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Choosing Drupal


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Choosing Drupal

Out of all the CMSs out there, is Drupal right for you? Here is a general overview of what Drupal does best, as well some things that are more appropriate for other website creation systems. First, let's start with Drupal's advantages. First of all it's somewhere in the middle between ultimate customizability and the out of the box ease that you get from some content management systems, that is, you don't have to program everything, but you can do a lot. Second of all, Drupal has proven insecure, it's been around for several years and it's been used by thousands of different sites. Although it does occasionally have security updates it is generally a secure enough system to use for pretty much anything.

Third of all, Drupal has very strong community support and we will show you little bit of that community support now. First of all, Drupal has many pieces of software that are available as plug-ins to the main Drupal program. These are called Modules and they add additional functionality beyond what the core Drupal program provides. These are divided into many categories, for example, there are content categories which lets you display the things that you write and produce in different ways. There are all sorts of administration plug-ins, which let you change the way that you manage your site.

All the way down to e-Commerce modules which lets you connect to existing systems you might have for credit cards for example or PayPal. Another part of the Drupal community is in its themes, themes let you change the way that your Drupal website looks, and as you go through this page which is at drupal.org/project/themes, you can see snapshots of many of the different kinds of pages that you can make your Drupal website look like. These are all provided by people from outside in the Drupal community and almost without exception they are available for free.

Thirdly, the Drupal community is very active in talking with itself, so that if you have any problems with your Drupal installation or after your Drupal installation you can go in and you can get your answers very quickly for free from other people who have faced the same problems. Fourth, Drupal is an open source project, which means it's built by many people in the community. In this case it's built on two additional open source projects PHP as the programming language and SQL, which is the database language.

Finally, there are numerous commercial companies out there supporting Drupal. One of those companies is Lullabot, which offers workshops and training, writes articles and blog posts that will teach you more about Drupal and so forth. They also do commercial support for Drupal. Another commercial support company for Drupal is Acquia. This is a company that was actually founded by the original person who wrote Drupal. There are numerous sites out there that are built on Drupal. Some of the largest ones are The Onion at theonion.com, Amnesty International at amnesty.org and Popular Science at popsci.com, so you can see a great variety there. The first one is a humorous magazine, the second one is an international organization and the third one is a popular magazine that's been around for dozens-and-dozens of years and has made the move online using Drupal.

Now that we have talked about some of the good things about Drupal, let's talk about some of its disadvantages. First of all Drupal has greater technical knowledge requirements than you would have if you were just writing a website by scratch in HTML. You need to have access to the server and you need to have certain permissions on that server. In addition that server has to have certain programs already installed, most notably PHP and SQL database, preferably MySQL and the cron program. Finally although you don't need to know HTML or any of the other traditional web skills to customize your Drupal site, it does help to have HTML, CSS and certain graphics editing skills in order to bring your Drupal site to its full flower.

Drupal has certain design biases. If you go and take a look at sites that are built under, well, you'll notice the very often there will be a left column and a right column and a content in center and a header at the top and it tends to be the same from theme-to-theme. The good news is that all of that can be customized; the bad news is you may have to do a certain amount of work to make that customization happen. So when shouldn't you use Drupal? First of all, if it's going to be overkill, there is no need to use Drupal. A site that doesn't change much doesn't really need Drupal, because what Drupal is good at is letting you bring in new information at any time and change what's already there.

Sites that are just plain static sites that don't have any sort of community interaction don't really need Drupal. You can build sites like those in Drupal, but you don't need to. Drupal is also overkilled when you have solid simpler alternatives or once that are built more specifically to your purpose. For example, there is a Wiki plug-in, a Wiki module for Drupal, but if you are going to build just a Wiki, you might as well use MediaWiki, which is built specifically for that purpose. You shouldn't use Drupal when you don't have the technical help or abilities that you will need to install and run it, and we will talk more about what you need to run Drupal throughout the course.

Finally you shouldn't use Drupal if it's going to be an extremely high-traffic or mission-critical site. If it's necessary to have this site online in order to save lives you should probably use something else or at least use something else as a backup. If you are going to run something that's going to have millions and millions and millions of page views probably Drupal is not the right solution. Although I should mention, Drupal does run very popular sites. I hope this video has given you a sense of when Drupal is best for you and when to look for a simpler or more heavy-duty solution.

Choosing Drupal
Video duration: 5m 31s 6h 52m Beginner

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Choosing Drupal provides you with in-depth training on Web. Taught by Tom Geller as part of the Drupal 6 Essential Training

Subject:
Web
Software:
Drupal
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