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What is Drupal?

By Thursday Bram
Updated: May 16, 2024

Drupal is a content management system (CMS) that makes use of modules to allow site administrators to organize and display content, customize appearance, and manage routine tasks, such as registration for websites requiring user names and passwords. One of its key characteristics is the fact that the entire framework is open source, meaning that the source code is available to anyone interested in working with it. The system itself is also free for all users, and while some web designers sell certain types of customization, many themes and modules are available for free as well.

This software is written in PHP, a programming language known for its usefulness in producing dynamic web sites. Drupal works with Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and many other operating systems. However, it does require a database, such as MySQL™, to store content and settings. Anyone can create modules for Drupal, and currently available modules range from photo galleries to e-commerce systems. Modules can even change the CMS's default behavior in order to build a better website. There are also extensive tutorials and documentation available for this software, due to the community built around its development.

While some web designers have criticized Drupal as difficult to learn, the system has received extensive accolades for its usefulness and relatively rapid build time. It is also known for its dynamic nature: websites designed on the framework can be changed rapidly by modifying modules. Joomla is considered the chief alternative to Drupal, although there are other options for more specific purposes.

Drupal was originally written by Dries Buytaert, who still heads the project. Buytaert transliterated the Dutch word druppel, which means "droplet" to create the name in order to make an indirect reference to the community aspects of the project through the Dutch word dorp, meaning "village." He opened the source code for community work in 2001.

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Discussion Comments
By anon165480 — On Apr 05, 2011

I love using drupal, but is it possible to use drupal to create non-website applications?

By anon143075 — On Jan 15, 2011

In my opinion Drupal is just hype and over-acclaimed. It may be a good CMS if you are a large organization with lots of financial resources or have many experienced web developers and webmasters.

Here are some of the issues with Drupal that are not talked about in most forums: Over complicated; performance problems; expensive to maintain; difficult and expensive to customize and setup; backward compatibility problems; scalability issues; usability problems; long learning curve and overwhelming for entry level webmasters.

By anon40625 — On Aug 10, 2009

Hi. Drupal is a very useful system as endorsed by many of my friends who use it. But I would like to know how to make use of Drupal in a news publishing site. How is Drupal different from Drigg? Thanks in advance for your response.-- Raghunath, India.

By anon24232 — On Jan 09, 2009

Hi, I am not in IT profession just herd about drupal and feel I'd like to learn it. I've gone through your site. You people have done a very good job. You people have used easy language- that's nice.

By anon14350 — On Jun 15, 2008


Yes drupal is truly modular base Content Management System. I am using drupal from last 6-7 months for my new projects, and I am very impressed by its flexibility.

You can add different types of themes by just creating one tpl of your choice and placing it inside themes section. The system for giving rights to the content and the managing content is also very easy and well structured. There are some lackings of drupal too, means you may have to use drupal functions instead of using PHP functions some time, Which also increase your coding some time which can be replaced by php code of one line.

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