Drupal is a CMS which manages and displays content and is used widely by the education and government sector. The great thing about it is that it allows developers to take advantage of the extendable architecture and create functionality far beyond the core package.
So what does that all mean?
Whoa, that’s a lot of information to digest, let’s just rewind and clarify some key information you need to know. A CMS is your Content Management System, this allows a non-technical person to manage all content over your whole website, no coding knowledge necessary.
Drupal works as a CMS, the difference between it and other commercially available CMS products is that Drupal is a modular system, this means that it works almost like building blocks, there are 1000’s of modules available that offer powerful functionality.
What do we mean by Open Source? The phrase means the software is free and comes with a licence that allows unlimited modification and distribution. Other examples of open source software are: Linux, Firefox and MySQL.
Why do we use Drupal?
We now use Drupal for some of our projects, it offers a more sophisticated platform designed to build more complex websites. We have been finding that re-using the existing modules can save time, and are a better, well-tested and more reliable solution for a limited time budget.
So what do we find are the main benefits to using Drupal?
The benefits are:
- It is a well-maintained and standardised solution
- Regular security updates
- Drupal is open source; this cuts down on additional costs for clients
- Drupal’s modular structure means that there are already lots of existing, tested and maintained modules
- Using Drupal will mean that it is easy support in the future
- A company can standardise all their websites with Drupal which aids staff training
By using the ‘building block’ structure we can allow for more creativity and time for other areas like Information Architecture and design.
What we have found works, and what doesn’t?
“It seems simple things are hard in Drupal and complex things are easy!”
Drupal is really good at modeling complex data and there are lots of great modules out there to help build sites. Our team is enjoying being challenged by some of the new puzzles Drupal can throw up! But the fab thing about Drupal is that there are hundreds of other Drupal developers who, may be in different time zones but are always happy to offer support.
What does the future hold?
We really look forward to extending the use of Drupal to other projects. The release of Drupal 8 will be welcomed at Studio 24 – this will be a major improvement to Drupal, with major architecture improvements, better support for templating, and a decent configuration system to aid deploying and updating sites.
We have learned that with Drupal proper planning is always essential as it is so complex, with many ways to achieve your goals. Proper planning really helps to understand requirements before embarking on a specific solution.