Drupal is a free and open source Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. It is used as a back-end system for many different types of websites, ranging from small personal blogs to Enterprise 2.0 collaboration and knowledge management uses to large corporate and political sites. In October 2009, the administration of U.S. president Barack Obama adopted Drupal for the official Whitehouse.gov website.
The standard release of Drupal, known as Drupal core, contains basic features common to most CMSs. These include the ability to register and maintain individual user accounts within a flexible and rich permission / privilege system, create and manage menus, RSS-feeds, customize page layout, perform logging, and administer the system. As installed, Drupal provides options to create a classic brochureware website, a single- or multi-user blog, an Internet forum, or a community website providing for User-generated content.
Drupal was also designed to allow new features and custom behavior to be added to extend Drupal’s core capabilities. This is done via installation of plug-in modules (known as contrib modules) created and contributed to the project by open source community members. For this reason, Drupal is sometimes described as a content management framework.
Although Drupal offers a sophisticated programming interface for developers, no programming skills are required for basic website installation and administration.
Drupal can run on any computing platform that supports both a web server capable of running PHP version 4.3.5+ (including Apache, IIS, Lighttpd, and nginx) and a database (such as MySQL or PostgreSQL) to store content and settings.
Originally written by Dries Buytaert as a message board, Drupal became an open source project in 2001. Drupal is an English rendering of the Dutch word “druppel”, which means “drop” (as in “a water droplet”). The name was taken from the now-defunct Drop.org website, whose code slowly evolved into Drupal. Buytaert wanted to call the site “dorp” (Dutch for “village”) for its community aspects, but made a typo when checking the domain name and thought it sounded better.
From May 2007 to April 2008, Drupal was downloaded from the Drupal.org website more than 1.4 million times, an increase of approximately 125% from the previous year. A large community now helps develop Drupal.
Drupal’s popularity is growing rapidly. Over 70 well-known brand names and not-for-profit organizations now use Drupal.
On March 5th 2009, Dries Buytaert announced a code freeze for Drupal 7 for September 1st 2009. There is no date announced yet for the release of Drupal 7 after this code freeze; the latest test release, DRUPAL-7-0-UNSTABLE-9, was on September 15th 2009.
Drupal core is the stock installation of Drupal, which can be optionally extended by third party contributions. In Drupal’s default configuration, website content can be contributed by either registered or anonymous users (at the discretion of the administrator) and made accessible to web visitors by a variety of selectable criteria including by date, category, searches, etc. Drupal core also includes a hierarchical taxonomy system, which allows content to be categorized or tagged with key words for easier access.
Drupal maintains a detailed changelog of core feature updates by version.
Drupal core includes core modules which can be enabled by the administrator to extend the functionality of the core website.
The core Drupal distribution provides a number of features, including:
Drupal core includes several core themes, which customize the aesthetic look-and-feel of the site. These themes can be chosen by the administrator via a special menu.
The Color Module, introduced in Drupal core 5.0, allows administrators to change the color scheme of certain themes via a Web-browser interface. This feature was added to allow a higher level of customization for the average non-coder.
As of February 2008, translations for Drupal’s interface were available in 44 languages plus English (the default).Some read right to left, such as Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew. Drupal 6 provides improved support for content and content administration in multiple languages.
Drupal can automatically notify the administrator when a new version of any module, theme, or the Drupal core itself, becomes available. This feature can help keep a Drupal installation up-to-date with the latest features and security fixes.
An auto-update module for the older version 5.x provides identical functionality, but it is not included in the core release.