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Drupal: The Open Source CMS

On the eve of the launch of its 7th version, Drupal the Open Source content management system is constantly gaining popularity among the different CMS available on the market. This project was initiated in year 2000 by the Belgian developer Dries Buytaert, with the aim to compete with Wordpress and Joomla.

Over the last years Drupal made its place among the micro-entrepreneurs,SMEs and the large communities. This system was used for development of about 500,000 websites worldwide. Among these, we can named Rue89.com: the website of information and participatory debate uses the open source CMS since its inception in 2007 and now expanding to other websites with Drupal.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open Source content management system (CMS) released under the GNU General Public License, which is based on the PHP scripting language. This software allows you to publish, manage and organize the contents of a website, and may also manage the organization and the access rights of a community of users.It is organized around minimum content units, called "nodes", which correspond to different elements: article, blog, comment, entry form, image or picture gallery, survey, wiki, etc..

Drupal was originally defined as an "quick website assembler" by its creator Dries Buytaert, that is to say a platform facilitating the creation of content in a collaborative way on a website used by several people.

The modularity and scalability of CMS, allows you to add many features and makes it possible to conduct many different type of projects, especially in the following fields:

  • Web Publishing (building platforms and community sites on the Internet)
  • Creating knowledge management systems (including via a taxonomic classification - category-content)
  • Creation of Working Groups (intranet).

Note that:
Unlike other CMS (Wordpress), Drupal requires the intervention of an experienced developer, due to its modular and highly adaptable structure.

A modular, flexible and scalable structure

Drupal is based on a modular structure that combines "native" modules available in the package-base program and a little more than 6,000 "community modules"

Some native modules required for the functioning of Drupal (eg user management), some are optional (eg add-in fora blog/website). Among the native modules: design and content rating (publication date, alphabetical, etc..) Management templates (models), system of taxonomy (eg ranking od keywords assigned to articles and creating categories) forum etc..

The "community" modules are the result of work of the community of users organized around the Drupal project. CMS administrators can add these modules to build their website based on their development needs. These modules cover a variety of needs, including:

  • Newsletter
  • Chat
  • E-commerce (eg electronic payment)
  • Managing semantic content (metadata structure)
  • Multilingual Tools
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Mobile (2D code, managing a Drupal site from a smartphone)

Numerous modules are available in the following areas: statistics, security, web browsing, content syndication, integration of third party applications (eg Twitter)

Drupal and SEO

In addition to its modularity, Drupal has several functional characteristics that distinguish it from other CMS, particularly in terms of tools for SEO (search engine optimization. Including:)

  • Advanced control of URL writing (and the possibility of automation via the Pathauto module) for SEO.
  • The system of content classification (taxonomy), which allows you to organize content by keywords.
  • Simplified management of title pages and meta tags

The Drupal community

The community participating in the development of Drupal consists of hundreds of thousands of users and thousands of developers. They participate in the design of additional modules and production of documents and tutorials on how to use the CMS. The current success of Drupal is largely due to the dynamism of this community, as it is the case for many open source projects.

Drupal relies on several areas for knowledge sharing, including:

What are the professional websites using Drupal?

On the internet, websites offering very different content make use Drupal. These include the following categories:

  • Information sites, e-zine in France, Rue89 (see interview below), Mediapart, Slate.fr in France, etc.. In England, The Economist.
  • Portals of information: the community portal combining recreational content :Popsugar.com.
  • Corporate Sites/intranet:Yahoo Research !
  • E-commerce (via the Ubercart module)
  • Directory SEO
  • Web sites incorporating multimedia content (including photos, music, playlists, videos, etc.).. For example, Warner Bros Records
  • Institutional/Educational Websites:University of Pennsylvania
  • Social Networks community platforms: plateforme communautaire GoingOn.com

Focus: The Drupal project developers get paid more?

A recent study in the United States by the the DoNanza community website, a community platform that specializes in the employment webmasters/webdesigners in freelance, sheds light on the what are the monetary stakes generated by the different CMS (Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal). If Wordpress and Joomla are used respectively 6.5 and 3.5 times more often than Drupal, this is the one who reaps the biggest budgets: as a developer using Drupal (in freelance) earn on average $915 per project, against $455 and $473 respectively for Wordpress and Joomla.

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