Why We Use Drupal

If you've spent any time researching how to build a website then you've probably realized that there are quite a few options. There will be many proponents of each method with widely varying levels of skill and expertise. While I may not be considered an expert, I've been developing website for more than 6 years and I've tried quite a few things along the way. In this post I will cover my reason for selecting the open-source Drupal CMS as my platform or choice.

What is Drupal?

The drupal.org definition is a good starting point for understanding what Drupal is all about:

"Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual, a community of users, or an enterprise to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website."

It not only provides a means for the easy management of content by end-users, but also enables developers to build secure, scalable and feature-rich websites in a fraction of the time it would take if they had to start from scratch.

Popular Drupal Sites

Here are 10 well known websites that run on Drupal:

  1. The United Nations
  2. The Whitehouse
  3. Ubuntu Linux
  4. Fedex
  5. Grammy Awards
  6. Harvard University
  7. NASA
  8. New York Observer
  9. AOL
  10. The Economist

Why choose Drupal over other CMS systems?

  1. It's Open Source - The source code of Drupal is freely available under the terms of the GNU General Public License 2 (GPL). Unlike proprietary blogging or content management systems, Drupal's feature set is fully available to extend or customize as needed. Read more about GNU GPL.
  2. Search Engine Friendly - Drupal has dozens of modules that make the process of optimizing websites for search engines fairly simple. All key SEO elements are covered including Page Titles, Sitemaps, Meta Tags, Header Tags and Removing Duplicate Content.
  3. Custom Content Types - Most content management systems are built with a focus on managing a specific type of data. Wordpress and Joomla are centered around blogs and articles respectively and there are dozens of other specialized CMS'. Drupal is different. It is built with the abstract idea of a node that can be of any 'content type'. A few examples of content types are 'blog posts', 'news stories', 'photos', 'property listings' and 'FAQs'. Most content management systems require additional coding to implement such functionality but Drupal handles creating, managing and displaying custom content types by default.
  4. User Management - Allowing user interaction is a critical part of most modern websites. Drupal was designed to create community-based websites and has sophisticated authentication, user role and access control systems. In most CMS' users are either administrators or normal users. Drupal allows you to create an unlimited number of roles that are limited to accessing specific resources. Examples of standard roles include 'content editor', 'publisher' and 'administrator'.
  5. Excellent Documentation - Drupal documentation is extensive. Sources include:There are also excellent Drupal books. My favorite titles include:
  6. Large and Friendly Community - Drupal has a strong, active community of users. With the number of sites currently using Drupal, you can rest assured that its not going away anytime soon. Support is a key issue with any software, and the Drupal community willingly comes to the rescue when there's a problem you can't figure out.
  7. Flexible Base Technology - Drupal is built using the PHP scripting language. Here are a few of the benefits of using PHP over other languages such as Java, ASP and Python:
    • PHP runs on different platforms (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.)
    • PHP is compatible with almost all web servers used today (Apache, IIS, etc.)
    • PHP supports many databases (MySQL, Informix, Oracle, Sybase, Solid, PostgreSQL, Generic ODBC, etc.)
    • PHP is an open source software
    • PHP is easy to learn and runs efficiently on the server side
  8. Secure - The Drupal community cares much about security. A lot of time and energy is put into ensuring that the code is free of vulnerabilities. On the rare occasion when a bug is found, there is a dedicated security team that collects security issues and helps the authors to fix the holes.

Why choose Drupal over a custom application?

There are a number of benefits to writing a custom application, but in most instances they are insignificant in comparison to the advantages of starting with a robust, secure, feature-rich platform. A large part of what is required for most client websites, from user authentication & authorization to content theming and display, is already part of Drupal.

There are rare cases where neither Drupal, nor any other existing software package fits the bill. In these rare cases, we still write custom applications.

What this all means

If getting the best value for money is your objective, then Drupal is the platform. It allows the work of thousands of developers to be leveraged, freeing resources that can now be focused on those aspects that are unique to our clients website. The end result is a feature-rich, secure, scalable website, on a budget that is considerably less than that of a custom application.