This site is a static archive of Process Arts, an open online repository of arts learning resources that was active from 2009 - 2017

What is a Drupal?

To help explain what Drupal is, it may be helpful to understand what Drupal isn’t or what makes it different from other web software.

What is Drupal open source web development?

Drupal is an open source web platform that provides an endlessly expandable web environment for individuals, groups, businesses and communities. The Drupal platform is free and an out of the box installation provides a skeleton web site for you to start to build and develop, if you want to add video to your site, Drupal has a module for that, integrate social media, there’s a module for that too in fact there’s thousands of modules for almost anything. And all this is made possible by the huge Drupal open source community made up of thousands of web developers who continually improve the Drupal software and create new modules every day. These modules are all offered for free back to you and me to take and use for free on our website, Drupal is a sharing community and those that ‘take’ eventually also become part of that ‘giving’ sharing community and so the open source Drupal community grows from strength to strength.  

How much does it cost?

Drupal is free, but you have to pay for server space/provider to host your website and your URL (website address).

Do I need Drupal training?

Yes, although its up to you how much you engage with Drupal, on a basic level you can create a website in a couple of hours with the most basic of knowledge. Its an advantage, but not essential to have some general web development knowledge and there is no web code knowledge required although for advanced Drupal use you really need to have some knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL/databases and ftp transfer protocols.    

But I can get a ready-made website easier than this?

Why bother with Drupal when I can get a ready-made website with one click from loads of web providers and companies and these are really easy to set up and maintain?  It does seem the easier option but before you go down this road it’s worth considering the choices you make and deciding what is best for you, open source is rarely seen as an alternative option.  Below is my overview of why Independence in your choice of your online provider and web software could be more important than you think to your professional digital future.

Commercial or open source web development

Commercial benefits

Open source Challenges

There’s lot’s to choose from and everything is made so easy, choose from hundreds of ready-made templates, you really can create a website is minutes; everything is kept up-to-date for you. You need no or very little web development skills/knowledge to build a website. When you have built you easy build website, what next?

Open source takes a lot more work, time and commitment as you are a little more independent in your web building approach. You can learn the basics and get started yourself fairly easy but you really have to either get involved yourself or have someone who can support you? Luckily the open source community is built on sharing and support, but it really is down to you!

Commercial Challenges


Open source benefits


Exit strategy: Commercial

Exit strategy: Open source: Open source

Bit early to be talking about exit strategy isn’t it? No if you don't think about this from the start then you may encounter problems in the future as your web home develops and grows. So if you can think a little into the future and about how you’d move you web site, URL and the web community with you if you no longer want to use the host or the host software is no longer sufficient for your needs?  See an example here .


Your Drupal installation can be taken with you at anytime. You must ensure your provider gives you access to all the relevant files (most do if its an open source platform).


So if for any reason you need to move providers then you can copy you site, databases and transfers all this along with your URL to a new provider without losing that all important network of users.

Content Community is king: Commercial

Content Community is king:Open source

If your web host provides a community network web environment, many don't do you really want to invest many years in building this community network with a commercial host? What happens in 3 years when you want to move provider, how are you going to take your network with you?


As above.

Development: Commercial

Development: Open source

Hopefully with most web packages they have everything you need in a website and the provider will keep updating new functionality as you go, but some many wont, you may reach the limitations of your providers service sooner than you think, therefore you could be stuck with them until they or if they get their act together.

The open source community has thousands of developers all contributing to the development of new site functionality, all producing and updating new modules and site improvements continuously. 

Support: Commercial

Support: Open source

You may find the host has limited support or inadequate support, you may even pay for extra support.


The same networks provide active support forums for the open source community.

Software: Commercial

Software: Open source

You are dependent on the hosting companies software this will make it very difficult to develop yourself.

The Drupal core is updated every couple of years, and new releases bring vast improvements. As above modules, upgrades and updates are improved continuously.   

Cost: Commercial

Cost: Open source

Web hosting can be expensive and pricing can change anytime. Advertising may be added for the cheep hosting packages.

All you need in server space and a URL.


Average: 3 (1 vote)
5127 reads
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
This Work, What is a Drupal?, by cfollows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.