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June 29, 2017

The ABC's of Drupal: Basic Page, Core and Multi-Site

Thought by Ray Saltini, Director, FFW Center of Excellence
Druplicon over a background of blue scientific icons

For anyone who's ever looked up a definition of a Drupal term and been left wondering what it all means, here are some practical real world explanations you can use to navigate the Drupalverse. Watch this space and use comments to send us your feedback and requests.

Basic page

One of two default content types that ships preconfigured in Drupal core since Drupal 7. As a content type, Basic Page is made up of Title and Body fields.

All content types are part of Drupal’s core fields system and can be customized with different fields. The output of a Basic Page is configured to appear either as a teaser or a full version, sometimes referred to as ‘default' or as a node.  Unlike the Article content type, content created with the Basic Page content type is not by default configured to appear on the home page. Basic pages are often used on simple websites or for static displays of content such as an About Us page that is linked to from the main menu.

It’s helpful to understand that though its content type name is basic page, it is in point of fact it is neither basic nor a page. As a content type it uses fields and can be extensively customized and is no less suited to advanced configuration than any other content type. Nor is it as configured by default in Drupal a page strictly speaking. Content type forms are used to create content nodes, or entities, that are typically used as the main element in an assembly of other items, such as menus, images, lists, and blurbs that are arranged in blocks around the main content.

Core

Drupal’s basic system code and feature set is bundled together in different major versions referred to as Drupal Core that can be downloaded from the Drupal.org website and installed through various methods.

Not all features are active in Drupal core and must be turned on if desired. The key concept behind core is that to take full advantage of code updates no one should ever, ever ‘hack’ core for use in a production web site. While there are some exceptions, a hacked core is usually a sign of inexperience working with Drupal or negligence.

Major versions of Drupal core have been identified as whole numbers since Drupal 5. Released on November 19, 2015, Drupal 8’s core was completely refactored around the Symfony2 PHP framework, representing a major shift in how Drupal websites and applications would be architected and constructed as well as how the Drupal platform could be used. Drupal 7 is still fully supported and used to power thousands of web properties. 

Multisite

The term ‘multi-site’ is sometimes thrown around casually as a reference to more than one Drupal powered website.

The strict definition of multi-site refers to an installation of Drupal that runs more than one website off a single code base. However there are many different ways to configure a multi-site installation. Sites can share and run off the exact same code, or be extended or customized with other code per site. It’s possible to have several sites run off exactly the same code while other sites each run off a combination of shared code and code that is specific for each site.

Consider any multi-site effort very carefully. The decision to go multi-site should include considerations around hosting, IT capacity, and development workflows. 

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