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What is Drupal? An Overview in 2024

Flatirons
Development
10 min read
drupal
Contents
Contents

Introduction

When it comes to Content Management Systems (CMS), Drupal stands as one of the most powerful and flexible options available.

Used by organizations ranging from small businesses to large enterprises and government agencies, Drupal offers a wide range of features and functionalities that make it a popular choice for building websites and a digital asset management system.

In this article, we will delve into what Drupal is, its applications, the advantages and disadvantages of using Drupal, alternatives to the platform, comparisons with Laravel and WordPress, and some of the best front-end frameworks to pair with Drupal.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an advanced open-source Content Management System (CMS) that serves as a versatile framework for building, managing, and organizing a wide array of digital content. At its core, Drupal empowers users to create and manage websites with ease, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for web content creation and administration.

Content management systems like Drupal are indispensable for businesses and organizations managing their digital presence. They provide user-friendly interfaces enabling staff with varying technical expertise to efficiently create, manage, and publish web content. This includes a common theme and design elements, coupled with comprehensive publishing controls.

Drupal’s widespread adoption across diverse organizations and industries is a testament to its flexibility and robustness. It is the backbone for various digital platforms, including corporate websites, mobile apps, digital signage, social networking sites, intranets, portals, kiosks, and more.

At the heart of Drupal is Drupal Core, the foundational version of the CMS, equipped with a powerful set of tools and features. These enable the creation of dynamic websites, blogs, online communities, e-commerce platforms, and even sophisticated web applications. Drupal Core sets the stage for a highly functional and interactive digital presence.

The true power of Drupal, however, lies in its extensibility through community-contributed modules and third-party plugins. These additions can significantly enhance the functionality of a Drupal Core website, enabling a tailored experience to meet specific needs. The beauty of these modules lies in their simplicity – they can be added without the need for extensive coding, making them accessible to developers and site administrators alike.

Moreover, the availability of thousands of Drupal themes further solidifies its position as a leading CMS choice. These themes allow users to customize the aesthetic of their Drupal site, offering flexibility in design and user experience. Implementing a new theme is straightforward, often requiring no complex CSS coding, yet it can dramatically transform the site’s appearance.

The origin of the name “Drupal” is as unique as the CMS itself. It derives from the Dutch word “druppel,” meaning “drop,” akin to a water droplet. The CMS’s creator, Dries Buytaert, originally developed Drupal as a simple message board for his friends to communicate within the dormitories at the University of Antwerp. This humble beginning laid the foundation for what would become one of the most influential and widely used content management systems in the world.

Who Should Use Drupal?

Drupal’s unparalleled flexibility and scalability make it an ideal platform for developers looking to craft highly customized solutions tailored to specific business requirements. Its modular architecture is a key strength, allowing for seamless integration and configuration of various modules, themes, and extensions. This adaptability not only enhances functionality but also elevates design capabilities to meet diverse aesthetic and technical demands.

The diverse application of Drupal across numerous high-profile companies underscores its robustness and versatility. As a back-end framework, Drupal supports approximately 14% of the top 10,000 sites globally, showcasing its widespread trust and reliability. The platform’s extensive reach spans various industries, each with unique digital requirements:

The historical significance of Drupal was notably marked in 2003 during Howard Dean’s US presidential campaign. His supporters created a Drupal-based platform featuring blogs, calendars, forums, and community functions. Despite Dean suspending his presidential bid, this instance highlighted Drupal’s capacity to support large-scale digital campaigns, serving as a turning point in recognizing the potential of digital platforms in organizational and political communication.

Drupal’s legacy continues as a powerful tool for organizations, both large and small, seeking a reliable, secure, and scalable web content management system. From powering high-traffic media sites to supporting intricate government portals, Drupal stands as a testament to the transformative power of digital technology in a multitude of sectors.

Advantages of Drupal Core

Flexibility and Scalability

Drupal’s modular architecture allows for easy customization and scalability. Drupal sites can be of any size and complexity, from a small, simple website or personal blog to large enterprise portals.

It gives site administrators access to core features that make up common content management system tasks like:

Although there are advanced API integrations for Drupal website developers, the basic installation and administration of the framework don’t require in-depth programming skills.

Extensive Drupal Modules Library

Drupal boasts a vast library of free modules contributed by its active community. These modules provide additional functionalities, such as e-commerce, SEO optimization, social media integration, and more.

Robust Security

Drupal takes security seriously and has a dedicated security team that actively monitors and addresses vulnerabilities.

The fact that Drupal is open-source software allows the worldwide community to play a part in monitoring Drupal’s underlying code for compliance and security issues.

It offers excellent access control, user permission management, and secure coding practices.

Multilingual Support

Drupal has built-in support for creating multilingual websites, allowing businesses to seamlessly cater to a global audience and manage content in multiple languages.

Active Community of Drupal Developers

Drupal has a vibrant and supportive community of developers, designers, and users who actively contribute to its growth and offer assistance through forums, documentation, and regular meetups like Drupal camps.

Disadvantages of Drupal Core

Learning Curve

Drupal’s power and flexibility come at the cost of a steeper learning curve compared to some other CMS platforms.

It requires technical expertise, and beginners may find it overwhelming initially.

Complexity

Drupal’s complexity can sometimes lead to more development time and effort, especially for complex website setups.

Customizations may require more advanced programming skills than other competing content management system options like the popular WordPress CMS.

Updates and Maintenance

Drupal releases regular updates to address security patches and introduce new features. Managing these updates and ensuring compatibility with existing modules and themes can be time-consuming.

Alternatives to Drupal

While Drupal is a robust CMS, there are alternative platforms available for different use cases and user preferences. Some popular alternatives include:

WordPress Sites

WordPress is a user-friendly CMS that prioritizes ease of use and a vast plugin ecosystem. It is ideal for smaller websites, blogs, and less complex projects.

Joomla Projects

Joomla is another open-source CMS that strikes a balance between ease of use and flexibility. It is suitable for small to medium-sized websites, e-commerce platforms, and social networks.

TYPO3 Content Management System

TYPO3 is a powerful CMS known for its enterprise-level capabilities and extensive customization options. It is commonly used for complex and large-scale projects.

Drupal vs. Laravel: What’s the Difference?

Drupal and Laravel are both powerful frameworks, but they serve different purposes. Drupal is primarily a CMS written in PHP, while Laravel is a PHP framework focused on application development.

Drupal excels in content management and site-building, while Laravel offers more flexibility for complex web applications and API development.

The choice between the two depends on the specific project requirements and the development approach the development team prefers.

Drupal vs. WordPress: What’s the Difference?

Drupal and WordPress are two of the most popular CMS platforms. While both are open-source, Drupal tends to be more powerful and flexible, making it suitable for complex and enterprise-level projects.

WordPress, on the other hand, prioritizes user-friendliness and simplicity, making it an excellent choice for smaller websites, blogs, and non-technical users, such as marketing staff who will manage digital content.

The decision between Drupal and WordPress depends on factors such as scalability, customization needs, and the technical expertise of the project team.

Best Front-End Frameworks for Drupal

Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a popular front-end framework that provides a responsive grid system, pre-styled components, and a wide range of CSS and JavaScript utilities.

It integrates well with Drupal and offers a solid foundation for building modern and mobile-friendly websites.

Foundation

Foundation is another widely used front-end framework that offers similar features to Bootstrap.

It provides a responsive grid system, customizable components, and a powerful JavaScript library for enhanced interactivity.

Bulma

Bulma is a lightweight CSS framework known for its simplicity and flexibility.

It offers a mobile-first approach, making it easy to create responsive and visually appealing websites in combination with Drupal.

Summary

Drupal is a versatile CMS that offers a powerful framework for building and managing digital content. It excels in flexibility, scalability, security, and multilingual support.

However, it has a steeper learning curve and complexity compared to some alternatives. When choosing between Drupal and other CMS platforms like WordPress, the decision should be based on the specific project requirements and the level of customization needed.

For developers, Drupal offers a range of front-end frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, and Bulma to enhance the design and interactivity of Drupal-powered websites.

If you are looking for help with Drupal, Flatirons provides custom web development services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a web framework?

A web framework is software that is designed to support the development of web applications and sites.

Frameworks can help developers during the build process and marketing professionals maintain their digital content if it has content management system functionality.

What is a PHP framework?

A PHP framework is written in the PHP programming language and supports the development of PHP-based web applications.

Libraries of common functions may help cut down on the amount of original code that must be produced by a developer.

Modules and plugins may add additional tools that help the web author create a site or app with added functionality.

Is Drupal good for content management systems (CMS)?

Drupal is one of the most secure CMS platforms available. It is free and open-source and supported by a large, active community.

The advantage of an open-source platform is that it gives everyone access to the underlying code, meaning a larger number of developers can work on discovered vulnerabilities than on a proprietary solution.

Is the Drupal community large?

The Drupal community boasts more than 1.3 million members with 124,000 actively contributing to its development.

The open-source community has continued to embrace this digital experience platform by developing 50,000 free modules, or plugins, that extend its base functionality.

Thousands of templates are freely available online that change the look and feel of the underlying Drupal skeleton, allowing businesses and individuals to personalize their blogs and sites into the ultimate digital presence experience.

Comprehensive Web Development Services

Flatirons delivers custom web development solutions tailored to your business needs.

Learn more

Comprehensive Web Development Services

Flatirons delivers custom web development solutions tailored to your business needs.

Learn more
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