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Drupal is a flexible, feature-rich and powerful open source platform for building content-driven websites and user communities. Drupal can be used for a variety of academic purposes, from virtual research environments to digital collections projects.

Drupal is ideal for content-based projects that seek to organize and connect a variety of media and data. With its fine grained system of permissions and its ability to create and link arbitrary content types, Drupal is ideal for projects where the goal is to link as many things as possible, and to discover, in the process, the patterns that connect them. Drupal is search engine friendly, and may be your best choice if you are planning to develop a large website, especially if you want to highlight complex relationships between different types of content. Compared to WordPress, Drupal has a larger learning curve. Some of Drupal's strengths are also its weaknesses. For example, it is highly flexible and customizable, and configuring all the possible modules to achieve the desired effect can be challenging, but the payoff is that your site will look and function just the way you want it to. Once you have set up your site in Drupal it can be easily edited.

SHANTI has adopted Drupal to support complex projects that are not easily supported by easier to use tools such as WordPress and Omeka. SHANTI plans to develop a set of customized, domain specific instances of Drupal that can be used to support multiple users and projects.

Who Might Be Interested in Using Drupal?

Anybody may consider Drupal to be a useful tool if they are creating a project that matches any of the following use cases:

  1. The project involves many users with various roles and authorization requirements. For example, a collaborative project may include certain documents that are visible to the public as well as other documents that are visible only to users with certain roles in the project. One such project currently in development is the UVa Community's site.
  2. They want to grow a community of scholarship around a research topic that will involve users in aggregating digital resources and communicating about specific issues. The project creators may not want to limit participation to the UVa community but may wish to allow different levels of access to materials.
  3. They want to build a thematic research collection involving a variety of media types, for example, images, documents, and maps, and don't have the time or resources to build a database application from scratch.
  4. They want to build a scholarly website that goes beyond a cataloged digital collection and exposes a critical and interpretive framework around their content. That is, they want to foreground not the media themselves but the content and meaning of the media. For example, they may have a collection of texts and images associated with a particular historical period or culture area, and want to show the connections between both sets of media in terms of people, places, events, and topics. For example, see the House Divided Project at Dickinson College.

How Do I Access Drupal?

If you are interested in learning more about Drupal and how it may be useful for your project, contact SHANTI for a consultation. You are also encouraged to visit the Drupal home page directly, at

You can also "test drive" Drupal by exploring the UVa's Community Guides site, a collaborative Drupal instance designed to support the growth of communities of practice on Grounds. To join the site, you need to either be a member of Community Guides or to talk with someone from SHANTI. You can initiate that conversation by writing to SHANTI.

How Do I Use Drupal?

If you are interested in using Drupal or have already begun to use Drupal for a project, let us know. SHANTI will host workshops for you and other interested members of the community. You are also encouraged to explore the documentation on the Drupal site.

Where Can I See Effective Uses of Drupal?

For specific examples of Drupal in use, visit the Drupal website to see sites that involve social networking, news publishing, education, art, music, multimedia, and more.

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