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Drupal: an overview

Posted in backend, coding, research by callibeth on January 31, 2010

I’ve been struggling to learn the Drupal framework for the past 3 weeks, and, on the whole, I’m impressed. It’s a substantial framework, and quite complicated, but it’s flexible and powerful. Separation of content and structure and presentation is a priority of the Drupal designers.

The White House website runs on Drupal, and so do the websites of The United Nations, Forbes, The Grateful Dead, and The Onion, among others. Links to well-known Drupal websites are listed in this article, which also explains some of the features of Drupal in the section “10 Reasons to Use Drupal”: http://tips.webdesign10.com/drupal/about-drupal-311.html.

I’ve found the vocabulary a little confusing. As a matter of fact, the word “vocabulary” is used in Drupal to mean a set of categories, and the sets of categories make up the taxonomy of the system. I’m not convinced that the taxonomy is so much better than WordPress, given its comparatively complicated nature. Or maybe I just don’t understand it yet.

There are modules which add functionality to the Drupal framework. Various image modules manage the uploading and storing and access of images, including automatic thumbnail generation. The Content Construction Kit allow you to create your own custom content types. Each time you post a new Page or Story (which, along with Image, are the three core content types), you can choose whether to promote it to the home page, whether comments are allowed (and more options within that), you can choose an Image to associate with the page.

I’m still partial to CodeIgniter because of its clarity, while recognizing that Drupal is more fully developed as a CMS. Drupal requires that you wrap your head around a fully implemented system whose underlying code is relatively opaque. There’s a good article here that compares WordPress, Drupal and Expression Engine (which runs on CodeIgniter): http://www.thesitewizard.com/general/wordpress-vs-drupal-vs-expression-engine.shtml

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