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Open Source CMS comparison Part 1: Drupal 7

Submitted by Walter Heck on October 31, 2013

Introduction

To allow our readers to choose what CMS is best for their web development projects and applications, we are going to present an overview of some of the most famous and wide used CMSs among bloggers and web developers. We are going to present a bird’s eye perspective with history and pros and cons of each CMS. We’ll publish them one by one in this series and in the end we will compare all of the reviewed CMSs so that you can decide for yourself which CMS suits you and suffices your web application’s needs. First up: Drupal.

Overview of Drupal 7

Drupal is a content management system (CMS for the uninitiated) used to develop complex websites. Drupal has lots of amazing content development and content management features that allow users to build virtually any type of websites from a simple blog to a complex database web application. Some famous websites that have been developed using Drupal include Sony Music, Harvard, Ubuntu, The White House and MIT. At the moment, round about 0.54 Million people from 228 countries are using Drupal in order to develop their websites. Drupal has a very multicultural audience due to the fact that it supports more than 182 languages. In this article, we have presented an overview of the Drupal CMS, along with its pros and cons.

 

History and Background

Drupal has been developed by a Belgian programmer, Dries Buytaert. The word Drupal is an English-modified form of a Dutch word Druppel that means Droplet. The idea was taken from a website drop.org whose code was modified and updated to write Drupal. Initially, Dries named it Drop but mistyped it as Drupal while searching the domain name. He liked this mistyped word more than drop and decided to name the CMS Drupal. By the end of 2001, Drupal had evolved as an open source CMS. Currently Drupal is developed by the Drupal community and by the end of August 2013, more than 0.91 Million sites were using Drupal.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages

In this section we are going to discuss some pros and cons of Drupal. After reading these pros and cons, you can make a choice whether to use Drupal as your CMS or prefer some other CMS (We will be discussing some other CMSs in future articles).

Advantages

Why would you like to build your websites with Drupal? Following are some of the reasons.

  •  Variety of Features

Drupal contains all the basic and advanced features required to build any website. Some of the most widely used features of Drupal include Menu Management, System Administration, user account creation, account maintenance, RSS feeds and customization of page layout.

  • Thousands of Plugins

More than 7000 plugins (they are called modules in Drupal land) are available for Drupal websites at the moment. Apart from built- in plugins, you can create and distribute your own, as they are written in simple PHP.

  •  Lots of available themes, No Need to start from scratch

Drupal contains a large variety of already developed themes and templates that saves its users from writing code from scratch. A lot of these themes and templates are open source and users can tailor them to fit their web application’s requirements. For those who want a bit more, a lot of companies offer beautiful paid templates for a low amount of money.

  •   Create your own themes and templates

Although Drupal contains lots of built in templates and themes, some users might want to design their own themes. Drupal supports this so it is easy to create a theme that suits your aesthetic sense and website’s technical requirements.

  •  Variety of content types and content creation options

Drupal’s strength lies in its variety of content creation options. Users can create all sorts of content currently used in modern websites. Users can create polls; can add videos, images, and podcasts for instance. But things get even more flexible with the option for custom content types (selling flowers? Create a flower content type with fields for family, color and height. Offer concert tickets? Create a ticket and a venue content type and hook them up together to see which venues sell which tickets). Drupal also supports real time stats generation and revision control.

  •  Easy Content Organization

Unlike most of the other CMSs, content organization is extremely easy with Drupal. You can save and restore your content seamlessly with features such as SEO friendly urls, custom list creation and associated content creation.

  • Efficient user Interaction

Drupal allows website owners and administrators to interact with their site users through variety of features. Site owners create and manage content whereas the users can leave comments and messages.

  • Several Communication Options

Drupal allows you to communicate with other websites, search engines, social networks and individuals through several communication tools such as feeds, aggregation tools, search engine optimization tools and other network integration tools.

  • Support and Developer Community

Drupal has a very large developer community and in case a user faces any problems, he can take help from the official Drupal forum where message boards and chats can be used to interact with other developers.

Disadvantages

Why would you not use Drupal and prefer some other CMS? Following are some of the reasons.

  •     Difficult Installation Process

Installing Drupal is not an easy task. The user must have adequate technical skills in order to install and run Drupal unlike other CMSs like Joomla and wordpress. This can be a hurdle for the novice user.

  •  Compatibility Issues

Drupal is not backward compatible with softwares and applications developed with older versions: Drupal 6 sites can usually not be easily upgraded to Drupal 7, and the same problem goes for Drupal 7 to the upcoming Drupal 8 release.

  •   Performance Issues

Drupal is quite complex and heavy. Websites developed with Drupal take relatively large amounts of time to load due to all the framework code that is used to build pages.

  •     Complex User interface

The user interface of Drupal is not easy to comprehend for a layman user. People with less developed technical skills usually have a bit more of a tough time comprehending Drupal’s complex interface. A lot of this can be mitigated with proper user rights for instance, and graphic design plays into making this easier as well.

Conclusion

After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Drupal, it can be concluded that Drupal supports quite advanced application development features. It can however be quite complex for users with limited technical skills. They might need some more time to take full advantage of these powerful features.

References

https://drupal.org/about/history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drupal

http://blog.pixelcrayons.com/cms/pros-and-cons-of-drupal-as-a-cms-solution/

https://groups.drupal.org/node/22630

https://drupal.org/