Mike, looking for information about integrating a data collection Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, asked:

I was a little surprised by your comment that the capabilities aren’t likely to be available in an existing widget.  I was under the (I guess incorrect) that Drupal was more sophisticated and locked down than WordPress, but that similar widgets could be found – even if the choice is more limited.  I’ve found WordPress widgets that offer some of the features, and that could be adapted.

Hi, Mike,

Well, I think it boils down to a difference in philosophy. WordPress users seem to grab widgets from all over the place, and embed stuff from all sorts of Software as a Service offerings.

Whereas Drupal developers tend to build something in Drupal that does the same thing, without using the SaaS services. This usually means not quite so polished interfaces, but often completely alternative solutions.

Drupal has several different approaches to collecting data, any of which might be appropriate for data collection: Webforms, EntityForms, Multistep forms, Quiz to name a few.

So there ends up being 3 different approaches to addressing what you're looking for:

  1. Use a native Drupal solution, or build out the functionality in Drupal
  2. Use the WordPress approach of "embed a widget" -- usually this is totally doable in Drupal, but highly discouraged because it leads to really messy, hard-to-maintain sites and no data integration with the rest of the site
  3. Do a full-scale integration using an API or a bridge module -- in many cases this is done already (e.g. for popular services like SalesForce, Mailchimp, LimeSurvey, etc)

We can assist with any of those approaches, but like most Drupal shops, we're going to come out of the gate in the mindset of option #1, "do it in Drupal." Sites that embed lots of widgets get pretty scary to work on after a while, and full-scale integrations are generally far more costly to both implement and maintain (especially if there aren't other people using your particular integration).

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