Where does the name come from?
Drupal gets its name from the Dutch language, but it was founded in Belgium.
The origins of Drupal are from a man named Dries Buytaert, who created it as a message board for him and his friends.
Dries was planning on naming it Dorp.org (which means village in Dutch), but when he bought the domain name he mistyped the word, and it ended up being “Drop”.
As the message board grew, people shared ideas, and discussed about other web technologies. It became such a great experience that in January 2001, he launched the software behind “Drop” and named it Drupal.
Drupal, is a term that embodies the word “Druppel” in Dutch this word means drop as in a water droplet.
So, what is it?
Drupal is an open source software, and anyone can use it to build a website.
So, is it like Squarespace or WordPress?
What's different? A lot.
Squarespace is a WYSIWYG, meaning what you see is what you get. The templates with Squarespace are often times beautiful, but limited in their ability to be customized. Squarespace is able to maintain a high standard in aesthetic, which is great for anyone who doesn’t know how to write code, or doesn’t want to hire someone to do it. However, it isn’t so great for someone who wants a website that doesn’t look like a template. WordPress, on the other hand has aspects of both Drupal and Squarespace. The templates are similar to Squarespace, although WordPress provides a pretty compressive ability to customize those themes.
Drupal is a powerhouse when it comes down to a comparison of any of these platforms.
Security is one of these differences. With WordPress, hackers can target a vulnerability inside a plugin and wipe out thousands of sites. Drupal on the other hand, is used by many government websites such as Whitehouse.gov. Another difference is flexibility. The balance between flexibility and simplicity can be a struggle. If a solution is simple, it can only be used for a single purpose, and if it's flexible, it may be too difficult for a first-time user. This is especially true when it comes to a content management system (CMS).
A good example of this would be a toy truck.
With most content management systems, there are basic assumptions on how these are to be used, and trying to override some of these assumptions can be difficult. This is where Drupal is designed to be the perfect content management system. While most CMS are only built to be presented in one-way, Drupal is more, it isn’t just a toy truck. Drupal is rather a collection of wheels, axles, frames, and glass. With Drupal, one is able to create an airplane or a robot. This is one way Drupal is considered to be a CMS as well a management framework.
So, in the end, whether you're a site builder looking to create an ecommerce site, a social network, or a blog, it's just a matter of combining the right frame to the right wheel. The only limitations one is faced with is the designer's imagination. An example, of what this might look like is a homepage. Let’s say you want a homepage to display the five most recent articles along with the five most recent blog entries. On most ordinary CMS, this would require multiple plugins to display this information. Or maybe the next day you figure out a way to display both columns, but there isn’t a plugin that will do what you need it to do. This would require a developer to custom build a plugin to do that. Or if you have Drupal, it's just a matter of knowing how to snap both parts together.
Drupal is highly customizable, but because of that, it has a higher learning curve because it has the ability to do pretty much anything you can think of. So fair warning, if you're used to other platforms, and they were easy to use, just know Drupal might take some time to get to know, but you will be happy you did. One of the strongest things in Drupal that adds to its flexibility is something called, “Nodes”.
What does that mean?
Nodes are little bits of information. For example, when you are creating a new page it is a node, and Drupal stores all the content of your website and treats them as nodes. This makes every piece of content on your site very flexible as you are able to connect it to other nodes however you see fit. Another one of these differences is scalability.
By scalability, I mean you can extend your Drupal core to a higher level with a variety of contributed Drupal modules. The Drupal modules are able to be integrated perfectly well with Drupal's core. This means regardless of how many modules you have, or how different they are, they will all fit like pieces of Legos. And since, Drupal is open source software, if there is a module you want to use that doesn’t exist you can build one, or hire someone to build one.
What are the uses of Drupal?
Drupal isn’t really limited to much, and so this list isn't complete, but more of a “list of common uses of Drupal”.