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Drupal Developer’s Toolbox

After publishing the recent WordPress Developer’s Toolbox1, there were several Drupal developers calling out for equal coverage. In this post you will find a thorough collection of all kinds of resources that will aid designers and developers working with Drupal-powered websites. This collection is intended to simplify your tasks and save you time when working with Drupal.

This post covers essential resources related to Drupal — the basics, modules, Drupal design inspiration, Drupal themes, tutorials, starter themes, blog editors and Drupal-projects.

1. The Basics Link

Just getting started with Drupal? Looking for some general resources to have bookmarked for when you need them? These resources will help you cover the basics of Drupal and provide documentation for much of your future work with the platform.

The Drupal home page and location for downloading the latest version.

Drupal Handbooks3
If you’re new to Drupal or just looking to learn something new, this is a collection of helpful handbooks to keep at your side. A good place to start if you’re new to Drupal (written for Drupal 5).

Theme Developer’s Cheat Sheet (for Drupal 5)
A helpful PDF that you may want to refer to from time to time.

Drupal API Reference4
Get everything you need concerning the API from the official API reference.

Drupal Taxonomy, Drupal Nodes and Other Terms – What Do They Mean?5
Confused by some of the terms you’re reading about Drupal development? This post may clear some of that up.

Drupal Code Search
A helpful resource for developers. You’ll be able to search the source code of thousands of Drupal modules and themes.

Drupal Whitepapers, Cheat Sheets and Free Books6
This post is a collection of other useful resources that may interest you. Some of them are written for older versions of Drupal.

WordPress vs. Drupal7
When should you use WordPress and when should you use Drupal?

2. Modules Link

Drupal developers and users alike need to be familiar with modules (plug-ins). There are countless modules available for a wide variety of purposes. The collection here includes some basic resources for working with modules, and also some links to various popular and useful modules.

Drupal Modules8
The main page for finding available modules, according to category.

Core Modules
Get the documentation on the modules that ship with Drupal core.

A community-powered rating and review service dedicated to helping you find the best Drupal modules for your project.

Drupal e-Commerce10
An open-source package of modules to help you set up an e-commerce website with Drupal.

Nice Menus11
If you’re looking for an easy way to create drop-down or expandable menus, try Nice Menus.

This module integrates Moxiecode’s popular TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor into a Drupal website for editing advanced website content.

Front Page13
This module makes it possible for users to show a different front page or splash page to visitors.

Clean URLs14
If you’re creating Drupal websites, you’ll want to be able to create friendly URLs. This module can help.

FlashVideo will expand the upload module to accommodate video uploads, plus it will automatically convert it to Flash format.

Content Construction Kit (CCK)16
CCK allows you to add custom fields to nodes using a Web browser.

Global Redirect17
Help your website’s SEO with Global Redirect, which makes some subtle, but important, redirects.

Easily create contact forms, questionnaires, registration forms, surveys and polls with Webforms.

Module Developer’s Guide19
If you plan on developing modules, this is a must-read resource that will get you started.

3. Drupal Design Inspiration Link

When working on a Drupal-powered website, you may find it helpful and inspiring to see what others are doing with Drupal. Fortunately, there are some great resources for showing off the work of other designers.

The best source of Drupal design inspiration, with over 2,000 websites being showcased.

A social network to showcase Drupal-powered websites.

Dries Buytaert22
The blog of Dries Buytaert includes a number of inspirational Drupal websites.

31 Remarkable Drupal Powered Websites23
Earlier this year, Six Revisions published a mini-gallery of inspirational Drupal websites.

4. Themes Link

Whether you’re looking for free themes to customize, premium themes to take your projects to the next level or places to distribute your own themes, the Drupal community has several options available.

Themes at Drupal.org24 includes a gallery of free themes that are available for download.

A marketplace of Drupal and WordPress themes, both free and premium.

All Drupal Themes
Nine free themes to choose from.

Top Notch Themes
Sells themes for Drupal 5 and 6.

20 Great 2-Column Drupal Themes26
A nice collection put together by Mashable.

20 Great 3-Column Drupal Themes27
If three-column themes are what you’re after, Mashable has another collection for you.

5. Tutorials Link

The Drupal community provides plenty of tutorials to teach you just about anything you want to learn about development with Drupal. Here is a categorized list of some excellent tutorials.

5.1 Developing Themes Link

How to Make a Drupal Theme28
This tutorial will explain the basic files that make up a Drupal theme and will help you code your first theme.

Drupal Theming for Designers29
This is another tutorial that looks at the basics of building a Drupal theme and the files that are involved.

Create a Killer Band Site with Drupal: A Six-Part Tutorial Series30
An awesome, in-depth tutorial from GoMediaZine that takes you the whole way through by building an example website for a band.

From HTML Mockup to a Full Drupal Site: A Tutorial – Part I: Introduction and Installation31
This is the first of a three-part series on taking a design from mock-up to fully-functional Drupal theme. Also see Part II: Site Setup, Content and Modules32, Part III: Template Theming, Integration and Finishing Touches33

5.2 Modules Link

How to Install/Enable Drupal Modules34
If you’re a Drupal developer, chances are you’re familiar with installing modules. If you’re a new Drupal developer, here is a basic tutorial.

Drupal’s Forum Module
A look at how you can avoid duplicate content when using the forum module.

Turn a Plain Jane HTML Template into a Drupal Theme with the Theme Generator Module35
Instructions for using the theme generator module, which may save you a lot of time in development.

5.3 Performance Link

Scaling Drupal – An Open-Source Infrastructure for High-Traffic Drupal Sites36
For those developing larger websites, scaling will often be a concern. This tutorial goes through some of the things you can do to help Drupal’s performance under pressure.

Improving Drupal’s Page Loading Performance37
Looking to speed up a Drupal website? Try following these steps.

5.4 Taxonomy Link

Taxonomy: A Way to Organize Content38
Learn how to better organize your content and use vocabularies, terms, menus and more.

Drupal Taxonomy Tutorial
An introduction on how to use Drupal’s taxonomy system.

5.5 SEO Link

Basic Drupal SEO: On-Site Optimization39
SEO should be a consideration for any developer, and this post takes a look at how it applies specifically to Drupal-powered websites.

Drupal SEO: How Duplicate Content Hurts Drupal Sites40
Learn about a few potential areas of duplicate content and how you can solve the problem.

Drupal and Robots.txt
A look at some customizations that can be made to the standard Drupal robots.txt file.

5.6 Forums and Wikis Link

Private forums in Drupal: Forum Access vs. Taxonomy Access vs. Taxonomy Access Control Lite41
If you want to take Drupal a bit further and use it to power a forum, read this tutorial.

How to Create a Wiki with Drupal42
This post takes you through the basic steps of setting up your own wiki.

5.7 Galleries Link

How to Make a Photo Gallery with Thumbnails in Drupal43
A 10-step process for setting up a simple photo gallery.

How to Build Flickr in Drupal
This tutorial will show you how to build a Flickr clone powered by Drupal. (Note: this tutorial is 2 years old, but still interesting.)

5.8 Navigation Link

Tutorial on Basic Nav, Hierarchy Nav, Blogroll, Separate Blocks for Nav for Newbies44
Effective navigation is key to any website. Here are some Drupal-specific tips for improved navigation.

Theming Drupal Primary Links with Child Sub-Menus45
A simple tutorial for improving the navigation on your website.

5.9 General Tips Link

50 Drupal Tips and Tricks46
A nice, big collection of quick tips on theming, development, JavaScript and more.

45 Screencasts to Get You Kicking Ass with Drupal
This post contains links to screencasts on a variety of subjects on working with Drupal.

Take Control of Your Drupal Theme47
Learn how to use a custom front page, a stand-alone log-in page and more.

5.10 Other Tutorials Link

Customising the User Profile Layout48
A useful tutorial if you want to use Drupal to build an online community.

Creating a Custom Homepage in Drupal Using Views49
On many projects, you may want to use a custom home page. This tutorial takes a look at a solution.

6. Drupal Starter Themes Link

Starter themes can save you a lot of time in development by eliminating some of the common tasks that you do with each new theme you create. If you’re always starting from scratch or customizing an existing theme, give a starter theme a shot and see if it improves your workflow and productivity.


Blueprint is a starter Drupal theme meant to make development of custom themes faster; alternative: Zengine Starter Blueprint Grid Theme52

7. Blog Editors Link

BlogJet is a Windows blog client for managing multiple blogs. The cost is £29.95.

A popular free offline editor that supports a number of blogging platforms, including Drupal.

If you’re building an e-commerce website, Ubercart is an open-source solution that fully integrates your online store with Drupal.

Acquia is dedicated to making Drupal more useful for developers by providing value-added software products and services. One of their projects, Carbon, focuses on social publishing applications and making it easier to develop community-oriented websites.


Footnotes Link

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

  1. 1

    Beer is my poison

    September 24, 2008 1:12 pm

    Very nice roundup! Thanks!

  2. 2

    Yayy ! First ! :P

    Great Article ! Keep it coming guys!

    EDIT:- OH SHIT! This Beer guy came first!

    anyhow I saw it FIRST !! yayyy! :P

  3. 3

    thanks for the very thorough roundup! i’ll be sure to read it when i decide i need drupal :)

  4. 4

    Fantastic post, I have been a long time fan of drupal and this backs that up.

    definitely bookmarking it…

  5. 5

    Really a great article. Thanks for all these great ressources !

  6. 6

    Wow, there goes my afternoon…

  7. 7

    It’s remarkable that the Views module is not listed in the Modules section, since it’s one of the most popular, powerful and widely used Drupal modules.

  8. 8

    I digg the Drupal love and great roundup of important Drupal resources.

    I’d like to see a follow up post put together by a Drupal expert that points to the best of Drupal 6 theming resources. Also, a post on how to blog, or multi-author blog with Drupal.

    Great stuff. Thx Smashing and Steven.

  9. 9

    Great post. Thanks

  10. 10

    this now comes very handy, I’ve to say .. :)

  11. 11

    This is so great , thx for this

  12. 12

    Thanks for this post, it could not have come at a better time for me as I am about to use drupal for a new community site.

  13. 13

    Amazing… this is the kind of roll up I am looking for.

  14. 14

    Thanks for featuring Drupal! Should’ve thrown this at a Drupaller though, I’m sure it could’ve been prettied up some. Right now its a massive, overwhelming-ness of Drupal (bit like Drupal itself).

  15. 15

    Thanks heaps guys!
    I’ve just been begged by a friend to update her website which was originally made with Drupal, and knowing absolutely nothing about it this is awesome :)

  16. 16

    Drupal is horrible! Long live Ruby on Rails!!!

  17. 17

    very nice… thank you!

  18. 18

    Developer’s Toolbox for Joomla???

  19. 19

    Cool! And now for the Joomla Developer’s Toolbox…

  20. 20

    Great Drupal resource/round-up!!


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