An open source CMS which has become popular with a great many people in all corners of the globe. It is commonly used to build websites but is also used to create commercial applications as well as being a form of knowledge management.

A core feature is the fact that it is distributed under the terms of the ‘GPL’or ‘GNU General Public Licence’. This means that it is free to download, manage and share, plus there is the opportunity to contribute to the Drupal project.

This community based approach means that everyone can work towards improving Drupal and ensuring that it remains at the forefront of CMS technology.

Drupal was released in 2001: the name is an English derivation of the Dutch word ‘druppel’which means a ‘drop’or ‘water droplet’. However, the word ‘drop’ is actually a misspelling of the Dutch word ‘dorp’or village which refers to the community ethos of this CMS.


This CMS is based upon a worldwide community who provide support, knowledge and expertise with the aim of further improving this software.

Drupal can be used by both novices and expert users. It is suitable for non-technical users who are looking to build a basic website and caters equally well for experienced developers (with good programming skills) by means of a highly developed API.

About Drupal

Drupal is written in PHP with a MySQL database to store content and data. The content is produced using a WYSIWYG editor (available as an extension) which is a feature common to many of these systems and is particularly aimed at the non-technical user. It is used in a variety of ways which range from single or multiple user blogs, static personal sites such as brochureware and large corporate sites such as those run by government departments.

This system contains elements which are common to many other CMSs such as WordPress and Joomla and include extensibility, customisable templates and user management. It enables novice and expert users alike to create, amend, manage and publish content on a website. This applies to both internet and intranet sites.

A big selling point of this CMS is its extensibility. There are more than 6,000 add-ons available which include a range of new features, elements to boost its functionality or change/improve the overall look and feel.

Characteristics of Drupal

This is a free, open source CMS which immediately appeals to people on a tight budget who are looking for a low cost system. It can be used by a wide range of people whatever their level of expertise and is popular in many places around the world.

Other aspects include:

  • Easy to use irrespective of technical knowledge or expertise
  • The ability to extend a website via the thousands of add-ons which will meet any requirement.
  • Template system which enables users to choose a particular theme and/or the option to design a template for use by others.
  • Ability to maintain a site via the user administration system with the option to extend this even further.
  • Easy integration for social networking, e.g. Facebook and Twitter add-ons.
  • User friendly and search engine friendly
  • Ability to support more than 70 international languages which is good news for companies who operate in global markets.

These are just some of the many features of Drupal.

Disadvantages of Drupal

Every system has its pros and cons and Drupal is no different. The perfect CMS does not exist and whilst these systems have proved to be highly effective and efficient they have a few gripes which include:

  • Steep, infinite learning curve which is off-putting to novice users. This has been reported by some but not all users.
  • The WYSIWYG editor is an add-on rather than part of the actual system (core).
  • May be too sophisticated and a drain on resources for smaller websites.
  • It is memory and processor hungry so may place too much of a strain on less powerful computers.
  • Some users find the administration interface confusing and awkward to use. However, this issue is going to be addressed.

Drupal is a good choice for medium to large websites which requires a high-level, robust and extensible CMS but there can be too many bells and whistles for simple blog sites or brochureware.