Although it has been around for 15 years and has an almost fanatical following, Drupal has never been the most talked about CMS. WordPress has the startup and hobby market cornered, and high end systems like Rails get more press at the top of the ladder. This is set to change, however. Drupal is bigger than you think, and getting bigger. 2017 could well be the year for Drupal. Let’s examine Drupal, what it is and what it does, and then we can attempt to explain why we’ll all be talking about Drupal in 2017.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is an open source content management system. It’s powering the back end of a large number of influential websites around the world. The fact that Drupal is open source has led to it developing a fanatical community of Drupal users. Their development of extensions to the CMS has been integral to Drupal’s growth. The community still provides support to versions of Drupal no longer supported by the company themselves. It’s seen as a step up from the entry level CMSs like WordPress.
Drupal was formed in 2001 by Dutch programmer Dries Buytaert, and its name comes from the Dutch word for ‘drop’. The current version of Drupal is Version 8, released in November 2015, although most Drupal-backed sites are still using Version 7. The functions that are new in version 8 include WYSIWYG editing and improved support for mobile sites. At time of writing, we’re on the update 8.2.7.
Who Uses Drupal?
Drupal is a hugely popular content management system. It’s estimated that 2.2% of sites on the web are powered by Drupal. The list of big name sites using Drupal includes social networks like Twitter and Pinterest, and media companies such as ITV in the UK and The Economist. You’ll also find Drupal on the back end of sites as diverse as London Gatwick Airport, The White House, Lamborghini, Rainforest Alliance, and the site for the pop megastar Bruno Mars. It’s recently been incorporated into the sites of Worldpay and NASDAQ.
Why is Drupal so Popular?
There are numerous reasons why Drupal is gaining real traction in the web development industry. Firstly, developers love the functionality of Drupal. It’s essentially a blank slate on which you can write anything you choose. It’s easy to incorporate features into your site, such as advanced menu management, user management, blogs, and discussion boards.
Developers also like that it’s easy to collate content with Drupal. The graphics management tool is useful and functions well. Drupal is also very reliable, easy to grow out when your website and your business scales.
And the Down Side?
There are a few points about Drupal that developers dislike, too. These are always on the wish list when updates come around. Developers complain that Drupal isn’t as efficient as other CMSs, such as WordPress. Sites with a lot of functionality can consume serious amounts of CPU and can be slow to load.
The other main complaint is that Drupal is not easy to use. There’s a steep learning curve, especially when compared to WordPress. It’s hard to install and modify, and hard to build applications.
Finally, developers say Drupal could improve its media management functionality. The media storage system so popular with WordPress users it’s absent in Drupal, and it’s all the poorer for it.
Drupal in 2017
We’ve seen that Drupal is already a widely used, well supported, and well loved CMS. As we progress in 2017, Drupal is poised to go from strength to strength.
Expect to see Drupal becoming the power behind the new wave of tech on the web. Drupal has the functionality to move into artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, and anything else developers can think of.
Finally, expect to see Drupal replacing other CMSs as the power behind even more big name websites. To be fair, it’s happened so often in the last few years, it’s not really news anymore when Drupal gains another big name site.
Time will tell if 2017 will be the year of Drupal, but it’s clear that it’s ideally placed. Drupal already has the scale, the big name backers, and a large community of developers to take a giant leap this year. The challenge is whether it can address the small amount of complaints that hold it back from gaining true critical mass. One thing is clear, it will be interesting to watch.
What do you think of Drupal? Tell us in the comments.