CMS Urban Legends: 5 Myths About Drupal

 

Spend some time researching Drupal online and you'll probably find a lot of griping about Drupal -- that it's hard to use, or difficult to understand. Lots of people run into roadblocks setting up their first Drupal site, from experienced developers to nontechnical experimenters. Some of this criticism is deserved, but some of it is excessive, and over time a number of Drupal myths have been built up. It's time to do some debunking!

1. You Need to Code to Use Drupal

FALSE. While it's true that knowing how to code in PHP is a great benefit, for most small Drupal projects, coding is not necessary at all. There are so many extant Drupal modules freely available for download, that odds are if you need to accomplish something, a module already exists to do something close to what you want. The Views module in particular will allow you to design very complicated dynamic pages through a graphical user interface, without writing a line of code.

2. All Drupal Sites Look Alike

FALSE. While many Drupal sites stick to the common left-column/center content/right-column layout, there are a number of sites with decidedly nonstandard themes; The Onion is a popular example. Since Drupal 5, experienced theme designers can create themes which allow you to place blocks anywhere, not just in columns on the left and right sides of your page.

3. Drupal Is Hard To Learn

FALSE. Many people get discouraged by the difficulty of finding information about Drupal, or they run into a problem and can't find information about the solution.

  • Drupal's Forums are a good resource if you're looking for the answer to a specific question. Bear in mind that many responses may refer to older versions of Drupal, so pay attention to the datestamp of the response. If it's more than 6 months old, the comment may be out of date.
  • Books on Drupal are becoming more and more prevalent. I recommend these two in particular:

  • Google is a good reference of last resort, and occasionally I can find results in the Drupal forums better through Google than through Drupal's own search.

4. Upgrading Drupal is a Pain

TRUE, BUT CAN BE MITIGATED. While it's true that upgrading a large Drupal installation can be a cumbersome task, you can make it easier for yourself by making informed choices about how your site is built.

  • Don't modify core
  • Only use what modules you need
  • Use contributed modules when possible
  • Commit updates back to Drupal
  • Comment all your changes

5. It's Impossible to Find Help!

FALSE. Drupal's documentation has improved by leaps and bounds in the last couple years, and if you can't find an answer in the docs there are lots of friendly folks on the Drupal Forums who are (usually) happy to direct you to the right place.

If you're a company, non-profit or government agency that needs drupal consulting serivces, there are lots of experienced contractors (including me!) who can provide expert drupal consulting.

1 Comment

4 - Upgrading

Good Points.

When it comes to upgrading, in addition to commenting your code and committing changes back, I would suggest storing any modules you change in sites/[site]/modules and adding a suffix to the version number.

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