Must-Have Drupal Modules for Building a Site

Make Customized Pages Other CMSs Can Only Dream About

So, you've set up a new Drupal site, and you've installed the ​​must-have Drupal modules for a new site. Now you want to start building your site. Here are the essential modules you'll need.

All of these modules are available for Drupal 7.

Content Types

Drupal was one of the first major CMS programs to offer easy content types. When a title and body aren't enough, you can design a new content type with custom "fields".

For instance, an "Album" content type might include fields like Artist, Year, Label, and Genre. With Drupal, you can create content types easily on the administrator pages -- no coding required.

So where's the module to download? Actually, as of Drupal 7, you don't need to download anything. Content types were moved into core. But they​ used to be a module, and I want to make sure you know about these feature.


Views is still a module (until Drupal 8). If you're "building" a Drupal site, not just firing one up and adding content, there's a 98.4% chance you'll want to use Views.

Views allow you to list, sort, and filter your content in pretty much any way you can imagine. Complex listings that would take reams of PHP arcana with another CMS (​cough, WordPress) can be clicked into place with Drupal Views.


You're probably planning on using​ blocks. May I suggest the ​Boxes module instead?

Boxes are similar to blocks, but offer several key advantages.


Speaking of blocks, the default Drupal ​blocks admin page leaves much to be desired. Let's say you want to show certain blocks on only certain pages. The blocks admin page can (kind of) do that. You can configure each block individually.

With advanced memory techniques, you may be able to look at the long list of blocks on the admin page and actually visualize which block appears where. Maybe.

But what if you want to show certain blocks for certain content types, along certain paths, for users with certain permissions? The blocks admin page goes into the fetal position and whimpers softly.

You, wisely, install the ​Context module.

(For a radically different -- and mutually exclusive -- approach to laying out your site, see ​Panels.)


If you install Boxes, Context, or Panels, you'll also install ​ctools, the Chaos tool suite. You probably won't do anything with ctools directly, but these other modules require it. I mention it here so you don't wonder where this mysterious module came from (especially when it needs a security upgrade).

These few modules grant you a tremendous boost in power and flexibility as you build your Drupal site. Master them, and you'll be able to build amazing, complex pages without touching a line of code.

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