Drupal: Modules you can’t live without

Drupal is rapidly becoming one of the most widely used content management systems in the world, reportedly running 1% of the internet worldwide.  (Still less than WordPress, but impressive none the less).

One question that I tend to hear often is “what modules do you recommend for every site?”  This question is not easily answered, because almost instantly I can list 20 modules that I would recommend.  This is why most people feel like Drupal is too difficult, because ‘it is lacking of the box.’  In my opinion that is what gives Drupal it’s flexibility and strength, and because every site is different it can be hard to recommend modules ‘for every site.’  However I am going to recommend a few that I can not imagine creating a Drupal site without.

1 – CCK – “The Content Construction Kit allows you to add custom fields to nodes using a web browser.”  – This means that using CCK you can created different ‘content types’ for your site, but adding fields to the node type.  For example a news items could consist of a text field for the title, a text area for a description, and a url/title field for a related link. (That is the most basic example)

2 – Views – “The Views module provides a flexible method for Drupal site designers to control how lists and tables of content (nodes in Views 1, almost anything in Views 2) are presented.” – Simply put, views is a user interface for creating custom mySQL queries of Drupal content.  For example you could create a list of recent news items simply by creating a new view and configuring it to pull in those items.

3 – Zen – “Zen is the ultimate starting theme for Drupal.”  – That statement pretty much sums it up.  Zen has been the best bare bones starter theme available for a while now.  (Zen works the best when you are creating a completely custom design / theme for your site.)

These are just three of the normal additions that we, at NUAMPS, make to a new Drupal site.  But these are without a doubt the first three additions that are made.

I will continue to post about modules, themes and site building strategies, I will be tagging everything in the Development Tips category so please feel free to check back in and leave some comments!