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10 Essential Drupal Modules

Wed, 2013-01-30 12:37 -- Stuart Mitchell

Drupal is a hugely popular content management system that allows you to create websites with a wide range of features and customisation. Though Drupal has a selection of modules built into its core software, it also has the functionality to allow third-party contributed modules and themes. These ‘contrib’ modules can extend Drupal’s default behaviour or add on useful features. There are currently just shy of 20,000 contributed modules available to download on the Drupal website.

Here are 10 essential Drupal contributed modules for any website builder looking to broaden the ways that they can use Drupal.

1.    Views - http://drupal.org/project/views

The Views module gives website developers greater flexibility in how site content is displayed. For example, through using the Views module you can choose to display your content in a list, a table or an image slideshow. Views can be extremely useful for customising your website and as a SQL query builder.

2.    Panels -  http://drupal.org/project/panels

The Panels module allows you to create and change layouts quickly and easily. The module utilises a drag-and-drop content manager that lets you customise your layout and then add your content into it. You can easily create 1, 2 and 3 column layouts and make the pages of your website look how you want.

3.    Menu Block – http://drupal.org/project/menu_block

Through the use of the Menu Block module you can configure menu trees and their different levels. This module can be particularly useful if you have more than two levels of navigation on your website as you can customise how your menus are displayed and what is included.

4.    Pathauto – http://drupal.org/project/pathauto

The Pathauto module is a useful tool that automatically generates URL/path aliases. This means that you can create and choose URLs for your website content that are more search-engine friendly. Using the Path module allows you to create more appropriate URLS for your pages, but the Pathauto module can create the URLs for you automatically.

5.    Media – http://drupal.org/project/media

The Media module is often regarded as a great way to handle and manage media on your website, i.e. images, audio and video. The Media module replaces the built in core Drupal upload field with a unified User Interface where you can manage and upload your media files.

6.    Webform – http://drupal.org/project/webform

Webform is a contributed module that adds the functionality for making surveys in Drupal. After a survey has been submitted, you can choose turn on an option that will send an email ‘receipt’ to the participant. You can also choose for the administrators to be notified when a response is submitted. Results can be exported into spread-sheet applications, such as Excel.

7.    Rules – http://drupal.org/project/rules

The Rules module lets you define conditional actions that will trigger when certain events happen on your website. For example if a certain user makes a comment on your website it will perform a particular action. The actions you can implement could include custom redirects or system messages.

8.    Context – http://drupal.org/project/context

With the Context module you can extend and customise Drupal’s built in block system, this means that you can create blocks and choose when and where on your site they are active. Context allows you to set contextual conditions that will effectively be ‘checked’ when the webpage is loaded to see what should show up.

9.    Date – http://drupal.org/project/date

The Date module is a simple but highly useful module that allows you to add flexible date and time fields to your website. It also includes a Date API that can be used by other modules.

10.  Display Suite – http://drupal.org/project/ds

Display Suite is a powerful tool that lets you move fields and change how your website content displays quickly and easily. The Display Suite module utilises a drag and drop interface which allows you to rearrange your website without having to edit template files. The simplicity of this module means that, if you wanted to, you could make changes on the move using a mobile device.

Some examples of our Drupal website developments and builds can be viewed online here:

Interoute.com - http://www.interoute.com/

RCP Events - http://www.rcpevents.co.uk/

Royal African Society - http://www.royalafricansociety.org/

Know the Net - http://www.knowthenet.org.uk/

Institute for Government - http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/