A Brief History of Drupal on the Content Management System’s 20th Birthday

On January 15, 2001, Drupal version 1.0 was released into the world.

It was the first step in taking a message board shared by a few students at the University of Antwerp and turning it to one of the most popular content management systems used on the web today.

Drupal was revolutionary. It was open source, relying on a large community of developers to patch bugs and provide contributed modules. It was also free. Anyone could download it and stand it up.

Oh, and it had an odd name.

For that, we can thank Dries Buytaert, Drupal’s founder. Originally, Dries wanted to call the software dorp—which is Dutch for village—but mistyped dorp as drop, which became drop.org which then became Drupal.

This year, there were a few big moments in Drupal: Drupal 9 was released in June and Drupal 7’s end of life was extended to 2022. DrupalCon, an annual meeting of members of the Drupal community was also moved online for the first time due to Covid-19.

Here are some key milestones in Drupal’s first two decades

2001 – First version of Drupal is released. 

2003 – Drupal goes to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota …

Drupal is used to build DeanSpace, a template for supporter’s of then presidential candidate Howard Dean. Dean supporter groups like “Doctor’s for Dean” stand up sites in Drupal to communicate with themselves and other Dean groups. The strategy helped Dean raise money through small donations, a strategy that would be used by another candidate 4 years later. Dean becomes the Democratic front runner to challenge incumbent George W. Bush before finishing third in the Iowa Caucus and dropping out a month later.

2006 – Drupal 6 released.

2007 Acquia is founded and Drupal Association is launched

Dries Buytaert and Jay Batson start Acquia, a company that scales Drupal development to meet the needs of larger companies. Meanwhile, the non profit arm supporting Drupal’s open source community is founded. It’s called the Drupal Association.  

2009 – Drupal Powers WhiteHouse.gov

Some of the Howard Dean people eventually work for the Obama administration and bring Drupal with them. This signaled that open source software was safe and reliable enough to use to power federal web sites. Whitehouse.gov would move to WordPress in 2017.

2010 – Drupal 7.0 is released

“Drupal 7 was probably the most important milestone in Drupal’s history,” Drupal Association CTO Tim Lehnen says, “it was the period of the most explosive growth for the project. It’s the version that I think the most people are familiar with that powers still today quite a lot of the most significant Drupal sites that are out there in the wild. So, I mean, it’s a really big deal. And it was a really important piece of software.”

2013Drupal.org hits 1 million users

2014 – Acquia launches a certification program for developers.

Certifications for Drupal are introduced to codify best practices and legitimize developers within their open source community.  

2015 – Drupal 8 Launched

Drupal moves its core to Symfony, a PHP framework, and incorperates more modern object oriented programming.

2020 – Drupal 9 Launched

Happy 20th Birthday, Drupal!

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