Drupal CMS for Complex Sites

The name Drupal does not conjure up sophistication nor does it sound technical or in any remote way, a means to building complex websites, Make no mistake about it, it is a serious content management systems capable of publishing very complex website projects.  With over 1,000,000 users and counting, this group must be doing something right. Drupal is open source and licensed similar to WordPress and Joomla under the General Public License (GPL), with more advanced build features than the other two.

Drupal CMS - What is it

Short History of Drupal

Drupal is one of the oldest, started in 1999 by Dries Buytaert and Hans Snijder, students from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Its humble beginnings were as an online message board between students and friends at the university.  After graduating, in 2001, they published the system online so they could stay in touch. Then they decided to release the code behind the software in order to make it freely available to the world as an open source project.  It continued to grow and become substantially more than a message board.  It was not until 2005 though that Drupal began to get some wind under its wings by putting on many code groups and conferences around the world.  It continues to evolve and become the most complex CMS today.

Who Should Use Drupal

While WordPress and Joomla pride themselves on their simplicity, Drupal is more for the advanced user of CMS systems.  Drupal is more powerful and designed for the seasoned developer to facilitate the build of very complex websites. Typically, the more powerful the platform the steeper the learning curve and this system requires somewhat more experience with coding and the understanding of relational databases. Out of the three CMS’s, we believe Drupal requires the most technical expertise while enabling the most complex of sites to be built.  However, with each new version release, it is getting easier and more intuitive to use.

Open Development Model

The software is also an open development model where developers from around the world are constantly upgrading, extending, adding features, fixing problems, and plugging security holes so you the web developer will have the most advantageous development environment possible.   The group abides by the principles of modularity, standards, collaboration and ease-of-use. Notice that ease-of-use is last

Security First

The folks at Drupal prioritize security protocols. They have a dedicated team that deals specifically with security issues. Their historic record of securing web content is legendary.  If you want to focus on the design and build of your site rather than worrying about someone hacking it, then Drupal is your framework.


One great feature about open source is the fact that there is a significant number of contributors and users worldwide that are willing to offer up what they have learned to help you become proficient. There are a number of Drupal communities and forums to answer just about any question or help you dig into problems. This same community has made available significant documentation to help you along your path of development of your project. Though the generous donations from users, the organization is also able to sponsor thousands of events and code camps around the world.

Full Portals, Website Themes, Modules and Plugins with Drupal

Since the world community of Drupal fanatics is constantly working in the background to make life easy for you, the growth of a seemingly never-ending stream of free professionally designed distributions, themes, modules, APIs, and plug-ins that do almost everything a seasoned developer could hope for has become a reality. The official Drupal website itself serves as a distribution portal for this content and is teaming with all of this goodness just waiting to be downloaded for free.

Distributions are complete dynamic, database-connected web applications designed to be a portal in a box containing tons of functionality.  They include but are not limited to sales and ecommerce websites, collaboration portals, social networking sites, online publishing websites (for journals or newspapers), church websites, governmental and public sector portals, nonprofit websites, learning management systems, conference and convention organizing portals, restaurant websites and much more.  There is even a core distribution called Panopoly that is designed to be a general site building and a base framework that serves as foundation for building other Drupal distributions. Many distributions are available directly from the drupal.org website and are all designed for specific industries and their needs.  These are typically released by top-notch developers who tend to write code that is well maintained and security patched on an ongoing basis.

Modules add or extend functionality to both the Drupal development environment and the frontend of websites.  Such modules include content management organizational tools, AJAX functionality, website forms, surveys, date pickers, APIs and much more.

Themes allow designers to implement a wealth of designs, layouts and color schemes for basic website creation. They essentially allow for the change of the sites overall look and feel.  They are similar to themes in WordPress.


While Drupal may be the more complex with an initial greater learning curve publishing and CMS out of the three we have presented, it offers the most professional and secure framework preferred by developers.