What is Drupal?

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    [Using Drupal-2nd Edition By: Angela Byron and Addison Berry with Bruno De Bondt]
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    [♪ music ♪] [drupalize]
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    [Using Drupal-Drupal Overview What is Drupal? Addison Berry] [♪ music ♪]
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    In this series, we're going to be taking a look at the history of the web
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    and where Drupal fits into that.
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    Then we're going to break down the major components of Drupal
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    and sort of talk about the building blocks that all Drupal sites
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    are going to have to be built with.
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    Then we're going to finish it up by looking at resources so that you know
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    where you can find more information on your own, get in touch with the community,
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    and get help as you start on your journey building Drupal sites.
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    So in this lesson we're going to start things off by taking a look at what is Drupal—
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    a nice high-level overview of what's sort of going on with Drupal.
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    We're going to look at who uses it and we're also going to look at the major features,
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    particularly in relation to general website building.
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    So let's go ahead and get our overview so that we have some context as we move forward.
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    So what exactly is Drupal?
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    Drupal is an open source Content Management System—also known as CMS—
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    being used by hundreds of thousands of organizations and individuals around the world
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    to build engaging, content-rich websites.
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    Building a website in Drupal is a matter of combining together various building blocks,
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    which are going to be described later in this series
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    in order to customize your website's functionality to your precise needs.
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    Once built, a Drupal website can be maintained through the use of online forms
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    without any code having to be changed manually.
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    Drupal is free to use and it has an enormous library of constantly evolving tools
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    that you can use to make your website shine.
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    At the same time, Drupal is also a Content Management Framework—
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    which would be known as a CMF.
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    In addition to providing site building tools for web masters,
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    it offers a way for programmers and developers to customize Drupal using plug-in modules.
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    Almost every aspect of Drupal's behavior can be customized with these modules—
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    and there are thousands of them—adding features from photo galleries to shopping carts
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    to talk-like-a-pirate translators.
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    Many modules have been freely contributed to the Drupal community
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    and are available for download and you can use them on your Drupal-based website.
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    All the functionality that we'll be discussing in this book is built using a combination
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    of core Drupal and these community-created contrib modules, as they're known.
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    And then lastly, we would be remiss to not mention the Drupal community,
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    which is a huge part of making Drupal what it is.
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    This is often cited as one of Drupal's biggest assets.
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    When Drupal 7 was released in January 2011, nearly 1,000 members of the community
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    contributed code to the core software that we all use.
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    Additionally, more than 15,000 developers maintained contributive modules,
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    with countless more helping with testing, documentation, usability, design, accessibility,
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    support, translations and other important areas of the project.
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    Those familiar with evaluating open source platforms will attest
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    to the importance of a thriving community base.
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    So to take a look at who is using Drupal out there, instead of going on a tour
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    all around the web, you can go to—there are a couple of different places
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    where websites that are using Drupal are sort of highlighted.
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    So you can get a sense for who's using it and what they're doing with Drupal.
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    So one website that's really good is the Drupal Showcase. It's at DrupalShowcase.com.
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    And it lists hundreds and hundreds of sites that are using Drupal
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    from some really big name people out there to smaller organizations
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    that are just trying to get their work done.
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    So you can browse through here. There's a list of all kinds of different industries.
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    So you can see there's media and government and libraries, nonprofits, science organizations.
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    There are a lot of different people from all walks of life who are using Drupal.
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    And so you can browse through here and get a sense of what people are actually doing
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    and how diverse you can build Drupal sites.
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    Another place that's really good to go and sort of get information about who is using it
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    and how they're using it is the Drupal case studies on Drupal.org.
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    If you go to Drupal.org/cases, there's a list of all kinds of case studies.
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    And with a case study, it doesn't just list who the sites are, but it actually has people describing
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    how they built the Drupal site, what modules did they use, what was their use case
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    and how did they solve it, why did they solve it the way that they did?
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    So this is really useful for getting some insight into how people approach building
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    different kinds of Drupal sites.
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    And lastly, to get a sense of exactly what Drupal is, let's take a quick look
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    at some of the main features that Drupal offers.
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    Modules are plug-ins that can modify and add features to a Drupal site.
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    For almost any functional need, chances are good that either an existing module
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    fits the need exactly, or can be combined with other modules to fit that need,
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    or whatever existing code there is, you can get a good chunk of the way there
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    and then make your own modifications as you need.
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    All of the output in Drupal is fully customizable.
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    So you can bend the look and feel of your site to your will—
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    or more precisely, to your designer's will.
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    But you can modify all of the html that's being outputted on your site.
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    You can define new types of content—blogs, events, word of the day—on the fly.
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    And even add custom fields for the different content types.
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    So different content types can have different fields on them.
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    Contributive modules can extend this even further by providing new kinds of fields
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    and different ways to manipulate them.
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    Best of all, these fields can also be attached to anything in the system
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    representing itself as an entity, such as users, comments, textonomy,
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    in addition to our main content types.
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    Drupal offers out-of-the-box support for human readable system URLs,
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    and all of Drupal's output is standards compliant.
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    Both of these features make for search engine friendly websites.
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    There are also other contributor modules that take SEO capabilities even further.
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    Custom roles and a plethora of permissions allow for fine grain control
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    over who can access what within the system.
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    And existing modules can take this level of access control even further,
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    down to the individual user level, if you need that.
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    Drupal has built-in support for tools such as group blogging, comments,
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    forms and customized user profiles.
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    The addition of almost any other feature you can imagine—
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    for instance, ratings, user groups, moderation—is only a download away.
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    So we've taken a quick look, broad definition of what Drupal is, what features it has,
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    and who's out there using it.
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    So hopefully that gives you a little bit of context for how Drupal's being used in the larger world,
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    and how you might be able to use it yourself.
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    [drupalize]
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    [Based on the book Using Drupal, 2nd Edition]

What Is Drupal?

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To learn more about how to get started with Drupal, also see our What is Drupal? guide.

This series, based on the O'Reilly book Using Drupal, 2nd Edition, will be covering the basics of what Drupal is, and some history of how we've built sites on the web, in addition to pointing out resources where you can learn more on your own, and get help as you go. You'll get a high-level overview of where Drupal fits in the world of the web, and the major building blocks that Drupal provides.