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Other versions of Drupal

From: Drupal 7 New Features

Video: Other versions of Drupal

Lately, the Drupal community has been putting up more and more variants on core Drupal, called distributions. Drupal itself is becoming more of a platform on which individual developers can build customized applications. These distributions are in essence the applications that Drupal makes possible. A distribution typically includes core Drupal, plus some additional bits and pieces. As I'm recording this, none of the distributions we'll discuss is available for Drupal 7 yet. They're all based on core Drupal 6, but I expect that many, if not most of them, will eventually become available in Drupal 7 versions.

Other versions of Drupal

Lately, the Drupal community has been putting up more and more variants on core Drupal, called distributions. Drupal itself is becoming more of a platform on which individual developers can build customized applications. These distributions are in essence the applications that Drupal makes possible. A distribution typically includes core Drupal, plus some additional bits and pieces. As I'm recording this, none of the distributions we'll discuss is available for Drupal 7 yet. They're all based on core Drupal 6, but I expect that many, if not most of them, will eventually become available in Drupal 7 versions.

I'll just give an overview of some of the bigger distributions, but we won't have time to delve deeply into how to actually make them work. If lynda.com releases courses about any of these distributions, you'll learn about them on the lynda.com site and from reading the lynda.com newsletter. You can find that newsletter at lynda. com/news/newsletter.aspx. So now let's get on to our distributions. The first one is Acquia Drupal. One of the first videos in this series, installing the AMP Stack, walk through Drupal's installation process using the new Acquia Drupal stack installer, also known as DAMP.

You can get that and Acquia Drupal itself at Acquia.com. DAMP includes Acquia's own version of Drupal, appropriately called Acquia Drupal. I've already installed it and in fact, so have you if you've installed the DAMP. It was the one that shows up as local host. That is the default site in your installation. Here we have it. It looks very much like core Drupal, but it does have some additional parts. Now, earlier in this course I showed you how to replace Acquia Drupal with core Drupal. Let's talk about what you get if you don't make that replacement.

The first thing you notice is this warning about an Acquia Network subscription. Acquia provides a suite of services to help you be sure that your site is up and running and working correctly. To learn more about that, go to Acquia.com. The next thing that you notice is the Administration toolbar up here. Now remember we're actually looking at Drupal 6, but I mention that there is this thing called admin menu which is very much like the toolbar in Drupal 7, but with these drop-downs and call-out menus. This is included in Acquia Drupal. It's still unclear whether they'll include this in the Drupal 7 version, but that should be coming out very soon.

A good way to see what's different between Acquia Drupal and standard Drupal is to look at the Modules list. Of courses, since this is Drupal 6, you'd get there by clicking Administer, and then Site building, and then Modules. We won't go through all of them, but you can see just how many modules are added to the core Drupal in order to make Acquia Drupal. In fact, everything, except the bit you see here, Core - optional and Core - required, all of these other things are part of Acquia Drupal and not core Drupal. Moving on, there are two distributions in the category of shopping carts for Drupal.

The first one is called Ubercart, which you can get from ubercart.org. Ubercart is actually a suite of modules that sits on top of Drupal. The best way to understand what Ubercart does is to look at sites that have been built using it. To do that, go up to About, scroll down to the Ubercart in Action, and then you can see a list of online stores that are actually using it. Also in the shopping cart category is Drupal Commerce. I'm very excited about this one because it's the same developers who created Ubercart.

It's clear that Drupal Commerce is going to be strong on Drupal 7 and in fact, they're only developing for Drupal 7. They haven't really done the Drupal 6 version. I'm looking forward to seeing what Drupal Commerce does, but as I'm making this video, it hasn't actually been released. It should be released pretty much at the same time as Drupal 7. To recap the two shopping cart solutions, Ubercart is mature and well-supported, but it's not quite clear who's going to be developing it in the future. Drupal Commerce, on the other hand, is all very Drupal 7 based.

It was built from the ground up by the people who built Ubercart, so I'm actually betting on it for the future. The next category of distributions on Drupal is news management sites. The first one of these is called Managing News, which you can get at managingnews.com. It's hard to show exactly what Managing News does until you have a site up and running. I've already installed it, but as you can see it doesn't show you very much from the very beginning. You can, however, take a look at examples by going to their Examples tab right up here. It's extremely strong in mapping especially.

So, let's say that you have a news feed coming in from the New York Times. Managing News will actually look at the news feed, figure out where the locations are, and put points on the maps, and it does other such nifty things like that. It's by a company called Development Seed who besides doing amazing things with maps, just has a terrific design sense. It's a very attractive solution and I think it's really an excellent thing if you're running a news site. But it's not the only distribution out there for news sites. There's also OpenPublish, which you can get at openpublishapp.com.

I've installed this one as well and once again, it's hard to see exactly what it does without looking some of the examples, which you can do on the OpenPublish site. However, as you can see, it's less map- oriented and more oriented around topic hubs and separating your news into different categories. It's really more for a sort of straight ahead news site and by the way both this and some of the other distributions jas this neat little Administration toolbar up here, which is different from the Drupal 7 one. It's just a nice way to administrate your site and then you can just hide it off to the side this way.

To recap the two news management distributions, Managing News is very graphical and it's especially good at aggregating multiple news feeds and then mapping information and figuring out exactly what's in the news items that come in. OpenPublish, on the other hand, has a lot of features that connect with external services. So if you'd like to do for example advertising on your site, OpenPublish has modules for that, along with a lot of other things. Again, we didn't have time to going to them all, but just exploring OpenPublish will show you just how deep it is.

The last distribution we'll look at is called Open Atrium, which you can get from openatrium.com. Like Managing News, it's made by Development Seed and it has the same really nice graphical interface to it. Again, this is a distribution that it's hard to explain without actually setting up an entire site, but basically, it lets you set up an entire intranet, so that people within a company can communicate with each other well or you could make it available to the world at large and people can set up individual groups and connect that way.

It basically puts the power of creating groups on your Drupal site into the hands of your users. Here we have it installed, but once again, you don't see very much until you've started using it for a while. To recap about Open Atrium, it's basically an intranet in a box or you can use it to build social network applications. It's by the people who make Managing News and again I love their graphic design sense and their thoroughness in making this just work. This group of distributions you've seen is by no means comprehensive. There is a whole bunch of specialty distributions we didn't even talk about.

For example, there's a Wedding distribution that helps you plan weddings. There's the Open Media distribution that helps public access channels get organized, that is for TV, and Tattler, which is similar to OpenPublish, but geared more for the public relations professionals than the journalist. The place to find out about all of these distributions is at drupaldistrowatch.com. The best thing about these distributions is that they're all built on standard Drupal. If you know how to modify a Drupal site, you know how to modify any of these applications.

You can add modules, add themes, whatever you like, but be aware of how their added complexity can affect administration sometimes in unexpected ways. Be careful. If the distribution offers a button or link or something like that to do something, use it, because if you use your normal Drupal methods, it might not take care of all the special cases that are built into the application. Finally, if you're feeling ambitious, you can always create your own distributions and as always the drupal.org site is your school for learning how to do that.

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Drupal 7 New Features

29 video lessons · 7984 viewers

Tom Geller
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