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July 29, 2011

What is Drupal?

Thought by FFW,

With the upcoming release of our redesigned FFW website I took some time this weekend to peruse through the content of our current site. We have lots of great information in there but I realized we needed to address the basic question I get asked more than any other; what is Drupal? So here is a brief explanation of what Drupal is, where it came from, and what its most important attributes are.

Drupal is a free community supported framework for creating, organizing, presenting and managing a website. It powers millions of websites and applications from all over the world. Drupal makes it easy for contributors to publish to websites and easy for developers to deploy new sites as well as add features to existing ones. Most commonly referred to as a content management system, or CMS, Drupal has much more to offer. Drupal installations include a set of modules called Core Components, which provide features such as user management, menu systems, and user contributed content. The Drupal open source community (one of the largest in the world) contributes and supports thousands of free flexible and robust modules and themes, which can be easily integrated into websites to offer powerful features such as multimedia, calendars, rating systems, and other social media tools. Drupal is also an application framework that can be used to build other aps. Drupal requires no programming skills yet the HTML code produced is accessible, cross browser compatible, and search engine friendly. Drupal is used for every type of site from personal blogs to highly trafficked enterprise level sites. 2% of all websites worldwide are built in Drupal including and many other high profile, highly visited sites.

What is Drupal Used for?

Drupal is a great choice for building all manner of websites from simple 1 page personal websites to enterprise level applications. It is particularly well suited to e-Learning systems, Community/social networking sites, and news publishing, where its powerful authoring and publishing features allow administrators to create, revise, and deploy content in a rapid and organized manner. User management, site reporting and statistics, ad management, community management, and other administrative functions utilize an intuitive and robust back-end user interface.

Other common deployments are:

  • Community Portal sites
  • Business Community Sites
  • Aficionado sites
  • Intranet
  • Corporate websites
  • E-commerce sites
  • Resource Directories
  • International Sites
  • Multimedia

Social Networking Examples of large and well-known sites using Drupal include:


What is Drupals Origin?

While attending the University of Antwerp, Dries Buytaert tinkered with an online messaging board to keep in touch with his friends. The name ’Drupel’ is derived from the Dutch word “drupel” which means “drop”. In 2001 Drupal became an open source project.

What Technology does Drupal use?

Drupal is an open source platform built on PHP. Drupal has very basic server requirements common to most hosting providers; a web server that can run PHP (including Appache, IIS & ngix). MySQL is commonly used for a database.

What are Drupal Nodes?

Drupal sites are comprised of sets of content and functionality called ‘nodes’. All content on a Drupal site, be it a blog post, article, static page, poll or forum topic is stored as and has common attributes of ‘nodes’. Nodes are very flexible in that they can accommodate all types and configurations of content and allow for site builders to create customized content types.

What is Drupal Core?

Drupal Core is a bundle of official releases of modules and themes intended to provide a foundation for deploying Drupal based websites. Drupal Core includes common features and is easily extended with added modules and themes.
Components include:

  • Account registration and maintenance
  • Menu Management
  • Page layout customization
  • Site administration
  • Access statistics and logging
  • Basic search • Blogs, books, comments, forums, and polls
  • Caching and feature throttling for improved performance
  • Descriptive URLs
  • Multi-level menu system
  • Multi-site support (single source base)
  • Multi-user content creation and editing
  • OpenID support
  • RSS feed and feed aggregator
  • Security and new release update notification
  • User profiles
  • Various access control restrictions (user roles, IP addresses, email)
  • Workflow tools (triggers and actions)

What are Drupal Contrib Modules

One of the great things about Drupal is the vast collection of ad-ons called ‘Contrib Modules’. These modules are developed, contributed, and supported by the Drupal open source community. Currently, there are over 10,500 Contrib Modules available for free download. When selecting a module, you can see info about it such as number of downloads, open bugs, when it was last updated, and developer comments and answers. Modules offer a vast array of features including the following categories:

  • Administration
  • Community
  • Content access control
  • E-Commerce
  • Evaluation/ Rating
  • Event
  • File Management
  • Games & Amusement
  • Location
  • Mail
  • Media
  • Multilingual
  • Multisite
  • Paging
  • Search
  • Security
  • Spam Prevention
  • Statistics
  • Third Party Integration
  • User Access and Authentication
  • User Management
  • Utilities

What is a Drupal Theme?

Drupal Themes are what determines the look and feel of Drupal sites. You can select a theme contributed by the community and customize it to suit your needs. You can also create your own themes. Themes are often created to suit a specific purpose or tye of site. There are themes for News sites, corporate sites, Blogs, commerce sites and any more. Drupal Core includes a variety of Core Themes to suit many types of sites and styles. Some themes are designed to be highly customizable, there are also modules such as the Drupal Color Manager allow site admins to easily customize the look and feel of themes.

What is the Drupal Community?

Drupal is developed and supported by one of the world largest open source communities. The community gathers online at to organize and collaborate on projects. Drupal community members gather offline at DrupalCon, the semi-annual Drupal convention attended by over 3000 people in Chicago last year. The next DrupalCon event is coming up this August in London. Local communities gather face-to-face more frequently at events and meetups to exchange knowledge, ideas, and draw inspiration for future projects. How large is the Drupal Community? It is growing rapidly but currently there are over 7.2 million websites that use drupal, 615,000+ user accounts, and 9,000 developer accounts. If you think Drupal may be a good fit for your enterprise level website or application please fill out our request quote form.