About Drupal

This is a useful compilation of information taken from Drupal’s site at http://www.drupal.org. Drupal is software that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a great variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of people and organizations have used Drupal to set up scores of different kinds of web sites, including

  • community web portals and discussion sites
  • corporate web sites/intranet portals
  • personal web sites
  • aficionado sites
  • e-commerce applications
  • resource directories

Drupal includes features to enable

  • content management systems
  • blogs
  • collaborative authoring environments
  • forums
  • newsletters
  • picture galleries
  • file uploads and download

and much more.

Drupal is open source software licensed under the GPL, and is maintained and developed by a community of thousands of users and developers. Drupal is free to download and use. If you like what Drupal can do for you, please work with us to expand and refine Drupal to suit your needs.


In 2000, permanent Internet connections were at a premium for University of Antwerp students, so Dries Buytaert and Hans Snijder setup a wireless bridge between their student dorms to share Hans’s ADSL modem connection among eight students. While this was an extremely luxourous situation at that time, something was missing. There was no means to discuss or share simple things.

This inspired Dries to work on a small news site with a built-in webboard, allowing the group of friends to leave each other notes about the status of the network, to announce where they were having dinner, or to share some notewhorthy news items.

The software did not have a name until the day after Dries moved out after graduation. The group decided to put the internal website online so that they could stay in touch, continue to share interesting findings, and narrate snippets of their personal lives. While looking for an appropriate domain name, Dries settled for ‘drop.org’ after he made a typo to see if the the name ‘dorp.org’ was still available. Dorp is the Dutch word for ‘village’, which was considered an appropriate name for the small community.

Once established on the Web, drop.org’s audience changed as the members began talking about new web technologies such as moderation, syndication, rating, and distributed authentication. Drop.org slowly turned into a personal experimentation environment, driven by the discussions and flow of ideas. The discussions about these web technologies were tried out on drop.org itself as new additions to the software running the site.

It was only later, in January 2001, that Dries decided to release the software behind drop.org as “Drupal.” The motivating factor was to enable others to use and extend the experimentation platform so that more people could explore new paths for development. The name Drupal, pronounced “droo-puhl,” is derived from the English pronunciation of the Dutch word “druppel” which stands for “drop.”

Drupal is a highly configurable, modular content management system. Before you can answer if Drupal is right for you, consider a couple of questions: Which type of Drupal user are you, and what are your needs?

Below is a list of common user types followed by Drupal features. If the features meet your needs and you have the skill-set required to implement them, Drupal might be a perfect system for you. (See the list at the bottom of this page for more on required skills.)

I’m a Blogger and I need…

  • single- and/or multi-user blogs
  • to categorize content
  • commenting
  • trackbacks
  • custom style and layout using sample or custom themes
  • image and/or other media support using contributed modules (i.e., plug-ins)

Skills needed: end-user, administrator

I’m evaluating Drupal for my organization/company and we need…

  • customizable user roles and permissions
  • robust security model
  • scalability
  • to configure and extend functionality to meet specific business needs
  • a support infrastructure (documentation, community, etc.)
  • to categorize content
  • additional features/functionality

Skills needed: evaluator, end-user

I’m a community organizer and I need…

  • community members to easily share ideas (blogs, forum, files, etc.)
  • members to have tools to help them self-organize
  • a site that can evolve as the community evolves (keeping up with the state-of-the-art of interactive web sites)
  • a support infrastructure (documentation, community, etc.)
  • customizable user roles and permissions
  • a site that is safe on the web (security, spam, trolls, etc.)
  • a special distribution of Drupal and contributed modules that come preconfigured with community relationship management tools like CivicSpace.

Skills needed: evaluator, end-user, administrator, site developer (to some extent)

I’m a small business owner and I need…

  • to set up the site myself
  • custom style and layout using sample/custom themes
  • customizable user roles and permissions
  • a system that is scalable and adaptable to the needs of my changing business
  • to categorize content
  • a support infrastructure (documentation, community, etc.)
  • e-commerce support for
    • shopping carts
    • premium paid content subscriptions
  • to configure and extend functionality to meet specific business needs

Skills needed: evaluator, end-user, administrator, site developer (to a limited extent)

I build or design websites for clients and I need…

  • to create a custom look and feel with my own themes
  • additional features/functionality
  • to easily provide support to my clients
  • access to a community of designers and developers

Skills needed: evaluator, administrator, site developer, developer (to some extent)

I’m a programmer and I need…

  • a robust, well-designed, modular system that I can customize and extend
  • well documented APIs
  • system and architecture documentation and coding standards
  • access to a community of other developers
  • a rich feature list

Skills needed: administrator, programmer

Do you know what type of Drupal user you want to be? If you do, review the skill sets below to see what you’ll need to get started:

  • Evaluator: Familiar with web terminology and concepts.
  • End-user: familiar with browsing, clicking, submitting web pages, selecting options.
  • Administrator: Manage roles, select themes, categorize web pages (content), configure module settings, install and upgrade software and databases, apply security fixes.
  • Site designer/developer: Install software, design style and layout (with css and minimal php), build and deploy websites, evaluate contributed modules, work with LAMP.
  • Programmer: program in php, administer databases, program through a well-defined API, design database objects, evaluating existing solutions and apply patches, collaborate with other developers

Now is a good time to learn more about Drupal. The Case studies section examines typical types of sites that use Drupal and gives links to real sites of each type. This section includes a listing of hundreds of Drupal sites.

In the Feature overview we survey some of the most important and commonly deployed features of Drupal.

A discussion of the merits of using Drupal over writing a custom Web-application framework to support your project is presented in Rolling your own system vs. using Drupal.

Case Studies

Drupal meets the needs of different types of web sites:

Community Portal Sites If you want a news web site where the stories are provided by the audience, Drupal suits your needs well. Incoming stories are automatically voted upon by the audience and the best stories bubble up to the home page. Bad stories and comments are automatically hidden after enough negative votes. Examples: Debian Planet | Kerneltrap

Personal Web Sites Drupal is great for the user who just wants a personal web site where she can keep a blog, publish some photos, and maybe keep an organized collection of links. Examples: urlgreyhot | Langemarks Cafe

Aficionado Sites Drupal flourishes when it powers a portal web site where one person shares their expertise and enthusiasm for a topic. Examples: ia/ | Dirtbike

Intranet/Corporate Web Sites Companies maintain their internal and external web sites in Drupal. Drupal works well for these uses because of its flexible permissions system, and its easy web based publishing. No longer do you have to wait for a webmaster to get the word out about your latest project. Examples: Sudden Thoughts | Tipic

Resource Directories If you want a central directory for a given topic, Drupal suits your needs well. Users can register and suggest new resources while editors can screen their submissions. Example: Entomology Index

International Sites When you begin using Drupal, you join a large international community of users and developers. Thanks to the localization features within Drupal, there are many Drupal sites implemented in a wide range of languages. Examples: PuntBarra | cialog

Education Drupal can be used for creating dynamic learning communities to supplement the face-to-face classroom or as a platform for distance education classes. Academic professional organizations benefit from its interactive features and the ability to provide public content, member-only resources, and member subscription management. Examples: ENGL 420S | WPA

Art, Music, Multimedia When it comes to community art sites, Drupal is a great match. No other platform provides the rock solid foundation that is needed to make multimedia rich websites that allow users to share, distribute, and discuss their work with others. As time goes on, Drupal will only develop stronger support for audio, video, images, and playlist content for use in multimedia applications. Examples: Terminus1525 | Project Opus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.