Drupal, an Open Source online Content management System.

What is Drupal?:

The name Drupal comes from the Dutch word “druppel”, which means “drop”, hence the logo. Drupal is a programming framework and a Content Management System or CMS for short. CMS is software used to update and organize a website.

History:

Drupal was first created by Dries Buytaert while he was studying at at the University of Antwerp in 2000.  He built Drupal as an internal discussion forum to communicate with his friends in different board roomsAfter graduating he released Drupal as Open Sourse Software.

Development and support:

The main objective behind Drupal software, and the vast community responsible for driving its development, is to create an extremely extensive platform on which an informative user experience can be achieved. This can be broken into many aspects within Drupal, from programming, to site building, to designing, to content maintaining, to the site visitors and end user. Today, Drupal is maintained and updated by one of the largest Open Source communities in the world.  There are literally thousands of modules available providing us with functionality at the cutting edge of this ever evolving World Wide Web.  With having so many people from different ends of the Drupal spectrum, contributing to a core software package, the potential of the software is endless.  By creating new modules, new themes, new features etc. on a monthly basis, it could be safe to assume that not even Dries Buytaert himself has a full grasp of where Drupal is headed. One of the main attractions of Drupal is the large community.  The Drupal forum is highly active and one of the best places to get your Drupal questions answered. You can also find Drupal support on IRC chat.  For commercial support one can subscribe to Acquia for Drupal Support.  Acquia provides support for all Drupal Modules, custom code, themes and value added network services. 

Drupal is an extremely customizable Content management System (CMS) with:

  • hundreds and thousands of possible layouts,
  • integration with Flash, Java and Jquery,
  • customizable content types,
  • Full WEB 2.0 Compliance regarding HTML coding, CSS and table-less designs
  • Mobile sites are just as easy to build as regular sites (even easier actually)

The Drupal Content management System (CMS) can be used for an enormous variety of different websites incl.:

 

  • Online brochure type websites
  • Blogging, discussion forums and onion community type websites.  Drupal can integrate with almost any social media application in some form or another like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, del.icio.us using the wibiya toolbar, Get Satisfaction or OpenID
  • eCommerce websites where users sell merchandise online.   eCommerce websites are becoming increasingly more popular in SA, especially with PayPal now in South Africa.
  • Drupal is widely used for datacapturing by government organizations
  • Dating websites- News portals and magazine websites.

With the use of HTML5 soon to come, Drupal will become even more feature full and the user experience will become that much greater.

Complaints about Drupal:

 

  • Users mostly complain about the fact that it is so hard to create themes for a Drupal Site.  Advanced CSS skills are needed to successfully design and build a Drupal theme.
  • Drupal is not ideal for business card sites as it it requires a database, fair amount of diskspace and memory which is not practical for a 1 page website.
  • Not all Drupal modules are well written as all contributors do not have the same standards which can lead to high memory usage, broken upgrades and hung SQL queries.

Current Drupal users include:

  • United States Government.
  • French Government,
  • South african Government Organizations
  • NASA,
  • IBM,
  • South African Department of Sciene and Technology
  • MTV UK,
  • Music Icons such as Michael Bublé and - Metallica

Other Open source alternatives to Drupal:

  • Joomla
  • Plone
  • WordPress

About the author:

eConsultant is a website development, design and hosting providerIt has been said that eConsultant is one of the largest Drupal companies in Africa having built over 500 websites using Drupal.  eConsultant  specializes in building customized Drupal websites, developing custom Drupal modules and themes and solutions.  eConsultant runs the South African Drupal community and hosts a Drupal event every month

 

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