Should you be building your next website in Drupal?

This is a guest blog post I did for IS Labs.

For people who see the web as a platform to build a business, to communicate ideas, or to change the world, choosing the right platform is often a difficult choice, and normally comes down to what you or your friends know best. Having a first-hand understanding of the capabilities of the tools available will put you in a stronger position, a position in which you yourself can make informed choices. So when an opportunity to learn more about one of the most popular open source web platforms presents itself in your backyard, why not grab it? The local Drupal community invites you to a free event aimed at introducing Drupal to web designers, developers, hard-core programmers, publishers, content administrators, entrepreneurs, in fact for anyone who uses the web as a communication or business medium.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open source content management system that enables individuals and teams to rapidly build, and easily manage public and private websites, while at the same time being a framework on top of which one can build more complex web applications.

Companies, organisations and institutions like Warner Brothers Records, The New York Observer, Popular Science, TWIT.tv, SpreadFireFox.com, Amnesty International, Forbes, Harvard University, MIT, The Onion, Zappos, Obama, Team Sugar and more, use Drupal to publish, connect online communities, and to inform the masses.

Powerful features:

  • flexible module system,
  • customisable theming system,
  • extensible content creation,
  • built in search engine optimisation,
  • role-based access permissions,
  • social publishing and collaboration tools and much more.

Strong community

Drupal has a significant user community which contributes back to the project in numerous was, from contributing to the core code, creating additional modules, adding to the documentation and helping out in the user forums, IRC, local and international communities. If you have never been involved in an open source community, then Drupal is a great place to discover first hand the wonderful thing that open source is. Anyone can get involved in making it better, and contributing back and being part of the Drupal community, is incredibly rewarding.

Drupal is free to download and use.

You don't need to pay any licence fees - you can download and use Drupal right now. There are also Drupal installers and distributions which make it easier for non-technical people to get set up quickly and easily. See Acquia's DAMP installer for a great example of this.

How can you learn more?

Please join the local Drupal community on Saturday the 15th August as we introduce you to the Drupal content management system, hosted at IS's chillroom, Le Mans building, The Campus, Bryanston.

Kicking off with a brief introduction to Drupal, we will then take you through the basics of using Drupal, from installation to creating your first site. We will then be showcasing some existing Drupal sites, explaining how they were made, and then we'll break up into workshop/discussion groups around key Drupal topics. This will be followed by a chance to chat to other Drupal fans along with boerewors rolls and refreshments.

We would like to stress that you don't need to know anything about Drupal to be able to get something out of this event: whatever your line of work and technical skills, you will leave having learned something new.

Full details of the event appear here. Please note that your name needs to be on the list to gain entrance to the event, so make sure you register in one of three places:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128214055933
http://groups.drupal.org/node/24586
http://drupal.co.za/content/drupal-jhb-meetup-15th-august-2009

or send me an emal: charlietnt@gmail.com and I'll put you on the list.

Seats are limited to around 80 people, so don't leave it to the last minute.

If you can't make it?

If you are not in Joburg or just can't make it, there are an abundance of Drupal books that will get you up to speed very quickly, and cover topics like drupal css, design, theming, module building, basic content management, beginner introductions and the nuts and bolts of the Drupal code. I'd recommend "Using Drupal" for people new to Drupal, and for those who want to take things a step further, check out "Pro Drupal Development, Second Edition", and "Leveraging Drupal - getting your site done right". We also hold these events about once a month, so if you can't make this one, look out for the next one. Please subscribe to the newsletter on drupal.co.za to stay informed.

If you're still reading this...

Then check out the cool session proposals for this year's European Drupal Conference, in Paris: http://paris2009.drupalcon.org/sessions - interesting and exciting stuff! Yes, the Drupal community ROCKS!