Drupal’s beginnings started out the same as some of the other well known and successful websites of today. It started as a seemingly insignificant idea with meager beginnings. In a small apartment during college that Dries Buytaert created what would become one of the most popular open source content management frameworks of today. It was planned to be a forum for his friends. Initially Drupal was used as a communication tool for monitoring the group’s fragile internet connection, which was expensive and being spliced between them.
Drupal is a free and open-source content management framework written in PHP and distributed under the General Public License (GNU). It is now used as a back-end framework for at least 2 percent of all websites worldwide ranging from personal blogs to corporate, political and government sites including whitehouse.gov and data.gov.uk. It is also used for knowledge management and business collaboration.
As of August 2013, there were more than 22,000 free community-contributed add ons, known as contributed modules, available to alter and extend Drupal’s core capabilities and add new features or customize Drupal’s behavior and appearance. Drupal also has 30,000 Developers. Even though Drupal offers a sophisticated programming interface for developers, no programming skills are required for basic website installation and administration.
Drupal gained significant notoriety in 2003, when it was used to build “DeanSpace” for Howard Dean, one of the candidates in the U.S. Democratic Party’s primary campaign for the 2004 U.S. presidential election. DeanSpace used open source sharing of Drupal to support a decentralized network of approximately 50 disparate, unofficial pro-Dean websites that allowed users to communicate directly with each other as well as with the campaign itself.
After Dean ended his campaign, members of his web team continued to pursue their interest in developing a web platform that could aid political activism by launching CivicSpace Labs in July 2004, considered “the first company with full-time employees that was developing and distributing Drupal technology”. Other companies then signed on to specialize in Drupal development. By 2013, the Drupal website listed hundreds of vendors that offered Drupal-related services.
As of 2013, more than 900,000 sites were using Drupal. These include hundreds of well-known organizations, including corporations, media and publishing companies, governments, non-profits, schools and individuals. Drupal has won several Packt Open Source CMS Awards and won the Webware 100 three times in a row.
A core is anything outside of the sites folder in a Drupal installation within the Drupal community. A Drupal website’s content can be contributed by either registered or anonymous users, with the administrator’s approval, and is made accessible to web visitors by a variety of selectable criteria.
Drupal core includes optional modules that can be implemented by the administrator to increase the functionality of the core website. Some of the more popular modules include:
- Access statistics and logging
- Advanced search
- Descriptive URLs Multi-level menu system
- Multi-site support
- Multi-user content creation and editing
- OpenID support
- RSS feed and feed aggregator
- Workflow tools (triggers and actions)
Drupal.org has a large community of users and developers, with over 1,000,000 user accounts and over 30,000 developer accounts. The semiannual Drupal conference alternates between North America and Europe. Smaller events, known as Drupal Camps or DrupalCamp, are held throughout the year all over the world.
Drupal site administrators are automatically notified of these new releases through the Update Status module (Drupal 6) or through the Update Manager (Drupal 7). Drupal provides a security announcement mailing list, which includes a history of all security advisories, a security team home page and an RSS feed with the most recent security advisories.
Open source platform
In the mid-90s, observers started to notice a new kind of economy emerging as a result of open source technology. This economy was based on creators freely sharing and further refining high-quality content with users who would provide helpful feedback, and often, make contributions of their own. The success of the open source communities is based on the ideology of communal work and collaboration. Open source communities are driven by a commitment to the success of the collective and to user contribution.
The theory behind an open source community is that it’s users and creators can work together to create a sustainable, thriving online network around useful content, then open source principles could be successfully incorporated in many other industries and social communities as well.
There is a strong belief that future designers, developers and creators can learn from Drupal’s legacy of sustaining such a powerful force in promoting open source projects as starting points for the creation of more democratic communities. The achievements made by the open source community provide a strong example of how a group can operate efficiently and build outstanding projects and ideas, proving that democratic systems are the strongest form of collaboration.
When larger, more established companies started to transition their software needs to open source solutions, and as a result, created the demand for increased technical support and expert advice. There arose new niches for open source technology to fill. It started as a strictly private and user-driven experience, grew increasingly sensitive to market demands, but continued to be a community dedicated to authentic user-driven innovation and collaboration above all else. The developments remained relatively unaffected by the panic of a company’s management.
With new plugins and themes added daily, Drupal continues to be one of the most versatile platforms available today. In the case of the tasks that Drupal can’t accomplish, the community continues to innovate and integrate with other platforms. This enhances the functionality for all users.
Whats next for Drupal? Considering their history and past innovations, we can expect Drupal’s appeal and use will continue to broaden throughout the civic, social and business communities. In addition, their history also suggests that it is unlikely for them to stray from their reputation as a collaboration-driven, operator-sensitive system with supporters, users, and developers firmly seated in the open source community.