Drupal is the most popular Open Source CMS (Content Management System). It is free software that is used to power and develop all kinds of websites from some of the most notable, highest traffic sites on the internet to small home-businesses and personal blogs.
The "Drupal Core" gives the basic functionality that you expect of any CMS - user login and registration, page creation, editing etc. This functionality can be expanded by the use of free "modules" which extend the capabilities of the system.
Being open source, and using the PHP programming language, any sufficiently competent programmer capable of working with PHP can create new modules and add new functionality. No programming skills are necessary to perform ordinary day-to-day use and maintenance of a Drupal website. Because Drupal is open source and so widely used, it is very stable and thoroughly tested.
This is a good question, after all, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all perfect solution in any sphere - certainly not in web development. We're realistic - Drupal is not the answer to everything.......... but on the other hand you should bear in mind that most people want to do similar things on the web - selling products, showing images, getting found in search engines, blogging, video, sharing files..... And it should come as no surprise that the biggest open source content management system, the one with the most people working on it, is naturally great at doing the things that most people want to do on the web.
If you have a very set idea of what your website will do now or in the future, then, particularly if the scope of functionality is limited, there may be better solutions than Drupal. But if, like most online businesses, you don't quite know what tomorrow will bring, let alone one, two or five year's time, no other system offers you as much flexibility as Drupal. You want to add E-commerce, photo galleries, collaborative book writing, file uploads, pay per view, pay per click, multi-seller multi-buyer environments.... it's all available out of the box with Drupal. And more is being added every day.
Being open source as well as very popular means you're not stuck with one developer or a little known technology - this probably gives you the biggest IT advantage you could want in business.
To see if you're considering good technologies and to compare with Drupal, please give us a call - if Drupal is a good solution for you, we'll show you why, if not, we'll tell you straight.
In a word, no ! Drupal is very simple for the end user and for the administrator of a website. It really is one of the easiest and simplest CMS to use. When creating a website, there may be more work and more planning required from the developer at the outset when compared to, say, Wordpress or Joomla. The reason for this is there is so much functionality available and so many modules...... This could be confusing for a newcomer to Drupal development but for an expert, it's run-of-the-mill work. If you're a developer who is new to drupal, it's worth sticking it out through the learning curve, it will make life much easier for you in the future as your website expands.
We're Drupal developers so we're going to say "Drupal" aren't we ? But don't knock Wordpress, Joomla or Plone, they're all good bits of software, very popular and, for the developer it can be easier to work with a simpler, more basic CMS (that's not the case for the site's admin or end users though).
The main question is how far you want to expand.... and how well you can plan your site's future. Wordpress and the others really won't cut it as an online store - and you're going to run into limitations pretty quickly if you want to do much beyond a blog and some ordinary pages. If you can afford the initial outlay (because, yes, often it does cost more to develop a Drupal site compared to say Wordpress) it will work out cheaper and better in the long run. And check before you assume that Wordpress or Joomla is going to work out cheaper than Drupal - there are more low cost Wordpress and Joomla developers out there but we work very efficiently and you'd be surprised that developing a Drupal site might be cheaper than you think.
Every application, CMS or technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Drupal is no exception. For a fairly balanced appraisal of Drupal's weaknesses, read the Wikipedia entry. From our experience, we'd say the usability and learning curve issues are really not applicable to site owners - they tend to find our sites very easy to use, learn and administer. Backward compatibility has necessarily been sacrificed as the price to pay for the fast-moving development that is needed for websites and web applications. Performance, like all good software, is always on the table for improvement - we're constantly making improvements to both the software itself and the hosting environment and other Drupal developers are doing the same. While considered a weakness, we find that site performance is no worse than comparable sites and controlling our own hosting environment ensures we can work on performance improvements without restrictions.
We have chosen to use Ubercart for our e-commerce sites. We have found that it is stable and well made and also that the user interface is very straightforward for our clients. There are other good e-commerce suites too but they lack the flexibility you get with Drupal. The ones we're always asked about are Zen Cart, OS Commerce and Magento. Of these, only Magento is a serious competitor.... but with a big weakness too. The business model means that the full-featured version is expensive to support, with severe restrictions on who can support it, and it is not open source. The free version is open source but the content management, SEO, availability of modules and flexibility aren't a patch on what you get with Drupal. The CMS is weak enough that if you're using the free version of Magento, you should consider a Drupal / Magento integration - it's a bit messy but you do get the best of both worlds. However, Ubercart gives you the real flexibility you need by working directly with Drupal in a very user-friendly way. We've developed so many additional features for Drupal / Ubercart. EPOS integration, delivery and warehousing system integration, gift vouchers, product recommendation engines, product kits.... multi-vendor multi-buyer environments.... the list goes on. We really do think that no other e-commerce suite gives you this flexibility.
Since 2004. We got started early on when looking at different solutions for an online antiques store and were convinced by the fantastic flexibility it gives to the site owner as well as the stability of Drupal core.
At infomagnet, we develop useful modules and often sponsor them, making them available to the wider Drupal community. You can see a list of our key modules here.
If you require a module, or are unhappy with the functionality of an existing module you are using then please get in touch and we'll give you some ideas of how best to develop module functionality. Sometimes the choice of expanding an existing Drupal module or creating a new one can be difficult - we can carry out a code review and advise on the best course of action.
Yes, we do. Infomagnet offers a complete hosting solution on our own servers. We have our own servers in a data centre in New York. Backups are taken daily to a mirror server in Texas and weekly tape backups are made on a fortnightly rotation. All our sites are run as local copies of a Subversion code repository offering version control as well as additional security for your codebase. Read more about our hosting and backups here.
Drupal7 is currently in an alpha stage. According to http://drupal.org/node/725382:
We will switch to betas when the upgrade path from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 is working. Once we hit beta, we will become increasingly strict about accepting any more changes and we'll also commit to making HEAD to HEAD upgrades work.
So, it's still a bit uncertain the exact date of a final release, or even a release candidate.