  • Workbench presents access to the things they care about. – just the content they should see. It’s managed by Views so developers can extend it.
  • At the top: the 3 most current things I’ve edited.
  • Links to everything I’ve edited on the site.
  • All the content on the site (that the user is allowed to see)
  • You can search, sort and filter the content (an admin can see what different users have been doing).
  • Tabs cover all the media the user has access to, “My Drafts”, Create Content, “Need Review Cue” (wow… this is going to be good). An admin / someone higher up the hierarchy can click that tab and see what everyone else is working on.
  • When the editor looks at an article, the tabs are renamed based on the status of the article – designed to give a pinpoint view of the status of the article.

Moderation history is all there as well.

“We’ve moved Drupal out of your way”. Workbench can take 3 hours of training and make it 20 minutes.

This module will give Drupal administrators some very strong control over their sites that isn’t currently available (without adding and configuring 28 separate modules…). It is still a little rough around the edges from a visual perspective… but they are planning on some updates. (currently in version 0.9). There’s a ton of usability work going on right now.

Interesting – Workbench *may* find its way into Drupal 8. If it does… it will set Drupal 8 apart from every other CMS out there…


  • Rod Martin

    Rod holds two masters degrees and has been training people how to do "things" for over 25 years. Originally from Australia, he grew up in Canada and now resides just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. He has worked in both the non-profit and for-profit worlds, in small companies and large corporations. His extensive open source experience includes WordPress, Joomla and Drupal and he really knows how to help you get the most out of the system you chose. Rod plays ice hockey a couple of times a week and rides his Goldwing motorcycle pretty much everywhere he can.

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