Originally started as a BBS (Bulletin Board System) by Dries Buytaert, Drupal was turned into an Opensource project back in 2001. Since then, it has expanded to become one of the largest content management systems on the market today. With a huge number of promoters and an enormous community, Drupal continues to expand and grow far past what was initially anticipated back in 2001. Today, we're going to share with you our look at version 6 in this Drupal review.
Upon starting the install, we are greeted with the screen below. Drupal has several language options that are available, but of course
the default is English.
Clicking on Install Drupal in English leads us to the database configuration screen below.
Drupal makes a good effort at explaining what the fields are for. There is also an advanced options dropdown should you need it.. but
hidden by default, which is a good choice in my opinion. After configuring the database, we are taken to this screen which identifies
that we should now remove certain permissions to certain files. I'd like to note that it would be nice to see a CMS that does this
automatically, I know there are a few but it would be a nice touch. You then fill in your site information below:
One other thing which I liked was the inclusion of the "Check for updates automatically" box. This is something that was not there in
previous versions and is a nice touch. We then proceed below:
As you can see, installation is now complete. Let's proceed to the default site:
Here is the default Drupal website. The theme it is running by default is called Garland, a very interesting theme that was the first to use a new colour selection feature that let's you customize every colour about this theme using a colour wheel.
It comes with some nice default choices and then you get to also see what your changes look like on the fly. This is an excellent default theme and a very solid introduction to the power of Drupal. I've seen quite a few sites running just this theme with slight colour mods. I would consider this Drupals' most popular theme in fact. We now proceed to the administration panel below:
Drupal has an excellent and well laid out Administration panel. It's easy to find what you need (despite some obscure naming in a few areas) and it gives you notices in very easily identifiable colours and shades as you can see from the screenshot.
A couple of things to note, however. Drupal is not for the feint of heart. If you aren't willing to invest the time to learn and to
customize Drupal to suit your needs (which can be a bit of a learning curve) then it's not the right CMS for you. Often called a Content
Management Framework, Drupal can be very overwhelming and by itself.. does not contain much "out of box" functionality compared to most other options in the CMS world.
The caveat, however, is that Drupal has a massive module respository and a huge community. If you are willing to invest the time learning (a process which can be quite fun and fulfilling once you get started) then there is not much Drupal cannot do. There are a ton of resources available and like i said before, the community is huge. This makes it easy to find or get the answers you need quickly. I also found the community extremely kind and eager to help new users.. which is a bonus.
You can also adjust the permissions of every single module and every piece of Drupal.. in one simple view:
This is great and keeps the webmaster in control of their content and their site to the Nth degree. A feature I quite like.
Drupal's module listings are huge. There are tons of modules for almost any category. To give you an idea, as of this writing there are
an amazing 3,650 modules in their database in 31 categories! That's what I call a well supported CMS.
One of Drupal's weak areas is theming. While it's possible to make wonders happen if you are a designer.. the theme choices for new people are quite unattractive. There are a few nice ones.. but personally, I found most unappealing. Thankfully, there are quite a few new sites cropping up that have started offering more Drupal themes.. ie: TemplateMonster and DrupalShark to name a few.
If you consider this great CMS for your project.. here are a few good links that you'll want to have:
- Comparisons of contributed modules
- Contributed modules
- Contributed themes
- Understanding Drupal
- Videos and slides
- Theme guide (Drupal 6)
- Theme Guide (Drupal 5 and previous)
- Support forums
Overall, Drupal is a great framework and it's no surprise why it keeps getting so much attention. Some very large sites run Drupal with
A few I can think of off the top of my head are: PopSugar, SpreadFirefox, Ubuntu and Sony's MyPlay to name a few. Check them out, I'm sure you'll be surprised at the capabilities of Drupal.
Our ratings are below:
Community 10/10 (I would dare to say it's the largest and most active)
Expandability 10/10 (There's not much you can't do with Drupal)
Themability 6/10 (It's getting there, just not at the stage it needs to be to be new user friendly and attractive without some design skills)
Useability 7/10 (Can be overwhelming but the administration
interface is outstanding. Could work on renaming a few things to make
them more user friendly.. and automate some tasks)