A Word About Drupal
We've created this page to give our clients a brief overview about how Drupal works as well as providing some insights into why we think it is the best platform to use for most professional-level websites.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is free, open source software that allows users to quickly and securely deploy sophisticated websites.
How sophisticated? Very. Here are just a few websites that are running on the Drupal platform:
You can take a look at Drupal's own showcase of it's high profile websites. You'll be surprised.
Drupal calls itself a "content management platform," which is an apt description. In addition to the things it does out of the box, it is a modular system constructed like a tool kit in which you can use the core and free contributed modules to build any sort of site imaginable - it gives you all the ingredients.
Drupal Is Free - as in Free Speech and Free Beer
Drupal is "open-source software" offered under the GNU General Public License. As the author of the GNU General Public License, Richard Stallman, famously put it, one should think of open source in terms of "free speech" and not "free beer." You can read more about the GNU philosophy here.
What this means is that Drupal code is totally open, accessible, readable, and changeable by anyone - you are free "to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve" it in any way you see fit with no stings attached.
Yet Drupal goes even farther. There is no charge to download and use Drupal or any of the tens of thousands of contributed projects on the Drupal website. In this sense, Drupal is not just "free speech" but also "free beer."
As of this writing, Drupal has over 40,000 free modules in addition to it's core which is built on state-of-the-art web technology.
The Drupal Community
In contrast to a traditional software company with employees that author, sell and subsequently restrict the use of the software it produces for profit, Drupal has been built over many years by thousands of developers around the world that collaborate to offer software free of charge with no strings attached.
At present, Drupal has over 35,000 registered developers that contribute to the Drupal project.
The concept of a developer community is an important one. When you download Drupal, think of it as giving you an army of volunteer developers that have already built 95% of your website for you and will continue to help you maintain it, enhance it, and keep it secure free of charge.
The concept of a developer community is an important for another reason as well - security.
Having so many contributors and users means having lots and lots of eyes on the code. Drupal has tens of thousands of developers and millions of live websites in use which means that bugs are readily identified and fixed.
Combine that with Drupal's first-rate and Drupal is widely regarded as one of the web's most secure platforms.
By contrast, proprietary or closed platforms may only have a handful of developers to review and test a particular piece of code.
Drupal is Fast
One of the amazing things about Drupal is that it's speed. With caching turned on, pages can load in the blink of an eye. That's important as page load times effect if someone is willing to engage with your website.
How Drupal Runs
Drupal is run on what is known as the LAMP stack. LAMP stands for Linux Apache MySQL and PHP. Linux is the operating system that runs the server, the machine on which a website's code resides. Apache, also known as the HTTP web server, is the software that interacts with the world wide web. MySQL is the software that runs your website's database. PHP is the programming language that is used to write Drupal and make it work.
With respect to LAMP, you can easily replace the "M" as Drupal is designed to run not only on MySQL but other types of databases such as MariaDB, PostgreSQL and SQLite or "NoSQL databases" such as MongoDB.
You can also replaces the "A." Your web host can configure an alternative to Apache. Many highly trafficked sites are using a web server called nginx instead of, or in combination with, Apache.
The point is that Drupal runs on the most popular code base possible and can be run from any environment, even very cheap hosting.
Maintenance, Updates and Upgrades
Like any piece of software, Drupal needs to be maintained and updated regularly and every several years it also needs to be upgraded to a more recent major release. It's a very similar concept to your operating system.
When updates are required, Drupal can be configured to send you an email to let you know. Since Drupal 7, simple updates of contributed modules can be done with a couple of clicks via the interface (provided they have not been customized).
Upgrades are major new releases and often require substantial redevelopment. However, that won't be the case with Drupal 8 as it moves to Drupal 9. This means that if you choose Drupal, you should not expect any costly headaches.