Getting to know Drupal

Getting to know Drupal

PHP has been one of the most ubiquitous scripting languages available since its first introduction, and part of that ubiquity is due to the popularity of many of the frameworks or content management systems built on it.

To name one well-know example, WordPress is built in PHP, making it an essential technology to be familiar with for any WordPress developer. While WordPress’ popularity and overall functionality is familiar to many, there are other popular PHP-based content management systems to choose from, one of which is Drupal.

Somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of WordPress, Drupal is an excellent choice for many applications, and often more well-suited than its other PHP alternatives.

 

Benefits of Drupal

Functionality

One of the primary benefits of Drupal is its functionality and flexibility. WordPress is often praised for its ease of use and ability to edit many things without advanced knowledge of PHP or other programming languages. While this certainly has its application for smaller projects or those that fall within certain usability standards, Drupal is somewhere in between this ease-of-use and writing PHP code from scratch.

Drupal is certainly a CMS framework with guidelines, but it is far more agnostic than WordPress in terms of how one sets up their CMS. Drupal offers a variety of different modules for common features such as users, content types, and what they refer to as “Blocks” or individual sections of a web page’s layout — all of which are very flexible in terms of how they are put together.

Drupal is ideal for enterprise-level websites, where there may be a need for multiple different user role types, multiple page templates, as well as housing many different sites in the same CMS.

Security

Another huge advantage of Drupal is security. Partially due to its popularity, WordPress can potentially be an easy target for would-be hackers. Since WordPress sites often rely on third-party plugins for its functionality, it is possible for hackers to locate vulnerabilities in these plug-ins, ultimately able to penetrate the WordPress admin controls.

Drupal has a reputation for its security, and this is demonstrated by its enterprise-level corporate and government use. A few examples include whitehouse.gov, InfusionSoft, CVS and Pfizer.

Support & Documentation

Like WordPress, Drupal is Open Source software and has a large community actively working on improving the framework and supplying excellent documentation for its developers. First released in 2000, Drupal is a mature CMS framework with most common uses well-documented, easing the process of getting started.

Disadvantages of Drupal

Backwards Compatibility

One often cited disadvantage of Drupal is its issue with backwards compatibility. When a new version of Drupal is released, there has been a history of transitioning to a higher version being a somewhat complicated process — certain modules will get deprecated and overall features you may have come to be used to are no longer supported in newer versions. Upgrading to a new version of Drupal will no doubt require the experience of a developer well-versed in the framework.

Learning Curve / Strong requirement of PHP knowledge

As touched on above, Drupal is intended for use by developers, and as such requires a certain command of PHP and programming concepts that may otherwise be able to be mitigated with choosing WordPress. That being said, the tradeoff here is the flexibility it offers for more complex sites, which in some cases is a worthwhile compromise.

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