From a Message Board to 1 Million+ CMF - A Brief History of Drupal

Drupal’s history dates back to 2000 when Dries Buytaert and Hans Snijder - who were at the time students at the University of Antwerp - created a message board in order to be able to communicate among each other. Back then, permanent Internet connections were not as common, especially for students. Soon, the message board evolved into a content management framework (CMF) which was initially available on drop.org website. In 2001 Dries decided to make the framework freely available to others as open source. He called it “Drupal” which comes from the Dutch word “druppel” that translates as “drop”. The new CMF became quite popular but it really took off only after the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (born 1948) used it for his online campaign in 2003.

The Role of Howard Dean in Popularisation of Drupal

Dean played an important role in popularisation of Drupal. In 2003 when he decided to join the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, he launched the DeanSpace network connecting some 50 websites that supported his candidacy by using Drupal. Dean didn’t manage to get his Party’s support for presidential nomination, however, his approach to campaigning turned out to be essential for the growth of Drupal’s popularity over the following years.

Similarly, Dean also “revolutionised” the U.S. Democratic Party’s view of the Internet for both fund-raising and grassroot campaigning. According to many experts, Dean’s “online methods” played the key role in the Democratic success in the 2006 Congressional Elections and the later 2008 Presidential Election.

Drupal’s “Father” Dries Buytaert

The Belgian programmer Dries Buytaert (born 1978) didn’t develop Drupal alone. But he was the lead developer of this hugely popular CMF which is currently being used by over 1 million websites from a wide range of industries as well as government and government agencies, multinationals, personal blogs, academic institutions, media, etc.

Besides being known as the Drupal’s “father”, Buytaert is also known as the co-founder the company Acquia which was launched in 2007 to provide technical support and various products for Drupal. One year later, he also developed Mollom, a web service which helps block and eliminate web spam including comments, posts, etc. In 2012, however, Mollom became a part of Acquia.