Drupal Development
Nov. 25, 2013

Is Drupal an Application or a Framework?

Let me preface this post with the following:
I am not a Drupal developer.
I do however spend a majority of my day surrounded by six highly talented Drupal Architects who are generous with their wisdom and teach me about the platform on a daily basis.

I am a content manager.
Understanding how the website I update on a daily basis works is extremely important to me. I’m constantly wondering, why can Drupal accommodate the custom requests I make with ease, when my open source blogging tool that I use for my personal projects makes it seem like I’m climbing Everest? So I asked, what is the difference between a web application and a web framework and where does Drupal fall?

Applications are…

A tool dedicated to one specific task. Some applications allow you to send emails. Some applications allow users to create blogs. Some applications come in the form of a CRM. Some applications allow you to collaborate and store documents in the cloud.

Each of these tools allows you to complete a specific task in an outstanding way.

Applications, Frameworks, and DrupalSo how do Frameworks differ?

Technically the concept of a framework is very abstract. I have assured my developers that I won’t pretend that Frameworks can be described in less than 1,000 words. That being said, in its essence, how does a framework differ from an application?

Frameworks are intricate ecosystems of code that are a little like a box of legos. You can use the individual blocks to build a castle today or a Dune Buggy tomorrow.

Frameworks have the ability to house an infinite amount of applications within the ecosystem and create the path for these applications to communicate with another. Frameworks make requests to remote servers and communicate swiftly back and forth between applications.

DrupalAnd then there’s Drupal.

The hybrid. The meeting point between applications and frameworks. The platform that you really can do anything with and that is precisely why we use it to build custom solutions for our clients.

Drupal is the starting point to build almost anything you would like on the web. Drupal can build a massive global community like BloombergCurrent, host a 24-hour news publication like Al Jazeera, and service an eCommerce site like Rent the Runway. Unlike a strict application, which is intended to function as only one thing, the Drupal framework can be manipulated into structures, and sites, of various shapes and sizes.

You may wonder, can’t other frameworks do all this? The answer? Developers are like magicians. You can throw them at any system, they will whip out their spells of magic code, and they can turn a computer into a pumpkin with the right amount of time, money, and resources to make it happen.

But when it comes to building your new website, an unlimited amount of time, money, and resources probably doesn’t reflect your reality. You have a timeline to meet, and a budget to keep. So what do you do when you don’t have a magician?

You use Drupal, the framework that can build these various types of sites out of the box, no wands needed. So what can this software platform do?

·      Create Microsites: using the same piece of code Drupal allows you to rapidly prototype microsites in building many iterations of versions of your website.
·      Create a Community: Are you looking to build a community site? Drupal can configure communities very easily and is ideal for creating organic groups of users.
·      Create Communication Opportunities: Drupal has the ability to make one site talk to another and makes it relatively easy to tie systems together to communicate information.

Drupal can’t be pigeonholed as an application or a framework, instead it should be viewed as a software platform. An incredibly powerful software platform capable of building intricate web applications and your next corporate website.

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By
Ariel Upton

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