Why Drupal?

More and more academic institutions are going with Drupal for content management and social networking, and its no mystery why. It’s free, flexible, and easy to maintain for small or large volume web sites.

Drupal's amazing flexibility means that its just as easy to create a blog, user forum, ecommerce site, or a department website using the same framework. Drupal adheres to all web standards and uses modern techniques for XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Standard features in Drupal also means that you get state-of-the-art security, search engine optimization (SEO), taxonomy, and interoperability right out of the box.

Being open source means that Drupal's code is freely available at no cost. You can do with it what you want, and it doesn't cost anything whether you have one or a thousand of websites - it's free.

UA's large Drupal community is responsive and knowledgeable. This means there is a community right here on campus to ask questions and get advice.

What is a Drupal?
A Content Management System (CMS) is an application that runs on a web server. CMS helps manage the content of your website by allowing you to distribute the adding, deleting and editing of information to non-technical content providers. Non-technical users to add and edit content on web pages without needing to have XHTML, CSS, and other technical skills. They can add and edit content using their web browser. Drupal also provides a bunch of plug-in functionally.  For example, you can add easily add a site search, blog, create a fill-in form and more.

Drupal is an Open Source (free software) package that is being supported by the University Information Technology Services (UITS) to assist web developers on the UA campus. An advantage of Open Source software is that Drupal community members from all over the world contribute their word and share it with the entire Drupal Community as 'Contributed Modules. There are several hundred contributed Drupal modules available that expand the functionally of Drupal.

The built-in functionality, combined with thousands of freely available add-on modules, enables features such as:

  • Blogs
  • Collaborative authoring environments
  • Forums
  • Peer-to-peer networking
  • Newsletters
  • Podcasting
  • Picture galleries
  • File uploads and downloads
  • Calenders

and much more.

Drupal is an excellent choice for any of the following situations:

  • You need a site that is flexible enough to evolve in any direction. For example, you might start with a blog but want the option of adding other features like a wiki, electronic commerce, forums etc.
  • You need a site that can easily be configured to interact with other sites or with other technologies.
  • You need a site that can easily handle complex forms and workflows.
  • You need the ability to quickly organize and display lists of information.
  • One or more of the many contributed Drupal modules addresses your needs.
  • You need to quickly develop custom functionality.

There are several cases where Drupal may not be the best choice:

  • If your only requirement is to write a personal blog, you may also want to evaluate one of the more specialized blogging platforms like WordPress or one of the hosted blogging solutions. Although Drupal does provide an excellent blogging platform out-of-the-box, you will probably find that blog-specific software typically has a simpler administration interface.
  • Similarly, if your only requirement is to create a wiki, you should probably consider using dedicated wiki software like MediaWiki or a hosted wiki solution. You can certainly configure Drupal so that anyone can edit content (and even enable advanced features of systems like MediaWiki with the help of several contributed modules like wikitools and Diff), but it may be simpler for you to use a more specialized solution.
  • If your only requirement is to host discussion forums, you will want to consider a system such as SimpleMachines or phpBB with a mature set of Forum features, or Vanilla which has many plug-ins, although Drupal's forum module with forum enhancement modules may be better suited to extension if you'll need custom features.
  • With every release, Drupal is becoming easier to use; but like most powerful tools, it will always have a learning curve. If you or your organization are not prepared to spend some time learning how Drupal works (or if you are not able to hire Drupal expertise), it may not be your best option.

History of Drupal
Pronounced: dru-pal.   Originally written by Dries Buytaert as a bulletin board system, Drupal became an open source project in 2001.  Drupal is an English transliteration of the Dutch word “druppel,” which means “drop” (as in “a water droplet”).  The Drupal icon is called "Drupalcon".  His eyes are in the shape of the infinity symbol representing the limitless possibilities of Drupal.