Drolutions - On Drupal's flexible framework
by Frederik Demets
Part of being a member of the Acquia Solutions Architecture team is coming up with creative solutions on a daily basis. When discussing a certain use case, usually our team comes up with at least 4 different ways of solving a particular problem in Drupal. Ranging from ingenious, to stark raving mad or even just plain funny, but all technically valid. While discussing these, sometimes, outrageous ideas get merged into a valid solution that meets all requirements. This got me thinking, why is that?
We all know Drupal can do lots of different things. And by "we" I mean people who use Drupal on a daily basis. It becomes a different story when we have to pitch Drupal to people who are not familiar with its unique model. Then, its flexibility can become a thorn in the eye of people who need to see the complete picture. Also, Drupal doesn't demo nice out of the box which doesn't help a lot either. (But I'll come to that later.)
A couple of weeks ago I was working on an RFI reply where the customer was looking to select a new CMS system. Sadly, these RFI's are written the old way, where a product either does or does not have a particular feature.
This is not how Drupal works. In Drupal's case we have look at a requirement and come up with an "out of the box solution". The question here is: what is out of the box in Drupal?
Most of the times we can say with almost a 100% certainty it's possible in Drupal by mixing the right amount of modules, configuration and code in there. And I'm not even talking about full on custom modules.
So, how can we turn this infinite flexibility into bite sized features? My answer:
Drolutions™ (the ™ is not true, but looks good right? :-) )
Drolutions form the basis of an architecture. Drolutions is what our presales team comes up with to answer a particular feature request. We are fairly certain that this covers the requirement and most of the times that's enough for an RFP and a budget estimate.
Drupal comes with hundreds of Drolutions out of the box!
Think of how many ways you could use the Voting API, the webform module or Organic Groups! A lot right? And these are only 3 modules and don't even get me started on hooks!
On the other hand we have to be very careful about Drolutions. They often depend on a lot of factors to get right.
Drolutions only become solutions when all requirements are known.
Business requirements, performance, external dependencies, etc… Drolutions are a way of aligning us with proprietary vendors by creating a high-level feature set so we can go head to head on a level playing field!
Can we see these Drolutions in action?
Oh yes you can! Acquia is spearheading an initiative to establish a demo framework. This is where we implement some of these Drolutions to show off the value of Drupal in different use cases and business scenarios. Things like workflows, digital experience management,...
Go over to drupal.org/project/df and give us a hand in showing Drupal's Drolutions!
Drolutions Architect, Acquia