What is Drupal and Why Drupal is the Right Choice?

What is the name?

Many of you could have been like me. I’m been a Drupal user for a long time, but not only recently did I do a research to find out what the story behind it was.

Drupal has its name from the Dutch language but it was founded in Belgium. It was originally written by Dries Buytaert as a message board so that Dries and his group of friends could stay in touch, shared interesting findings, and talked about their personal lives.

At first, Dries wanted to name it Dorp.org (meaning village in Dutch). But he made a typo when checking the domain name, which turned into Drop. He decided to use the mistyped word because he thought it sounded much better.

Though developed in the early day as an internal board for Dries’ group, Drop.org’s audiences grew rapidly. People shared, discussed about ideas, web technologies. It was such a great experience. And there’s a proposal to release the web technologies, the software that ran the site. In this way, people could have wider chance to develop, to do more experimentations, and make greater contribution to the community.

So in January 2001, Dries made a decision to launch the software behind drop.org and named it Drupal

The “Drupal” term embodies “druppel” in Dutch, meaning "drop" (as in "a water droplet"). Hence, you can see the drop image on its logo.

So What is Drupal?

In its fundamentality, Drupal is an open source content management system. Some people would raise a question about what “open source”, and “content management system” are. We’ll make an elaboration.

Open Source

The term “Open source” defines software whose source code is made publicly available. They are eligible for use and modification by users, developers subject to certain conditions.

What makes an open source technology popular and favorable is:

  • There’s no money cost for people to use the software.
  • A big community (Users, developers, admin) exists to help one another.
  • The software is stable because many developers & experts are testing it day by day. Should a trouble arise, a related request can be instantly submitted and resolved.
  • Many open sources like Drupal are under the GNU Public License. That means the software is utterly free to download, use, and modify: There are no requirement for purchase, license, or maintenance fees.

Content Management System

In general, the CMS empowers content authors to manage website contents but do not own necessary technical skills to edit raw content. Specifically, it helps:

  • Provide simple Web-based tools so that users can publish content directly to the website. E.g. Drupal provides a WYSIWYG editing tool that is similar to Word processing software of Microsoft.
  • Control content author. As a web manager, you will able to control what is created, how the content is edited, formatted and reviewed. You can make some rules about the contents - to name a few: limit the character number in a content field; enable content items to follow a workflow process; require content fields such as page title, page path.
  • Smoothen and boost the process. As your website grows into more than a few pages, and a number of formats, users,… content will become complex. To quicken this process, the CMS will make it easy to manage them all, and render them in quick and mass configuration.

What can Drupal do? And why is it different from other CMS?

There are many reasons why Drupal is the top three most used CMS, and why tons of small to big complex systems have made it their options. Here are those:

  • Reliability. Drupal is one of the top three most popular content management systems in the world. It has a longstanding history. Though Drupal is a work in progress, it has been stable along the way. We have Drupal 7 now while Drupal 8 is going to be released. But you can be assured that you will be supported for Drupal previous version at least 5 years. Meanwhile, the resources will stay there for goods.
  • Available resources. Nearly anything you want to do with the system has been priorly created and done absolutely well by other people. Other great news is nearly all of the most useful modules (Drupal add-ons) are contributed to the Drupal community. This is invaluable because in many CMS, you have to pay for important features. As a user, you have benefit greatly from someone’s efforts, and experience.
  • A huge dedicated community. The Drupal community is large, dynamic and has functioned well since 2001. As a newbie, or a senior developer, Drupal.org is a must have resources where you dig in for learning material, upcoming news, or ask for support from contributors, and specialists.
  • Robust and convenience. Be assured that the source code for building your Drupal sites has been precisely written, and designed by Drupal experts. When you have an intention to do more complex and advanced work, you will find it easy and convenient to modify the system. This grants users a great advantage over other CMS.
  • Flexibility. It’s not a chance that Drupal is considered the most flexible CMS. We have always thought that if you have an idea about any functions, contents, you can certainly create it with Drupal. Seriously. You can create any content on site. You can customize anything to fit your taste. You can create any website type that you want.
  • Scalability. By scalability, we mean that you can extend your Drupal core to a higher level with a variety of contributed Drupal modules. What’s great with the Drupal modules is that they integrate perfectly well with Drupal core. They also connect absolutely efficiently with the modules. This is regardless of the fact many modules are totally different. It is due to the natural structure & built in system of Drupal. This thereby enhances the power of extending your Drupal website. It is also a core strength of Drupal compared with other CMS. Meanwhile, Drupal is an open source. So suppose the modules you want don’t exist, you can create one, edit an existing module, or hire someone to do the job.
  • Security. Drupal has been meticulously tested up to strict security rules by Drupal experts and contributors. Its built-in security is strong. Drupal will lock down whatever directory installed, rendering important data, configuration files unable to be accessed directly. No wonder that many big sites with extreme security are using Drupal, namely - whitehouse.org, commerce.gov, weforum.org,...

What are the uses of Drupal?

As stated, due to its flexibility and extensibility, Drupal is not limited to any kind. Browse these lists to see the wide range of things that Drupal can build:

  • Personal or corporate Web sites
  • Community portal sites
  • Intranet/Corporate sites
  • Blogs, art, portfolio, music, multimedia sites
  • Forums
  • International sites (websites with multi languages)
  • E-commerce sites
  • Resource directories
  • Social networking sites

Some sampled Drupal sites

When Drupal isn't right?

If it is necessary to know about a system before we set our foot on, it’s never been less important to explore its cons. Here we bring some of our caveats for the system:

  • There’s a little learning curve. You will not learn and work with Drupal in a few days. Accept this fact. It’s harder to start compared with other CMS like Wordpress. But once you learn some basic things, it’s easy, and the flow is smoother.
  • It is not for those who have insufficient time to educate themselves about this system, or little money to pay a Drupal developer to carry out the work.
  • Finding a good Drupal developer is harder to find than that of Wordpress or other systems. It’s not hard to guess this considering the number of Wordpress developers compared with Drupal.

It always takes some investments to learn about something. For a new user, it would be a huge opportunity cost - what you will gain and lose working with one system and leave others behind.
But after all the choice is always yours.We expect it would be worth. The CMS you will spend thousands hours working. The system through this you make a living. The option that yields energy and satisfaction.

Make the fulfilment long-lasting!