After fifteen years of going from strength to strength, it’s a great time to look back on the Drupal that was and how it became a powerhouse of the open source content management world.
Way back in May 2000 the Drupal project was born. In December 2000 Drupal 1.0 was named and since then it has taken over 33,000 commits to build Drupal as we know it today. Thanks to a dedicated community backing and flexible technology, Drupal is now a stable modular platform that is used by over 1.18 million websites. Did you ever think how Drupal got so big? We’re going to take you through this journey right now.
Drupal 1 (Drop)
Drupal 1.0 contained a mere 18 core modules, each driven by a php file. The system relied heavily on SQL to manage and modify content, themes, layout and more. Pre-loaded themes gave web developers a jumping off point, and Drupal allowed developers to hook into existing code and tweak colours, layouts and functionality to their liking. The original system came with some nice basics like a search function, comment fields and a diary/blog functionality.
Drupal 2.0 was released shortly after and come packed with translation features. Developers could now build or translate their sites by altering the database, a feature which opened up Drupal to a global community. 2.0 also brought in improvements to user ratings, stories and a whole host of additional fine tuning to the user access groups, allowing greater control over site development and stakeholder interactions.
Drupal 3.0 saw the introduction of the concept of ‘nodes’, taking over the common idea of web pages. Nodes increase flexible for creating and displaying content. All kinds of content, whether a web page, blog article or news item were managed by the node module. Comments and actions were attached directly to the node which increased flexibility in site building and later changes. The use of nodes instead of pages has become commonplace in mobile development, ten years after Drupal embraced the concept.
At this stage, six months had passed, and Drupal had grown to 26 core modules. In June 2002 Drupal 4.0 was released. Almost 100 major sites were built with Drupal, and a wide community of developers were contributing to the project across Europe and the United States.
Drupal 4.0 introduced the Taxonomy module, taking over from the meta module and giving site builders an entire new toolset for categorising, sorting and marketing their content. With a friendly user interface and a strong community of contributors Drupal 4.0 had moved away from its humble origins and taken a place as an enterprise quality Content Management System.
At this stage Drupal moved to a slower release schedule, with Drupal 4.1 not being released until February 2003, eight months later. Drupal 4 lasted until January 2007, with seven releases over four years.
Drupal 4’s releases saw a massive expansion of capability, including its first e-commerce module in 4.4. It also introduced its first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, opening doors for web-writers without a coding background, and offered much more flexible theming options. Drupal saw a massive surge in usage when presidential candidate Howard Dean launched a multitude of interlinked campaign sites using Drupal.
Drupal 5.0 also came neatly packaged in a web based installer saving users from manual database manipulation and allowing the creating of custom packages pre-filled with contributed modules and themes. The backend was tidied up with a whole new file structure, and css files were automatically compiled and compressed, greatly reducing site loading times. Site builders were given the ability to control caching and create custom content types leading to greater performance and customisation.
Drupal 6.0 was released in February 2008 and supported until just last year. At the time that support ended there was an estimated 120,000+ websites still using Drupal 6.0. With 34 core modules, over 7000 contributed modules and 600 custom themes the modular genius of Drupal was undeniable. This new release contained a completely new menu structure that had been written from the ground up, and a friendlier installation process. The community also increased security, brought in more user friendly elements to the User Interface (such as drag and drop administration) and upgraded the language support to handle right-to-left languages.
Drupal 6.0 remained for three years. During this time it was used to host Whitehouse.gov, one of the largest profile websites at the time. Whitehouse.gov is still using Drupal to this day, although they have updated to Drupal 7.0
In 2011 Drupal 7.0 was released and by this stage it is being used by web developers from all walks of life. Small business owners, large corporations, bloggers and government agencies are all using Drupal for its flexibility and ease of use. At this stage there are over 11,000 contributed modules and 200 distributions available, though Drupal Core is kept slim with just over 40 core modules.
Drupal 7.0 saw even greater flexibility with interaction between nodes and modules, allowing any module to call, alter and display any node. Every item in Drupal 7.0 became an individual entity capable of being manipulated and displayed to the user to create a vast flexible website.
Drupal 8.0 was officially released on the 19th of November 2015. It has since been running on a six-month update cycle, meaning we already have access to Drupal 8.3. It comes bundled with over 60 core modules, and one of the most popular contributed modules ‘Views’ is now part of that core module set. Drupal 8.0 users over 60 database tables, but includes smarter tech like BigPipe to keep site load times to a minimum.
Drupal has been running ahead of the curve since the beginning, and with a strong community backing it won’t be stopping any time soon. Drupal’s evolution has always emphasised ease of use, quick site adjustments and a brilliant modular design that means no two Drupal sites are alike. It’s been a long ride to get here, but you can be sure that Drupal will be leading the way for years to come.