Drupal: a modular CMS for social publishing and more

Drupal is a highly popular and free open source CMS, which has built up an impressive community over time. Compared to other content management systems, Drupal is more deeply rooted in community websites, which is where many people work together to create website content. Furthermore, it has a lean software core that only contains the basic functions for website creation. It’s possible for users to expand the range of the program.

One foundation and countless building

After installing Drupal you will notice how small the range of functions is. This is down to its modular design: the CMS core can be expanded with many integrated modules, which are available as free downloads. This makes the Drupal CMS an extremely customizable software. The modules are divided into different categories such as content, media, e-commerce, SEO, and security and you also have the option to choose from over 1,000 distributions. These Drupal installation profiles are adapted to specific industries and areas of application and already include the appropriate modules.

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Selection of elementary modules

You can build a simple website, an internet forum, a blog (also for several editors), and a community platform with the core modules. There are many more modules in addition to these, which offer even more possibilities for web design. Below are some examples of useful Drupal modules that are either already in the core or can be installed separately:

  • Views: this module proved so popular, it’s been included in the Drupal core since version 8. Views allow access to the CMS database and, with the help of a graphical user interface, you can filter and organize page content by request depending on the different criteria.
  • CKEditor: this editor is based on the WYSIWYG principle (this is where the edited content appears on screen as it does in the final output) and has been integrated in the core since Drupal version 8. With this editor, you can create light HTML files via a graphical interface, similar to what you can do with word processing software.
  • IMCE: with IMCE, you can edit images quickly and easily – the module can also be easily integrated into the CKEditor.
  • Administration Menu: if you would like to use a clear and easy-to-use menu for site administration, this module is just what you’re looking for!
  • Backup and Migrate: with this help of this extension, you can create a backup copy of the database and store your files at another location.

Useful Drupal SEO modules

You can use some of the modules found in the core to prepare your Drupal site for SEO. With the Path module, you can rename cryptic URL paths to ‘speaking URLs’ which search engines ranked more highly. Many other SEO modules can be installed later on. Here is a small selection of them:

  • Pathauto is an extension of the Path module that automatically creates speaking URLs (e.g. where website paths are named after the titles of the pages).
  • The title of your Drupal site can be changed easily with Page Title. Meta elements (such as descriptions or Open Graph tags) can be created with the Metatag module.
  • By using the XML Sitemap extension, you can create a sitemap file so that the search engine can find the desired page content more easily.
  • A collection of these and other SEO modules (for keyword research or automatically connecting internal links) can be found in the Drupal SEO Tools complete packet.

Additional functions

A special feature of Drupal is that you can directly edit your website in the front end. The program saves each stage in individual files and ensures that you can use old versions of the content. In addition, all standard themes from Drupal 8 onwards are responsive, allowing you to carry out changes to your Drupal site on your mobile device.

 With differentiated access rights and user roles, you can decide who has access to each part of the website and which areas they can edit. Thanks to the widespread use of the content management system it’s one of the most popular CMSs alongside TYPO3, Joomla and WordPress, it now comes in an array of different languages.

System requirements and application areas of Drupal

Drupal is a free software based on the programming language PHP. It is platform-independent and can therefore run on any operating system. For database management, MySQL and MariaDB are recommended, and PostgreSQL is also supported. With the help of extensions, it’s also possible to use other database systems such as Oracle.

One of the special areas of Drupal is managing user-generated content. This is one reason why this particular CMS is used for implementing community platforms; its extensive social publishing capabilities make it particularly suited to the task. Many conventional websites use Drupal e.g. the websites of The White House, Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Fox News. Large web portals and company sites as well as small ones can implement the software. There are plenty of Drupal templates and themes: on the Drupal download page, you can choose from over 2,000 free themes. It’s also possible to try out the CMS for free by using Drupal’s browser demo.

Summary

The few features available in the basic CMS installation are both a blessing and a curse. Having the freedom to choose the modules you want means that many functions have to be installed manually, which can be time-consuming. The advantages of the module principle, however, are plain to see: you can optimally customize your CMS and can get better acquainted with individual modules more easily than with other CMSs. Drupal is a better choice for beginners, compared to Joomla or TYPO3, for example.


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