Understanding Drupal Modules - dummies

By Lynn Beighley, Seamus Bellamy

If you are a new Drupal administrator, you’re already using modules without realizing it. Drupal itself is composed of a set of modules, known as the Core modules. To see what is meant, log in as an administrator and choose Modules from the Dashboard menu bar.


Modules preinstalled with Drupal are called Core modules. The two types of Core modules are

  • Optional: These are modules you don’t have to enable for Drupal to run, but they are also some of the most useful ones. A few of them are enabled by default (so your “option” is to turn them off or leave them on).

  • Required: As you might guess, these modules have to be enabled for Drupal to run. They’re the heart and soul of Drupal. You can’t disable or delete them.

The easiest way to tell which module is required and which is optional is to look at the check box next to the title of each module that was installed with Drupal. An optional module may appear checked or unchecked, depending on whether you wanted that module enabled or disabled. A required module will always be checked and cannot be altered — it’s enabled by default.

Take a look at the Modules list and notice the required Core modules. There are eleven of them:

  • Block: These modules are chunks of code that hold content and menus; you can place them in the regions around the main content area. The regions displayed in your site depend on the theme you’re using; they control where you can place Block modules.

  • Comment: This module allows users to comment on and discuss the content published to your site.

  • Field: The Field module is responsible for storing, loading, editing, and rendering field data. This module makes it possible for Drupal to display fields that the user can edit and interact with.

  • Field SQL Storage: This module stores the data captured by the fields that the user accesses via the Field module.

  • Filter: Before Drupal displays content on your site, it removes and modifies certain kinds of code or content that could allow your site to be compromised by hackers. The Filter module scans and removes potentially harmful content. It also turns web-page addresses into clickable links.

  • Node: Content types, such as a story, page, poll, or blog post, are organized into nodes, discrete units that can be viewed either alone on a single page or on the same page with other nodes. This module is responsible for managing nodes.

  • Options: This module defines the check box, selection, drop-down menus, and other input methods for the Field module.

  • System: This module manages all the important site configuration settings that you, as the administrator, control.

  • Taxonomy: Simply put, the Taxonomy module allows you to tag and classify your Drupal site’s content.

  • Text: The Text module defines how text behaves on your Drupal site. This module works in conjunction with the Field module.

  • User: If you couldn’t log on to your website as the administrator to manage it, your site wouldn’t be very useful. The User module contains the code that allows users to log in, the administrator to set up and manage accounts, and unregistered users to request accounts.