Essential Drupal Modules

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We love the blue drop

You’ve just installed Drupal – Now what? Drupal can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned web developer or designer, but it’s an extremely useful and powerful system when used correctly. We have another post planned for setting up and optimizing Drupal for different scenarios, but today, we will look at some essential modules that many websites will find useful – or essential… like the title says:

Custom Search

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

What an exciting way to start a post – a boring old search module – just stick with me here, ok? Drupal already has a search feature built in, but Custom Search takes it to 11. Not only can you customize everything about the search area and the results, you can add advanced search features right into your search box. You have to make it easy and quick for readers to find your content, so install the Custom Search module and make searching less painful.

Adaptive Image

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

If you have any form of an image on your website this module is a must. Delivering an optimized image tailored to the users screen resolution will help save on bandwidth (think mobile here) and give your website a consistent feel across many devices. This module is based off of Matt Wilcox’s Adaptive Images and takes care of all the ‘heavy lifting’ – no rewrites are needed, Drupal and this module will take care of all this for you. Install the module, set which image styles you want to be ‘adaptive’ and you’re done! There are more options available for those who like complete control, but this module works great ‘out of the box’.

IMCE

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post
IMCE Screenshot

Who doesn’t love this dog?
image: IMCE Module at drupal.org

IMCE is a great way to quickly insert images into your content. I know, sounds pretty basic, but it’s how IMCE works and what it does that makes it great. Features like instant uploading to your server, resizing, creating thumbnails, disk quotas per user and/or directory and even user based restrictions, will make content authoring simpler. There are even more modules available to extend IMCE’s functionality (like Drag and Drop uploading), but we will focus solely on stock IMCE here.

Backup and Migrate

Available for Drupal 5, 6 and 7 at the time of this post

I know, this module is covered ALL the time, but I cannot stress enough the importance of backing up your database! Backup and Migrate allows for many different backup configurations and ways to save your data. Scheduled backups are also possible, so you don’t have to worry about running backups manually. Pair Backup and Migrate with Backup and Migrate Dropbox and instantly send your backups to a Dropbox location – Perfect for the data-paranoid like me!

Code per Node

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

Sometimes you may need some Javascript for only one or a few pages on your website. Why add the extra overhead to your entire site when you can have it only loaded when needed? Sure you could make a custom page inside your Drupal installation, but we aren’t ALL developers! Code per Node allows you to attach custom JavaScript or CSS on a per page (or node) basis, right inside your content editor.

FitVids

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post
FitVids

FitVids has a very cool website – Screenshot from their site

Don’t you hate when embedded videos have to throw your beautifully responsive website layouts into the gutter? I don’t… because it doesn’t happen to me with FitVids. Just like Responsive Image – FitVids will take embedded videos and make them responsive. Keep that crazy cat video under control and inside your content area! FitVids can be used via the module link above or check out their website by clicking on the image.

PathAuto

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

PathAuto is another module that everyone talks about, but I just can’t leave it out. PathAuto allows you to automatically create clean, search engine friendly links to your content. You can base your URL scheme on almost anything and even override the generated URLs on a per content basis. Stop using the default URLs that Drupal generates, they don’t tell anybody what you’re trying to share – Install PathAuto and forget about it!

Global Redirect

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

If your using URL alias’, especially with the PathAuto module, you need to install Global Redirect. This module will take care of all your 301 redirects and make sure your content is still accessible from any URLs that were generated for that particular content. It will also keep your site from getting the axe from search engines for having ‘duplicate’ content, based on the fact that Drupal still keeps the old node/xxx URLs available, even if you use alias’.

Spambot

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

One of the first lines of spam protection used for all Drupal sites we create, Spambot will stop any known spammers from registering and/or commenting on your site. You can also scan your users to see if any of them have been flagged before, then remove them from your site automatically, before they flood you with crud! While this is a great module itself, spammers and bots are getting smarter and this module won’t catch them all, so we pair it with a few others which we will discuss below.

Captcha

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post
Bot

Get outta here you bot!

I don’t think we need to explain this module… We all know what Captcha does – Simply install this module, set your rules and you’re done! A quick note on the settings – we’ve found that the noise generation should be set to 2, as well as the distortion. This creates a better looking Captcha that isn’t easily solved by bots. There are many different modules available to create different types of Captcha’s – like draggable images, ASCII art and more – but we find the standard Captcha to be best.

BOTCHA

Available for Drupal 6 and 7 at the time of this post

Remember how I said bots and spammers are getting smarter? Some are so smart that they can solve even the messiest of Captchas. BOTCHA can help with those smart guys! BOTCHA has a series of ‘recipes’ available to create hidden form fields on any page. These fields won’t be filled out by humans (they can’t see them), but will usually be hit by bots. If BOTCHA detects the field has content – goodbye bot! With Spambot, Captcha and BOTCHA installed, we haven’t had a single spammer – try them out on your site and say goodbye to Viagra and overseas royalty sending you free money.

Hopefully you’ve found something in this post that will help you in your search for modules for Drupal. While there are thousands of choices for modules, these are very broad selections that will benefit any website. If you have any additions to this list, please feel free to drop us a comment or send us a note on Facebook or Twitter.

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