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Learn the Lingo: Drupal Glossary

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Process, Tech
We frequently work with clients that are new to Drupal so we’ve compiled this list of common Drupal terms to help them understand us.
Beth Reiser 1

Beth Reiser

Associate Director of Client Services
Part project manager, part account executive, part solution architect, and part creative thinker, Beth is a key contributor to Taoti’s Project Management team. In addition to serving as the day-to-day point…

We frequently work with clients that are new to website redesign projects, and more specifically, new to the Drupal content management platform.

I sometimes take for granted how frequently I use technical jargon in my everyday interactions. As a project manager at Taoti, it’s my job to guide you through the project from start to finish, and ensure you’re always in the know. This stuff is like our second language, and we sometimes forget that a ‘node’ is actually not an intuitive term for a piece of content.

First things first, what exactly is a CMS? Drupal is an example of a CMS, or Content Management System. Its goal is to help users compose and present website content such as pages, photos, and other content types. Rather than forcing users to modify code, Drupal takes care of the details of how information is arranged and presented and lets users focus on the actual content to be displayed.

Want to learn more? We’ve compiled this list of common Drupal terms to help you understand us throughout the project.

  • Absolute URL – The full URL, that gives website users an exact location. An example is: https://www.taoti.com/blog/ Compared to the Relative URL, which would just be: /blog.
  • Admin Dashboard – When logged into your Drupal website, the admin dashboard across the top of the site provides access to backend functionality of the site – including adding and editing content, taxonomy terms, and menu items for example.
  • API – API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’ s a set of instructions provided by a web site or application that details how other sites should interact with it. In the Drupal world, you may hear us refer to the Salesforce.com or MailChimp API when we are integrating those sites with Drupal. APIs speed development and save time.
  • Article – An article in Drupal 7 or 8 is a news story or blog post. It’s the type of time-sensitive content that frequently populates your home page or blog.
  • Basic Page – Basic pages are generally used for static content, such as an  “About Us” page. Basic page is one of the default content types that you get in a Drupal installation.
  • Base Theme – There are thousands of themes available for Drupal. Base theme usually refers to one of a few trendy themes that many developers use as starting points. We build all our themes custom. However, we do use the breakpoints in the base themes to define when to show the desktop, mobile, or tablet version of a responsive site. 
  • Block – A block is a chunk of content (for example: text, images, links, etc.) that can be displayed on any page of your website.
  • Breadcrumb – Breadcrumbs are a type of navigation tool. You’ll often see something like this at the top of a page, Home > About > Staff, with each word being a link back to the respective page. Those are breadcrumbs, and yes, they are named after the breadcrumbs from Hansel & Gretel.
  • Cache – Caching is a way of improving performance in Drupal (or really any) website. It stores the page outside of the database, saving the time involved in fetching data from the database.
  • Content Type – It’s exactly what it sounds like – a type of content. Articles, Events, Resources are an example of a typical content type. It would have attributed such as published date, title, content, etc. In Drupal, every node has to be assigned to a content type.
  • Configuration – Configuration refers to information about your site that is not necessarily content, and is meant to be more permanent than state information, such as the name of your site, the fields in each content type, or the views you have created to display content. Configuration is typically updated by a website developer
  • Contributed Module – Drupal has over 10,000 modules that are not part of the core. Much of your site functionality will likely involve contributed modules.
  • Core – Core Drupal is what you get when you download Drupal from Drupal.org.
  • Cron – A program that runs scheduled jobs. So if your site checks for broken links at night, that job will be initiated by cron.
  • Database – The content on your Drupal website is stored in a database. It’s important to regularly backup your website database to ensure content is never lost!
  • Drupal UI – An acronym for Drupal User Interface, the backend editing experience of the Drupal website.
  • Drush– A command-line tool for managing Drupal. Our developers love it.
  • Entity– An entity is a defined group of content.  Examples include – nodes, taxonomy terms, users, etc.
  • Entityqueue – An entityqueue allows content admin to create queues of any entity type, and it typically used to create an ordered listing of entities within your website. This may also be referred to as a ‘nodequeue’.
  • Field – Refers to data of a certain type that is attached to a content type or other entity. For example, on a ‘Blog Post’ content type, fields may include: Title, Author, Image, Publish Date, and Body text.
  • GIT– The version control system we use to manage code and code changes for your website.
  • IA – An acronym for Information Architecture, the organization and structure of your website.
  • Module – Software that extends Drupal functionality. Core modules are those that come with the standard Drupal install. Everything else is a contributed module.
  • Node – A single piece of content, such as an image or a blog post.
  • NID (Node ID) – The ID number associated with any node. It’s part of the raw URL in Drupal.
  • Node Type – An older term synonymous with a content type.
  • Paragraphs Module – A commonly used module to provide content administrators with more editing power through the use of repeatable, structured content blocks. Instead of putting all content in a WYSIWYG body, content administrators can now utilize pre-defined Paragraph Types for more streamlined, structured content.
  • Paragraph Type – An individual paragraph type can be anything you want from a simple text block or image to a complex and configurable slideshow. An FAQ accordion paragraph type is another example of a paragraph type.
  • Patch – A small piece of computer code, usually in reference to correcting or updating a module in Drupal. (ie – We need to patch the module in order to provide the requested functionality.)
  • Region – Defined sections of the page where content can be placed. The basic regions include: Header, Footer, Content, Left sidebar, Right Sidebar, although it will vary based on the theme.
  • Relative URL – A partial URL that is interpreted relative to an absolute or base URL. If the absolute URL is https://www.taoti.com/blog/, the relative URL here is ‘/blog’
  • Roles– Sets of permissions assigned to users. Drupal comes with two roles, administrator, who can do everything; and anonymous user, who can read public posts and pages on the site. Roles are usually customized based on the workflow and security requirements for each client.
  • Reference Fields – Refers to a field that represents a relationship between an entity and other entities on the website. For example, a Blog Post node may have a reference to an ‘author’ or ‘user’ already added to the website.
  • SEO – An acronym for Search Engine Optimization, the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a site by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
  • Taxonomy – A powerful feature of Drupal that allows us to classify content in a number of ways using keywords, and then dynamically reuse that content throughout the site.
  • Term – A keyword, also called categories in some other systems.
  • Theme – A collection of files that define the look and feel of the Drupal site. Also used as a verb to describe the process of creating the theme.
  • Trigger – An event in Drupal that causes an action to happen. For example, deleting a node may be a trigger that results in an email to the administrator.
  • UX – An acronym for User Experience.
  • Views – A Drupal module that simplifies the process of displaying lists of content or data from the Drupal database.
  • Vocabulary – A group of taxonomy terms to classify content within the website.
  • WYSIWYG – An acronym for “What You See is What You Get,” which is a typical method for editing content. The WYSIWYG Text Editor closely resembles the options you’d see in a Microsoft Word document. The formatting applied to a WYSIWYG area translates to the front-end with the applied styles of the web design.

If you read through the entire list, props to you! Of course, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Project Manager if you ever have any questions about the lingo, or need further clarification. That’s what we’re here for!

Interested in taking a more technical deeper dive into Drupal 8 terms? Click here for further reading.