Insider's Guide to Drupal Modules

Apr 25, 2016 - Posted by: Sue Spolan

Drupal modules are a great way to extend Drupal’s core functionality. If you’re new to Drupal, understanding and using modules can be intimidating. Read on to learn module basics, including what they are, how they are used, and how to pick which ones are best for you.

What are Drupal Modules?

Modules are blocks of code that extend the functionality of Drupal’s core. They are written, tested, and maintained by members of the Drupal community. Essentially, when developers need a Drupal site to do more than it can do out of the box, they crank out a customized module to accomplish what they need. Since Drupal is open source, developers share their creations so others can improve and modify the module.

The end result is a functional chunk of free code that anyone can use to improve a site. Core modules are modules that have graduated from lab stage to Drupal core, meaning they come pre-installed when you download Drupal. Well-loved modules are added to core in new Drupal releases; for example, the Views module is now part of core in Drupal 8.

Modules save developer time, client money

These modules have been deployed across thousands of sites, so potentially thousands of developers have worked with the code and ironed out any inherent issues.

It’s important to remember that modules are produced independently, so sometimes two or more may not play nicely together. Bugs from conflicting modules are typical. Many times someone else has already run into the problem and provided a patch.

How do you pick modules?

When building a site for clients, most developers have a few favorite modules they like to use, but it’s easiest to determine which ones are appropriate as you begin to understand site requirements. In some cases, you may write brand new modules specifically tailored to meet the needs of your website.

When you look for the best modules to use on your site, use modules that are recently modified, meaning they are likely well-maintained. You can also look at how many times a module has been downloaded to measure engagement.

Check out our favorite Drupal modules.

Sue Spolan
Sue's career spans journalism and marketing; she's worked in broadcast, print and online journalism; she creates and executes social and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies and startups.... Read more

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