Why Drupal

The World's Leading Open Source CMS

Drupal is the world's leading open source Content Management System (CMS), providing a stable foundation for the development of interactive websites, including easy online editing of site content, version control, security, user accounts, website tracking and reporting, image galleries, e-Commerce, and much more. In fact, Drupal has available over 1000 custom modules, all available for free! With thousands of sites and a global support network, Drupal has established itself as an important Web 2.0 technology.

In the past, most websites were essentially static sales brochures, providing useful information to site visitors, but not providing a mechanism for the site visitor to interact with the site. Interactive sites were expensive and complex to produce, requiring significant custom design and coding. This is all changing today, as open source CMS technology is automating the production of highly functional interactive sites, through the availability of thousands of free off-the-shelf modules, ready made design templates, and by providing tools that promote user-created content and social networking.

Social Networking and On-line Communities

A key benefit of the Drupal CMS is its support of social networking and the creation of on-line communities. The ability to have sites with fresh, ever changing content, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, photo galleries, forums, etc. helps promote an organization’s brand, goals, and ideals. As visitors make more frequent and longer site visits, a virtual community is created with relationships forged between users and with the sponsoring organization. In Drupal, the community aspect is threaded through the system at the most fundamental level. Connecting the distributed, collaborative possibilities of community with all aspects of an organization’s Website is something Drupal does very well. It is particularly well suited for news, magazine, and other publishing related or subject specific websites.

Open Source Licensing

Drupal is an open source CMS written in the open source programming language PHP, with data stored in an open source database MySQL. Drupal is released under the GPL license, which permits users to freely use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. Developed in a public, collaborative manner, over the Internet, thousands of programmers have contributed code to the Drupal code base.

Linux (a Unix-based operating system that competes with Windows) was one of the first successful open source projects. Since then, many other successful open source software products have been launched, including the Mozilla FireFox, Wikipedia, Sun’s Open Office, and the Google Android (an operating system for mobile devices). In fact, major corporations such as IBM, Sun, and Googe have, in recent years, invested millions of dollars in Open Source products.

Open source software offers users cost savings (it is free), and reduces the risk of vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in refers to the fact that, once a software system has been implemented, it is difficult for users to switch to competing software systems, due to the sunk cost of license fees, installation and training costs, even if the competing software system offers higher quality at a lower cost. By removing the cost of license fees, and by creating a global competitive support network, the cost of switching is significantly reduced, compared to commercial software products.

Key Features

Drupal offers many features, some of which are included in the Drupal Core, while others are available as free add-on modules. The Drupal module system provides a way for Drupal developers to extend Drupal’s core feature set. In fact, there are now over 1000 add-on Drupal modules available, providing a rich feature set, and enabling Drupal to meet the needs of most organizations. Features include:

User Management. The user management system includes registration, login, forgot password, and user permissions, providing a robust personalization environment whereby both content and the presentation can be individualized based on user-defined preferences. Drupal supports LDAP servers, and other authentication sources.

Easy on-line editing. Use a Word-like editor to update your web site, including text and graphics.

e-Commerce. Add-in modules are available that support sophisticated e-Commerce features including shopping cart, checkout, credit card processing, sales tax, inventory, Paypal, and sales reporting.

Security. The Drupal Security Team monitors all Drupal related security concerns, and issues Drupal Security Advisories to the Drupal community.

Site Usage Tracking and Reporting. Monitor site statistics including usage, referring sites, popular pages, etc.

Blogs. An important form of user-created content is blog publishing. Drupal supports the Blogger API, which allows a Drupal site’s blog entries to be updated by many different tools. This includes non-web based browser tools that provide a richer editing environment.

Forums. Thread based question and answer forums, can be moderated or un-moderated.

Wikis. Used to create collaborative books of knowledge and documentation.

Themes. A theme is a template that defines the look and feel of the site. Thousands of free themes are available, reducing design costs for a new site.

Photo Galleries. Users can create photo galleries and upload photos with automatic thumbnail generation, optimal resizing, and light-box preview.

Search Engine Optimization. Drupal provides SEO support for keywords, URL naming, site-maps, and other search engine optimization technologies, which improves your site’s search rankings with major search engines.

Site Search. All content in Drupal is fully indexed and searchable at all times using the Search Module.

Polls. Drupal’s Pol Module supports the creation and display of custom polls.

Content Syndication. Drupal exports your site’s content in RDF/RSS format so that anyone with a news aggregator can browse your site’s feed.

News Aggregator. Drupal has a powerful built-in News Aggregator for displaying news from other sites.

Learn More

For more information, check out the main Drupal site at http://Drupal.org and our Drupal Wiki at http://DrupalAnswer.com/book/drupal-wiki.