Over the weekend, I went to Bay Area Drupal Camp (BADcamp) and dug into another CMS. Drupal, like Joomla!, is an open source Content Management System that allows you to create websites through content organization and management. In Drupal, you add “nodes” (pieces of content) to a basic framework to flesh out your website. You can also add “modules” which increase the functionality of that framework. This combination creates, in theory, an easy to organize and adaptable structure to create webpages from PHP databases. Some notable websites built on Drupal include The Onion and The New York Observer.
Being new to Drupal, the camp was very informative, from how to download and install properly (set up can be a tad frustrating) to finding the best “modules” that will allow your website to do what you want it to do. The thing that I always find so interesting with open source, and I suppose is the beauty of the entire idea, is that the community behind a good open source program is so effervescent. There are so many tools and modules that someone using Drupal can take advantage of and they are entirely created within the community space (vs. a company selling additional features). If there is a function that isn’t available you yourself can create a module to do it. Drupal camp was a great place to be in the center of a community like this, bringing together programmers, theme experts, module-makers and average Drupal Joes like me.
One announcement that has shook up the Drupal community as of late is the release of Acquia Drupal. The Acquia representative at Drupal camp explained to me that Acquia Drupal is essentially the same program as regular Drupal with the exception that Acquia Drupal comes with additional modules. The main advantage of Acquia Drupal is that one can sign up for a subscription account through Acquia which then provides technical support for the site he or she built with Acquia Drupal. This might be a good option for those who are considering building their site on Drupal but feel uncomfortable going it alone. You can learn more about Acquia Drupal at their website.
During the “Drupal Development – Tools and Resources” session, I received a little insight on some great tools that Drupal users have found useful for managing their sites:
A software tool that allows you to run Drupal functions through the command line. Things like migrating data and global updates become a little less annoying because you don’t have to use your browser and therefore don’t have to worry about the browser timing out and silly things like that.
- Drupal for Firebug
This tool adds a Drupal tab to the popular Firefox add-on Firebug. For those of you who aren’t already playing with this add-on all day every day, Firebug reveals the code (HTML, CSS etc.) of the webpage that you are viewing, making it very easy and simple to figure out how they did that. With Drupal for Firebug, you can now see all the inner workings of the Drupal side of the page.
As its name suggests, YSlow is a performance tool that gives you information on the speed of your website. Hopefully, the information that it lets you know will allow you to fix the problem but we all know that sometimes knowing what’s wrong is only about 10% of the problem.
All in all, Bay Area Drupal camp was a great introduction to a powerful, open-source CMS. If you want to learn more about Drupal, check out these links: