Drupal, as some of the people put it, is one of the best Content Management Systems (CMS) available. We tend to differ and do not support this thought as we firmly believe that Drupal is the best CMS. The name Drupal is inspired from a Dutch word “Druppel” which means “Drop” in English.  This open source project was started in 1999 by Dries Buytaert.

What is Drupal Anyway!

You can call Drupal a Content Management System (CMS), Content Management Framework (CMF) or a Web Application Framework (WAF). With its modular and flexible architecture, Drupal can be used to build a simple blog to a complex multisite social networking application. Drupal Core is what you need to start building a site with Drupal. It is a collection of common functions for Content Management, User Management, Content Syndication etc. Let’s understand what these core components actually are:
Node: It is a common term for any type of content such as Articles, Pages, News, Blog Posts etc. Comments are an exception as they are not classified as node but as separate items attached to nodes.

Block: A block is a content item generally placed in areas common to all pages for eg: sidebars. Items like “Related Stories,” “Popular Items” etc. are examples of blocks.

Filters/Input Formats: Filters and Input Formats are used by Drupal to process textual content to be rendered in the web browsers. For eg: The URL filter converts email addresses and URLs in clickable links without having the content creator to write any HTML code. Similarly, PHP filter can identify any text within <?php … ?> as PHP code and processes it accordingly.

Taxonomy: It is the system to categorize nodes in pre-defined groups (Vocabularies) of terms (Categories). The taxonomy system is very flexible in itself and can be used to display terms in various ways such as a tag cloud or hierarchical tree.  Each node can have various terms attached to it.

Theme: It is what the user on the site sees i.e. the layout and general appearance. Drupal Core comes with PHPTemplate Engine.

Module: A module is a code snippet that provides additional feature not available in Drupal Core. With Drupal’s extensible architecture, it is possible to use modules that can extend or modify core functions.

Menu: The menu system is responsible for navigation systems for the user and mapping callbacks to URL requests by browsers.  Menu items are generally shown as navigation links, tabs etc.

User Management: Drupal has a strong user management functionality which allows for creating custom User profiles, define Roles and set Access Permissions based on roles. Users can be authenticated using external systems such as OpenID and can be assigned multiple roles. With use of additional modules access rights (read/edit/delete) can be defined to as low as individual node level.

Syndication: By default, Drupal generates a site level and category level RSS feeds which allows for administrators and subscribers to keep track of new content.

Why Drupal Scores

Drupal easily scores over its counterparts in almost all the aspects that are important in evaluating a CMS.  Be it extensibility, interoperability, architecture, performance or a thriving community, Drupal surpasses other systems easily.  Since no system is perfect, Drupal has its own limitations in terms of inability to support SSL logins, prototyping capabilities and template language.

The figure above shows a study done by IBM in which they evaluated several CMS to create a closed web community and finally zeroed in on Drupal. Some of Drupal’s salient features are:

  • Highly extensible through use of modules
  • Built-in security features such as Audit trails and Granular privileges
  • Works on both Apache as well as IIS web servers
  • Availability of Code Templates for writing modules easily
  • Fully XHTML compliant
  • Full indexing of content for better site search results
  • Supports content syndication and variety of content types quizzes, polls
  • Search friendly URLs

The world seems to be loving Drupal as every other day we get to know that a significant website is built on Drupal. Be it a social network, a media company, a non-profit organization, an artist or a government agency, Drupal is being used by everyone. The slideshow below shows some websites that are built using Drupal:

Other notable names that use Drupal for websites are FedEx, MotoGP, Belgian Govt, FastCompany, AOL Corporate, Mike Blookmberg, Open Office.org, Novell Communities, Yahoo Research, MacWorld, FOX, Discovery Club, NASA, MTV.co.uk etc.

Yes, we are also obsessed with Drupal! So much so that we live it, sleep over it and we also have people nicknamed after Drupal. One of our lead developers is lovingly called Drupali though her real name is Rupali :-)

You can check out some of the websites that we have developed using Drupal by visiting our Portfolio.


The author, Vikrant Sharma, is Head of Business Development for Content and Digital Marketing services with the organization.