Drupal Forum Review

(October 16, 2008 16:00)
Last Version 7.0 (January 5, 2011). Released under GPL License.
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Drupal is a free software that allows individual or community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a website. The primary goal of Drupal is to provide a really powerful framework on which you can install additional packages to get the website you dream.

As a CMS, Drupal is not firstly targeted on the management of a forum software, but it however contains, in its default package, a Forum module, that allows you to plug a board to your website, including all features of Drupal (friendly URLs, users management, content publishing,...)

Drupal is a free open source software, and serves many big websites, like the US White House website, official France portal,...

Why reviewing a CMS?

Indeed, it could come out that a CMS is not really suited for supporting a forum software, because its module could not be as powerful as a dedicated software would be. You have to think that a community is not the only thing you want to host on your website. Posting articles, tips, ideas and reviews on a forum is, of course, possible, but maybe there are some other better way to do that. One of the possible solution is a CMS or a blog, which, with articles or blog entries won't prevent you from having comments, and could of course be related to an additional forum topic.

Here are some use cases of a CMS. Look at this list carefully before thinking to a forum-only website:

  • Community web portals
  • Discussion sites
  • Corporate web sites
  • Intranet applications
  • Personal web sites or blogs
  • Aficionado sites
  • E-commerce applications
  • Resource directories
  • Social Networking sites
  • Collaborative authoring environments
  • Podcasting
  • Picture galleries
  • File uploads and downloads

If your idea is in this list, then you should take some times to read this review to see if Drupal could match your desires.

Review Updates:

  • January 5, 2011: Several fixes, thanks to Cor Driehuis.
  • June 16, 2010: Some updates.
  • March 25, 2009: Additional Modules have been added to the review to explain how to improve a default Drupal installation.

Drupal Forum is recommended for Large Community.

(and supports smaller communities perfectly as well.)

Server & Client Requirements

Server Requirements
Programming Language
Required Architecture and Versions.
  • PHP 4
  • PHP 5
Web Servers
How the forum is delivered to users.
  • Apache 1.3
  • Apache 2.0/2.2
  • Microsoft IIS
  • Lighttpd
  • Nginx
How Forum Data are Stored.
  • MySQL
  • Postgresql
Operating Systems
Systems Supporting this Software.
  • GNU/LinuxGNU/Linux
  • BSD UnixBSD Unix
  • Microsoft WindowsMicrosoft Windows
  • Apple Mac OSApple Mac OS
Browser & Client Requirements
Compatible Browsers
List of Compatible Browsers.
Mozilla FirefoxMozilla FirefoxInternet ExplorerInternet Explorer
Google ChromeGoogle ChromeOperaOpera
Apple SafariApple SafariKonquerorKonqueror
Mozilla SeaMonkeyMozilla SeaMonkey
Required Plugins/Technologies
Additional or Basic Requirements from Client Side.
HTML, Javascript, AJAX, CSS.
Languages supported by Drupal Forum.
Supported Languages:
Armenian Bosnian
Bulgarian Portuguese (Brazilian)
Catalan Chinese (Simplified)
Czech German
Danish Estonian
Spanish Amharic
Finnish French
Galician Greek
Croatian Hungarian
Hebrew Hindi
Persian Icelandic
Japanese Kannada
Khmer Korean (South)
Tamil Lithuanian
Latvian Malayalam
Marathi Mongolian
Dutch Norwegian
Nepali Filipino
Polish Portuguese
Punjabi Romanian
Serbian Swedish
Slovak Swahili
Telugu Thai
Turkish Ukrainian
English (British) English (American)
Afrikaans Chinese (Traditional)

Supported Languages could be found here:

Drupal - User Register

Drupal is known to work in every configuration which accepts the PHP scripting language. It means that operating systems and web servers that are supporting Drupal are not all listed here.

SQLite database should be normally supported in the next major release of Drupal 7.0.

Compatibility with Smartphones
Compatible SmartPhones
Compatible Cellphone Brands and Manufacturers.
Application Distribution / Type
How it is distributed / App Store Availability

Forum Threads & Posts

Forum Threads / Topics
Forum Style Flat/Threaded Forum Organization
  • Forum Categories
  • Sub Sections
Thread Icons Yes Topic Tags No
Hot Topics Yes Unread Topics Yes
Hidden Topics Plugin Sticky Threads Yes
Related Threads Yes Detect Duplicate Threads Plugin
Announcements Plugin
Posting Messages / Answers
Message Editing Form
How to Post Messages.
  • Plain Text
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Preview Button
Post Editing Format
Supported Markup Language (HTML, Wiki, BBCode,...).
  • Plain
  • HTML
  • Wiki
  • BBCode
Spell Checker
Checks typos on posts and topics.
Image Attachment
How Images can be Attached and Displayed in Message Posts.
  • Upload via Classic Attachments. Images are all at the end of the post.
  • Upload via Advanced Attachments. Images can be placed in the flow of message text.
  • Use BBCode or HTML. Need to type the URL of an already hosted image.
Embedded Videos
Videos and Media Websites Supported in Message Posts.
Posting Features
Quick Reply Box Yes Smileys Plugin
Attachments Plugin Syntax Highlighting Plugin
Message Rating
Plugin Message Quoting Plugin

Threads and Posts could be grouped in thread or flat, according to the configuration used by the administrator. Most of the advanced feature will be available as modules, which we describe here:

Using the taxonomy, which is the way Drupal uses to define additional tags to each node, it is quite common to find related information to a current page. Unfortunately, the taxonomy is internally used by the forum to regroup each thread in a particular section, which means you do not have access to topic tags, neither related threads.

Additional & Technical Features

Additional Forum Features
Poll Creation Yes
Private Messages
Users Can Communicate using an Internal Messaging System.
Instant Messaging
Discuss with Visitors and Members in a Chat Window.
Topic, Member Birthdays, Events are available from the perspective of a calendar.
Online Users List
Connected User List (Often Found in the Forum Footer).
Members List
Search and Consult the List of Members.
Technical Features
Bundled Software
Additional Software Available with the Forum.
  • Website Home Page
  • CMS
  • Blog
  • Pictures Album Manager
RSS/Atom Syndication
Posts and Threads Exported to Feeds Aggregators Syndicate.
Friendly URLs
URLs are clear and contain information about the topic (title, message,...). Highly recommended for SEO purposes.
Post by Email
Post Directly From your Email Box.
Remote Control
Remote Control from External Software/Websites.
Cache System
Cache pages to optimize bandwidth and load times.
Template Engine
It is easier to theme a forum using a known template engine (more docs & examples,...).
  • PHPTemplate
  • Smarty
  • xTemplate

Drupal - Forum Thread Options

Here are a list of essential modules that complete a core installation of Drupal, for a forum usage:

The Flat or Threaded view of your forum will depend on the Drupal Theme you use.

User Profiles & Options

Some details about Drupal Forum features regarding members.
Member Options & Features
Bookmark Threads
User Profiles Keep a List of Followed Posts and Topics.
Email Notifications
Receive Emails When New Messages are Posted in Followed Threads.
Export private messages
Private Messages can be Downloaded by Users.
Payment Subscriptions
Paying Membership Subscription.
User Profiles
User Profile
User Information and Settings.
Pictures of Members, Useful to Easily Identify their Posts.
Signatures Added at the Bottom of Each Message.
Tags and Labels Identifying the Members, based on specific criteria (Total Posts Count, Credits, Moderation Level...)

Drupal - User Profile Edition

Most of various features are provided as plugins :

By the way, user related modules are also available:

Moderation & Users Management

Moderation & Threads Management
Post-Moderation The moderation is done afterwards, if an administrator notices a problem or if a member reports something wrong. Each message is therefore directly published.
Reactive Moderation By reporting any problems, members are reactive against moderation problems. Moderators' main objective is to regularly check user reports, without having to follow each threads.
Moderator per section Plugin
Global Moderator Yes
Move Threads
Move Threads from Topics
Shadow Topics
When a thread is moved, the previous position is kept in order to inform users of this modification.
Close/Lock Threads
Close/Lock Problematic Threads
Users Management
User Groups
Organize and define groups of users, and apply different actions and settings on them.
Common Groups: Guests, Members, Moderators, Administrators,...
User Registration
  • Free Registration
  • Registration needs Approval
  • Invitation Only
  • User Account created by Administrator
  • Confirmation sent by email for validation
Limit Features For New Users
Features are limited if a user has created a small number of posts.
Guest Posting Yes
Multiple Administrators Yes
Send Warnings to Users
Inform users by email or PM that they infringe the board rules, and could be excluded for such behavior.
Forum/Section Restricted Access
ACL could be use to determine if a user or a group of users can access (in read only, post message) to some sections and topics.
User Banishment Yes

Administration & Support

Database Management
Backup Database
Backup forum datas that you could store somewhere else.
Prune Database
Remove old and unused datas from your forum.
Restore Database
Restore a backup of your database if the previous install crashed.
Administration Tools
Statistics about posts count, users, traffic...
Yes Error/Notice Log Viewer
Forum Logs could be consulted.
Tasks Scheduler
Maintenance tasks are regularly launched and could be scheduled.
Yes Mass Mailing
Send an email (newsletters, advertisements, information,...) to all users.
Installation & Upgrading
Installation Method
How this forum software could be installed.
Installation Wizard
Upgrading Method
How this forum software could be upgraded.
Upgrade Wizard
Updates Notifications
The Admin Panel informs you when a new version is released.
Forum Migration
Convert an existing forum to Drupal Forum.

For more information, a dedicated forum about migration from other tools is available at Drupal website.

Security & Spam Protection

Security & Spam Protection
Captcha protects your forum against spam bots.
e.g., Syndicate
Complexity: [++[ Normal
Abnormal Behavior Detection
Detect users or request strange behaviors, and try to process proactive actions.
Words Filtering
Offensing Words are automatically replaced.
User Blacklist
Prevent specific user accounts to register (based on email address, name,...) and disable potentially harmful members.
IP Blocking
Prevent access to spam robots and other scripts that could attempt DDOS or Brute Force attacks on your forum.

Here are the security and antispam modules we recommend:

  • Mollom Module Fight spam with this remote tool, which is free, and originally developed by Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal.
  • Bad Behavior Module - Detects bad behaviors and handle users who do bad things (spamming, copy/paste commenting,...).

Vulnerabilities Advisories Criticality

Secunia Criticality

Secunia Advisories severity affecting Drupal Forum.

Vulnerabilities Impact

Secunia Impact

Secunia Advisories impact affecting Drupal Forum.

Customization & Social Networks

Add new features to your forum installation.
~3927 Available Plugins. More info »
Installation: [++[ Very Easy
Modify the style of your forum easily.
~450 Available Themes.
Custom BBCodes Plugin Smiley Packs Yes
Thread Icons
Yes Additional User Profile Fields
Ask more about your members with custom fields.
Integration with Applications, Social Networks, Intranet...
Social Networks
Users can share information from their social network account...
CMS / Blog Bridges
Integration with existing Web publishing tools.
  • Drupal
User Accounts Integration
Do users be able to log in with their corporate, Google, Facebook,... accounts?
Content Aggregation
Forum allows to integrate news and content from other website, using an aggregation protocol (RSS, RDF, Atom,...).

Drupal - Forum Reply Syntax

Template Engines:

Drupal provides support for more than one PHP template engine. It supports :

Additional Modules for Technical Features:

Of course, it's quite easy to add new custom BBCodes using BUEditor, that let's you configure your own markup language if you wish.

Drupal Integration with existing forum software:

If you do not want to use Drupal as your primary forum software, you could however integrate an existing software into this CMS. Here are some examples:

If your are looking for good resources about customizing and improve the Forum appearance of Drupal, you may look at here or here.

W3C Norms & Accessibility

Norms & Accessibility
XHTML 1.1 Strict.
XHTML 1.1 Strict
Click to see if it respects HTML norms.
CSS Stylesheets
CSS 2.
Click to see if it respects CSS norms.
Accessibility (WAI)
Web Accessibility ensures that the forum is usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.
Conformance to AA level.
UTF-8 Support
Default encoding used to support all locales and countries.
Conformance to W3C Norms
Does Drupal Forum correctly follow (X)HTML and CSS norms?
Drupal is using themes so the norms respect will depends on the theme you are using. Please additionally note that bundled Drupal themes are XHTML and CSS strict.

Recommended Books

Unique Features

Key points and major differences that make Drupal Forum unique:

  • Full integration with Drupal CMS.
  • An incredible list of modules, an huge community and an extensive support.

Final Words


The forum software available in Drupal is clearly powerful and well integrated. The huge list of modules and themes provided by the Drupal community will let you customize and configure your forum as you wish.

The real bad point that we could find is that it will took you some times before disabling and prepare a Drupal installation to only enabled the forum itself. Moreover, a default Drupal installation with the default themes makes forum topics look like articles with comments. This can of course be fixed using existing themes or creating your own one (even if this need some skills in Web Development).

Additional Resources:

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Comments (43)

As I mentioned in the Drupal

As I mentioned in the Drupal thread, this review does not take Drupal's contributed modules into account. It mentions that they are there but then says "no" or "unknown" to all the functionality they provide. Core forum is just a start. Anyone running a serious Drupal forum will use contributed modules to flesh it out and this review should take that into consideration.


lastnico's picture

Hi Michelle, Thank you for

Hi Michelle,

Thank you for this comment. I've updated the review and added a complete list of modules that a forum-oriented installation of Drupal will probably required. This will help without any doubt users that want to use Drupal as main forum tool.

Of course, if you think about other useful modules, do not hesitate to post another comment.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


It's a start, though far from

It's a start, though far from a complete list. And I suggest you drop the reference to the long dead flatforum. You might want to mention Advanced Forum as well.


lastnico's picture

Review updated. Please also

Review updated. Please also note that the module list is separated on the multiple pages of the review.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Getting closer... Few more

Getting closer... Few more notes:

Sticky thread - Yes (part of core)
Post quoting - Quote module (contrib)
Online users list - Advanced Forum module (contrib)
Email notifications - Notifications, Subscriptions, or Comment Notify (all cotrib)
Payment Subscriptions - Yes, with contrib but I don't know specifics. I'm fairly sure Ubercart has something to let you buy subscriptions
Backup / Restore database - Backup & Migrate module (contrib). Does entire site, not just forum.


lastnico's picture

Hi Michelle, Your notes have

Hi Michelle,

Your notes have been merged to the Drupal Review, and the new modules you pointed have also been added to indicate how to install a good forum software using Drupal.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Thanks. :) And sorry if I

Thanks. Smile And sorry if I came across as harsh. I've been fighting for Drupal's forum for so long that I'm probably oversensitive to reviews and picky about making sure it gets every bit of credit it deserves. LOL


lastnico's picture

I could really understand

I could really understand your point of view, and more over, I prefer your kind of behavior, that improves the general quality of this website, instead of the silence of anonymous people.

Thank you Michelle.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


I've been using Drupal with

I've been using Drupal with Michelle's "Advanced Forum" for a bit over a year now, I simply love it. I moved from a fully licensed version of IPB Forum over to it and yes I've used phpBB and SMF forums. Drupal is an excellent option with Michelle's AF module along with other modules.

Down side, Drupal has a bit more of a learning curve but the power and the quality of the end result is simply outstanding.

On top of that Mollom is the best anti Spam solution I've ever seen, nothing the other forum scripts have match Mollom in protecting your site from scum Spammers.


This site, this review, being

This site, this review, being able to compare to Vanilla and bbpress, and the live demo are just outstanding.

I think my new project will use Drupal (although it scares me a little; intimidating to go for a full-blown CMS), but I could not find any other tool to really integrate articles with proper forum discussion on the one page (ie. not just article-comments).

lastnico's picture

Found an interesting resource

Found an interesting resource about features (base + contrib) supported by Drupal (not as much complete as FSR, but quite good as well Wink


FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


While that document is

While that document is accessible to the public, it's not meant for the public. It was a working doc I put together back when there was a group of us working on forums for a while and we needed an idea of what was done and what wasn't. It's unfinished, unpolished and, now, very out of date.


lastnico's picture

Like this review I think

Like this review Wink I think it's not that dramatic then to quote outdated source as well Wink

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


"Like this review"? I don't

"Like this review"? I don't understand. How is a working document meant for a small group of people that wasn't meant for public consumption and that I would prefer to not have linked to anything like a website specifically set up for public software reviews?

At any rate, I'll just go take the document down and that will solve the problem.



Michelle, While I understand


While I understand that that spreadsheet document is outdated, it would be great to have an up-to-date equivalent. Nico is very open to improvements, and I'm sure he'd be willing to add a list of feature - module pairs to the review.


How can the forum be toggled between flat and threaded? The review mentions something about the theme; can it be more specific?

lastnico's picture

Yes, absolutely: As you can

Yes, absolutely:

As you can see here, this current discussion is threaded, while our Forum uses a flat architecture.

This is because in the configuration of these two types of nodes, one is "Flat list - expanded", while the other is "Threaded list - expanded" on the configuration page /admin/content/node-type/page, section Comment Settings / Default display mode.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


The trouble is keeping

The trouble is keeping something like that up to date. Drupal's modules change rapidly and what is recommended at one moment may not be recommended the next. I'd rather spend my time coding than keeping tabs on other peoples' modules. That document was put together because Sony was sponsoring some people to work on forums for a while a couple years ago and, since I had a head start on knowing what was what with Drupal's forum solutions, I made some rough docs so everyone knew what we needed to focus on. At the time I made it, I didn't mind the public seeing it and I believe I even linked to it in a g.d.o post. But, 2 years later, it is very out of date and gives a bad impression and potentially bad advice and should no longer be used as a reference.



Hello there, I am an absolute

Hello there,

I am an absolute newbie when it comes to forum software, so excuse the maybe somewhat silly question.

I do have an existing website and would like to add a forum. I have been looking around this website and
I do really like the look of this particular forum.

I does speak about it being a complete package, does this mean I can not just use the forum software and
add it to my existing site?

And if I can do so...... how??

Thanks in advance to anyone that takes the time to help me out with this one. Smile



lastnico's picture

Hi, Yes, unfortunately,


Yes, unfortunately, there's no complete package you can download to get this forum. We are using a Drupal forum, customized with additional modules, features and styling that we have described here: http://www.forum-software.org/list-drupal-forums-tips

So it basically means you'll have to implement them all on your current Drupal theme in order to have them, which requires some work.

My 2 cents Wink

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


lol I just seem to have had

lol I just seem to have had one of those "whoooosh" moments and felt it going way over my head.

I'm not sure this is for me, difficulty wise. Although I love the look of the forum, I still don't understand
if the forum stands alone from a whole Drupal themed website.

Feeling a bit dumb at the moment I will retreat and try to find something else. Smile

Thank you ever so much for your reply though.

lastnico's picture

It could not indeed be

It could not indeed be separated from Drupal, as we are using the core forum plugin of Drupal, but themed and customized a bit for this website. Hope it is a bit more clear now Wink

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.

NeerjaSoftwares's picture

I also recommended this

I also recommended this advice as you got on for Drupal forums and now been able to start a new forum in my site
It is a good great experience for me to have this.

Get in check for the best Drupal site web development services.

NeerjaSoftwares's picture

Great work sir.... I

Great work sir....
I recommended your advice and now my Drupal Site is looking far better. Whenever you get time then please have a look for any changes.

Get in check for the best Drupal site web development services.

NeerjaSoftwares's picture

Getting back to my opinion, I

Getting back to my opinion, I want to point out that Drupal is best from all and have no serious problems as you have listed.....So go and have it on your site....

Get in check for the best Drupal site web development services.


Thank you for the services

Thank you for the services and reviews,, they are outstanding.
Chris Harris


How do you use Drupal? Is

How do you use Drupal? Is there a particular use case that draws you towards implementing it for you and your clients. And maybe even more interesting when do you NOT gravitate toward the Drupal system for a particular project?

As a side note I am glad to see we currently have 9 members in a little over a week! I am still going to cross post this to the NYC group as I am sure there are some LI people that did not see this group yet... Smile


Well, you have to remember

Well, you have to remember that Drupal isn't stand alone forum software. To really do anything with Drupal, you need to add contributed modules. If you take contrib into consideration, you can get forum threads that look like this without a bit of custom theming needed.



The reason that I tend to

The reason that I tend to avoid integrating other forum systems into Drupal is that I want the forums to completely integrate with the rest of the site and to be searchable with the Drupal search form.

Drupal forums don't have as many features as other systems like vBulletin; their main advantage is that they are completely integrated into the rest of the CMS.

But at first you have to need modify yourself. such as be confidante, management and so on. And If you suffering any kinds of disappointment, frustration, hopeless then you can check out MY PROFILE............................... Grade




Hmmm I have add File field

Hmmm I have add File field for users so they can add images and other interesting files. Everything works nice but I want images to be automaticaly display in comment(posts). Is there any way I can do that ?


Drupal 7 extends the data

Drupal 7 extends the data abstraction layer so that a programmer no longer needs to write SQL queries as text strings. It uses PHP Data Objects to abstract the physical database. Microsoft has written a database driver for their SQL Server. Household Movers


I've updated the review and

I've updated the review and added a complete list of modules that a forum-oriented installation of Drupal will probably required. This will help without any doubt users that want to use Drupal as main forum tool. And I suggest you drop the reference to the long dead flatforum. You might want to mention Advanced Forum as well.

Website Programming
| Website Development

web programming services | website development


Drupal development, a free

Drupal development, a free open source and content management software is written in PHP and supported by MySQL database. Drupal development supports enterprises of different kinds such as small, mid-size and large ones. The versatility of drupal is doubtless as it is easy to install, user-friendly, and comes with different features which are functional simultaneously.


Indeed, it could come out

Indeed, it could come out that a CMS is not really suited for supporting a forum software, because its module could not be as powerful as a dedicated software would be. You have to think that a community is not the only thing you want to host on your website. Posting articles, tips, ideas and reviews


I love drupal for community

I love drupal for community sites, and well, i think drupal is designed for forum sites. Hence, I really feel awful using drupal on ecommerce sites yet at the same feel amazed how they come up with that kind of concept and how long it takes to finish an ecommerce site made form drupal.

I am still a fan of drupal in terms of making some community sites.

sky high
Web Marketing Platform


I apologize for the

I apologize for the misspelled words and few grammatical error I am half sleep...sorry


Well, I think drupal is more

Well, I think drupal is more useful with high security while other open sources of WP and Joomla is good to use but need more updates.

Mike @ http://bestcollectionwordpressthemes.com/best-wordpress-themes-2015/

hitechito's picture

His achievements, aims to

His achievements, aims to show how to install the software forum, combined using Drupal comment Drupal, has added a new module.


Drupal isn't stand alone

Drupal isn't stand alone forum software


How can i import it? I

How can i import it?
I dowlnload it, i put it into the themes flolder but i can't run it in my drupal....
What i have to do to get it?

hitechito's picture

The problem is one thing.

The problem is one thing. Drupal modules are rapidly changing, the following recommendations can not be any suggestion times. I prefer to spend more time than others to keep an eye coding modules. This file is prepared, because Sony is a sponsor of some of the people working on the forum, and a few years ago because I had a good start to the solution Drupal forum know what it is we did a bit of rough paper, therefore, all that we need to focus. As I do not have an open mind, I think I even think that this is the position of GERD. But two years later, very old, giving a bad impression and potential adverse opinion and should not be used as a reference.


I prefer to use Wordpress. It

I prefer to use Wordpress. It is easy and very useful cms.

proweb365's picture

I am using both Drupal &

I am using both Drupal & WP...WP is very popular and easy to config. However, Drupal is also a good one.

Web design by ProWeb365

KelvinNyota's picture

How do we use it

How do we use it

Kelvin Nyota
Writer & and a Blogger

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