Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Drupal Has to Offer?

What Drupal Has to Offer?As users of technology and software, we should never be lax in what we demand from the technologies that serve us. It is fitting, therefore, at this stage, to discuss what we expect from Drupal in order to ensure that it will satisfy our needs.There are three different aspects of Drupal we need to consider when looking at whether it is a good technology to use in general. Will it be:

  • Reliable and robust: Are there a lot of bugs in the code? Will it affect my site if I have to forever add patches or obtain updates for faulty code?
  • Efficient: Does the code use my server's resources wisely? Am I likely to run into concurrency problems, or speed issues early on?
  • Flexible: If I change my mind about what I want from my site, will I be able to implement those changes without redoing everything from scratch?

While Drupal will always be a work in progress, it can be taken for granted that the source code used to build your website has been meticulously crafted, and well designed. In fact, the previously listed points are taken so seriously by the developers of Drupal that they are written into their set of principles that are available at http://drupal.org/node/21945.

While it won't influence us much for the moment, it is worth noting the following:
A great advantage of Drupal is that the code itself is very well written, which makes modifying it easy. This means that as you attempt more advanced tasks, the very way in which Drupal is written will lend an advantage over other platforms.

The next thing we need to consider is what Drupal is like for us, as administrators, to use. Naturally, things should be as easy as possible, so that we don't spend time bogged down with problems or complicated settings, or worse yet, have to modify the source code on a regular basis. Ideally, we want a system that is:

  • Easy to set up and run: Can I start creating a site with the minimum of fuss? Do I have to learn about other technologies before I am able to use Drupal?
  • Intuitive to work with: Once I have begun finding my way around, will it be easy to learn new things? If I am not a particularly technical person, will I struggle to administer my site?
  • Flexible and easy to extend: I know I can make a basic site, but I really want to create a unique and sophisticated, ground-breaking site—can it be done with Drupal?

Again, these are precisely the attributes that Drupal is known for. If you have other questions about Drupal that are not specifically mentioned here then try to relate them to the bullet points. If you still struggle, try looking through the Drupal forums.

Finally, and perhaps in some respects most importantly, it is important to consider whether or not Drupal creates a good environment for site users. Obviously, a technology that is well designed and easy to administer would still not be very helpful if, for example, its use is prohibitively complex. The best way to find out what type of environment Drupal can provide is to go ahead and check out the Drupal home page at http://drupal.org—since it is built with Drupal and is a good example of what one can do.

It's a good idea to register an account if you have a moment or two. It's not absolutely necessary, but believe me, it will be of great benefit in the long run. Perhaps treat your registration process as a quick and easy way to see a bit of
the site. It stands to reason that if the main site that is developed in Drupal is easy to use, then you in turn will be able to create an easy-to-use site for your users.

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