I had the pleasure of speaking at DrupalCon2023 about taxonomy governance and how taxonomists can help out at critical points in website management lifecycle. I wasn’t sure whether my talk would be popular since I wasn’t talking specifically about Drupal implementation, but I didn’t need to worry because there was a full room! Turns out plenty of people are dealing with issues of taxonomy strategy, development, and governance and wanted to know more about how taxonomists can help.

I spent some time explaining who taxonomists are and common activities at different stages of the web development lifecycle including:

  • assessing current state of taxonomy and any other content organizing systems
  • planning IA/UX for a new or redesigned site or section of a site
  • Implementing one or more new content types
  • integrating different sites or systems such as DAM or Search
  • migrating a site or collection of content

Taxonomists Love Drupal

As I was preparing the introduction and background section of my talk I was reminded  just how great Drupal works with taxonomy.

  • Drupal provides solid out of the box taxonomy management.
  • Plays well with others, allowing for easy integration with other systems like DAM, CRM, PIM, and search.
  • In Drupal everything is an “entity” – an extensible bundle of properties (AKA fields). This allows you adapt SKOS properties to Drupal term metadata and makes it a (relatively) easy ramp up from a flat list of terms to a hierarchy, to a relationship-rich proto-ontology.
  • Drupal designers & developers get taxonomy. It’s really baked into how Drupal structures and manages site content, so we don’t need to sell anyone on the idea.
  • There are over 300 stable modules extending taxonomy functionality.

Getting the Most Out of Drupal for Taxonomy

Here are a few of the basic recipes I suggest for getting the most out of taxonomy in Drupal

  1. Install the Taxonomy management module for a better UX when adding, removing, moving, relabeling terms. Note that not all the functionality of previous versions is supported in the 2.08 package which supports 9 and up (most critically, drag-and-drop hierarchy).
  2. Create a read-only view of the taxonomy.Even though Drupal provides fine-grained permissions, not everyone who needs to see the taxonomy will necessarily have an account (e.g. external content provider partners). Having a public view of your taxonomy also invites feedback and corrections from a wider audience (and from actual site visitors)
  3. Create an internal view of content filterable by taxonomy fields with Views data export module enabled. This will let you conduct quick audits of content by term, download selections for SME review, and other QA analysis (e.g. count how many items have how many terms to identify over or under tagging).

Other interesting/potentially useful modules

  • Taxonomy unique — this looks really useful to start introducing constraints needed for a formal taxonomy (i.e. each term can only occur once).
  • Tooltip taxonomy — I’m hoping this could be used during term selection for disambiguation and/or usage guidance (scope notes) as well as, optionally, for end-user guidance.
  • Taxonomy max depth — More constraints! I love constraints.
  • Workflow — with the addition of the “published” flag for taxonomy terms in core, it’s possible to put terms through workflows and, potentially, maintain a list of candidate terms at different stages of review/approval..
  • Taxonomy bulk actions — I’d like to see what this adds vs Views Bulk Actions and Taxonomy Manager

With the right taxonomy strategy and governance framework plus Drupal’s taxonomy functionality, organizations can effectively organize and structure their content, leading to improved user experiences and easier content management.

Find out more about how Dovecot Studio can help you support taxonomy within your organization, for Drupal and beyond!