In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic - OPTASY would like to offer DRUPAL website support for any Health Care, Government, Education and Non-Profit Organization(s) with critical crisis communication websites or organizations directly providing relief. Stay Safe and Stay Well.

The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions: Why Should You Even Use One in the First Place?

The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions: Why Should You Even Use One in the First Place?

by Adrian Ababei on Nov 23 2017

What are Drupal 8 distributions anyway? Why bother using one: what would you gain by using one instead of building your Drupal 8 site from scratch? And, most importantly: which are the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from?

… the top-rated ones, both by other companies already using them and by Drupal experts, as well?

There are lots of different Drupal Distributions: Commerce Kickstarter, Open Atrium, Drupal Commerce, etc. build for different versions of Drupal. Which ones are the best?

Let's jump straight ahead to the answers you're looking for now, shall we?

First Things First: What Is a Drupal Distribution After All?

“A Drupal distribution packages a set of contributed and custom modules together with Drupal core to optimize Drupal for a specific use case or industry." (Dries Buytart, Distributions Remain a Growing Opportunity for Drupal)

Take it as an all-in-one-place or a conveniently quick and easy-to-install package.

One which, once “unwrapped”, delivers you all the site-specific features and business use-case/industry-specific functionality that you need:

 

  • Drupal core
  • precisely those contributed and custom modules that you need 
  • themes
  • predefined configuration
  • installation profiles
  • libraries

     

Bottom line: it's Drupal + additional software components (strategically assembled and preconfigured) that you get with a Drupal distribution software.

One that will turn setting up your use-specific Drupal 8 site into a breeze! “How to install a Drupal distribution?” quickly turns from a hard nut to crack into nothing but a child's play.

Just imagine how much time and valuable resources you'd otherwise invest in:

 

  • scanning through the overwhelmingly rich collection of Drupal modules
  • figuring out which are THE ones catering to your specific use case or industry
  • installing all the needed elements (and here we're not referring to Drupal 8 modules only) one by one

     

And here we can talk about 2 types of Drupal distributions:

 

  1. the full-featured ones 
  2. the quick-start tools

     

Key Advantages of Using One Over Building Your Site From The Ground Up

Before we push forward, into the spotlight, the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from, let us outline what you'll gain, precisely, from making this decision:

 

Using a Drupal distribution over setting up your website from scratch.

 
  • launching your website turns into a matter of a few... hours; instead of delving into a load of thousands of modules yourself, the preconfigured site that you get by choosing a software distribution delivers you everything you need in a single download: wrapped up in one installable package! 

     
  • by comparison, the “traditional” way of setting up your site would grant you access to Drupal core only; any additional functionality needed calls for... additional downloads

     
  • maintaining your whole ecosystem of modules and other site components becomes less time-consuming: one single update is enough for all Drupal modules and features (vs “hundreds” of them in a conventional Drupal site build scenario)

     

And now since selecting the proper Drupal distribution, the one that best suits your specific type of site, your business use case, and industry, is key, let us reveal to you the top-rated ones to consider choosing from:

 

And Here Are The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions

1. Lightning

Empower your editorial team and you'll get (even) better content on your Drupal 8 site!

With the Lightning Drupal distribution for enterprise, you get to turn crafting, adding, editing, and publishing content into a rich authoring experience!

How does it work you say?

Practically Lightning's built to "fuel" the editorial experience with these 4 modules' powers combined: Workflow, Media, Layout, and Preview.

Hence, content editors get all their feature/functionality needs satisfied for creating great content (and handling content editing operations) with great ease.

 

2. Varbase

The "nitty-gritty" of any Drupal web project!

This is what you'll get once you "unwrap" your package with the "Varbase" name tag on!

Basically, the essential modules, configurations, features, and functionalities that any Drupal 8 site needs are all bundled up in this starter kit, at a click's distance!

Get all these necessities downloaded and installed and give your site's development a major speed boost.

 

3. Contenta

Planning to jump on the decoupled Drupal bandwagon? To progressively decouple your Drupal 8 site maybe?

Then Contenta, the API distribution for Drupal 8, makes your best "ally" in turning your decoupling Drupal project into a success story!

What it does, precisely, is it eases the overhead of making a decoupled architecture work (or simply “trying it on”, to see first whether it fits you or not):

 

  • it provides you with an API-ready platform (admin configuration here included)
  • ... demo content
  • ... and even example front-end applications

     

4. Reservoir

Here's another API-first Drupal distribution, (still) an experimental one, that you can rely on for supporting your Drupal decoupling initiative. 

... if you were looking precisely for a flexible and easy to use tool for building a Drupal content repository that your front-end app could easily access via HTTP APIs.

But what makes Reservoir one of the best Drupal 8 distributions?

 

  1. it takes the burden of modeling and managing content off your shoulders 
  2. it enables your team of developers to set up a basic, yet functional content back-end, all while preserving the rich content editing experience (with all the functionality and features that editors get "spoiled" with) that Drupal 8's well famous for 

     

Note: surprised that Contenta and Reservoir have made it to our "best Drupal 8 distributions" list? Don't be! The 2 API-first distributions might still be community-driven experiments. Yet, all the potential they "promise" to unlock in a digital landscape where the channel/device/design-agnostic trend and the API-first approach rule is not to be underestimated.

 

5. Thunder

Out-of-the-box publishing technologies (Riddle Interactive Content, Facebook Instant Articles) and modules from industry partners (Valiton, Nexxt.tv, Acquia) is what you'll get along with your Thunder "package".

In short: all you need in an all-in-one the bare necessities and more addressing all your professional publishing needs!

 

6. LISSA Kickstart

A Drupal distribution built to help you streamline your events and client notifications management and publishing process. 

What you'll get specifically is a Drupal-based technology stack for real-time messaging in second screen apps. One which, as a media company, you get to leverage for:

 

  • pushing notifications to your clients
  • publishing video stream (live or on-demand)
  • ... with convenient ease

     

7. Open Social

By far one of the most popular Drupal distributions, Open Social couldn't have possibly missed from our top including the best Drupal 8 distributions.

Go for it if it's a:

 

  • social community platform
  • intranet solution
  • portal
  • or any other Drupal-powered social project that you're planning to build

     

It will dramatically speed up the development process as it provides you, right out-of-the-box, with all the elements that your social community site could need:

 

  • Notifications
  • Timeline
  • Events
  • Follow
  • Groups

     

And this it IT! Our own selection of the very best Drupal 8 distributions to consider as "candidates" for your own specific Drupal project. Select the one that best fits your project's specific use case, then weigh its advantages and... decide how you'll invest the time that you will have saved using it (instead of building your site from scratch).

Development

We do Web development

Go to our Web development page!

Visit page!

Recommended Stories

Is Drupal Good for eCommerce? 11 Excellent Reasons Why You’d Choose It over Another Platform
"... wanna run eCommerce on Drupal 8 but don't know if it's a good idea." But is Drupal good for eCommerce?  And, most of all: Is it better suited for your own online business needs and feature requirements than other eCommerce platforms out there? Some legitimate questions you're struggling with there… To give you a hand, here's a list of 11 excellent reasons why you'd lean towards Drupal for your next eCommerce project. Reason #1: You're in Full Control of the Source Code to Make Any Changes You Want In other words, you don't need to convince vendor first that the changes you need to make are beneficial for him/her. You're free to extend Drupal eCommerce platform's core functionality, to adapt, and extend its code till it meets your needs entirely.  … till it integrates perfectly into that specific software that you use. Which is not the case when you go for a commercial solution: you're not granted access to the core code for any custom software development work that you might need to make. Of course, this "reason" becomes a really strong selling point only if/when: you have non-standard business requirements it's a large, complex eCommerce website that you're building Reason #2: Your eStore Grows With Drupal  Drupal scales with your business... effectively. And by that I mean that it's designed to keep the resources and the time required to handle your online store's growth at a minimum. Being: flexible by nature (its open source nature) powered by the API-first initiative … the Drupal 8 eCommerce platform makes the best choice if "scalability" is on top of your list of requirements. Reason #3: You Get to Reach Out to Your Customers Across Multiple Channels  "Is Drupal good for eCommerce?" It becomes the perfect option for your own eCommerce website if you're planning to reach out to your customers across an entire network of sales channels. Let's say you have your main/central eCommerce website and you need to pull content from there and to distribute it across a whole ecosystem of channels — eCommerce apps, digital kiosks, conversational interfaces — and devices. Then, the API-first initiative allows you to tap into a headless commerce Drupal architecture and: use Drupal as a back-end content repository configure your content to fit all types of formats and reuse it whenever (and wherever) needed increase your outreach incorporate business automation into your development team's workflow: help them work smart and achieve more Reason #4: You Get to Deliver Content-Driven eCommerce Experiences With Drupal, you get the best of both worlds: an eCommerce platform (by integrating one of its specialized eCommerce modules into the content management system) a content platform And this is what makes it ideal for: tapping into the experience-led eCommerce model getting the most out of your content marketing efforts (think blog posts, effectively interconnected product pages, user guides, etc.) Reason #5: You're Free to Integrate Any Third-Party Service into Your Online Store From: marketing platforms to analytics services to payment gateways of your choice (there are 80+ payment options available with Drupal Commerce) to third-party add-ons that would automate your team's tasks and boost their productivity (while boosting online sales, as well) … Drupal & its eCommerce component accommodates any type of integrations you need to make. Reason #6: "Is Drupal Good for eCommerce?" It Is for Delivering High-Speed eCommerce Experiences Just think… real-time shopping cart updates.  Or pretty much any action that your customers would need to carry out on your eCommerce site, then turbocharge it with top speed. A decoupled Drupal Commerce setup (add the JavaScript framework of your choice here) enables you to deliver such type of dynamic user experiences.  Reason #7: You Have No Limits to How Much You Can Extend Your Drupal 8 eCommerce Website Drupal Commerce can grow as much as your business needs. Whether you need to integrate: a whole network of third-party systems a whole lot of contributed modules an eCommerce Drupal distribution (a bundle of multiple modules) a Drupal eCommerce theme  … and extend your eCommerce store's functionality, there's no limit to what you can incorporate into your Drupal eCommerce website. Reason #9:  You Benefit from an Extremely Configurable eCommerce Solution "Whereas eCommerce solutions are often developed with an application mindset, highlighting what you can do with it out of the box, Drupal Commerce was developed with a framework mindset, focusing on what you can build with it." (Source: Drupal.org) Basically, you're free to customize every little piece of your Drupal 8 eCommerce site, till it: delivers that unique shopping experience you want it to meets all your ultra-personalized requirements: to trigger certain actions based on user input, to display multiple tax rates, to have an out-of-the-ordinary checkout flow, etc. Here, it's up to you and it depends on what you need to build: Are you looking for a cookie-cutter eCommerce solution, that would help you get a generic webshop up and running in no time? Or do you want unlimited customization freedom, that comes at the cost of…  investing more time in writing custom code? Reason #10: You're Free to Sell Both Physical and Digital Goods And that thanks to Drupal Commerce's flexibility: It provides you with the functionality you need to start selling your digital products — subscriptions, tickets, online courses, etc. — on your online store. A key aspect to consider when comparing the features of your best options in terms of eCommerce platforms in 2020. Reason #11: You Can Make the Most of the Granular and Differential Access to Content Drupal allows you to define different roles for your team members and to assign several levels of permission to each role. Not everyone would then be authorized to edit content, add products, manage orders, publish content, etc. This way you get to: set up a convenient hierarchy harden your online store's security  So, Is Drupal Good for eCommerce? Maybe a more appropriate question would be: "Is Drupal the right solution for my eCommerce business?"  It might be... And these 11 reasons mentioned here do become the best arguments for you to choose it over another platform (Ubercart, Prestashop, Shopify…) if: it's a growing or an already established eCommerce business that you run (otherwise, all that configuration and custom work might be an overkill for a small business) you have complex feature needs for your online store: you need to integrate it with coupon rules, several backend systems, and so on Do you fit the eCommerce business owner "profile"? For we do fit the profile of that Drupal eCommerce agency you're looking for, capable to tweak it till it fits your complex requirements to the slightest detail. Just challenge us!   Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 30'2020
10 Best Headless CMS in 2020, That Cover Most of Your Requirements (Part 2)
Ready to compare the features of 5 other best headless CMS in 2020? We've got them ready for you to just dive in and: survey the key reasons why you'd choose one over the other discover each one's main use cases narrow down your options … and pick the one that matches your requirements. What Is the Best Headless CMS in 2020? 5.6. Directus An open source tool for managing and delivering content across an entire network of platforms and devices. And here are some of the top reasons for choosing Directus: it provides your editorial team with an easy to use admin app for managing content it can be in the cloud or self-hosted it provides API for your development team to fetch content 5.7. Netlify CMS  One of your top 10 headless CMS options, an open source one, that you get to add to any static site generator of your choice. A React single-page application that provides you with an easy to use UI, playing the role of a… wrapper for your Git Workflow. Basically, when using Netlify CMS your content gets stored in your web app's git repository (as markdown files), close to your codebase.   "How does a Netlify CMS Gatsby setup work?"   It's pretty straightforward: You enter your content via that user-friendly interface, then Gatsby uses it to come up with the right pages for your web app. Why would you use it? it fits both large and small-sized projects, with fewer pages to create, to add content to, to edit, and to manage you get to review/preview your content and make changes in real-time, and even control entries status in editorial workflow mode it provides you with an easy-to-use UI, with just 3 tabs: workflow, media, and content you're free to use it with any static site generator you get to extend its functionality: add your own UI widgets, editor plugins, customized previews, etc. 5.8. GraphCMS     An API-first content management system, a GraphQL-native one, that allows you to distribute content across multiple digital platforms. And not just anyhow, but… within minutes. Your developer team gets to create content APIs in no time, whereas your content team gets all the tools they need for a smooth editor experience.   Source: capterra.com GraphCMS vs Contentful: Main Differences GraphCMS works best for enterprise and mid-market companies, enabling them to build highly scalable applications GraphQL is its underlying technology: an open source query language for APIs, that's been growing more and more popular among developers Contentful targets top global brands, helping them distribute digital content experiences across complex networks of markets and channels REST is its underlying technology: a programming paradigm for distributed systems And here are 2 good reasons for choosing GraphCMS as your go-to headless content management system:  you get a CMS that's client-side and JAMstack compatible you get to tap into the benefits of a JAMstack approach to development (JavaScript & Markup & API) 5.9. Cosmic A cloud-hosted headless content management system that provides you with both GraphQL and REST APIs. But what makes Cosmic one of the best headless CMS in 2020? Why choose the Cosmic Headless CMS?  it ships with features like content modeling, media management, localization, and webhooks it grants you a smooth editor experience with its WYSIWYG  editor, that you can use to incorporate (by embedding code) third-party services like Typeform and GitHub. it integrates smoothly with AWS, Slack, Algolia, Stripe, HubSpot 5.10. Kentico Kontent A cloud-based content delivery API that turns your structured content into content that's easy to be "consumed" by any device or digital platform that you might use as a front-end delivery layer.  Why would you choose it over other great options of headless CMS? you get an AI chatbot when using Kentico Kontent it provides webhooks and custom elements that make third-party integrations a lot smoother you get content management API enabling content consumption And we've come to… the END of the list of 10 best headless CMS in 2020. Which one checks the most features off your list? Now, if you're facing a "Headless Drupal 8 vs Contentful" dilemma, we're here to: help you identify the one that works best for your business and your requirements make your headless CMS-based project work Just drop us a line!   Image by tdfugere from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 26'2020
10 Best Headless CMS in 2020, That Cover Most of Your Requirements (Part 1)
Overwhelmed with options? Are you building your first (e-commerce) headless CMS and you don't know what headless CMS platform to choose?  What are the best headless CMS in 2020, so you can at least narrow down your choices and start... somewhere? Which system matches most of your feature requirements? Here's a top 10: 1. But First: What Is a Headless CMS, More Precisely? Relax, I won't bore you with too many details — we already have an in-depth post on the differences between headless and traditional CMS. So, if we were to sum up the concept in just a few words, we could say that: A headless content management system is an architecture where content is separated from the presentation layer (the client-side front-end). Meaning that you get to create, store, and edit "raw" content (with no design or layout) in the backend and deliver it wherever needed —wearable, mobile app, website — via API. In short, what you get in a headless architecture is: a database to store your content in a dashboard for editing your content Source: Zesty.io As for the "head" that serves your content to the end-user : you're free to build your own front-end, from the ground up … and even multiple front-ends, if needed, that will all use calls from the API to retrieve and display content 2. … Then What's a Decoupled CMS? Headless CMS vs decoupled CMS: what's the difference? And why headless over decoupled? The role that the API plays… That's what makes the difference (and why you'd want to go for a headless approach): If, in a decoupled architecture, the API plays the role of an intermediary between back-end and front end, in a headless architecture the API can be used by any of the front-end portions for pulling data. In other words, a decoupled CMS does come with a built-in front-end delivery layer, that you can rely on, but a headless approach is an API-driven content repository. Which gives you more flexibility for delivering content to any type of display layer. … to multiple "heads". You're free to distribute it wherever it needs to get displayed. 3. Why Choose a Headless CMS? Top 9 Benefits Before I "divulge" the best headless CMS in 2020 to you, here's a shortlist of the key advantages of using a headless CMS software: you get to engage your customers with personalized content across an entire network of digital channels, at different stages in their journey you can deliver richer digital experience, tailored to each channel you gain platform independence you're free to choose your technology of choice you benefit from cross-platform support you get to manage your content from a central location and distribute it to multiple platforms/IoT-connected devices, in a universal format you're free to manage all your platforms from one interface your development team gets to choose the development framework of their choice, integrate new technologies and, overall… innovate you're free to redesign as often as you need to, without the dread of re-implementing your entire CMS from the ground up     4. … And When Should You Use It? 5 Best Use Cases  How do you know for sure that you need to adopt this approach? You know it because your scenario describes one of the following use cases for headless CMS: you're building a site using a technology you're familiar with you're building a website with a static site generator you're building a JS-based website or web app you're building a native mobile app you're building an e-commerce site and you know that the commerce platform you're using won't… cut the mustard as a CMS; or you need to enrich product info in your online store 5. What Are the Best Headless CMS in 2020? Top 10 "Which CMS should I use?" you wonder. "The one that meets most of your requirements…" So, you should start by pinning them down. What features are you looking for in a CMS? Maybe you need a system that should: be straightforward and easy to use for the marketers/non-technical people in your team be built on… Node be highly customizable and editable for your content team to be able to change overlay text, logo, background video/image be simple to set up integrate easily with Gatsby support multi-site setups not be tied up to (just) one specific database provide ease of content entry and rich-text support provide a granular permission system provide native support for content types What are the features that your project couldn't live without? Now, with that list of "mandatory" features at hand, just drill down through your top headless CMS options in 2020. Here they are: 5.1. Storyblok A purely headless CMS that ships with a visual editor, as well. Why would you go for Storyblok? What makes it one of the best headless CMS in 2020? it provides the experience of a page builder for all those non-technical users in your team: editors get to manage content via a more user-friendly interface it grants your developers easy access to the APIs they need 5.2. Prismic Its major selling point? It allows you to choose your own language, framework, technology… And these are the 3 good reasons to go with Prismic as your headless CMS: it allows you to model your content schema and to add your content you're free to choose whatever framework that meets your feature needs: React, Vue, Next, Nuxt, Node, Gatsby… you're free to choose either GraphQL or RESTful API to query content 5.3. Drupal 8 Headless CMS   Another great option is to exploit Drupal's headless capabilities and pair them with the JavaScript framework of your choice. Here are some of the best reasons why you'd use a Drupal 8 API-first architecture: Drupal's a mature and enterprise-level headless solution backed by a wide community, used by more than 1 million sites globally; you get to tap into its massive module collection and even create new custom ones to extend your website's functionality its JSON:API follows the JSON:API specification; developers in your team can start using the API even if they're not experts in working with Drupal you get to load your GraphQl schemas straight from your Drupal content repository; there's a specialized module for this: the GraphQL module you get to use all of  Drupal's famed features (granular access to content, processes, workflows, modules, etc.) right away; you get them out-of-the-box since the REST API is… rooted deep into Drupal 5.4. Strapi, One of the Best headless CMS for Gatsby. It's an open-source Node.js headless CMS, a "host it yourself" one, that allows you to build Node.js apps in… minutes. Why would you use it? because it generates available RESTful API or uses GraphQL shortly after installation, making data available via customizable API because it allows your developers to invest all their resources in writing reusable app logic (instead of having to use some of that time to build an infrastructure) because it's fully JavaScript because it supports plugins that extend the platform's functionality because it's open-source: you'll find the entire codebase on GitHub  5.5. Contentful  Looking for a platform-agnostic solution? A… content delivery network that would enable your development team to manage and distribute (and reuse) content to multiple channels? Then this is the API-driven headless CMS you're looking for. Here are 6 other reasons why you'd want to put Contentful on your shortlist: consistent APIs easy to set up you're free to create your own models easy to use: ships with a robust, non-technical, user-friendly UI you get to add custom plugins quick and easy you get to set your own schemas to get displayed the way you want them to, across different apps Good to know! There's even a Shopify extension available. What it does is connect your online store to your content, stored in Contentful. And if you'll need help with building, fine-tuning, and integrating your content hub, we're ready to tweak Contentful to your needs.  END of Part 1! Stay tuned, for there are 5 more candidates for the title of "the best headless CMS in 2020" waiting in line.  Image by Couleur from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 25'2020