Drupal CMS

Drupalcon Eurooppa yhteisön kuva, Praha 2013


What is Drupal and why should I know about it?

Drupal content management system (CMS) is created by the community which consists more than one million registered developers and companies around the world.

It is a software framework like Wordpress which many of us know to build websites or blogs. But Drupal is actually more like Microsoft's Sharepoint or Adobe's Experience Manager because it is used in more complex projects. The difference to the two previous ones is that Drupal is open source (more specific "GPLv2 or more" licenced) so you as a customer, private person or company can use and do anything you want with it.

Therefore as an advantage to the commercial products one can argue that there are many benefits like costs (no licence fees or expensive development costs because only the company which holds the rights to the source code can develop it), security (the code is reviewed by lots of people and especially the security team), no vendor lock-in (you own the code so you can hire another agency to develop your platform further) and many more.

So why would anybody choose to pay licence costs if there are options? Because before, like ten years ago, the commercial CMS frameworks were better. Nowadays the marketing people are still doing way better job to sell the commercial products even though the quality of the product is not better anymore - we even argue that open source CMS's like Drupal and Wordpress are more advanced and at least more flexible than the commercial ones - mostly because of innovation and the way it is develop.

Many technically up-to-date organisations today chooses open source CMS and maybe the most known ones are White house in US, The Economist in Europe and the Weather.com. More adopters you can found from the showcases section. If you now think the Drupal technique is suited only for really big sites then read the next chapter and see that actually it is not the case.


The technical aspect and architecture

The framework is modular - meaning that it consists of a core software component and pluggable modules. This means that the core gives the basic functionality like URL generation, forms, WYSIWYG Editor and other necessary things what is needed in almost every website. Then on top of that we then install and configure modules depending on what the purpose of the website is. Even if the core makes it possible to enable multilingual properties that does not mean you have to use them if your project is only for one language. That is also the case with every module.

Of course the reality is always a little bit more complex and a CMS always consists of custom CSS and JS files or another external third party library. Well, if you need a library, just throw it in like we did to make a nice slideshow. Or you need a simple or more complex map to your site, no problem, it is simple and fast because there is always a module to do almost or 100% what you need.

This all makes it possible to develop the project in pieces and always see that we are going to the right direction. Usually Drupal is not chosen to build a standard homepage because it needs more than just HTML and CSS code - like database - so it is not worth it to configure everything because there are literally thousands of website builders available even for free. But if you need to update the content regularly, compete in SEO or offer your site in several languages then Drupal suitable for you.


In the end it all comes to...

The people. Community.

Think about this:

If you have on another side a commercial software company where there is 50 people working, then maybe the development team is about half of that. The 25 people go to work because they have to and maybe some of them even studied computer science. The product develop to make profit. In several years they could build pretty nice CMS!

On the other side you have more than one million people. From those people more than 100.000 are active developers who love their job and contribute because they like to do that (and in many cases you even get paid from it from your customer or employer). The product is develop to be the best of quality because everyone can use and therefore benefit from it. Drupal has been developed almost twenty years now.

The question is: Which team would make a better product?


Drupal Germany and Hamburg user group

In Hamburg, many cities in Germany and all around the world there are so called user groups which regularly get together to share their experience and give presentations to learn more about the platform. People in these groups are working for a Drupal agency, freelancers, hobbyist or agencies wanting to know more about the CMS.

The meetups are open for everyone and it does not matter if you are new to the CMS or more experienced because the whole idea is that we help each other to learn and get better to build the framework together. Here in Hamburg for example the DUGHH (Drupal user group Hansestadt Hamburg) meets always the first Monday in every month at Betahaus where also TIP Solutions is located. DUGHH's homepage you can find at Meetup.com.