Drupal Installation Profiles - Part 2 - Distributions

At first glance Drupal Installation Profiles may seem a little complex, scary or even overkill for your world. But fear not. They can be tamed. At this point I think it makes sense to step back and examine the use of Installation Profiles. They are not as esoteric as you may have imagined. They are a fundamental Drupal mechanism employed by things you are likely already familiar with: Distributions.

So what are Distributions?  A Drupal Distribution is a prepackaged set of modules and configuration settings aimed at a specific target problem set.  Why do they exist? Drupal is a generic CMS platform. With lots of optional contributed modules. A Swiss army knife. A generic solution that requires customization for any specific problem area. Various special interest groups within the Drupal community have decided that they know the best solution for their problem and have provided a prepackaged solution. Thanks!

These packages are called Drupal Distributions.And there are a large number of them. At the time of writing, there are 279 Drupal 7 distributions available. Examination of a few examples will help to illustrate the value of distributuons.

Commerce Kickstart is at the top of the list of "most installed". Want to do some eCommerce?

Commerce Kickstart is the quickest way to get up and running with Drupal Commerce. It includes the latest versions of Drupal core, Drupal Commerce, and the other modules it depends on. It also gives you a set of options to create a fully-featured demo store out of the box complete with an attractive theme, catalog and search configuration, and a custom back office interface.

Who should use Commerce Kickstart? Anyone who wants to skip weeks of configuration to build a commerce site on the Drupal Commerce framework.

Panopoly is a little more subtle regarding its target audience. It provides Point & Click, Drag & Drop website design all based upon Panels. No PHP programming required. But it does not address any specific vertical market. You are left to solve that yourself...

Panopoly is powerful base distribution of Drupal powered by lots of Chaos Tools and Panels magic. The distribution is designed to be both a general foundation for site building and a base framework upon which to build other Drupal distributions (see Drupalcon Portland video) or check out some of its key features (see full list):

The list continues with things like:

  • Open Atrium allows you to confidently engage with your colleagues through convenient collaboration
  • Opigno LMS a full-fledged Learning Management System
  • Open Church is for churches and ministries
  • farmOS is for managing an operating farm
  • and many, many more...check them out at Drupal Distributions

These distributions all leverage the same fundamental Drupal concept: a custom Installation Profile.

You may not be creating something to share with the world. But you may be in the position of trying to re-create your own private Drupal application. Maybe an Installation Profile can help?